Archive for the 'America' Category


My 270/1 shot for the White House indicates that he might run

Saturday, July 21st, 2018

Watch out for John Hickenlooper – Governor of Colorado

Back in early April I reported that I’d backed Governor John Hickenlooper for the presidency at odds of 270/1 on Betfair.

One of the things about super long-shots is that you generally don’t know when you place your bet whether your man/woman will actually make a bid. So today’s strong indication that he is considering putting his hat into the ring is a big step forward.

I’d first noticed Hickenlooper a couple of years ago when he was being tipped as Hillary Clinton’s running mate and I liked what I saw. He appears to be everything that the Trump isn’t lucid, self-deprecating, intelligent and someone who comes over well. He’s also appears to have a strong sense of public service and has a good record in Colorado and Denver where he used to be mayor.

At this stage he’ll be assessing whether a bid is feasible – will he get the backing of key figures in the party and donors? My guess is that the most important thing the party will be looking for is someone who appears as though he/she could be competitive against Trump.

Today’s comments are exactly what you would expect from a potential runner at this stage. Even though WH2020 is more than two year away the battle will start in only about nine months.

Mike Smithson


Republican voters remain solidly behind Trump in the first post-Helsinki polls

Thursday, July 19th, 2018

Those polled responded along strong partisan lines

Anybody expecting that President Trump’s widely criticised approach at the Helsinki summit with Putin would hurt him amongst his base is going to be disappointed. The first polls are now out and they show the same picture – very solid support from Republican Party voters for the Presidents handling of Russian leader, Putin

Axios/SurveyMonkey has 79% of Republicans approved of Trump’s handling. This compares with 91% of Democrats and 62% of independents who disagreed. The overall splits was 58% disapprove to 40% approve.

A CBS News survey found 68% of Republicans saying Trump did a good job in Helsinki, with 83% of Democrats and 53% of independents said he did a bad job.

No doubt we’ll see a lot of other surveys in the next day or two and I’d be surprised if there is much deviation from this picture.

The big question will be how it impacts on the midterm elections at the start of November.

Mike Smithson


At a 70%+ chance the betting markets are surely over-rating Trump’s chances of being the WH2020 GOP nominee

Tuesday, July 17th, 2018

The best post-Helsinki bets?

Judging by the reaction in the US overnight Donald Trump’s meeting with Vladimir Putin has gone down like a like a bowl of cold sick most strikingly within his own party. He’s been damaged.

There’s no point in me repeating here the wide coverage that we’ve seen but question for punters, surely, is what are the best Trump bets.

There are, as we know, many markets.

Will he complete a full first term? (Betfair 74%)

What year will see him leave the White House? (Betfair after 2020 80% chance)

Will he win the presidency in 2020? (Betfair 40%)

The bet I like most because it covers more possibilities is whether he will be the Republican nominee for 2020. The Betfair Exchange currently has this at 70%+ chance which to my mind, giving everything we now know, overstates his chances.

So I have just laid (bet against) Trump being the Republican nominee at the Betfair exchange level of 1.42 – which equates to a 70% chance.

My guess is that that this will ease in the aftermath of his talks with Mr. Putin and possibly offer short term trading opportunities.

Mike Smithson


Trump appearing deferential to Putin isn’t going to help him win WH2020

Tuesday, July 17th, 2018

Given the initial US media reaction, even that from Fox News, the President isn’t getting good coverage for his historic meeting with Putin.

This was from former Republican cabdidate and current Senator, John McCain:

Today’s press conference in Helsinki was one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory. The damage inflicted by President Trump’s naiveté, egotism, false equivalence, and sympathy for autocrats is difficult to calculate. But it is clear that the summit in Helsinki was a tragic mistake.

President Trump proved not only unable, but unwilling to stand up to Putin. He and Putin seemed to be speaking from the same script as the president made a conscious choice to defend a tyrant against the fair questions of a free press, and to grant Putin an uncontested platform to spew propaganda and lies to the world….

No prior president has ever abased himself more abjectly before a tyrant. Not only did President Trump fail to speak the truth about an adversary; but speaking for America to the world, our president failed to defend all that makes us who we are—a republic of free people dedicated to the cause of liberty at home and abroad. American presidents must be the champions of that cause if it is to succeed. Americans are waiting and hoping for President Trump to embrace that sacred responsibility. One can only hope they are not waiting totally in vain.”

Petty damning stuff from a respected figure in the party.

Quite how this will play out in the leader ratings and November’s midterms we’ll have to wait and see but there’s no doubt that this has been a pivotal event.

Mike Smithson


If Betfair punters are right the Republicans are set to hold onto the House in the November midterms

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2018


This would be a big victory for Trump

While we are all focused on the Tories and Brexit in the UK the biggest political betting market at the moment continues to be the above one on the US midterm elections and, particularly, whether the Republicans can hold on to the House.

The current RCP polling average has the Democrats 6.4% ahead but that’s not thought to be big enough to see change. In many states the congressional district boundaries very much favour the Republicans.

There is a heavy incumbency advantage but in a normal US electoral cycle the first midterms in a new President’s term tend to go against his party. Holding on would be a huge victory for the White House and would mean there’s less possibility of some of Trump’s controversial moves being impeded.

The Senate looks set to remain in the GOP’s hands because of the seats that are up this year. There are 100 members of the Senate and roughly a third come up for elections every two years.

Mike Smithson


Trump’s big deal: the Supreme Court

Saturday, June 30th, 2018

Wikimedia Commons

November permitting, buying off evangelicals with nominations could change the future of America

Donald Trump regards himself as the great deal-maker. As president, there’s not an awful lot of evidence to support his contention but then he’s never much been one for being overly worried about the evidence. Nearly a year and a half into his term, there’s no wall, nor any realistic prospect of one, his immigration reforms have resulted in concentration camps for children separated from their parents, he’s started trade wars but failed to reach the renegotiated trade deals promised, and Obamacare remains in place. In foreign policy, his most striking intervention – the talks with North Korea’s Kim – has brought that regime out of the cold while getting little but warm words in return. Trump has delivered on tax cuts – but then passing tax cuts for the rich is easy for members of Congress when if you’re not one of them yourself, then your key donors most certainly are.

But there is one area where his administration has been extremely effective: in making appointments to the Federal courts. No president has appointed more federal appellate judges in his first year (12), to which he’s added a further 9 since and has another 13 pending before the Senate.

That’s in eighteen months: Obama only appointed 55 federal appellate judges in eight years. These are, of themselves, highly influential appointments given how few cases progress beyond their courts, and Trump’s nominees have been reliably conservative.

Even so, the Great Prize remains the Supreme Court, which is in many ways the most powerful institution in the United States: it is not accountable to anyone, appointments are for life, and whereas the Supreme Court can overturn or strike down an Act of Congress, Executive Order or lower court decision, nothing short of a constitutional amendment (or later Supreme Court decision), can overturn decisions made the collective apex of the judiciary.*

So far, Trump has only made one Supreme Court nomination, and that courtesy of Senate leader Mitch McConnell who refused to allow the Senate to hear Barack Obama’s nomination for the seat vacated by the death of Antonin Scalia. Scalia, however, was firmly on the conservative wing of the Court, so his replacement by Gorsuch didn’t tip the fine balance between liberals and conservatives (whereas had Obama’s nominee to replace Scalia, Merrick Garland, been approved, it would have produced a clear liberal majority).

By contrast, Trump does now have his own opportunity to mould the Court more to his liking – or perhaps more realistically, more to the liking of his electoral coalition. Trump himself would probably like to nominate someone who takes a highly activist view of the scope of Executive authority but there was a reason though why so many evangelicals voted for a man with little interest in either the Bible’s words or its teachings: abortion. Trump was once pro-choice but rare is the opinion with him that runs counter to his interests – and the votes of millions are very much his interests. They backed him because he said he would deliver on upholding a pro-life position (and pro-gun and other related stances, but abortion is the most important). And he is delivering: lots of young judges who will last decades, confirmed against regular opposition (and also overwhelmingly white and male). That is his Big Deal.

Which is where the retirement of Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy comes in. Unlike Scalia, Kennedy is as close to a swing vote as the Court has. Replacing him with someone reliably conservative would secure a narrow but firmer 5-4 conservative majority.

Replacing him, however, is not quite that simple. The Republicans have only a 51-49 advantage in the Senate and one of those 51 is John McCain who is both seriously ill (and hence often absent), and no friend of the Trump administration. Trying to tip the balance of the Court in such circumstances will be difficult, even with a highly qualified nominee.

That produces a tricky tactical decision. The Republicans are only defending nine of the 33 senate seats up for election and following the uptick in Trump’s rating, might reasonably hope to make gains, particularly if they can take attention away from DC. There’s potentially a good reason to delay the vote and use the Supreme Court nomination and abortion as the kind of practical wedge issue Karl Rove used so effectively for George W Bush – though going easy now in the hope of an easier ride later is a strategy that carries risks.

If the Republicans can retain and even strengthen their grip, that opens up their opportunity to change the country. There may well be two other Supreme Court vacancies coming up before long. Ruth Bader Ginsberg is 85 years old and while she has been clear in her intention not to step down any time soon, she’s also had periods of ill health in the past. Similarly, Stephen Breyer turns 80 in August and while he too has given no indication of wanting to retire, 80 is the recent average age at which justices have done so (though Justice Stevens retired in 2010 at the age of 90).

The crucial point, however, is that both Ginsberg and Breyer are on the liberal wing of the Court. If Trump and a GOP-controlled Senate can replace them (and Kennedy) with conservatives, not only will it produce a 7-2 conservative majority but if, as with Gorsuch, relatively young justices are appointed, it would likely mean a conservative majority into at least the 2030s and possibly well beyond: it’s not unreasonable to think that Gorsuch will still be on the Court in 2050.

    Such a court would have a huge impact on America’s politics, not just in civil matters such as potentially outlawing abortion but in curtailing the state’s (or, more accurately, Congress and the president’s) reach and overturning legislation such as Obamacare

.These are, perhaps, the stakes being fought for this autumn – far beyond the ins and outs of office, the soul of a nation is at stake.

If there is irony to be found in such a crucial thing, it’s this: for all the talk of Trump’s court appointments being his legacy, the reality is that he is little more than a willing cipher in it. The legacy is not his; it’s that of the evangelicals who from time to time insert and assert their influence into US politics (as with, say, the Prohibition movement). Nonetheless, irrespective of who is the impetus for these appointments, their impact – if the nominations are sustained at the current rate – will be profound.

David Herdson

* Technically, this isn’t quite true. Congress can alter the size of the court, so it could, in a hard stand-off, approve sufficient new justices of a given slant to render the former court outgunned. There’s also the accountability of impeachment, though only one Supreme Court justice has ever been impeached (in 1804), and he was acquitted. In reality though, neither of these mechanisms is likely to be effective as Franklin Roosevelt found when, at the height of his power in 1937 and with massive Democrat majorities in Congress, he didn’t have the support to expand the Court so as to reverse rulings against New Deal legislation.


June 2018 Local By-Election Summary

Friday, June 29th, 2018

June 2018 Monthly Summary
Conservatives 7,657 votes (40.22% -0.91% on last time) winning 8 seats (-2 seats on last time)
Labour 4,716 votes (24.77% +5.10% on last time) winning 3 seats (+1 seat on last time)
Liberal Democrats 2,998 votes (15.75% +7.59% on last time) winning 4 seats (+3 seats on last time)
United Kingdom Independence Party 1,291 votes (6.78% -5.69% on last time) winning 0 seats (-2 seats on last time)
Local Independents 1,089 votes (5.72% +0.98% on last time) winning 1 seat (+1 seat on last time)
Independents 836 votes (4.39% -3.97% on last time) winning 1 seat (-1 seat on last time)
Green Party 410 votes (2.15% -3.17% on last time) winning 0 seats (unchanged on last time)
Others 42 votes (0.22% +0.07% on last time) winning 0 seats (unchanged on last time)
Conservative lead of 2,941 votes (15.45%) on a swing of 3% from Con to Lab

June 2017 – June 2018
Conservatives 141,644 votes (34.29% +0.76% on last time) winning 108 seats (-24 seats on last time) from 263 candidates (+10 on last time)
Labour 133,343 votes (32.28% +5.70% on last time) winning 92 seats (+9 seats on last time) from 249 candidates (+24 on last time)
Liberal Democrats 66,665 votes (16.14% +6.36% on last time) winning 42 seats (+22 seats on last time) from 213 candidates (+77 on last time)
Green Party 20,867 votes (5.05% -1.99% on last time) winning 4 seats (+4 seats on last time) from 142 candidates (-6 on last time)
Independents 16,278 votes (3.94% -1.75% on last time) winning 11 seats (-4 seats on last time) from at least 64 candidates (at least -10 on last time)
Scottish National Party 14,460 votes (3.50% +1.36% on last time) winning 3 seats (unchanged on last time) from 13 candidates (unchanged on last time)
United Kingdom Independence Party 8,457 votes (2.05% -10.35% on last time) winning 0 seats (-11 seats on last time) from 79 candidates (-72 on last time)
Local Independents 7,218 votes (1.75% -0.02% on last time) winning 5 seats (+3 seats on last time) from 23 candidates (-4 on last time)
Plaid Cymru 626 votes (0.15% +0.05% on last time) winning 1 seat (unchanged on last time) from 2 candidates (+1 on last time)
Other Parties 3,550 votes (0.86% -0.12% on last time) winning 3 seats (+1 seat on last time) from at least 17 candidates (at least -14 on last time)
Conservative lead of 8,301 votes (2.01%) on a swing of 2.47% from Con to Lab

Westminster General Election Forecast
Conservatives 304, Labour 255, SNP 41, Lib Dem 27, NI Parties 18, Plaid 3, Green 1, Speaker 1 (Con short of an overall majority by 22)
Con + DUP = 314 (short of an overall majority by 7 when allowing for Speaker and Sinn Fein)
Lab + Lib Dem + SNP + Plaid + Green = 327 (overall majority of 14 when allowing for Speaker and Sinn Fein)

Harry Hayfield


Joe Biden raises doubts about whether he’ll run for White House in 2020

Wednesday, June 27th, 2018

Obama’s Vice President for 8 years, Joe Biden, has been talking about the next White House Race and says he “feels guilty” about not wanting to run.

Ahead of the 2016 election there was considerable speculation over whether he would run against Hillary Clinton for the nomination. This went on and on and in the end he made it clear that he would not put his hat into the ring. This followed the death of his son.

Inevitably , although he is in his mid 70s, he is being questioned about next time and his statements in a recent interview have rather poured cold water on the idea that he would seek to win his party’s nomination.

Currently on Betfair he is in the second favourite slot behind the California senator, Kamala Harris.

Clearly he has high name recognition, is good on TV and continues to make policy speeches and publish articles. He’s become a very strong critic of the incumbent particularly for the way America’s allies are being alienated.

I would expect that speculation will continue for some time and that it will be a long period before he finally rules himself out. But I don’t think he’s going to make a bid.

Mike Smithson