Archive for the 'America' Category


I just wonder if Trump could decide to call it a day and quit

Thursday, November 15th, 2018

Just be thankful you don’t work in the West Wing

Away from Brexit for a moment and things do not appear to be happy in the White House. This from the excellent Political Wire

For weeks this fall, an ebullient President Trump traveled relentlessly to hold raise-the-rafters campaign rallies — sometimes three a day — in states where his presence was likely to help Republicans on the ballot,” the Los Angeles Times reports.

“But his mood apparently has changed as he has taken measure of the electoral backlash that voters delivered Nov. 6. With the certainty that the incoming Democratic House majority will go after his tax returns and investigate his actions, and the likelihood of additional indictments by special counsel Robert Mueller, Trump has retreated into a cocoon of bitterness and resentment.”

“Behind the scenes, they say, the president has lashed out at several aides, from junior press assistants to senior officials.”

There’s a similar picture in the latest Vanity Fair by Gabriel Sherman under the heading “INSANITY,” “FURIOUS,” “ON HIS OWN”: TRUMP’S POST-MIDTERMS BLUES ARE VEXING HIS STAFF AND ROILING THE WHITE HOUSE.

“Last Tuesday, he was in high spirits as he watched election returns come in with about a hundred friends at the White House. Trump told people that his barnstorming rally schedule had mobilized his base and held Republican losses to historical lows, while increasing Republican gains in the Senate. “He really thought he won the midterms,” a prominent Republican who spoke with Trump said..

..But by Wednesday, after hours of commentary about the suburbs’ distaste for him and with seat after undecided House seat slipping toward the Democrats, his mood slid, too, hitting bottom in a bizarre and combative press conference. “He was furious about the narrative. He said, ‘Look, I went to all these states and now people are saying Trump lost the election,’”

Meanwhile the outstanding counts continue and the Democrats increase their stranglehold on the incoming House of Representatives. A total of maybe 40 net gains is being talked about and in the new year Trump’s administration could face a whole range of investigations with subpoena powers.

The last thing that Trump and his family want is to be probed and I just wonder whether he might call it a day. I’ve had a little flutter on Betfair at 55/1 that Trump will be out this year.

Mike Smithson


Richard Ojeda – my 250/1 longshot to take on the draft-dodging incumbent

Tuesday, November 13th, 2018

Yesterday one of the midterm contenders who received a lot of publicity during the campaign, Richard Ojeda, announced that he was running for the presidency and published his first campaign video, see above.

He was fighting last Tuesday in a congressional district in West Virginia that had been won by Trump by a margin of 49% at WH2016. He ended up just 14% behind the Republican victor an improvement of 35 points.

Given the likely nature of the White House Race next time the Democrats will be looking for a nominee who can beat Trump and maybe Ojeda might fit the requirement.

    A former serving Army officer who spent a lot of time in Afghanistan demonstrated during his congressional campaign that he had an ability to attract publicity as well as having a message that resonated with working class voters in a part of the US which has swung sharply to the Republicans.

A strong point is that unlike other suggested contenders he has announced that he is definitely running and my guess is that he might well attract the financial support from those who believe that his approach might be just be what Trump, if he’s the nominee, would find very difficult to deal with in 2020. The incumbent , it will be recalled, dodged the draft at the height of the Vietnam war some that Ojeda would exploit.

Over the next 6 or 7 months we will see the Likely runners for the Democratic nomination declare their positions and it is expected that a dozen or more might put themselves forward. Ojeda, through his early declaration and ability to attract publicity might just have an edge.

Mike Smithson


Trump slips in the WH2020 betting after his party’s midterms performance

Monday, November 12th, 2018

It is now the nearly week since the US midterm elections and still we have to wait for a final outcome. There are two big state results to be completed both of which are on a knife edge.

There is a strong argument for saying that the midterm performances 2 years before a presidential election are not a good pointer to the outcome. There are certainly a number of precedents to support that position.

    What makes the 2018 elections different is the exceptionally high turnout getting closer to what would you’d expect from a presidential election. About 114m votes were cast this year, which is much closer to the WH2016 total of 137m than the 2014 midterm total of 82m

Thus on the figures we have at the moment it looks as though the overall turnout last Tuesday will be about 48.5%. This compares with the turnout of 35% at the 2014 midterm elections.

The reason of course is the presence of Mr Trump as president and the fact that he is an extraordinary polarising figure. The surveys showed that about two-thirds of voters last week said Trump played a big part in there choice both for the Republicans and against the party.

A real worry for the Republicans now is that the Democrats had significant victories in Wisconsin Michigan and Pennsylvania three big states that if 2018 can be replicated at WH2020 would see Trump lose.

As the chart shows the President has edged down in the betting but he’s still a 35% chance to win WH2020.

Mike Smithson


After Tuesday Trump surely has less than a 69% chance of being the Republican WH2020 nominee

Saturday, November 10th, 2018

The value bet is that he won’t

A number of US commentators are taking the view that the order in which results came in on Tuesday evening is giving a distorted picture of what happened. The early news about the races in Ohio and Florida dominated the initial thinking and overshadowed what is now clear was in fact a big success for the Democrats. The party looks set to make more House gains than at any Midterms since Watergate.

The latest house seat calculations put the party on 230+ and there are good prospects that that will be exceeded. There’s also a strong chance that the Arizona senate election might produce a victory for the Democrats and now Florida is in doubt.

    That Trump’s administration is going to be much more accountable to Congress is going make things much less comfortable 2 years for the incumbent and his style of government.

He made the election a referendum on himself and the voters gave their verdict which was not good however he tries to spin it. The big question now is how the Republican party establishment see him and whether the view takes hold that having him at the top of the ticket in 2020 might produce more negative results for the party than having a different candidate.

On top of that we do not know how Trump is going to cope with the extra detailed scrutiny and whether he might just feel the time is right to call it a day and not to put himself forward again. We must never forget that Trump is quite old, 72, and does not give the impression of having a lifestyle that ensures longevity. Health could well be a major problem.

With long-term positions on the Betfair Exchange I like to go with ones where there could be a fair degree of movement. One of those, I would suggest, is on the Republican nomination for 2020.

My best price secured yesterday afternoon, layng Trump at 1.38, suggests that Trump has a 72% chance of being nominated which I believe is far too high which is why I’m reinvesting part of my midterm winnings by laying Trump on the nomination market. The Betfair price has now edged to 1.45 – a 68% chance.

Bets, as I always say, are not predictions but assessments of value. My guess is that this price will bob up and down quite a lot in the next 2 years and there will be plenty of time to cash out at a reasonable profit if that seems the best option.

Mike Smithson


PB Video Analysis: Who Won The Midterms? Does It Matter?

Friday, November 9th, 2018

There’s this parody of Guardian readers children’s parties, where pass the parcel involves presents with every layer, and nobody is ever eliminated from musical chairs. This “all must have prizes” mentality seems to have reached US politics, as it appears that everyone won the midterms: the Democrats, the Republicans, Nancy Pelosi and President Trump.

Who really won, and – ummm – does it matter? I’m diving into the numbers and letting you know who should be pleased.

Robert Smithson

Robert tweets as ‘@MarketWarbles’


The main loser from the MidTerms looks set to be “Big Pharma”

Thursday, November 8th, 2018

One of the things we take for granted in the UK is the cost of our prescription medications. This is all part of the NHS and the majority of patients are too young/old or have chronic conditions which mean that they don’t pay.

Even those who don’t benefit from free prescriptions are not asked to pay the cost price of their medication but a fixed fee.

This means the NHS as almost a monopoly buyer is able to secure even the latest and most expensive medications at a pretty good prices.

How very different from the the US where public health programmes are barred by law from using their buying strength to negotiate big discounts for pharmaceuticals. This in one of the reasons why US health is so expensive.

To take an example. I an on a newish medication called Rivaroxaban which controls a genetic condition that causes me to have blood clots. The NHS pays about $2 per day for my pill which keeps me alive. The US price for exactly the same medication is just under $16 which many patients have to pay themselves.

Is it any wonder that the cost of pharmaceuticals is the biggest healthcare issue in US politics. The Democrats have promised to take action and Mr.Trump is also saying the same.

After Tuesday’s elections it clear that something will happen and big pharma is likely to be squeezed.

Mike Smithson


The PB MidTerms Prize Competition – did you get closest to the O’Rourke vote share?

Thursday, November 8th, 2018

Meanwhile the money goes on O’Rourke for WH2020

Exactly a month ago we launched the PB Prize Midterms competition with the question being:

What will be the vote share (to 2 decimal points) of the Texas Democratic candidate, Beto O’Rourke, in the election set for four weeks on Tuesday?

It was noted then that “Because it can take some time for final vote share in US elections to be determined this competition will be settled on the vote shares the New York Times is showing at 2200 GMT on Wednesday November 7th.”

The precise share down to two decimal points at the stated time was 48.32%. Whoever got closest is the winner.

If you think you were close then please check your entry on the thread here and send me an email.

The prize is the Phil Cowley/Denis Kavanagh study of the 2017 general election which has just been published.

Meanwhile the money has been going on Beto to be the Dems’ nominee for WH2020. He’s now second favourite. This was the view of Beto by Cruz’s chief strategist, Jeff Roe:

The Democrats don’t have anybody like him. I’ve seen all of them. They don’t have anyone of his caliber on the national stage. I pray for the soul of anyone who has to run against him in Iowa in 453 days.

Mike Smithson


The restoration of Florida felons’ voting rights could tip the balance against GOP at WH2020

Wednesday, November 7th, 2018

We all know how Florida can have a huge impact on presidential elections and that it is always a tight race there. Overnight the incumbent Democratic Senator was ousted and replaced by a Republican winning by a very small margin.

One of the other things that the state voted on yesterday was Amendment 4 which restores voting rights to 1.4 million people in Florida with past convictions. 

The outcome, which required a 60%+ vote, restores the voting rights specifically to felons not convicted of murder or a sexual offense after completing their sentences, including parole or probation.

The total involved represents a colossal 9.2% of Florida’s voting population and is being hailed as the largest expansion in voting rights since the Voting Rights Act was enacted. This disproportionately impacts on African-Americans and having them as part of the voter pool could clearly have a huge impact on electoral outcomes in the state.

Most states in the US have restrictions on the right to vote for people convicted of felonies. Generally the law bars people who are currently in prison. The Florida regime which this puts right impacted on felons for the rest of their lives.

Mike Smithson