Archive for the 'America' Category


Beto O’Rourke, third favourite for WH2020, gets closer to putting his hat into the ring

Tuesday, November 27th, 2018

Is he the white Obama?

The biggest UK political betting market continues to be the US presidential election in 2020 and overnight there have been big developments with Beto O’Rourke saying that he isn’t rulling out a bid.

He had said on repeated occasions that he would not seek the Presidency at the next election but in a town hall meeting last night in his home city of El Paso he suggested that he is now open to a presidential run. This is a significant shift from his remarks on the matter before the midterm elections on November 6th.

He came to prominence during that campaign for his hugely successful fundraising and for running the incumbent Ted Cruz a very close second in a state which has been dominated by the Republicans for decades.

    If the betting is anything to go by then the nomination flight is between O’Rourke and the California senator Kamala Harris who is just favourite at 17% compared with O’Rourke at 15%.

His senate campaign received a huge amount of publicity ahead of November 6th and he became very much a favourite of the liberal left within the party because of the energy of his campaigning and his strong views on healthcare and immigration. The former became the number one issue in the midterms following the efforts by Trump to undermine Obamacare.

Bernie Sanders, the elderly former favourite has now slipped to sixth place in the betting on 6% and Beto backers will surely hoping that the ageing socialist from Vermont and his energetic base will support their man. I know many PBers, including myself, are on the 46 year old Texan at considerably longer odds than you can get now.

There is still an awful long way to go. Generally potential candidates put their hats into the ring in the first half of the year before the presidential election and the action starts the following January.

This latest news will help prospective campaign funders as well as Democratic party campaign professionals who had been waiting on news from O’Rourke before deciding who to back in the primary campaign.

Mike Smithson


On the eve of the critical Mississippi senate election Trump’s approval ratings plummet

Monday, November 26th, 2018

Meanwhile the Mueller investigation gets closer

Tomorrow sees the final chapter in this year’s midterms with the runoff for the Senatorial place in Mississippi. Today the president is attending two mass rallies in different parts of the state in the hope of shoring up his core vote ahead of the election.

This is one that Republicans should really hold. It is in a solid “red state” and the expectation is that the party will be able to see off a hugely determined campaign by the Democrats. The current split in the Senate is 52 to 47 and if the pundits are right tomorrow should see that increase to 53 seats.

In the meantime a big shadow is hanging over the White House as the investigation into possible links between his WH2016 campaign and Russia. More indictments are expected by the day and this is getting very close to the incumbent and or members of his family.

He has reacted with anger and aggression taking on a Bush Supreme Court appointee who is now the Chief Justice.

All this might have driven the big drop in his approval ratings from Gallup. As the chart shows he’s now at just 38% approval with 60% disapproval number. Although his base remains loyal Trump needs much more than that.

Mike Smithson


Betting on Tuesday’s final midterms showdown – the Mississippi senatorial run-off

Sunday, November 25th, 2018

The contest that’s evoking look backs to the Civil War

It might be 3 weeks since the US midterm elections but there is a lot still to be settled. One of the interesting features from a British perspective is that some States seem to take an enormously long time to actually count the votes and not all the California seats in the house have been resolved yet.

Meanwhile in the state of Mississippi with its long history of difficult race relations there is a Senate runoff on Tuesday which has a evoked lots of memories and images of the past which the Democrats are trying to exploit. This from NBC.

They see an opening – however small – after the Democratic party’s special election victory in Alabama last year. A comment by the GOP incumbent, Hyde-Smith campaign about attending a “public hanging” while running against her black opponent raised the state’s history of lynching. This has put her on the defensive in the campaign’s final weeks.

That the runoff is taking place on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving has raised doubts about turn out on either side. Inevitably there’s been little campaigning activity. It is like holding a Westminster by-election just two days after Boxing Day.

The runoff is happening because no one candidate achieved 50% of the vote on November 6th and maybe, just maybe, in all the circumstances the Democrats might just have a fighting chance.

The campaign has been characterised by lots of look backs to the state’s history. The latest from CNN was that the GOP contender “once promoted a measure that praised a Confederate soldier’s effort to ‘defend his homeland’ and pushed a revisionist view of the Civil War”

I’ve been trying to find a suitable bet on the longshot Democrats and have got 13 to 1 on Betfair that the Republicans overall will win 52 seats in this year’s senate election. That will be their total if there is a shock in Mississippi.

Mike Smithson


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’