Archive for the 'America' Category


Key fact: Biden leads the Dem 2020 polling despite not yet running

Saturday, March 16th, 2019


This is more than name recognition: he’s very viable candidate

One reason above all others convinced me in October 2015 that Donald Trump should be taken seriously as a presidential candidate: his performance in the opinion polls. It was easy to write him off as an amateur with a penchant for controversy and self-publicity; someone who would be overtaken by both his own absurdity and by professional politicians come the actual voting in the primaries. Easy but wrong, and the signs were there.

Trump had headed the polls for about three months by that stage: more than long enough to be tested in the spotlight. Lesser candidates who rose to brief prominence faded in the glare: Trump didn’t.

We’re not at anything like the same stage in the 2020 campaign yet but we are far enough in that we should now be taking the polls seriously. Candidates are declaring and campaigns are organizing. We’re past the shadow-boxing and into the real thing.

And yet for all the focus on those declared candidates, the most obvious stat from the polls is that one at the top: Joe Biden leads them. All of them. In the more than two dozen nationwide Democrat primary polls published this year, Biden has headed every single one in which he’s been named. Furthermore, since Sanders declared his candidacy four weeks ago, none but the Vermont senator and the former Vice President have scored more than 11% (Sanders has ranged 14-27; Biden, 24-39).

This is despite the fact that Biden isn’t yet a declared candidate and hasn’t even formed an exploratory committee, whereas the likes of Klobuchar, Warren, Harris and Sanders all have. To me, that says that there’s both a lot of goodwill towards Biden among Democrat voters, and that those same voters are sceptical of other candidates, which is an extremely healthy position for him to be in. Put another way, this is more than name-recognition now.

There are of course reasons for us to exercise caution. Most obviously, he isn’t yet a candidate and might not become one. However, at the very least he is seriously weighing another tilt at the Oval Office, dropping strong hints in recent appearances and signing the sort of people he’d need for a campaign. Biden’s age might be an issue – he’d be the oldest-ever US president on his first day in office – though age didn’t harm Sanders in 2016, nor is it obviously adversely affecting either man this time round. Likewise, while Biden does have a reputation as gaffe-prone – a legacy of previous failed presidential bids – I wonder whether that’s now outdated: he served for eight years with distinction and without embarrassment as Vice President.

There’s a lot of time between now and the Iowa caucus in February next year; plenty enough for one or more to capture the public imagination and emerge from the extremely large field. However, front-runners can and often do win the nominations. The current betting has near four-way co-favourites, with Sanders, Harris, Biden and O’Rourke all available at either 9/2 or 5/1, which makes little sense to me given the strength of Biden’s polling. Sure, he should have a discount because of the possibility that he might not run but it’s a diminishing risk.

I think Biden is getting ready to announce that he’ll run, and that based on his polling and record, will make an extremely strong contender for the nomination and indeed the presidency. 5/1 is definitely value.

David Herdson


Nancy Pelosi says Trump shouldn’t be impeached + other US developments

Wednesday, March 13th, 2019

Ten days to PB’s 15th birthday the latest US political betting developments

While everything in the UK has been focussed on Brexit, the Commons votes, and the looming Article 50 deadline of March 29th there’ve been big political betting developments in Trump’s USA.

For almost within days of his election in November 2016 betting markets were opened on Trump’s possible impeachment and there’ve been many markets on when he would go. But he’s still there although weaker as a President following the Republicans loss of the House to the Democrats last November.

Meanwhile the legal moves against Trump and the Mueller investigation into whether there was Russian collusion at WH2016 continue. Things are getting much tighter.

So a key move was the announcement by House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, that Trump should not be impeached is significant. She takes the view that such action would be divisive. She said:

“”Impeachment is so divisive to the country that unless there’s something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don’t think we should go down that path, because it divides the country,” she said. “He’s just not worth it.”

Pelosi is a shrewd cookie and has clearly done this for a reason.

Meanwhile in the battle for the Democratic nomination where’s a new favourite – the ex-VP now in his late 70s, Joe Biden. I’ve never been convinced of him given his failure in previous White House races at the nomination stage. He’s gaff prone. If the Dems want to unseat Trump they need a fresher face.

Another move is that the previously highly fancied Ohio Senator and one of my picks, Sherrod Brown, has announced that he won’t run.

NOTE: There are problems with the Vanilla comments system – to reach the thread please click here.

Mike Smithson


John Hickenlooper, my 270/1 longshot for WH2020, becomes the latest to put his hat into the ring

Monday, March 4th, 2019

It was back nearly a year ago that I suggested that the ex-Governor of Colorado, John Hickenlooper, might be a good longshot bet for WH2016. I know several PBers are also on him a very long odds.

I think that his appeal is that he is total antidote to Trump who has proved himself a successful election winner in Colorado where he’s now stepped down after two terms as governor. I think Trump would have a tougher job riling him compared with other candidates.

Now the field is becoming very crowded and with most of the Democrat primaries dividing their vote proportionately then it is possible even likely that we’ll get to the convention without any one contender having a majority.

Hickenlooper has built up a reputation for getting noticed through quirky TV ads like this one.

The early primaries are going to be crucial and Hickenlooper won’t be competing for the hard progressive vote. I’ve put more money on him today at 150/1.

AT very long odds you can back quite a few possibles and I’m also on the current favourite, Kamala Harris at 66/1 in a bet placed just before Trump’s inauguration.

Mike Smithson


Trump’s WH2016 victory could be the last time the national popular vote loser becomes President

Monday, March 4th, 2019


State moves are afoot to by-pass the electoral college

We all know that in November 2016 Donald Trump won the White House Race even though in terms of the national popular vote he had 3.1% fewer votes overall than Hillary Clinton. This was not the first time this has happened.

The actual decision on who should be President is determined by members of the electoral College which features in the map above. The numbers in each box are the number of electoral College members that each is allocated. The map also shows the latest WH2020 projection from

In almost all state in the US the electoral College votes are allocated on a first past the post system to the candidate who actually picks up most votes in that state.

Trump managed to win in 2016 even though he trailed Clinton secures because his vote was very efficiently distributed in several key swing states which he picked up with very small margins.

Now there is a move afoot that’s designed to prevent a further national vote loser getting the job. This is coming from decisions in some states to change their state law on how their electoral votes should be allocated. Instead of the state’s own presidential election result being the determining factor several are now deciding that they should go to whichever contender wins the national popular vote.

Colorado has just enacted such a provision conditional on sufficient other states doing the same to represent a majority in the electoral college.

If enough states follow suit before November next year then it would completely change the dynamic of the presidential election. For if you live in a strong blue state (Democrat) or a red one (Republican) then the outcome where you vote at the moment is a foregone conclusion. This inevitably depresses turn out.

The campaigns which in the past have tended not to focus on banker states would see a lot more activity.

Is this going to happen in time for next year’s election? That’s hard to say but it’s interesting that in recent weeks this has started to get traction in many parts of the US media.

Maybe the long-term consequences of Donald Trump’s election in 2016 would be to change how America chooses its president.

Mike Smithson


Sanders aged 77 and Biden 76 move to 2nd and 3rd favourite in the WH2020 Democratic nomination betting

Thursday, February 28th, 2019 chart of movement on the Betfair exchange

Both old white male failures from previous White House campaigns

There’s been a big shake up in the betting for the 2020 democratic nomination. Last week Bernie Sanders came into the race and established himself as second favourite. Now, the latest development is that Joe Biden, who first ran for the White House in 1984, is said to be on the point of putting his hat into the ring.

Both, because they’ve been around for so long – the former running last time and the latter being Obama’s VP – have strong name recognition and my guess is that’s what driven their apparent support in early polling. Bernie at least can point to his large fundraising base and the amounts raised so far.

If Biden does decide to go for it, and the signs are that he will, it will be his third attempt. His previous runs for the White House were abject failures. In 1984 he secured just one delegate in the primaries and four years later he secured two. He is notoriously gaffe prone.

Sanders did a whole lot better in his only previous bid, 2016, when he was effectively the only candidate running against Hillary Clinton and was helped enormously because of the concerns over the electoral appeal of the front runner.

What the party needs now is someone with the ability to appeal to a broad base particularly many of the centre ground voters who have concerns about Trump. Last November in the midterms it was former Republican voting college educated white women who switched to the Democrats. I cannot see either of the older white men having that appeal.

The first campaign challenge for Sanders will be the Iowa caucuses in about 11 months time and no doubt people will compare his 49%+ that he achieved there in 2016 with what he does. It is hard, given there are so many contenders, seeing Sanders doing better there.

Mike Smithson


The hearing with Trump’s ex-lawyer, Michael Cohen, doesn’t bode well for the President

Wednesday, February 27th, 2019

In the US the big political news has been the appearance before a Congressional committee of Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer who is set to go to prison in May after being convicted last year. The Republicans on the committee have been seeking to discredit him but his comments could have a big impact on WH2020.

A good flavour of the hearing is from this exchange between Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) and Michael Cohen during today’s House Oversight Committee:

GOSAR: You’re a pathological liar. You don’t know truth from falsehood.

COHEN: Sir, I’m sorry, are you referring to me or the President?

There’s little doubt that this damages the incumbent but that at the same time his base will remain totally loyal whatever emerges. Only problem is that Trump needs more than his base to get re-elected.

So far this hasn’t impacted on the betting and Trump is 74% favourite to win the GOP nomination.

Mike Smithson


Based on current Betfair WH2016 odds why Nate Silver thinks Beto O’Rourke is the most likely Democratic VP pick

Wednesday, February 13th, 2019

This is from a discussion on Nate’s site – Fivethirtyeight on Beto O’Rourke’s chances of becoming his party’s Vice Presidential nominee. This is, of course, chosen by the nominee for President and takes place just before the convention. He notes.

Here’s why: 1) There’s about a 55 percent chance (per Betfair) that the nominee will not be a white dude. 2) If the nominee is not a white dude, the VP probably will be a white dude. 3) The other white dudes are too old (Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders) or would cost Democrats a Senate seat (Sherrod Brown). Hence, Beto.

I love the simple logic in Nate’s argument here all based on where the current WH2020 betting on Betfair stands. It is very hard to argue with.

There are, as yet, no betting markets on the Democrats VP choice.

Mike Smithson


The WH2020 Democratic nomination race: Sanders and O’Rourke best placed for the early rounds fundraising

Monday, February 11th, 2019

Chart compiled by New York Times

In the smartphone age digital donors are paramount

Over the weekend the New York Times published the above chart showing the number of potential online financial supporters that those who have declared that they are running for the Democratic nomination and those who are tipped to put their hat into the ring have available to them.

Given that there are strict US rules on the maximum that an individual can give to a contender then the ability to generate huge amounts from small donations is going to be determined at first by the numbers that you are in contact with in this case having active email addresses and mobile phone numbers.

    We cannot assume that these totals for each contender are exclusive. There is almost certainly a very large amount of overlap. There can be little doubt, for instance, that the huge Sanders total includes many who are on the Warren list and so on.

Recency is also an important element and here the overall total is probably more potent for the Texan than the large Sanders figure which dates back to 2012. My guess is that a large part of the O’Rourke total would have come in the past year. His success at raising record amounts from all parts of the US for his ultimately unsuccessful Texas Senator fight against Ted Cruz was what brought him national attention.

Even if Sanders decides not to run he will be in a very strong position to influence the nomination race by being able to put his lists at the disposal of other contenders with whom he is ready to give backing.

My assumption is that the campaigns will also have relatively up-to-date payment card information for a large part of the numbers that they are in contact with. This will allow text message appeals and other asks to take place with very little that responders have to do in order to transfer the money. Just look at how Amazon became so powerful because it is so easy to pay.

    Digital donors provide the potential to fuel a campaign over prolonged periods. Once you’ve given and are on the list you’ll be asked time and time again.

The lists of contacts will also be very useful for non fundraising purposes particularly in getting information to activists in caucus states – those where the nomination decisions are not made at a primary election run by the state but rather the party machine. This could play a huge part in Iowa a year from now which is the very first State to decide and one whose outcome can set the tone for the rest of the nomination fight.

In the nomination betting Harris remains the strong favourite on about a 23% chance with Biden and O’Rourke some way behind.

Mike Smithson