Archive for the 'America' Category


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


The story of the night on the betting markets

Wednesday, November 7th, 2018

At one point the Republicans were favourites to take the House

I love these charts from showing the dynamic movement on the Betfair exchange elections markets.

The odds on the Betfair Exchange, of course, are not determined by the bookmaker but rather by how individual punters are seeing it with some making wagers and others laying specific bets.

What is intriguing knowing what we know now is that at one stage during the evening, as the chart shows, the Republicans edged into the favourite’s slot to take the House. This was mostly due to the results that were coming in early in each state and generally those tended to be the smaller precincts.

A lot of the betting, I guess, was influenced by the commentators on the American networks most notably CNN which, of course, has a much bigger audience in the UK.

Looking through the comments thread between 0100 and 0200 GMT  quite a few PBers were talking about an extraordinary Republican victory against the odds. It wasn’t to be.

What tends to happen with American elections is that the bigger cities are much later adding their totals to the state or the congressional District totals and this can change perceptions.

From a personal perspective I had a good night. I thought but Beto O’Rourke was going to do well but given the strong Republican tradition in Texas it was a massive challenge for him to win the state. As it was he’s come within a couple of percent and my strategy of selling Cruz’s winning margin on the Spread markets has made this a nice earner.

What we don’t know yet is the overall turnout level on which there was also quite a lot of betting. I was a buyer on the spreads at 43.5% and I’m expecting to pick up quite nicely on that.

Mike Smithson


The Dems win the House while defeated O’Rourke becomes 3rd favourite to win WH2020

Wednesday, November 7th, 2018


As the early votes are counted if we do see a blue wave young and non white voters will be behind it

Wednesday, November 7th, 2018


Update- This is looking like 2016 all over again.


The November 6th US Midterms – where we are and what might happen, Part II

Tuesday, November 6th, 2018

Viewcode once again looks at the detailed data

The midterms are for 435 seats in the United States House of Representatives, 35 of the 100 seats in the United States Senate, 36 out of 50 state Governors, and 3 out of 5 territory Governors. This is an attempt to summarise the predictors and is the successor to a similar article . The following figures were taken between 1am and 4am GMT November 6th 2018


A “generic ballot” poll asks the person which party they would prefer to control Congress or would vote for in their district. The website FiveThirtyEight has a page summarizing those polls and the spreadsheet is here. The last six polls so listed are here:


Due to time constraints this will not be considered


The United States has analysts and academics who produce their own predictions of the outcomes. Their predictions are complicated by the concept of a “toss-up” or “too close to call” (TCTC): elements which they decline to predict, and by the use of qualifiers such as “Tilt”, “Lean”, “Likely”, etc. A summary of the predictions can be found on the Wikipedia election pages for the Senate and the House. (,_2018)


Two senators (Angus King and Bernie Sanders)  are Independent but “caucus” (vote) with the Democrats. They are considered to be safe in their seats and are included with the Democrats in the table below. 35 seats are contested (24+2 Democrats, 9 Republicans).

House of Representatives

All 435 seats are up for election. No independents. The Daily Kos site is not clear enough for me to easily extract the data. 538 gives three options (lite, classic, deluxe) and two modes (one by probability, one by district). I have chosen the classic mode.


I looked at five bookies: Ladbrokes, PaddyPower, SportingIndex (Spin), Betway, Coral. Spin were again suspended at the time of inspection. The seats are deduced from the over/under. The Coral and Ladbrokes senate majority odds were deduced from Rep>50 (Rep majority), Rep=50 (no majority) and Rep<50 (Dem majority).  Ladbrokes acquired Coral in 2016 and were themselves acquired by GVC in 2018, which presumably explains why Ladbrokes and Coral odds are identical.



Due to time constraints this will not be considered


Viewcode is a statistician who spends too much time commentating below-the-line


Mid Terms 2018 : Hour by hour, state by state, your timetable for tonight

Tuesday, November 6th, 2018

The Mid Term Elections of 2018 are shaping up to be one of the most important elections in recent times, perhaps up there with the 1994 Republican “Contract with America” or the 2010 “schallacking” that the Republicans gave the Democrats. Whatever happens, all the twists and turns will be poured over for years to come, so instead of looking at the issues, I will be focusing on which congressional districts are likely to flip (GAIN) and what impact that will have on the House.

The first thing to note is that, with all Houses, there have been a number of by-elections. In the 2016 – 2018 Congress there have been 10 by-elections so far, five caused by appointments to President Trump’s cabinet, two caused by ethics investigations and three by normal resignations. However, unlike at Westminster, when by-elections, once the general election is called, there are four by-elections being held on general election day, two caused by a resignation, one by the honourable member dying, and another one caused by an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment, but the list of new comers doesn’t end there.

On the Republican side a staggering number of members have chosen these elections to stand down with names such as Rep. Issa (CA 49), Rep. Gowdy (SC 4) and biggest of them all Rep. Ryan (WI 1) the Speaker of the House. There are of course Democrats standing down with perhaps Rep. Delaney (MD 6) reminding us of what is coming next by announcing that he is seeking the Democratic nomination for President the day after the Mid Terms.

In all, 58 congressmen are standing down at this election. This means that when the polls open on Election Day a total of 235 Republicans will be seeking re-election and 193 Democrats will be seeking re-election. This means that if the Democrats score twenty five net gains (or more) they take the House and make President’s Trump’s second half of his first term a political and literal nightmare.

Now, twenty five gains doesn’t sound very much at all, however there is an unwritten rule about US elections, it is very tricky to get rid of an incumbent. Indeed, on average only nine districts change hand at a congressional election, but as shown in 1994 and 2010 when circumstances allow, the House can and does change, so, how could this happen? Well, it would take a 7% swing to the Democrats since the 2016 congressional election for that to happen and here’s an hour by hour guide through the night to give an indication of which seats could change hands and when.

0000 GMT Polls close in GA, SC, VT, VA, IN, KY

Virginia’s 10th district (GOP majority of 5.8%) is what is known as a “topsy-turvy” district. Although it elected a Republican congressman in the 2016 elections, it voted for Clinton on the presidential ticket and therefore as it only needs less than a 3% swing to the Dems to flip, this has to be in the bag, therefore if at midnight the Democrats haven’t made at least one net gain on the projections, then something has gone disastrously wrong with the Democrats campaign and if that is the case then watch out for the President gloating like mad

0030 GMT Polls close in NC, OH, WV

With the polls closing in another three states, a new battleground district sees it’s polls closing North Carolina’s 13th district (GOP majority of 12.2%) and this will be a real test for the GOP as this time this Republican seat voted for Trump in the presidential election. A 6.1% swing is a big ask for the Democrats, but if they take this (and others in the same range later in the evening) then the House is within grasp.

0100 GMT Polls close in CT, DE, DC, ME, MD, MA, NH, NJ, PA, RI, TN, AL, FL, IL, MS, MO, OK

With the polls closing in 17 states, this is when the direction of votes will start to become clear, by now a total of twelve battleground seats will have seen their polls close with Florida’s 26th district (GOP majority of 11.8%) being of particular interest, as it’s another GOP / Clinton district. A gain here on a swing of 5.9% would certainly put the wind under the Republicans and give notice that their hold on the White House may not be as long as they had hoped, but we all remember in 2016 when Florida started out as a Clinton win, slowly drifted into too close to call and ended up as a Trump win.

0130 GMT Polls close in AR

Although Arkansas doesn’t hold much interest, by now the shape of the House should be becoming clear indeed, most experts agree that if the Democrats haven’t made at least 12 gains by now, they have no chance of winning the House

0200 GMT Polls close in NY, LA, MI, MN, NE, WI, AZ, CO, KS, NM, SD, TX, WY

With the polls closing in another 13 states, the big battlegrounds of Texas and Arizona come into play and we start to see whether the Democrats dream of winning the Senate comes true, after all the former Democratic congressman for Texas’s 16th district is hoping to unseat Sen. Cruz and if he does, then Texas 23 and Texas 7 must surely follow. Similarly if Arizona’s Senate seat (the most marginal out of all the GOP defences) also flips then Arizona’s 2nd district (the winning line for the Democrats) must also flip and if it does, that is it. Nancy Pelosi will come onto the airwaves and declare herself Speaker Elect of the House, the Democratic Party will jump for joy and all eyes will be on President Trump who could face within weeks of the Democratic House gathering a vote of impeachment on a simple majority.

0300 GMT Polls close in IA, MT, UT, NV

With these states polls closing, the Democrats will on the cusp of gaining the House in actuality as 24 of their 25 targets will have their polls closed including Utah’s 4th district (GOP majority of 12.5%) and, if my records are correct, a Democrat gain here would be the first Utah Democrat ever elected since Utah was given four congressional districts and leave the GOP with absolute egg on their faces.

0400 GMT Polls close in ND, CA, ID, OR, WA, HI

Given how marginal it is California’s 49th district (GOP majority of 0.5% ad Clinton district), the winning line for the Democrats will be crossed in style and then attention will turn to what happens when the Dem House gathers in the New Year and given how the President loves to tweet in the early morning, a tweet saying that “Nothing has changed” is bound to appear before too long

0600 GMT Polls close in AK

And with that the Mid Terms come to an end, with the Democrats liable to be in need of scraping off the ceiling, the experts will discuss what the election means and no doubt come to the conclusion, dependent on the results, that America has spoken and that it is down to both parties to respect that voice

Colours to the mast time – my forecast

House Forecast: Dem +16 (GOP majority of 11)
Senate Forecast: Dem +1 (GOP majority on VP’s casting vote)

Harry Hayfield