Archive for the 'Betting' Category


Is Trump really just a 17% chance to be impeached?

Thursday, August 8th, 2019

Graphic – Recent YouGov polling on impeaching Trump

Impeachment is a legal procedure, with an indictment delivered by the House and a trial conducted by the Senate. But, assuming that there is a plausible yet arguable case for it, the procedure naturally resolves itself into a political process like any other.

To recap, impeachment is defined as the House passing one or more articles of impeachment, by a simple majority vote. The House has 435 voting members, of which 235 are Democrats. A strict party-line vote on impeachment would therefore pass. Any such articles of impeachment are likely to originate from the House Judiciary Committee, chaired by Democratic Congressman Jerry Nadler, and it is worth noting that the Committee is edging towards possibly recommending such articles this autumn:

Once a President is impeached, the trial by the Senate – with the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court presiding – requires a two-thirds majority for his conviction, and automatic removal from office. This is exceptionally unlikely given that 53 of the 100 Senators are Republicans, though, as with Nixon, it is possible that the mood of the Senate could change in light of any new information. But, for the purposes of this article, let us assume that Donald Trump’s impeachment would largely be “for show”, much like Bill Clinton’s.

The experience of the Clinton impeachment – an apparent electoral backlash against the Republicans for pursuing it – is one of the main reasons that the Democratic leadership (mostly in the form of Nancy Pelosi) has been keen to downplay the possibility. A second reason is to protect her members that represent swing districts [who, after all, are the ones who make up the majority]. Only one Democratic Congressman from a district won by Trump has come out for impeachment so far. Moderate (i.e. swing) voters are slightly against impeachment at present,  in line with the country as a whole.

At this juncture, it is worth noting that there may also be tactical arguments for impeachment. Not impeaching Trump could allow him to run in 2020 using lines such as: “Mueller cleared me, and the tragic Democrats didn’t even dare to impeach. NO COLLUSION!!!” But I think it is fair to say that the main motivation for impeaching Trump is simply the Democrats’ belief that he did indeed commit “high crimes and misdemeanors” – and, even worse, they might have allowed him to win the 2016 election.

Increasing Democratic internal pressure

Nancy Pelosi may not be able to withstand the pressure from within the Democratic Party for impeachment for much longer. In the wake of Robert Mueller’s testimony to Congress, in which he all but made clear that he would have recommended prosecution of Donald Trump, were he not the President, a procession of House Democrats went public with their desire to see a formal impeachment inquiry begin. The psychological barrier of 118 – “a majority of the majority” – has been breached. And that number can only realistically climb: this is a one-way ratchet, with every new tweet from Trump potentially converting more Democrats to the cause.

There is also electoral pressure on House Democrats to come out for impeachment in the shape of Congressional primaries: if you represent a very liberal district (just as Pelosi does) your primary electorate are likely to be highly pro-impeachment (perhaps 70%+), so you would need to be pretty sure of your personal appeal to go against that. It is for the same reason that the majority of the Democratic Presidential candidates have recommended impeachment – though none of the serious contenders want to focus on it. Such cues add further to the pressure on Pelosi.

5.7 – a good value bet

Turning to the betting, Republican (but anti-Trump) commentator Bill Kristol certainly noticed the stream of House Democrats:

It was this tweet – and notably his 50-50 prediction – that prompted me to check up on the Betfair market on impeachment, where you can still back impeachment at 5.7 (17.5%). In the interests of disclosure I should say that I already had a substantial pro-impeachment position with Betfair Sportsbook, which I had partially laid off on the Exchange. In the light of the developments I have chronicled above, I reversed my Exchange position so that I am currently very substantially pro-impeachment. It may not (yet) be 50-50, but I think it is more like 40-60 or so.

Finally, it is also always worth comparing US Betfair markets with their PredictIt equivalent. PredictIt is an academic research project that has a derogation to allow US “punters” to play, similarly to the Iowa Electronic Markets. However, there are two key limitations per market that may affect the pricing – each customer is limited to a $850 liability, and each market is limited to 5,000 customers. Bearing these caveats in mind, it’s still notable that the PredictIt impeachment market is currently at 26%, markedly higher than Betfair.

There are sound political reasons why the Democrats should not impeach Donald Trump. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be able to stop themselves. I think the 5.7 is an excellent value bet.

Tissue Price


Senator Elizabeth Warren becomes the fourth Democrat to occupy the WH2020 nomination favourite slot

Wednesday, August 7th, 2019

Since the Democratic WH2020 nomination betting opened there have now been four different contenders who have occupied the betting favourite slot on the Betfair exchange. First it was Senator Bernie Sanders, the 77 year old from Vermont, then ex-VP Jo Biden, 76,  who has had two stints there.  After her impressive performance in the first debate Senator Kamala Harris took over only to see her betting position decline sharply after a lacklustre second debate appearance last week

The latest favourite is Senator Elizabeth Warren who has performed consistently throughout the campaign who once again did well in the second debate.  A new Economist/YouGov poll finds Biden leading with 22%, followed by  Warren at 16%, with  Sanders at 13%, with Harris and Buttigieg at 8% each

Ahead of WH2016 there was a lot of speculation that Warren might enter the race to compete with Hillary Clinton. She wasn’t tempted but was the first major WH2020 contender to launch her campaign. She has an ability to think quickly on her feet and to make statements about herself that very much support her campaign with sounding boastful. That’s an important skill.

Warren represents Massachusetts which is next to New Hampshire where the first full primary will be held in early February.  Historically contenders from the neighbouring state  have performed well there.

Unfortunately there’s never been a moment when her betting odds have been long enough for me to be tempted and I feel I should be on her.

Mike Smithson




All could change in the WH2020 nomination race on the evening of February 3rd in the midwest state of Iowa

Tuesday, August 6th, 2019

The betting is clear. Former vice president and 2 times White House campaign failure, Jo Biden, is back as favourite in the betting on the Democratic nomination on Betfair.

It is hard to see any real change here except some of the long shots pulling out of the race between now and the Iowa caucuses on February 3rd next year when business really starts.

Because of their position as being the first state to decide Iowa voters take their role very seriously and pay much greater attention to the race than those elsewhere at this stage.

Iowa with its caucuses always kicks off the White House nomination season with real voters casting real votes for the first time. To have any chance Biden should be aiming for a result there that does not raise any questions over his frontrunner status.

I’ll probably will not make any serious bets on WH2020 until Iowa. If Biden’s ge is going to be an issue it will be Iowa voters who flag this first.

Mike Smithson


The big Brexit betting divide: 53% to 47% that the UK WON’T exit the EU by Oct 31st

Tuesday, August 6th, 2019

Chart Betfair movements from

Do those risking their cash think Boris is bluffing?

At 6am this morning it looked as though there was going to be crossover in the Halloween UK exit from the EU betting with more money going on it actually happening than not. Since then the market has been turned back to no – that there won’t be an exit by that date.

It would seem, therefore that the Cumming/Johnson line is not being believed by those ready to risk their cash. In other words they think the two are bluffing.

Somehow the strident assertions that an October 31st exit is inevitable appear to be a case of “they protesteth too much”. BJohnson doesn’t have a good record of always sticking to what he has said.

This is a great market to watch though I’m not confident enough to assert that it is wrong.

Mike Smithson


Will Corbyn be Labour leader at the next general election?

Sunday, August 4th, 2019

At first glance this market from Ladbrokes seems like an easy way to earn a 40% return as it seems we are headed for an early election with Boris Johnson’s actions indicating that’s where we will end up. An early election gives no realistic way for Corbyn to be removed or stand down as Labour leader.

With no honeymoon BJ for the Tories first in Brecon & Radnorshire and ComRes now having the Tories one per cent behind Labour, only a few weeks after ComRes were predicting a 150 seat majority for a Boris Johnson led Tory party you can see why Boris Johnson might not opt to hold an early election, especially after how a snap election or talk therein ruined the reputations and authority of his two mandateless predecessors.

If there’s not going to be a snap election then if we see more polling similar to the findings from Deltapoll below then I can see Corbyn ousted.

If Labour members realise Corbyn is the roadblock to them winning a general election then Corbyn should be ousted, his supporters are appeal loyal, but we live in volatile times, what we’ve learned in the last few years are the tales of the unexpected do happen.

I expect somehow we’ll end up with a general election by next spring as sustained No Deal will see the fall of the government, like the winter of discontent on speed, ‘and now, instead of mounting barbed steeds, To fright the souls of fearful adversaries, He capers nimbly in a lady’s chamber’ seems apt for Boris Johnson.

So all things considered I think the 2/5 is the best option, but if there’s a route to government lasting until 2021 or later I’d be interested in 7/4 option.



Biden back as favourite for the nomination after Harris fails to follow on from her first debate sucess

Thursday, August 1st, 2019

Biden was probably the debate “winner”

There’ve been big movements in the WH2020 Democratic nomination betting following last night’s second part of the latest round of debates including Biden and Kamala Harris.

Unlike the first debate in June when Harris launched effectively herself with a biting attack on 76 year old Biden this time there was no repetition and she herself came under sharp fire.

A month ago Harris got to a near 40% chance on the Betfair exchange which as I write (0635 BST)is now about 25%. Biden now just has the edge with Elizabeth Warren very close as well.

As to the debate this was the verdict of Political Wire’s Taegan Goddard

As the clear frontrunner, Biden was the focus of sometimes fierce attacks by Harris and many others. For the most part, he handled himself well. In the first debate, it felt like Biden might have been holding himself back, trying to show the discipline he’s often accused of lacking. Tonight, he relied on his political instincts again.

But while I think Biden won the debate, it wasn’t decisive. He did what he had to do to maintain his frontrunner status, but he gained little ground.

Harris, as the other top tier candidate, took on her share of attacks too. But she was often unsteady and her tone was quite different from the first debate. She focused more on attacking and less on connecting with voters. As a result, she came across much less likeable this time around.

I don’t quite see where Harris goes from here. Biden is still there and, of course, there’s Elizabeth Warren who has yet to face the former Vice President on the debate stage. As to the longer shots in the betting Andrew Yang and Tulsi Gabbard probably did best.

This battle is wide open and will continue to absorb us.

Mike Smithson


Frontrunners Sanders and Warren get the edge in the latest Democratic WH2020 nominationdebate

Wednesday, July 31st, 2019

Little change in the betting apart from Sanders moving up 2%

The second round of Democratic nomination debates has once again been split into two because there are so many candidates still in the race who met the organisers qualification rules.

This means that not all the front runners were on stage together and last night we were without Joe Biden who leads in the polls and Kamala Harris who currently leads in the betting.

At the next debate in September the qualifying levels on polling and fundraising have been made harder and it looks as though there will only be then 10 participating.

I didn’t stay up and have not watched the debate in full but this verdict of Taegan Goddard of Politicalwire reflects what many commentators are saying.

“Overall, the clear winners were Warren and Sanders. Both fought for their ideas rather than attack each other. It’s unlikely either lost any ground, to others or to each other. Even more important, they offered an optimism for Democrats in a way the other candidates didn’t.

Warren summed up this optimistic message in a brilliant response to Delaney: “I don’t understand why anybody goes to all the trouble of running for president of the United States just to talk about what we really can’t do and shouldn’t fight for.”

The second part of the July debate tonight sees Kamala Harris up against Joe Biden. It will be the latter’s performance that the media will be focusing on. He cannot appear so lacklustre as he did in the first debate in June.

Mike Smithson


Could the Tories just hang on in Brecon & Radnorshire?

Tuesday, July 30th, 2019

PM Johnson has been in Wales today and spent an hour or so in ‘Brecon and Radnorshire where the Tories are defending a 19.5% majority in the by-election on Thursday. This is a critical one for him and his government  because losing the seat would cuts down the effective CON majority with the DUP to just one.

Being beaten in a by-election with a majority this size just eight days after entering Number 10 would undermine the generally positive narrative Boris has created.

The vacancy was caused by a successful recall petition on the Tory who won it at GE2015, Chris Davies. This followed his criminal conviction for expense fraud.

The Greens and Plaid have both stood aside for the LDs to ensure that there is only one pro-Remain contender. The seat voted roughly 52-48 for leave at the referendum. As per usual the LDs are working hard to squeeze the LAB vote which was 17.7% last time.

There’s little doubt that the Tories have been throwing everything into the defence and I am less confident than I was that the LDs will win back the seat.

Someone I know was canvassing for the Tories at the weekend and told me that Davies is remarkably popular. There’s also a very high level of interest and I’d expect good turnout by by-election standards.

I think TSE’s bet, rating this as about a 4% chance for the Tories, is value.

Mike Smithson