Archive for the 'Betting' Category


Pete Buttigieg’s an interesting candidate but shouldn’t be a favourite

Saturday, April 13th, 2019

A 30-something gay small-city mayor should not be 14/1 to win WH2020

Precedent is a good guide but a bad determinant. To believe that something cannot happen because it hasn’t previously happened is to end up being unpleasantly surprised. It’s therefore possible that the Democrats could look past the current or former governors, senators and vice-president in order to select as their candidate someone who’s not just the mayor of a city the size of Chesterfield but who’s still in his thirties and gay. Possible but surely unlikely, you’d think.

Unlikely perhaps – but not as unlikely as the raw facts might suggest. Firstly, Buttigieg has serious support. His political experience might not put him in the big league but his fundraising does: in the first quarter of 2019, he raised $7m – more than any of Senators Warren, Klobuchar or Booker. That’s still a good deal less than Bernie Sanders, who led the field with over $18m but it’s more than enough to show that he’s being noticed and taken seriously.

That’s reflected in the polls too. While the as-yet-undeclared Biden continues to lead and Sanders remains a solid second, Buttigieg transitioned during March from a 0-1% also-ran into the second tier of mid-to-upper-single-figures candidates, alongside the likes of Booker, Warren and O’Rourke.

The second reason we shouldn’t be too sceptical is that while his CV might be thin, what is there is strong. Admittedly, it’s the sort of record that would usually be a launchpad to gubernatorial or Congressional office rather than a shot at the White House but it speaks of ability all the same. With the early debates likely to give candidates little time to speak out or cross-examine their opponents due to the numbers involved, his paucity of experience might well matter less than the positive message he can get across.

Thirdly, we need to look at who he isn’t as much as who he is. For all that the Democrats have an absurd amount of choice for 2020, that’s as much a measure of the field’s weakness (and Trump’s perceived weakness) as a strength. If, for example, Barack Obama were willing and able to run, you can be sure that many who are chancing their arm this time wouldn’t bother: they’re having a go because there isn’t a charismatic, dominant, experienced, inspiring person ready to assume the candidature. The fact that Buttigieg is unknown is an advantage in that context.

But is that enough? Or, to ask a related question, are his odds a fair assessment? To my mind, no: they’re the product of a minor polling bubble (which may have some further inflation left yet), a related funding bubble.

It’s certainly true that the old rules don’t apply to the same degree: Trump proved that, as did – in his own way – Sanders (who might have lost but who performed far better than expected). The polarised electorate overall and the nature of the electorates in primaries means that a party can still select an electorally difficult candidate providing that he or she have a big enough loyal base.

And the truth is that Buttigieg would be electorally difficult, coming with a whole set of high-risk factors. His sexuality alone in a country where religion plays a far more significant role than in Britain is likely to be a major hindrance, even if polls suggest that 70% of Americans would be accepting of gay president. (If this were true in act as well as word, you might expect there to be more openly LBGT senators and governors than there are). Even more of an issue is likely to be the claim that his candidature is lightweight – which in the end, and when faced with the prospect of going up against Trump, is what I suspect will do for him.

In what has in a few short years become a very unpredictable process, we should take Buttigieg seriously as a contender – but not yet too seriously. Even as a middle-ranking contender at the moment, I get the feeling that he’s punching above his weight. Most bookies have him at around 7/1 for the nomination, which I’d say is about half what it should be, with the best odds for the presidency being 14/1: almost fourth-favourite. Again, it should be well into the twenties.

David Herdson


The favourite to succeed TMay as CON leader, a Mr. Johnson, gets his knuckles wrapped for a fake polling report

Friday, April 12th, 2019

In January Mr. Johnson wrote in his Telegraph column that:

“Of all the options suggested by pollsters – staying in the EU, coming out on Theresa May ’ terms, or coming out on World Trade terms – it is the last, the so-called no-deal option, that is gaining in popularity. In spite of – or perhaps because of – everything they have been told, it is this future that is by some margin preferred by the British public.”

A reader complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation, the regulator arguing that no poll backed up Mr. Johnson’s assertions.

IPSO has now ruled that there was no polling to back this up and has ordered the paper to print a correction.

Well done the reader who complained. I get sick and tired of people making assertions like this without backing it up with detail.

Whether this will impact on his leadership ambitions only time will tell. No doubt he’ll find a way to bluster out of it when pressed.

Mike Smithson


If there is an early general election punters have no clear view on the winner

Thursday, April 11th, 2019 chart of movement on the Betfair exchange

On Betfair CON and LAB level pegging

For those looking to the betting markets to give a pointer to how a new General Election will go then I’m sorry but the current position is that Labour and the Conservatives are rated at exactly the same level to win most seats.

If this is correct, then the deadlock will continue and the political stalemate that has been British politics for many years appears to be ongoing.

The impact of the great brexit saga has been to erode the party system as we’ve seen with the defections and the gradual shrinking both main parties. We can only hope that this is all going to look a bit clearer after the local elections on May 2nd and the Euro elections on May 23rd.

Mike Smithson


The overnight developments in Brussels barely move the Brexit betting markets

Thursday, April 11th, 2019

Still the same stalemate but now with added time

A quick look across the Brexit related betting markets suggest that there has been relatively little movement given the developments last night. That might be because Theresa May didn’t get her very short extension and neither did the EU leadership get their longer one.

A no-deal Brexit now rated at a 14% chance which is barely changed. That UK will hold EU elections in May is up 3% to 95% but that is very little movement.

The Betfair brexit date market for the July to December 2019 is option up a couple of percent to 36% while we will article 50 be revoked betting now a 28% chance down from about 30%

This year 2019 still the favourite to be the Year of the next general election but that’s down a couple of percent to 37%. It is now rated at an 81% chance that Theresa May will finally quit during 2019 but this is wobbling a bit but still in a range of just 5%.

The big question is whether a fourth attempt to get her deal through the Commons will be successful. It is hard to see the votes changing.

Mike Smithson


Telegraph piece backs 400/1 shot Mark Francois to be next CON leader

Wednesday, April 10th, 2019

On Betfair Exchange he is currently 400/1. I’ve wagered £2 at 402/1.

In many ways from the extreme Brexiteers position you can see the logic in the position. Francois has kept totally to the faith without wavering but I’m not confident about my bet!

Mike Smithson


Not before 2022 or not at all now betting favourite for when Brexit happens

Tuesday, April 9th, 2019 chart of movement on the Betfair exchange

After another day of Brexit developments punters on the Betfair exchange now make 2022 or not all all the favourite as to when Brexit will happen. The chart shows the movements over the past months.

But, as can be seen, the second half of 2019 is close behind.

The actual rules of the market are:

“For the purposes of this market leaving the EU is defined as the date when the treaties of the EU cease to apply to the UK. Examples of when this might occur include, but are not limited, to: the date specified in a withdrawal agreement between the UK and the EU; the end of the two year negotiating period (29/03/2019) as set out by Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty (or any extension to this time period); or the date of the repeal of the 1972 European Communities Act. If more than one of these events were to occur, this market will be settled on the first of these events to occur. In the case of the two year time period in Article 50 being extended, via a unanimous vote by all EU Member States, we will settle this market on the extended date. This market will settle when the UK leaves the EU even if parts of the UK (e.g. Scotland, Northern Ireland) leave the UK or receive special status within the EU.”

This is a very difficult market to assess but the apparent longer A50 delay that seems likely opens up so many risks and potential problems if Brexit is to take its course.

So much here is down to the parliamentary situation and it is noticeable how the ERG group of Tory MPs is getting noticeably smaller. Half a loaf is often better than the risk of none at all.

Mike Smithson


Divided they fall. Alastair Meeks on the European elections

Tuesday, April 9th, 2019

The 2019 Euro elections – not a contest I thought was going to require a British perspective. Yet here we are, taking at least one more curtain call.

Last time Britain elected MEPs in the following numbers:


Labour 20

Conservatives 19

Green 3


Lib Dems 1

Plaid Cymru 1


Sinn Fein 1


UKIP tallied 26.6% of the vote to take first place on a turnout of just under 36%.

It should be noted that these MEPs have shifted allegiance quite a lot in the intervening period.  Currently Britain’s MEPs are comprised as follows:

Labour 19

Conservative 18

UKIP 7 (one of whom is not part of UKIP’s EU grouping)

Brexit 7

Greens 3


Lib Dems 1


Plaid Cymru 1


Sinn Fein 1


Independents 10 (in at least four different independent groupings)

Vacant 1

No one could accuse these MEPs of bovine party loyalty.This fragmentation of support has implications for the Euro election results this time round. This requires, I’m afraid, a bit of technical detail.

MEPs are elected by multi-member constituencies under what is called the D’Hondt method.  This is often, but incorrectly, described as proportional representation. It is really a repeat first past the post system for parties. So in the North East England constituency last time round Labour got two out of three seats on just 36.5% of the vote. Not, I suggest, very proportional.

How can this happen?  The answer lies in the wasted votes. Let’s take a real live current example.  On Monday a Welsh opinion poll gave the following finding for the Euro elections:

Labour: 30%
Conservative: 16%
Plaid Cymru: 15%
UKIP: 11%
Brexit Party: 10%
Change UK: 8%
Liberal Democrats: 6%
Greens: 5%
Others: 1%

There are four seats at stake in Wales.  Labour would get two, the Conservatives would get one and Plaid Cymru would get one. Although the “others” mount up to 39% of the vote share, more than any individual party, all this shrapnel would all go unrepresented. The three bigger parties would be dealing with a deck of just 61% of the vote between them. The D’Hondt method does not work very well in an increasingly-fragmented political scene.

Note, if either UKIP or the Brexit party can establish itself as the headbangers’ party of choice, they would comfortably get a seat – the votes are there if they are not divided. Similarly, if the Lib Dems and Change UK team up, they will be a gnat’s whisker away from getting a seat even if the polls don’t move.

The effect is most marked in small multi-member constituencies.  South East England has ten MEPs at stake so a party would only need a maximum of 9% to ensure representation and very possibly rather less: the Lib Dems got one last time on 8% of the vote.  

If the Welsh poll were replicated in South East England (yes, I know, but bear with me), Labour would get three or four seats, the Conservatives would get two seats, Plaid would get one or two seats, UKIP would get one seat, Brexit would get one seat and Change would get one seat.  This looks more proportional. Even so, if UKIP and Brexit united and Change and the Lib Dems united, each grouping would be in with a real shout of an extra seat if the mood moved in their respective directions, as each grouping might reasonably hope.

What this means is that all the small pro and anti-Brexit parties have a hard decision to make.  Do they stick to their principles and in all likelihood see their cause suffer in the seat count? Or do they seek to unite under a broad front with the aim of winning more seats but at the expense of purity of principle?  I expect for now they’ll choose purity over electoral success.

This election, of course, looks set to be all about Brexit which in turn implies that both pro and anti-Brexit parties will do better than polling currently suggests (and if there is a boycott, it is likely to be by annoyed Conservative Leavers rather than those who want to send a message through one of the militant pro-Leave parties).  

But if you’re thinking about the seat count, be aware that the maths favours bigger parties more than you would expect from a proportional system, particularly those that are stronger in the smaller constituencies.This gives Labour a small but significant advantage. Unless the smaller parties get their act together, they could easily overperform in the seat count.

Alastair Meeks


Punters make it an 81% chance that the UK will participate in the 2019 Euro Elections

Monday, April 8th, 2019 chart of movement on the Betfair exchange

This Tweet seems to confirm

So the chances of the UK participating in the May 23rd euro elections seems to have increased sharply during the day based on information coming out of Brussels.

The real interesting feature is going to be the reaction of the Brexiteers to what seems like a betrayal of the referendum. It wasn’t meant to be this way. We were due to leave on March 29th and that has been allowed to slip.

What’s also interesting is that the party machines have only got into Euro election mode late into the day and there is a lot going on to field candidates. We don’t know yet whether the Independent group or Change UK will have its registration finalised in time to allow itself to be on the Ballot.

In Euro elections everything is based on party lists in specific regions and you do not put your cross by the name of a person you’re choosing but by a party.

No doubt we’ll have to wait for confirmation that this is taking place before will get betting on the actual outcome.

Mike Smithson