Archive for the 'Donald Trump' Category


Betfair punters now make it a 50-50 chance that Trump won’t complete a full first term

Thursday, October 19th, 2017

Mike Smithson


Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?

Wednesday, October 11th, 2017

All around the developed world, political loyalties are breaking down.  Electorates in Britain and the USA have gambled on reckless options in Brexit and Trump.  The hard right is a formidable political force in traditionally prosperous countries such as Sweden and Austria (where they may enter coalition government after the imminent election), and anti-immigrant voters have found their voice in France and Germany.  Secessionists ride high in Scotland and Catalonia.  Centrists find themselves outflanked on the left too, with centre left parties recording historic lows in many countries.  Everywhere you can find people who are mad as hell and who aren’t going to take it any longer.

Tolstoy began Anna Karenina by observing that “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”  So what of the unhappy British family?

The first thing to note is that actually the British family is not unhappy.  93% of respondents told Eurobarometer that they were fairly or very satisfied with their life in 2016, a percentage that has been fairly constant for three years and which has risen from 85% in 1973.   Whatever else this is, this is not an argument borne out of despair and strife.  However, a recent YouGov poll showed that Labour had taken the lead with ABC1s while the Conservatives had taken the lead with C2DEs.  The party of the middle class and the party of the working class are swapping roles.

Various explanations have been given for this political ferment.  Let’s take a look at some of them.

Anywheres v Somewheres

David Goodhart’s book “The Road To Somewhere” posits the idea that we are seeing a culture war between Somewheres (people rooted in a particular locality) and Anywheres (people who are educated and outward-looking).  The book has been widely praised. So I am sure that he will not particularly mind that I regard his theory as both simplistic and uninformative.

There is nothing new about these different groupings.  Aesop’s Fable of the Town Mouse and the Country Mouse shows just how longstanding these groupings are.  More than 20 years ago, Jarvis Cocker told a Greek woman with a thirst for knowledge that she would never understand how it felt to live your life without meaning or control.  Then we got Cool Britannia, showing that this faultline wasn’t going to get in the way of positivity or be particularly politically relevant for many years.

The divide between Somewheres and Anywheres is generational as much as anything else.  Many Anywheres have Somewhere parents and grandparents – it made for quite a few awkward Christmas dinners last year.  People settle down with age.

Why is local identity suddenly so much more important in guiding votes than it was previously?  The answer is not to be found in the attributes of Somewheres and Anywheres, and nor is the solution to solving the culture war that Mr Goodhart identifies.  What he is describing is a symptom, not the cause.   We must look elsewhere.


For many people, if you want to know the name of the game, immigration’s what you need.  Curiously, many different reasons are given why immigration is important.

Some argue that voters are motivated by the impact that immigration has on jobs.  This seems unlikely.  First, the jobs market continues to set records, with employment at record highs, unemployment at 40 year lows and job vacancies at record highs.  Secondly, those agitating about immigration are disproportionately likely to be retired, so they have no economic stake in the jobs market.  Thirdly, according to a recent YouGov poll, 61 per cent of Leave supporters believe significant damage to the UK economy is a price worth paying to get your way on Brexit and 39 per cent would sacrifice their job or a family member’s job for Brexit (a percentage that was still higher among the oldest, retired, age groups).  A solely economic interpretation of immigration is inadequate to explain what is going on.  For the same reason, I am sceptical that any perceived impact that immigration has on wage growth has much to do with this.

Nevertheless, with so many voters naming immigration as one of the most pressing subjects in polls, it seems likely to be playing a part in any Morlock intifada.  It is impossible to ignore the unpalatable possibility that it is a simple dislike of foreigners that makes immigration so unpopular with some.   But just as there have always been Somewheres and Anywheres, there have always been people who didn’t like foreigners.  Has anything changed to make this more important?

There is a loose inverse correlation between levels of immigration in an area and hostility to it (a phenomenon also seen in election results in the USA and Germany).  This partly reflects that fact that immigrants are unsurprisingly more in favour of immigration than native.  It is sometimes suggested that anti-immigration sentiment is driven in low immigration areas by observation of what has happened in high immigration areas.  This would be more convincing if the areas most hostile to immigration didn’t include some of the most deprived areas of the country.

It is possible that the competition that immigrants appear to provide for public sector resources may play a part.  In most areas this is not particularly rational because immigrants are not particularly heavy users of public sector resources, but at a time when public sector resources are under strain, any additional strain on them is going to come under scrutiny.

This in turn leads on to an entirely different explanation for the zeitgeist.


Cards on the table: this is my preferred explanation.  The mood of discontent is not confined to surly yokels who could double as extras from Deliverance.  Explanations such as immigration which seek to explain the rise of the far right, are missing what’s motivating the rise of the left as well.

Philip K Dick wrote in Valis about, among other things, drug-addled hippies who believed that the Roman Empire had never ended.  I’m no hippie – can’t grow the hair – but I believe that the financial crash never ended.  Exhibit A is the national debt, which continues to grow rapidly.

The consequent austerity has created losers in many different groupings and it has fallen out of favour.  The (still mighty) deficit did not feature in the 2017 general election.  Votes were won by promising to spend money on pet projects, whether Brexit or tuition fees or uncutting women’s pensions or whatever.  The public want to see signs that the government can spend as well as tax. When David Cameron said that we’re all in this together, he was being truthful.  A lot of people, however, were unhappy about that or have since lost patience.

Citizens of nowhere

In this regard, big business was a trendsetter.  Bob Diamond said as early as 2012 that the time for contrition by banks was over.  This, however, was not an idea whose time had come.

The public has been outraged by a succession of stories that suggest that many companies, especially internet companies, see tax as something for the little people.  Starbucks, Amazon, Google, Facebook and now Airbnb have come under the spotlight.  That they have properly paid all tax due misses the point: the system seems set up for the benefit of megacorporations and skewed against the ordinary people.

Nor does the private sector seem particularly competent.  Southern Railways are a byword for dysfunctionality.  Quasi-utilities like banks and phone companies seem incapable of keeping data safe.


So voters are seeing public services under strain.  They are feeling the taxes but not seeing the spending.  Meanwhile, the private sector is also failing to impress.  The country is changing and not in ways that the voters like.  Johnny Rotten finished the last Sex Pistols gig with the line “Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?”  Right now, the public have that feeling.  Politicians who fail to understand that are in trouble.

Alastair Meeks



Betting on the number of tweets by Donald Trump next week

Friday, September 15th, 2017

Paddy Power have a market up on how many times Donald Trump will tweet from his @RealDonaldTrump account between the 18th and 24th of September.

The website twittercounter has analysed Trump’s twitter account, and over the last 30 days he’s averaging six tweets per day, so over a week, we should expect something around 42 tweets per week, so by my reckoning the 11/1 on 31-40 tweets represents value. However I’m not comfortable on staking much on someone as volatile as Donald Trump and is the living embodiment of David Cameron’s maxim about twitter.



Porn in the U.S.A.

Thursday, September 14th, 2017

I’ve always felt the topics of the betting markets are an indicator of how parties, governments, and leaders are doing. This market by the famously publicity shy bookmaker Paddy Power sums up the Trump Presidency, this is the sort of market I’d expect to see about Silvio Berlusconi, if a Trump Presidency was going well, we wouldn’t get a market like this.

With Russian politicians openly boasting they have compromising information on Trump and Russian intelligence stole the American Presidency I can see why Paddy Power are offering this market. From a betting viewpoint, this is one of those markets you’d wish the bookie would offer the other side of the bet as well.

If you’re tempted to back the 14/1 I’d worry how you and Paddy Power would authenticate that it was Donald Trump in the sex tape, he’d probably deny it was him in it. Sex tapes are notoriously badly lit, so if it was him making the beast with two backs you’d probably have to rely on the size of his hands to verify it was him.

And if Paddy Power go all Bill Clinton and limit what constitutes a sex tape, what most people consider sex tapes/sexual relations might not be what Paddy Power consider a sex tape/sexual relations. Backing the 14/1 could get very messy and very traumatic.




Betting on what Trump will be impeached for

Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

Paddy Power have a market up on if Trump were to be impeached, what that reason would be.

I’m sitting out this market for a variety of reasons, mostly because the options in this market are so few, and doesn’t cover the ‘High crimes and misdemeanors’ scenario in Section 4 of Article II of the United States Constitution that allows for a President to be impeached.

With a Russian politician openly admitting at the weekend that ‘American intelligence missed it when Russian intelligence stole the president of the United States’ we’re in John le Carré territory, and I’m not sure which option to back in that scenario.

Other reasons for the sitting this market out is that it only applies to his first term, if he were to be impeached in the second term, you wouldn’t win, and worst of all, if there were no impeachment, Paddy Power won’t give you your money back

However if PBers can spot any value in this market, please let me know.



If Russia really has compromising material against Trump and planning to use it then there’s a few bets that need considering

Wednesday, September 6th, 2017

The Independent along with many other outlets is reporting

A Russian politician has threatened to “hit Donald Trump with our Kompromat” on state TV. 

Speaking on Russia-24, Nikita Isaev, leader of the far-right New Russia Movement, said the compromising material should be released in retaliation over the closure of several Russian diplomatic compounds across the US. 

When asked whether Russia has such material, Mr Isaev, who is also director of the Russian Institute of Contemporary Economics, replied: “Of course we have it!”

The exchanges were first translated and reported by Russian media analyst Julia Davis.

Tensions between Russia and the US have been mounting in recent weeks following an order by the state department for the Russian government to vacate three diplomatic compounds.

The measure came after the Kremlin forced the US to reduce its staff in Russia by more than 750 people.

So if the Russians do turn against Trump then I would assume that would be a tipping point for Republicans in both The House of Representatives and The Senate to impeach and convict Trump, thus ending his Presidency, because up to now my position is to bet on Trump not being impeached during his first term.

The compromising material has to be something that is a high crime against America, a personal indiscretion, like the reputed footage of Trump hiring several prostitutes in Moscow in 2013 to perform golden showers* in the hotel room Barack Obama previously stayed in, would be embarrassing for Trump but not an impeachable nor convictable offence in my opinion.

I’m not changing my betting position until we get further information about this comprising information.


*If you don’t know what a ‘golden shower’ is don’t google it, you’re better off not knowing.


After another stormy period punters make it a 56% chance that Trump won’t survive a full first term

Sunday, August 27th, 2017

Returning once again to what continues to be the biggest political betting market in the UK at the moment – is Trump going to complete a full first term?

This is very much driven by the news coming across the Atlantic and the latest is his pardon to ex-county sheriff, Joe Arpaio. As has been widely reported he’s is a very controversial figure,particularly for his immigration sweeps in targeted Latino neighborhoods, and the conditions in his jail. Six years ago he was convicted of criminal contempt for ignoring a court order to stop detaining people based on suspicion of their immigration status with no evidence.

The polling shows that Arpaio is widely supported by Trump’s core base but not much beyond. Arizona Senator John McCain has been quick to attack Trump saying “The President has the authority to make this pardon, but doing so at this time undermines his claim for the respect of rule of law”.

Trump will either go of his own accord or there needs to be a bigger change of opinion about him within the Republican party than we have seen so far.

This is not a market I’m betting on.

Mike Smithson


Gerrymandered congressional districts could save the House for the GOP

Saturday, August 26th, 2017

But a GOP-controlled House leaves Trump with fewer excuses for 2020

The Great Dealmaker has not had the greatest first seven months in the White House. No wall, no healthcare reform, a chaotic West Wing and innumerable self-inflicted PR gaffes are not an ideal start to a presidency. Ironically, the one president that Trump rates himself behind is perhaps the only one to have had a worse start: at least there’s been no civil war so far.

Those failures and errors, however, have produced record-breakingly low approval ratings. The Gallup polls – a series that goes back to 1945 – repeatedly find disapproval scores in the high 50s and a net rating around -20. For comparison, only two presidents since WWII have received any net negative ratings at any time in their first year (Ford and Clinton), the lowest being a -12 given to Clinton in June 1993. In fact, Trump’s rating with all voters at this stage is almost identical to GW Bush’s among liberal voters.

For Trump, these scores are nothing out of the ordinary. He repeatedly polled badly on approval ratings through the primaries and general election in 2016 but was saved firstly by the strong support from a sufficiently sizable minority, and secondly by a series of poor opponents, including Hillary, that he could campaign negatively against with effect. But that shouldn’t distract from the underlying picture.

Before we get to 2020, there’s the not insignificant matter of the mid-terms. You might reasonably expect a landslide of Democrat gains in these. After all, the Republicans control the House, so have plenty of seats to lose, and on previous occasions that presidential approval has dropped below 50% – particularly when combined with the president’s party running the House, as in 1994, 2006 or 2010 – there will be substantial losses.

That, however, ignores the massively Gerrymandered battleground the Democrats have to fight on. This isn’t a subjective point: the ability to draw up congressional (and other more local) districts is one of the spoils of victory in American political culture and a successful party will redistrict in its own favour where it has the chance. In recent years, the Republicans have had a lot of chances. On top of that, the Democrats’ votes are simply inefficiently clustered to begin with: as in any single-member system, there’s little advantage to piling up huge majorities in individual seats.

The net result of these two factors is that despite the Democrats currently holding a lead of about 7% in generic polling, one website translates that to a likely Republican majority of at least 20. That would mean a net Democratic gain of a dozen or so seats but it’d be poor pickings for such a healthy lead. Of course, the real elections will be contested by real people, not generic parties, but the most important element of that fact is the incumbency element, which again should tend to mitigate Republican losses.

Why does this matter when Trump can’t even get his plans through a GOP-controlled House? There are of course practical considerations: a Democrat-controlled House would surely gridlock the system and make full-on government shutdowns far more likely, for example. But perhaps more significant from a betting viewpoint is that it’s in the House that impeachment proceedings would begin and if the Democrats controlled the business of the chamber and the chairmanships of committees, that would significantly ease the path to an impeachment case being brought (leave aside precisely why a case might be brought – a ‘high crime or misdemeanor’ is whatever Congress says it is, meaning that the action is ultimately a political process, not a legal one.

A stand-off between House of Representatives and the Oval Office would be unlikely to do much for either side’s standing with the public (and the more intense it got, the greater the damage would likely be). Trump would undoubtedly play the victim and he’d have enough of a case that those moderately sympathetic to him would give him the benefit of the doubt. Likewise, the loss of control would provide an ideal excuse for the failure of his policies to be implemented.

At the moment, by another irony, the advantage the GOP has in the House race is therefore lessening Trump’s chances of re-election. (There is the risk that Trump might go before 2020 but it’s nothing like as probable as the odds have it: a two-thirds majority to convict an impeachment is a very high bar). However, today’s polling is, obviously, not set in stone. There is scope for movement to the Democrats during the next 14 months and the flip-side of the hugely efficient spread of seats for the GOP is that they are more vulnerable to heavy defeats, with fewer outright safe-seats and many more with smaller but usually adequate majorities. There is a tipping point where the bias goes the other way. That said, the increasing polarity of US politics and the historic rareness of leads of more than 10% on election day suggest that such scope might be relatively small.

Put all this together and you come up with three conclusions. Firstly, the Republicans stand a good chance of holding both Houses in 2018. Secondly, that impeachment proceedings, if any are begun, are likely to fizzle. And that thirdly, that the 2020 presidential race should be a walkover for the Democrats as long as they can nominate a competent and inoffensive candidate.

David Herdson