Archive for the 'US Politics' Category


New leader ratings in 3 state key to Trump’s 2016 victory have him with big favourability deficits

Sunday, August 20th, 2017

Those of us who stayed up all night for the White House election last November will recall the huge focus on Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan – states won by Obama in 2012 which went to the Republican last year.

These were won by the tightest of margins down to 1.23% in Wisconsin, 0.64% in Pennsylvania and 0.23% in Michigan and were central to Trump’s shock victory.

Now the latest Mairist/NBC News polling in these three states finds that Trump has a huge net ratings deficit. Given the well recorded linkage between favourability rating polls and electoral outcomes this does not look good for Trump if he is considering going for a second term.

They also send a sharp message out to his party that he could be en electoral liability which could impact on other elections. If he is to go early then senior Republican figures have to be the ones to pull the trigger.

In the betting Trump’s is now odds-on not to complete a full first term. Latest price have that at 55%.

Mike Smithson


Trump’s first electoral test sees the Republicans holding on in Kansas with a majority down 20%

Wednesday, April 12th, 2017

The margin down from 27% to 7.2%

If the Democrats are to make a dent on the Republican following last year’s presidential election then they are going to need to make 24 gains which would take away the GOP majority in Congress.

An opportunity arose last night with a by-election in a Kansas congressional district to fill the seat created by the appointment of Trump’s new CIA director. This was carried by the Republicans last November by 27%.

They failed but were not too far off and the margin of just 7.2% suggests that other battles in the coming months could be tight.

The victory for the Republicans followed polling that suggested that the seat could be in jeopardy and the party blasted voters with thousands of automated phone calls from the President which sought to attack the Democratic candidate’s abortion policies.

There is another special election for the House next week in Georgia which was won by the Republicans last November by just one point. Based on the swing in Kansas then the Democrats will be expecting victory.

Mike Smithson


Flynn’s move looks dangerous for Trump and punters make it a 52% chance that the President won’t last the full term

Friday, March 31st, 2017

Time to bet on the President’s survival? Maybe. Maybe not

Until now I have steadfastly ignored the betting on how long Donald Trump will remain in the White House simply because my own personal feelings on this are strong and I know that that could affect my judgement.

But the latest news overnight about Trump’s former national Security adviser, Mike Flynn, suggests that things could start to get pretty rough for the President who has been in power for just over 2 months.

This is all about the possible links between the Trump and Russia and now Flynn’s lawyers have made it clear that he is ready to give evidence on the subject if he is offered immunity from prosecution.

That sounds quite ominous for the President but it’s hard to assess how much that puts his job in danger.

Alongside this the other big Trump story that won’t go away are his declining approval ratings which are far worse than any other president has experienced at this stage in his term.

The worry for the Republican party will be the midterm elections in 2018 when the last thing they want is for negative views of occupant of the White House to be impacting on their electoral chances when so much is at stake.

As a general rule in betting on how long politicians will last it is best to go with their survival. When Bill Clinton was facing impeachment there was a lively spread market on how many days his second term would last for. I bet on him surviving and that that proved to be very profitable.

So in spite of everything with Trump at the moment and I am keeping out of this market. That might change.

Mike Smithson


Main polling headlines from the US and in the UK

Saturday, February 18th, 2017

Trump slumps to historic approval rating low less than a month after becoming President

CON lead over LAB up 6% with Opinium


At some stage some of the “will Trump survive” bets will be value

Thursday, January 5th, 2017

But I’m not tempted at the moment

In the days leading up to Donald Trump’s inauguration on January 20th we are going to see a lot of speculation on whether he’s going to survive. Certainly his links with Putin and the suggestions that the Russians might have tried to influence the election are causing much debate within his party.

Yet it is hard to assess whether this will lead to anything and I for one don’t like locking up cash in bets that could take years to come to fruition.

So for the moment I’m giving this a miss but will be watching things closely.

Mike Smithson


A look at the next American Secretary of State market

Sunday, January 1st, 2017

A look at the next US. Secretary of State market by RKRKRK

The Betfair market makes Trump’s pick Rex Tillerson an overwhelming favourite at c. 90% to be confirmed by the US Senate.

Historically nominees normally make it through – the last Cabinet nominee rejected by the Senate was back in 1989. However nominees also sometimes withdraw from the process- Obama lost 3 nominees that way: Tom Daschle (unpaid taxes), Bill Richardson (investigation for pay-to-play allegations) and Judd Gregg (Republican who changed his mind citing disagreements over stimulus bill and US Census).

But why might Tillerson be unsuccessful?

The politico story into how Donald Trump chose Rex Tillerson is a fascinating insight into his decision making process. But it also reveals how quickly that decision was made – which suggests a lack of proper vetting.

It’s clear that Tillerson’s extremely close relations with Russia will prove an issue. Obama has ordered a review into Russian interference which will ensure media focus on Russian relations. Will the Senate hearings turn up other issues from Rex’s past?

Tillerson’s nomination must pass through the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and then pass a vote in the Senate. Republicans have a 10-9 advantage in the Committee so only one Republican needs to join the Democrats to block his nomination.

However Tillerson does have the support of the Committee Chairman Bob Corker- who has also stated his committee will not demand to see tax returns. Tillerson also has support from GOP foreign policy heavyweights Condoleeza Rice, Robert Gates and James Baker.

For the nomination to fail in the wider Senate vote would require three Republican rebels as well as a united front from Democrats. Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham have both stated they intend to push stronger sanctions against Russia in the next Congress. They will hardly be keen then to approve a Secretary of State who has previously lobbied to have Russian sanctions lifted.

Marco Rubio is another potential rebel– he says he has “serious concerns” – but unlike Graham and McCain he still has Presidential ambitions to consider. Oklahoma Senator James Lankford has also expressed some reservations.

Democrats are fuming at Trump’s rejection of Russian interference in the election and may sense the prospect of dealing Trump a major defeat early on. Graham and McCain have little to lose from opposing Trump, but I suspect other Republican Senators will be hesitant and will seek strength in numbers if they do choose to rebel.

It’s not likely that Tillerson will fail- but I think it’s tempting at the available odds. I’ve laid Tillerson a little and also taken a small punt on Romney at 119/1.

Please do your own research before betting – this article may contain mistakes!


Is it Darkest before the Dawn? A look at the battle for the House of Representatives in 2018.

Tuesday, December 20th, 2016

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A guest slot by RKRKRK on prospects for the next big US elections

The Democrats are reeling from an unexpected and disastrous election defeat. They are at a low ebb in Congress. Nancy Pelosi is an aging figure with an underwater approval rating. There seems to be a near-total absence of young talent in senior leadership positions for the Democratic Party. Republicans are free to gerrymander districts in most of the country. The situation certainly looks bleak- but is there a case the Democrats can turn this around in 2018?

For the Democrats to take control in 2018 they must gain 24 seats net. Looking back at the last 15 congressional elections there have been three swings large enough to achieve this. So clearly it is within the realms of possibility – but a shift of that size is relatively rare.


Of course a huge amount will depend on how Trump and the US economy are doing by 2018. If Trump succeeds in bringing back manufacturing jobs and revitalising industry he could buck the trend of the ruling party losing the mid-terms as George Bush did in 2002.

But there are some big issues on the horizon that Democrats might be able to use at election time.

 Trump’s action in choosing Tom Price as Secretary for Health and Human Services suggests he is serious about repeal of Obamacare. But this risks up to 20 million people losing their health insurance. Paul Ryan could see this as a perfect opportunity to substantially reform and voucherize/privatize Medicare- which could also be damaging in electoral terms. Trump’s refusal to attend daily security briefings could be a total own goal in the event of another major terrorist attack.

Trump has confounded most predictions thus far and his Presidency shouldn’t be written off before it’s started. He may yet turn out to have the same flair for governing as he did for campaigning.

But it seems to me that there is a greater than usual chance that he will get off to a rocky start. 


Your timetable for this historic day

Tuesday, November 8th, 2016


How events will unfold state by state

November 8th 2016 (all times GMT)

5.00am Dixville Notch and Hart’s Location, New Hampshire
The two communities of Dixville Notch and Hart’s Location in the battleground state of New Hampshire, have been voting at midnight for the best part of forty years and between them, give us the first indications of the result. For instance in 2012 Obama polled 28 votes in the two locations, Romney 14 votes and Johnson 1 vote (Obama 65%, Romney 33%, Johnson 2%) which when compared to the 2008 results in the locations showed there was no real swing between Obama and Romney with Johnson’s support switching to Ron Paul (as write in candidates). This compared to a national swing of 1.7% to Romney suggesting that the swing in these two locations is smaller than the national swing. Therefore if Clinton romps home in these two locations, a Clinton landslide is very likely, but if Trump wins, no matter by how small a margin, then we are in for a cliffhanger of an election

9.00am The Northern Marianas Islands
It may sound odd, but there are in fact 441 seats in Congress. The extra seats are for the delegation from the Northern Marianas Islands, which thanks to there only being one candidate will be filled by Gregorio Kilili Camacho “Kilili” Sablan who although an Independent will caucus with the Democrats

10.00am Guam
however the island nation of Guam where there will be an election between Madeleine Zeien Bordallo for the Democrats and Felix P. Camacho for the Republicans for their congressional seat

9.00pm Puerto Rico
as will the the resident commissioner for Puerto Rico (where not only do they have a multi party election, they are parties that have no connection to the United States parties)

11.00pm The United States Virgin Islands, first polls in Indiana and Kentucky
Indiana is such a Republican state that, along with Kentucky, it can be called for the Republicans without any problems at all. However in 2008, it didn’t and that gave an instant clue that Obama was going to win. Therefore Indiana which requires a swing of 5.1% to flip will give us an instant clue to the result. If the networks project it as Trump, then it’s going to be no change since 2012, but any hint of a Clinton win (even to the extent of the networks not being prepared to call it at 11.00pm) and that’s it, Clinton has won a landslide. But those aren’t the only elections that the media will be looking at, with open seats in IN 3, IN 9 and KY 1 and an open seat in the senate election for Indiana the Democrats aim to retake the Senate and the House would get a very early boost. The United States Virgin Islands are the fourth extra seat in Congress with a straight GOP / Dem fight

November 9th 2016

12.00am Georgia, South Carolina, Vermont, all polls in Indiana and Kentucky, first polls in Florida
Another indication of the battle will come now when Georgia’s polls close. Georgia only needs a swing of 3.9% to flip and so any suggestion of this state being too close to call will bolster the Clinton camp, but we will also get our first suggestions from Florida, a state that Trump would gain on a 0.44% swing. So what could happen? Well, in theory both Georgia and Florida could flip in opposite directions making both “too close to call” and no doubt giving the Trump campaign cause for both concern and joy at the same time.

12.30am Ohio, West Virginia, first polls in North Carolina
Ohio is the real battleground of the whole election. It is virtually impossible for a Republican to win the White House without carrying the state and with only a 1.5% swing needed to flip the state it must surely be a prime target but at the same time we get indications from North Carolina, a state that ignored Clinton in the 1990’s but flipped to Obama in 2008 only to flip back in 2012. Has North Carolina become the Basildon of America (and becoming the new bellwether state?)

1.00am Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, DC, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, all polls in Florida, first polls in Michigan, Kansas, South Dakota, Texas and Tennessee
If Ohio is the real battleground, then this collection of states is the motherlode with 235 electoral college votes up for grabs. Included in that list is Maine with it’s statewide allocation of electoral college votes and districts but also Pennsylvania, where any Trump win would be a massive blow to the Clinton path to victory. The last time the state voted Republican was back in 1988 when George Bush Senior won the state, if Trump can win that state then expect the Asian markets (open since midnight) to start wobbling. In the House and Senate elections this is the time when nails could get badly bitten, Delaware’s at large seat is open, as is IL 8, MD 4, MD 8, PA 8, PA 16, FL 1, FL 2, FL 4, FL 9, FL 11, FL 18, FL 19, MI 1, MI 10, TX 15, TX 19 and TN 8 and with the Dems needing thirty one House gains to take control, this is when they have to start making those gains. The fifth extra seat belongs to DC (despite having three electoral college votes)

1.30am Arkansas
Aside from voting for the homeboy in 1992 and 1996, Arkansas has been a solid red state and needing an 11.84% swing to flip, there is little chance of it voting for it’s former First Lady, so the question will be how much of a swing can Clinton achieve in the state. The smaller the swing, the more impact scandals such as Whitewater has had on the Clinton’s legacy in the state.

2.00am Arizona, Louisiana, Minnesota, New Mexico, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Wyoming, all polls in Michigan, Kansas, South Dakota, Texas, postal votes in Colorado
It’s another big chunk of votes here with five states in the mix. If Arizona flips to Clinton (4.53% swing) then Clinton has done it, however if Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota flip then it’s still all to play for. And then there is the wild card of New Mexico, will Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate, become the first non mainstream candidate to pick up electoral college votes since George Wallace in 1968 and if he does, and the result is looking tight what influence is he having across the rest of the country? Here too are important open house races in AZ 1, AZ 5, LA 3, LA 4, MN 2, WI 8 and Wyoming’s at large seat.

3.00am Iowa, Montana, Nevada, Utah, first polls in North Dakota, Idaho, first postal votes in Oregon
And New Mexico is not the only state that could throw a spanner in the works. In Utah, a state that Romney won in 2012 with 73% of the vote, a Conservative is standing and according to some polls is within a whisker of winning denying Trump would should be an easy six electoral college votes, but all is not lost if that happens as Iowa is certain to flip. Well, when you have a strongly agricultural state dismayed by schemes to make corn made ethanol into a petrol alternative, sending the cost of corn plunging coupled with a Senator up for re-election who in 2010 polled 70% of the vote, of course it is going to flip. But if Nevada doesn’t flip as people expect and the vote is still close it will all come down to the last mainland states.

4.00am California, Hawaii, Washington, all polls in North Dakota, Idaho, all postal votes in Oregon
Here is the Democratic firewall, 78 electoral college votes all certain to land into the Clinton column, all of which means that if Clinton is on 193 electoral college votes or more before these polls close, there is no question to be asked. Clinton has won the presidency. However, if a state such as Oregon (6.04% swing to flip) does flip and joins North Dakota and Idaho in the red column and Trump is not that far behind, it’s going to an anxious night for both campaigns. If the house is still close then the results in CA 20, CA 24, CA 44, and CA 46 will have a bearing. Although that said one thing that cannot happen is a loss of California’s Senate seat to the Democrats because although Senator Boxer is standing down, she’s going to be replaced by one of two Democrats (that’s right, no Republican candidate).

5.00am American Samoa, first polls in Alaska
And that anxiety will be heightened even if Alaska as expected is called for the Republicans even before of all it’s polls have closed as they do in American Samoa to elect the sixth extra seat. There is however one tiny problem with these extra seats, none of them have the right to vote in the House (which therefore poses the question “What on earth do they do there?”)

6.00pm all polls in Alaska
And if they still have not made a national projection by the time the polls all close then it’s 2000 all over again.

Harry Hayfield