Why I’m taking the 12/1 on the Tories polling under 10% in the European election

April 14th, 2019

The YouGov poll published yesterday showed the Conservatives polling 16% in the European election, Opinium had the Conservatives on 17% so it is worth analysing this market from Ladbrokes on what vote share the Conservatives will achieve. I’ll explain why I think the 12/1 is the best option.

I) A polarised electorate and polarising election.

This election will be seen as a de facto referendum on Brexit, Remainers and Leavers will want to utilise their vote to send a message on Brexit. The Conservative party will not appeal to either Remainers or Leavers, Leavers will see the party as failing to deliver Brexit whilst Remainers see the party as the one that got us into this whole Brexit mess, so there’s no real reason to vote for the Blues in this election.

II) The enthusiasm gap.

It has been reported that Conservative party activists will go on strike and refuse to campaign for the European election, this means it will be a struggle to get the Conservative vote out. If the activist base isn’t participating my view is that the Conservatives will do worse than the polls suggest.

III) The enthusiasm gap, part II.

Yesterday it was reported that the man who lies about opinion polls, Boris Johnson, would not campaign in the European election. It shouldn’t be a surprise that the serial adulterer would betray his party like he did wife on many occasions but people like Dominic Raab refused to rule out doing the same. I expect other Leavers to follow suit.

If senior Leaver Conservatives are sitting out the campaign it will only amplify the issues about getting the Conservative vote out as identified in point II)

IV) It is a free hit for right wingers and Leavers as it doesn’t make Corbyn Prime Minister.

Both YouGov and Opinium also polled on voting intention for a general election which saw the Conservatives do better. This shows right wing voters are sophisticated enough to how give the Conservative party a bloody nose without forcing the Conservative party out of office.

V) For the Conservative party things can only get worse.

The 16% and 17% might soon be considered the high point for the Conservative party in this election. Ask yourselves this question, between now and May 23rd can you see anything realistic that will cause the fortunes of the Conservative party to improve?

It is more likely the fault line over Europe gets worse for the Conservative party, the recent fall in Conservative support coincided with a major fracture over Brexit when the ERG and their DUP confederates prevented Brexit happening.

VI) The ERG are turning Japanese.

One of the greatest strategic blunders in human history was when in 1941 the Japanese attacked the American fleet at Pearl Harbour to keep America out of the (Pacific) war. All it did was ‘awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.’ Ultimately it did the exact opposite to what the Japanese wanted. Which brings me to the ERG.

If the all of the ERG and DUP had backed meaningful vote 2.5 we would have Brexited by now. By voting to stop Brexit happening all the ERG enabled the chances of No Brexit increasing. Many in the ERG have realised the error of their ways but some have not.

The more we see the likes of Private Francois on television the Conservative poll ratings seems to fall further. The more we don’t Brexit the more we’ll see the Spartan ERGers on television criticising the government and Mrs May, that’s ultimately going to be bad for the Conservative party, history has shown the electorate doesn’t reward divided parties.

Again this is further proof of the ERG turning Japanese. Surely they want the Conservative party to do well in opinion polls and elections but their actions will achieve the opposite.


I think the 12/1 on under 10% in this market by Ladbrokes is value, all of the above will make it value. The favourite is the band just above it, 10% to 20%, so it isn’t difficult to see how my tip could be a winner.

Never did I think in my lifetime I could see the Conservative party poll under 10% in a nationwide election but that’s what I think might happen next month.




The May 23rd Euro elections – how the pollsters did last time

April 13th, 2019


With, unless there’s deal with the EU before then, Euro elections taking place in the UK on May 23rd we are going to get a lot of polling on the elections that few expected to take place.

As can be seen in 2074 the Tory share barely varied in the final three weeks while UKIP, then with Nigel Farage, bounced round quite a lot. A few polls had LAB ahead but the majority pointed to a victory for the purples.

This is a much more difficult election to poll than general elections. Overall turnout was 35.6%  five years ago which is little more than half what happens at general elections and assessing turnout is a huge challenge for pollsters.

Also five years ago in large parts of the UK the Euro election took place at the same time as local elections which helps the turnout level.

Mike Smithson


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

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


Getting the MPs we deserve?

April 12th, 2019

A guest slot from Harris Tweed

In a rare moment of PB agreement in a recent thread, Casino_Royale and Nick Palmer, himself a former MP, discussed the shallow gene pool which provides too many of our MPs, and the party and parliamentary processes which aim – not always successfully – to keep them in check. Strong whipping, party patronage and a lack of local competition in their seats mean too many members can enjoy a trouble- and blame-free life on the backbenches with an agreeably-subsidised lunch. As Nick also pointed out, this stifles free thinking and bores some of the cream before it has the chance to rise to the top. (Before I go any further, I apologise for the generalisations in this piece, and agree wholeheartedly that most MPs are doing what they believe to be best, and a number way in excess of zero succeeding).

The three factors I mentioned in breaking down this order of things are probably not the only ones, but they’ve each played their own role. Brexit and Corbyn are effectively the same issue – factors which have split parties to a greater depth than whipping can fix. Both stem from public/membership votes which weren’t tied to the provision of a Commons majority to deliver a programme. Labour members elected a leader clearly unacceptable to a majority of the MPs, and the great British public decided Leave was A Thing without providing the parliamentary clout to see it through. This has left the whipping system broken, and may yet split one or both of the main parties.

I mention social media, because it’s a relatively new influence on MPs. Too often it’s negative and reactive (“people on Facebook are for/against X, therefore so must I be”), and leaves MPs scared of the baying mob. They ignore the fact that the people moved to post about X are very much the fired-up front row, and never a representative sample of their constituents. Nor are they posting from a position of legislating in the round. But it has also democratised the process, and allowed actual experts to illustrate when MPs are talking out of their hats, using the valuable but unfashionable currency of researched facts.

And it’s the lack of that currency among MPs which worries me most. In the “trouble-free/agreeably subsidised lunch/working parliamentary majority” era, they could get away with being ill-informed sheep. Now that each one has become what Nick Palmer called a ‘quasi minister’, chuntering at an op-ed in the Mail and jeering at PMQs really won’t cut it. But we’re the ones who send them there, and the baying mob has more votes than the academic expert on trade in lemons. Too many times, MPs grasp onto a passing opinion piece in the papers as evidence for what they should think or do, without considering that its author was up against a deadline and will be measured on retweets rather than accurate facts-per-paragraph. Get your head in the Commons library and read some actual facts on which to base your opinions!

But even among PB members, how many of us do enough due diligence on the people we send to Westminster? How many of us consider the calibre and quality of the individual rather than which colour rosette they wear and whether they support Policy Y from Party Leader Z? And among the electorate at large, where local newspaper readership has been decimated and local radio stations no longer need to be local, how many voters even know or care who their MP is?

The ‘current situation’ may have left many holding heads in hands, exasperated at MPs’ collective failures. And that may increase the disconnect between Westminster and the voters. But perhaps we can also hope that it’ll lead to at least a few more of us checking who we’re sending there in the first place.

Harris Tweed

(Harris Tweed has been a PB poster for five years and a reader for over a decade. He works in the media, parts of which he fully agrees also find themselves in need of “adultier adults”!)


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

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


The PB/Polling Matters podcast analyses May’s EU elections – the contest that’s taken the political world by surprise –

April 12th, 2019

On this week’s podcast, Keiran Pedley and Leo Barasi look in detail at the prospects for EU parliamentary elections in the UK now that Brexit has been delayed up to a further 6 months.

Listen to the episode below

Follow this week’s guests:




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

April 11th, 2019

Betdata.io 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


Mayor Pete takes the lead in New Hampshire amongst those nomination contenders younger than 72yo Trump

April 11th, 2019

While we have all been focused on the developments on Brexit there has been a lot of movement in the fight for the Democratic nomination for next year’s White House race. This starts the hot up in a few weeks when the first of the Dem Primary TV debate debates is held.

The big sensation who has been making waves is the 37 year old mayor of a small city in Indiana, Pete Buttigieg who’s come from almost nowhere and is presenting himself as almost the total antidote to Trump. Recent polls have him making running amongst those candidates who are younger than 77 years old Bernie Sanders and 76 year old Joe Biden. The latter pair have very high name recognition and are leading.

Mayor Pete recorded a fourth place in in Massachusetts and California state polls and in the latest one from the first State to hold a full primary, New Hampshire, he is in third position.

A  St. Anselm College poll there  has   Biden leading with 23%,  Sanders at 16%, with Pete Buttigieg at 11%. Behind them  Warren at 9%,  Harris at 7%,  O’Rourke at 6%, Cory Booker at 4% and  Klobuchar at 2%.

All of this will keep his momentum going. The question is will he eventually run out of steam.

Mike Smithson