Archive for May, 2008

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Is the tipping point approaching?

May 31, 2008

TPT wonders whether Brown’s premiership is down to its final days.

With the the crushing defeat in Crewe and Nantwitch still stinging and dismal poll ratings, the only thing keeping Gordon Brown in Downing Street has been the fact that few senior figures in the Labour party are willing to put their heads above the parapet and call for Brown’s resignation. However, the formed Deputy Prime Minister Gordon Brown today praised David Milliband as a ‘great future leader’. Although he made it clear that he was not calling for Gordon Brown’s resignation, and indeed suggested that MPs would ‘pay a heavy price if you don’t get behind your leader’, this is the first time that a senior Labour figure has talked about a successor to Brown. In my view Miliband remains poor value in betting terms (though I would happily vote for him) but this does suggest that it might be a good idea to bet on Brown leaving office this year, although the Betfair odds are much less generous than those previously offered by Paddy Power.

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How significant is Murdoch’s near endorsment of Obama?

May 30, 2008

Will it be ‘Murdoch wot won it’?

The shock victory of the Conservatives in the 1992 election was put down to the famous, or infamous, barrage of negative coverage against the then Labour leader, Neil Kinnock, in the popular British tabloid The Sun. The proprieter of the paper at that was none other than one Rupert Murdoch. Now, in 2008 Murdoch has announced that he was behind the New York Post’s endorsement of Barack Obama. Although Murdoch did not make a explicit endorsement he stated that Obama was a ‘rock star’ and ‘calling McCain, ‘unpredictable’ and claiming that ‘[He] doesn’t know much about the economy and – I say this sympathetically – I think he has a lot of problems’. The big question is whether this means anything, and whether this is going to affect the election. My take is that one shouldn’t read too much into it as Murdoch is the original Vicar of Bray, changing his political allegiances to suit him. Indeed, anyone who can switch back and forth between Labour and the Conservatives and cosy up to the Communist leadership in China is no man of principle.

I also don’t think that we’ll be seeing Fox News endorsing Obama any time soon. Sure Murdoch may have his own personal preferences but he knows what sells and he’ll also probably value the importance of hedging his bets. If McCain maintains his poll lead over Obama we’ll definitely see Murdoch start to wiggle back from his position. It must be remembered that in 1992 the Scottish edition of The Sun endorsed the Scottish National Party rather than the Conservatives. Also, few people can reasonably claim that the Sun’s support for Labour in 1997 was the reason for their landslide victory. In any case, it is not like the mainstream media is particularly sympathetic towards the GOP.

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McCain opens up a comfortable lead over Obama

May 30, 2008

Could the ‘electability’ argument bring Hillary back from the dead?

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My new national projections (likely voters, last poll ending May 28th) are:

Hillary Clinton 46.06
John McCain 45.87

John McCain 46.93
Barack Obama 42.13

McCain seems to have opened up a comfortable lead over Obama but is essentially tied with Clinton. This raises the question of whether Hillary Clinton can somehow use the rules committee to re-open the question of the nomination. Although, I had all but written off Clinton I still felt that her chances, although small, were better than those given by either the bookies or the betting exchanges. I would still rate them at no more than 10%, but it now looks closer to 15%. In any case it is blidingly obvious that, if the Democrats do select Obama rather than Clinton, they are making a huge strategic mistake, especially since her ’50+1′ tactics, and her experience, are extremely suited to an environment where Bush’s popularity is at rock bottom and Democrats have a huge lead in party ID. Given the antipathy between Obama and Clinton, a bet on Harold Ford Jr as the Democratic Vice Presidential nominee (at 50/1) might seem in order, since that would appeal to both many of Obama’s supporters and the centre at the same time.

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Will ‘Hagee-gate’ sink hopes of a McCain/Lieberman ticket?

May 29, 2008

Probably not, but either Hagee needs to leave CUFI, or Lieberman needs to reconsider his decision to attend their conference

I have to admit that as someone who is a fan of gambling and someone whose church attendance is limited to once a year and hoping that Celtic beat Rangers, I am in no position to criticise anyone’s belief. My knowledge of Hagee derives from the press accounts of what he has said, and as such might have taken his comments out of context (although I don’t how his comments could be explained away). However, I think that they were disgusting and I firmly agree with Joe Lieberman that John Hagee’s comments were, ‘deeply unacceptable and hurtful’ and with McCain’s belief that they were, ‘crazy and unacceptable’. I also think McCain made the right decision to repudiate Hagee’s support. Therefore I have to say that I think Joe Lieberman’s decision, along it must be said with other Senators and various diplomatic officials, to speak at the CUFI summit in July, will both damage McCain’s campaign and reduce the chances of a McCain/Lieberman ticket, although only slightly.

Of course, it has to be pointed out that there is a lot of hypocrisy and hysteria going on here. There is no way that one can construe the decision to appear at CUFI as some sort of endorsement of Hagee and equate it with Obama’s continued association with Wright. Indeed, even now Obama remains a member of Wrights’ church and specifically limited his repudiation of Wright’s comments, rather than the man himself. Also, some of the reaction to Lieberman’s decision to appear at a CUFI event on web-logs like Daily Kos has revealed a very nasty side to the members of that website. The fact that Hagee managed to fool a large number of prominent and respected people means that it is not easy to immediately make a U-turn. Thankfully, the press coverage has been scattered and apart from few rants on TV, the damage to Lieberman seems minimal.

Overall, I think it would be prudent for either Lieberman to reassess his decision to attend, or for Hagee to fall on his sword and relinquish membership of CUFI. Given that the raison d’etre of a McCain-Lieberman ticket would be to unite America, being associated (however tangentially) with such a wacky, hateful and divisive figure such as Hagee would be a bad decision. It is also being spun by the few outlets who are covering this event as McCain hedging his repudiation, which is damaging in itself. However, I don’t think that this can really be used by the Democrats, not least because of Obama’s comments about his great-uncle. Indeed I suggest that it only reduces the possibility of Lieberman being on the ticket from events to 3/2 (40%), and even this can be reduced, especially if either Hagee or Lieberman acts quickly. In this context I think the odds of 23/1 quoted on Lieberman being McCain’s running on Betfair are ridiculous.

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Reason #2: Obama will make the election about foreign policy

May 28, 2008

TPT continues his series on why Barack Obama won’t be US President

One of the reasons why Obama will not win in November is that he will focus on foreign policy, one of the Democrats’ weakest cards. As I have consistently said, although the American population are superfically antiwar, they are willing to listen to a case for continued involvement, provided it is made confidently and clearly. At the same time there is clear evidence that things are both improving in Iraq and that failure would embolden Iran, especially in relation to their development of a nuclear programme. In any case, in no Presidential election has the most dovish candidate ever won, unless the candidate sucessfully managed to shift the focus from foriegn policy to the domestic economy. Although McCain’s team should be doing more to shift the debate to their strength on national security, Obama and his electronic surrogates Daily Kos are doing McCain’s work for him.

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Is is worth betting on a third party to take the White House?

May 27, 2008

Could the ‘Ron Paul bubble’ strike again?

With Barr’s victory in the Libertarian Party nomination it is interesting to consider whether the bubble that saw Ron Paul’s price hit a peak of 25 in the New Hampshire primary, could ever be repeated. Certainly, Barr doesn’t have the appeal to the antiwar fringe that Ron Paul did, and indeed his running mate Wayne Root actually donated money to Joe Lieberman, but could even a diminished coalition of paleoconservatives, libertarians and crazies move the third party betting price from 1.4 on Intrade.com to something higher? Although I am not suggesting that Barr has any chances, and a objective point of view would suggest there is more chance of Elvis being found alive than a President Barr, but given the stupidity of those who bet on Ron Paul, maybe there will be a new set of ‘greater fools’ emerging. Of course there is always the microscopic possibility that a more plausible third party bid might emerge.

What do you think? Leave your comments below.

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More veepstakes speculation

May 27, 2008

TPT ponders Obama-Hagel

Given that there aren’t that many polls and the primary season is all but finished, speculation of who Obama and McCain’s running mate will be will probably dominate both the media and this web-log for the next few weeks. Reading Andrew Sullivan’s article about Chuck Hagel I was struck by how much one could say similary things about McCain and Lieberman, in that Lieberman (Hagel) is a solid Democrat (Republican) on everything but his support for (opposition to) the War in Iraq. However, the real difference between the two is while Lieberman is a respected figure who was selected as Gore’s running mate in 2000 and had the guts to stand up to Clinton, Hagel has done nothing. Another, more cynical, comparison would be between the large number of pieces of legislation that McCain and Lieberman have sponsored (or co-sponsored) together and Obama’s legislative achievements. It would also seem ridiculous for Hagel, a strong personal friend of McCain, to ditch the party at the very moment a moderate had triumphed, while Lieberman waited until the Kossacks had completely taken over the Democratic party to leave.

Note: I’m still adjusting to the WordPress rules about sidebars, so I apologise to the person whose post I just deleted.