Even at only 1/2, Macron remains the value bet

March 25th, 2017

The centrist looks close to home and hosed right now

France is no stranger to revolutions. It’s therefore hardly surprising that there’s a ready temptation – particularly after the Brexit vote in the UK and Trump’s election in the US – to seek both contemporary and historic parallels in the possibility of a Le Pen victory in May. Indeed, it’s so tempting that the odds have come quite out of line with the real chances.

There are only two simple facts to remember: firstly, at virtually no point has Le Pen led in any of the opinion polls, against any of the major candidates. Only in a few head-to-heads against Hollande did she ever breach 50%, and that says as much about the popularity of Hollande and the PS as it does about Le Pen. And secondly, she is highly likely to make the second round, having enjoyed the solid backing of at least a quarter of the electorate for the last four years.

This isn’t to say that she can’t win. It is possible if Fillon could somehow push Macron back into third but it’s hard to see a scenario whereby the French public lift Fillon high enough to make the run-off, only to then reject him. Even now, after the battering he’s taken during March, he still leads Le Pen by about 13 points – and that’s when he’s only polling around 18% as against the mid-20s scores of Macron and Le Pen.

Might Macron suffer his own scandal? In a race in which there’ve already been so many twists and turns, we can’t rule the possibility out but it hasn’t happened so far and even if it did, would it count for all that much against such a flawed field? Not that there’s been much of a sniff of potential scandal anyway, despite this being the time when all candidates – even Le Pen – have an interest in taking him down. (It would be wrong to argue that if she did have some secret folder, she’d be better to wait for the second round: no-one knows how effective a negative campaign will be until it’s run and going early with it produces a more beatable run-off opponent – whether Macron or Fillon – if it works and buys time if it doesn’t).

Could the polls be wrong? Again, we can’t rule it out but not only would they would have to be all wrong by a long way, they’d also need to have the trend wrong. Over the last month, Le Pen has lost the 3-point first-round lead she had and instead, Macron has opened up a 1-point lead of his own. Fillon, by contrast, has drifted from about 20 down to 18, while the main candidates of the left – Hamon and Melenchon – trade blows in the low double-figures. Who is going to come out of the pack to deny the centrist?

There is of course still almost a month still to go to the first round but with Macron eight points or so clear of Fillon and heading outwards, and with him well over twenty points clear in a head-to-head against Le Pen, it would take something truly remarkable to lose it now.

After the experience of Trump and Brexit, commentators are naturally sceptical about being too dismissive of the chance that an electorate will take a leap in the dark. In those cases, however, the odds always overrated the mainstream (as noted on politicalbetting many times). This is different. The structure in France works heavily against the extremes. While odds of 1/2 aren’t terribly exciting, they still represent a 50% return in six weeks, which isn’t at all bad – particularly when the true odds, by my reckoning, are less than half that.

David Herdson


Local By-Election Review March 2017

March 24th, 2017

Higher Croft on Blackburn with Darwen (Lab defence, death of sitting member)
Result: Labour 446 (58% +12%), United Kingdom Independence Party 190 (25% -8%), Conservative 133 (17% -4%)
Labour HOLD with a majority of 256 (33%) on a swing of 10% from UKIP to Lab
However, late yesterday afternoon it was discovered that the Labour candidate should not have been nominated as he was employed by an organisation that Blackburn with Darwen council have a material interest in, therefore the election was declared null and void

Leominster South on Herefordshire (Ind defence, death of sitting member)
Result: Green Party 318 (41% +10%), It’s Our County 143 (18%, no candidate at last election), Conservative 139 (18% -9%), Independent 116 (15% -28%), Liberal Democrat 64 (8%, no candidate at last election)
Green GAIN from Independent with a majority of 175 (23%) on a notional swing of 4% from Green to It’s Our County (actual swing 10.5% from Con to Green)

Dunster and Timberscombe on West Somerset (Con defence, resignation of sitting member)
Result: Liberal Democrat 174 (50%, no candidate at last election), Conservative 115 (33% -27%), Green Party 38 (11% -29%), Labour 23 (7%, no candidate at last election)
Liberal Democrat GAIN from Conservative with a majority of 59 (17%) on a notional swing of 38.5% from Conservative to Liberal Democrat (actual swing 1% from Green to Con)

Monthly Summary: March 2017
Conservatives 8,011 votes (36% -1% on last time) winning 11 seats (+2 on last time)
Labour 6,214 votes (28% -2% on last time) winning 3 seats (-3 on last time)
Liberal Democrats 3,222 votes (15% +8% on last time) winning 3 seats (+2 on last time)
United Kingdom Independence Party 2,098 votes (10% -1% on last time) winning 0 seats (-1 on last time)
Green Party 1,173 votes (5% -2% on last time) winning 1 seat (+1 on last time)
Independents 1,128 votes (5% -2% on last time) winning 0 seats (-1 on last time)
Other Parties 143 votes (1% +1% on last time) winning 0 seats (unchanged)
Conservative lead of 1,797 votes (8%) on a swing of 0.5% from Lab to Con

Conservatives GAIN Hutton on Redcar and Cleveland from Lab
Conservatives GAIN Kersal on Salford from Lab
Conservatives GAIN Waltham Cross on Broxbourne from Lab
Conservatives GAIN Derwent on the City of Derby from UKIP
Liberal Democrats GAIN Hailey, Minister Lovell and Leafield on West Oxfordshire from Con
Green Party GAIN Leominster South on Herefordshire from Ind
Liberal Democrats GAIN Dunster and Timberscombe on West Somerset from Con


Growing in size Britain’s weirdest voting group: The Kippers who now think leaving the EU is wrong

March 24th, 2017

Over the last few months, as those who follow the site will know, I have been writing posts and tweets about the YouGov Brexit tracker which come which comes out two or three times a month. The actual question is “In hindsight do you think Britain was right or wrong to vote to leave the EU?”

The overall picture is that the gap between those who think the outcome was wrong has and those right has narrowed and for the last two surveys it has been level-pegging.

One of the features of this that always seems to get attention is the number of current UKIP supporters who declare that they think it is wrong in hindsight for Britain to have voted to leave the EU.

When this was just one or two percent it could be just put down to polling respondents clicking the wrong boxes as can happen with multi question online survey forms. In the most recent polling the UKIP numbers edged up and the this week’ YouGov polling has 7% of current UKIP supporters saying they believe it was wrong for Britain to vote LEAVE.

So I thought I would produce a chart showing how this is going and here it is at the top ofthe post. The numbers are, of course, small and this is measuring a subset with all the dangers that that entails but the fact that we see the pattern in the chart, I suggest, says something. I’m not quite sure what.

Mike Smithson


NEW PB/Polling Matters podcast: London, Second Referendum(s), Snap elections & more

March 23rd, 2017


On this week’s new (revamped) episode of the PB/Polling Matters podcast Keiran touches briefly on the shocking events of this week before being joined by Leo Barasi and Rob Vance to discuss the latest polling data and elections news. Keiran unveils new Polling Matters / Opinium polling on whether there should be a second EU referendum with changes that might surprise you, Leo explains why he thinks there will not be a snap election (although Keiran argues May is making a mistake in waiting) and Rob touches on events in Northern Ireland following the death of Martin McGuinness.

Follow this week’s guests:




Oh and please vote for the podcast in the British podcast awards below.

Vote for the PB/Polling Matters podcast?

Please vote for the show in the British Podcast Awards for ‘Listeners choice’. Just go to https://www.britishpodcastawards.com/vote search for ‘Polling Matters’ and click on the avatar with the graph (not the one by Frank Newport). Shortlisted shows get featured on The Guardian so it really helps grow our audience if we make the cut.


Local By-Election Preview : March 23rd 2017

March 23rd, 2017

Yesterday, Westminster was attacked. If the aim was to stop democracy, then it clearly failed.

Higher Croft on Blackburn with Darwen (Lab defence, death of sitting member)
Result of council at last election (2016): Labour 45, Conservatives 16, Liberal Democrats 3 (Labour majority of 26)
Result of ward at last election (2015): Labour 1,283 (46%), United Kingdom Independence Party 927 (33%), Conservative 570 (21%)
EU Referendum Result (2016): REMAIN 28,522 (44%) LEAVE 36,799 (56%) on a turnout of 65%
Candidates duly nominated: Ian Grimshaw (UKIP), Adam Holden (Lab), Maureen McGarvey (Con)
Weather at close of polls: Clear, 5°C
Estimate: Labour HOLD (Lab 50%, Con 27%, UKIP 21%)

Leominster South on Herefordshire (Ind defence, death of sitting member)
Result of council at last election (2015): Conservatives 29, It’s Our County 12, Independents 8, Green Party 2, Liberal Democrats 2 (Conservative majority of 5)
Result of ward at last election (2015): Independent 686 (43%), Green Party 492 (31%), Conservative 425 (27%)
EU Referendum Result (2016): REMAIN 44,148 (41%) LEAVE 64,122 (59%) on a turnout of 78%
Candidates duly nominated: Connor Egan (Con), Mark Latimer (Non Party Independent), Trish Marsh (Green), Jon Stannard (It’s Our County), Clive Thomas (Lib Dem)
Weather at close of polls: Clear, 5°C
Estimate: Too close to call (NPI 26%, Con 25%, It’s Our County 19%, Lib Dem 18%, Green 12%)

Dunster and Timberscombe on West Somerset (Con defence, resignation of sitting member)
Result of council at last election (2015): Conservatives 21, Independents 3, United Kingdom Independence Party 3, Labour 1 (Conservative majority of 14)
Result of ward at last election (2015): Conservative 424 (60%), Green Party 288 (40%)
EU Referendum Result (2016): REMAIN 8,566 (39%) LEAVE 13,168 (61%) on a turnout of 79%
Candidates duly nominated: Lucy McQuillan (Green), Andy Parbrook (Con), Peter Pilkington (Lib Dem), Maureen Smith (Lab)
Weather at close of polls: Cloudy but dry, 7°C
Estimate: Conservative HOLD (Con 48%, Lib Dem 29%, Green 17%, Lab 6%)

Compiled by Harry Hayfield


The French Presidency, Manchester Gorton & how long will Trump last – latest betting market round-up

March 23rd, 2017

Macron remains the strong odds-on favourite in France

LAB eases a touch in Gorton but still very strong favourite

Punters think Trump’s got a 50% chance of NOT completing first term

Mike Smithson


Article 50 will be invoked next week with the country still totally split over whether it is the right thing to do

March 23rd, 2017

The YouGov tracker is not shifting either way

If the Prime Minister was hoping that the ending of the parliamentary approval process for Article 50 would swing opinion more behind the move then she is going to be disappointed.

The latest YouGov tracker came out shortly before the Westminster terror attack and as can be seen in the chart the country is still totally divided on whether it is a good thing or a bad thing. There’s been very little movement since TMay became leader last July.

This is very much sets the scene for the coming months and TMay has two very different audiences to satisfy – those who want out and those who don’t. The the result on June 23rd was very close and the trend in the chart suggests that that is how it remains.

It is only the presence of Corbyn who was ambivalent to BREXIT that gives her some relief. She’s not facing someone who has the ability to exploit the situation.

Does she put the emphasis on curtailing immigration at the expense of the economy or vice versa? There’ll be huge pressures either way.

I love trackers like this because the same question is asked in the same manner every time.

Mike Smithson


The Westminster attacks: It’ll be some time before we get the full picture

March 22nd, 2017

We do know that a policemen was killed bringing current death toll to 2