After what has felt like the longest January known to the human race, the turning of a new month brings hope in terms of being a step closer to the end of the global pandemic. But with that hope comes increasing expectations that our political leaders must deliver. Step forward President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Boris Johnson who continue to be firmly under the microscope at different sides of the Atlantic Ocean.
Having hit his highest approval rating of 39% since August 2020, Prime Minister Johnson’s stock (while not matching the pace of GameStop), continued to rise in January. Paddy Power suggest that the trend will continue into February with a YouGov approval rating line of 41%; and the early money has been firmly for the over with the price contracting to 1/2 (66%). While certainly nothing to write home about amid the current circumstances, you can be pretty sure Boris views this as a win in the grand scheme of things.
Buoyed by his approval rating and the impressive pace of vaccination rollout (when compared with his old adversary Europe), the Prime Minster took a somewhat unannounced trip north of the border to close out January. Given the cloak and dagger lack of an itinerary, and limited time outside of pre-sanitised photo opportunities, the PM still managed to find himself in front of a microphone which lead to an inevitable question about Scottish Independence.
Despite Smarkets favouring a pro independence vote at 54% should the Scots go to the polls on the topic once again, Boris confidently declared “people don’t want another referendum”. At 21/22 (51%) for 2025 or later, another referendum will not likely take place during his time in office but that’s not to say it’s not wanted. However, with the Scottish Nationalist Party 1/100 (99%) favourites to win the most seats in the 2021 Scottish parliamentary elections, it’s not something Nicola Sturgeon will let slip completely off the public radar.
Back stateside, it’s looking virtually certain the senate will not find Donald Trump guilty. Paddy Power now bet 1/50 (98%) the impeachment trial doesn’t result in a conviction. The counter argument at this point being you can’t impeach a president who has already left office. The Democrats appear to have been ready for this angle, citing the beginning of the process prior to Trump’s departure from the oval office, but all these efforts appear to be in vain. Despite all of this, Donald Trump is still third in line in the betting for US Election 2024 at Betfair, and is as short as 10/1 (9%)!
President Biden has certainly been giving the impression he doesn’t care much about following the impeachment proceedings. He is more concerned about vaccination rollout and reversing Trumpian policies via the executive order route.
FiveThirtyEight's approval tracker will give an early indication of how Biden is performing and both Paddy Power & Smarkets offer markets for different intervals. Paddy Power pitch the 25-day mid-February rating at 53.5% betting 5/6 (54%) both sides of the line. Fast forward 75 days and Smarkets favour 55-59.5% at 11/10 (48%) for the 100-day approval.
Whatever one’s politics, this Political Joe has no issue with the stock of world leaders rising at the moment. They need all the support they can get to help fight the global pandemic. If a little public positivity helps move that along and lets us get back to the true meaning of playing politics, onwards and upwards.