When she stepped to the podium outside of 10 Downing on 18 April to say she would be abandoning her pledge to wait until 2020 and instead call a snap election, British Prime Minister Theresa May set off a wave of speculation on the general election odds for the makeup of the next Parliament.
As we write, we are just under 30 days away and all signs point to the Tories heading toward a big win and keeping (if not expanding) their Parliamentary majority. Based on polling done by The Telegraph through the first months of the year, the Tories have been polling consistently in the low to mid 40s, with Labour struggling to stay above a 25% mark and UKIP and the LibDems each hovering in the high single digits.
General Election Betting Odds
Since the UK relies on a First Past The Post (FPTP) system, any candidate just needs to get to plurality, not a majority of their local vote, to be an MP in the next government. FPTP, polling, and the current state of the post-Brexit Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn have oddsmakers sweet on the Conservatives. All major British bookkeepers, including Betway, Coral, and bet365 have got Tory odds at about 1/33, with the odds of them taking an overall majority around 1/20. The odds seem sound, not because the Tories are totally beloved throughout the country, but rather a combination of things listed below.
Not only did bookmakers miss rightward headwinds with the UK General Election in 2015, but also with “Leave” and Trump in 2016, giving big payouts to those who went against the house in political betting. However, the polls just finalised in France and Emmanuel Macron actually exceeded his polling margin against the right-wing candidate, Marine Le Pen. We may be in the middle of a reversal of sorts, in which pollsters and bookies alike have caught wise to their mistakes of the previous years and are able to predict voting in the era of information in new and more accurate ways.
While looking at the accuracy of polling in the French election, if we consider that the results of the UK General Election 2 years ago under David Cameron were a total surprise to oddsmakers and pollsters alike, there is an absolute need to look at a few political factors that could alter the general election odds in the next few weeks.
|Winning Party||Current Best Odds||Bookmaker||Go to odds|
|Liberal Democrats||284/1||Betfair Exchange||Betfair|
General Election – Decisive factors
First is the nature of how May and her party use the Brexit negotiations with the EU as a campaign tool or a wedge issue. Pushing now for a “Hard Brexit” (though she herself was a Remainer), May is embracing the slogan “Strong and Stable”, to demonstrate to voters that she has the grit, wit, and commitment to get the best possible deal for the UK. However, the more we learn about these negotiations of trying to undo 40 plus years of bureaucracy, the more we see that the EU has the upper hand. If you see May and the Conservatives out there at campaign events vilifying people in Brussels, Berlin, or the European mainland, you can be sure they’re trying to tap into those nationalist tones more often associated with UKIP. It really means they’re looking to maximize voter turnout, betting that an ‘Us vs. Them’ approach with the EU will bring out their die hard supporters.
On the flip side, voters who are either fed up with the political system or just their party (as many Labour voters are), stand as another key indicator for these general election odds. Given the well documented dissatisfaction that Labour MPs have with their leader, it’s hard to see the narrative of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership changing anytime soon. When voters go to the polls, they want to cast their ballots for someone they believe in and feel inspired by. For some people, Corbyn does that. But for a lot of people who supported Labour over the years, he doesn’t do that at all. Just as with the Brexit vote, Trump, and to an extent in France, voters who are now choosing to abstain or lodge protest votes because they feel their party has forgotten about them (for whatever reason), can actually swing the odds even more in May’s favor. Keep an eye out for what Labour MPs are saying about Corbyn, or if they even mention him at all. Parties that want to govern talk about their leader and their plans. Parties that know they’re destined for the opposition will only talk about what’s wrong with the majority party in government.
Finally, take a look at what happens to the Labour platform. Corbyn caught a lot of flak for his hesitancy to help the “Remain” campaign. If Labour knew what they were about, they’d make this snap election a referendum on the referendum. But, if you don’t see any new policies being rolled out that really set Labour up to be a true governing party, I’d say the odds for a Conservative sweep go even higher than what they are now. We will have to stay tuned over the next few weeks, but the fortunes for May and her party are looking up and up and up.
General Election 2017 Betting Tip
With such a commanding lead in the polls we can’t see anything other than a conservative win in the next general election. Although stranger things have happened. The bookies appear to also be following that similar perspective and therefore there are not much value bets when it comes to “Conservative Outright Win” betting markets. It is looking very much like a majority government for the Tories. However, a more interesting betting market could be on the total number of seats Labour will get in the end. With 232 seats last time out, bookmakers such as Betfred are currently offering odds of 13/2 for Labour to get between 200-249 seats. Current predictions for Labour seats are at around 180-190 but with recent polls looking a bit more positive for Labour, support could be on the rise with potential to reclaim those lost seats.
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