GE2017 – Tracker – Tuesday 30th May

Conservatives: Av u/o seats = 379.5 – Week change = -10.9

Labour: Av u/o seats = 189.5 – Weel change = +14

Lib Dems: Av u/o seats = 11.5 – Week change = -1

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Spreadex | Con 374-380 (24hr = -1| Lab 182-188 (+1) | LD 13.5-16.5 (0)

Sporting Index | Con 375-381 (-1) | Lab 186-191 (+4.5) | LD 13.5-15.5 (0)

(2015 result | Con 330 | Lab 232 | LD 8)

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The consensus amongst the commentariat and twitter politicos was that last night’s May vs Corbyn interviews on Channel 4 saw Jeremy put in his most polished performance in his time at the helm of the Labour party. Monsieur Zen dealt calmly with audience questions and managed to communicate Labour’s core pitch to the electorate; he deftly deflected Paxman’s attack dog style with humour and bewilderment. Mrs May was noticeably less relaxed by comparison. However, she does appear (finally) to have taken some of the sting out of the social care policy botch and her ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’ line on Brexit appeared to find favour with the studio audience.

Corbyn’s media training team certainly deserve credit for the more polished performance their man has put in of late, but a certain amount of that good work must have been undone by JC’s performance on Woman’s Hour today. JC went all a bit Ben Swain as he struggled to offer costings for Labour’s universal childcare policy. Diane Abbott’s grilling over police numbers earlier in the campaign shows these moments do have ‘cut through’ and Corbyn’s blank (during which the Zen mask slipped briefly) will be tonic to a beleaguered Tory campaign command.

The betting shows a further narrowing of the gap between the Tories and Labour. However, taking either the average fixed odds seats line or spreads midpoint as a guide, the bookmakers are still suggesting a Tory majority close to 100.

A couple of points of note:

Firstly, a decent middle has opened up on Labour seats. You can go over 184.5 with SkyBet and under 195.5 with Paddy Power. It’s 5/6 either side, so back both for £60 and you’re effectively risking £10 to win £100.

Secondly, Sporting Index have reduced their spread sizes on Labour and Lib Dem seats. Labour spread is down to 5 (from 6) and the Lib Dem spread down to 2 (from 3)

GE2017 – Tracker – Sunday 28th May – We need to talk about Nick

Conservatives: Av u/o seats = 380.5 – Change since Friday PM = -4.3

Labour: Av u/o seats = 188.2 –Change since Friday PM = +5.4

Lib Dems: Av u/o seats = 11.5 – Change since Friday PM = -1

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Spreadex | Con 375-381 (Since Friday PM = 0)| Lab 181-187 (+2) | LD 13.5-16.5 (-0.5)

Sporting Index | Con 376-382 (-2) | Lab 180-186 (+1) | LD 13-16 (-1)

(2015 result | Con 330 | Lab 232 | LD 8

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A feast of opinion polls yesterday evening with no fewer than five of the critters released into the wild. In the words of PT Barnum, the 19th century American politician and circus master (the jokes do themselves really), there was something for everyone: Labour closing the gap to single figures, a comfortable double digit lead for the Tories, evidence that the Corbyn surge was continuing and that peak Jezza has passed. The one consistent element? The Lib Dems and UKIP stuck in single figures.

ICM Con 46 (-1) Lab 32 (-1) Con +14

YouGov Con 43 (-) Lab 36 (-2) Con +7

ORB Con 44 (-2) Lab 38 (+4) Con +6

ComRes Con 46 (-2) Lab 34 (+4) Con +12

Opinium Con 45 (-1) Lab 35 (+2) Con +10

And the impact on the betting? Drumroll, fanfare, and curtain up… Negligible.

Barely a flicker in the predicted seats spread markets and the fixed odds average line showing a move to Labour mainly off the back of Paddy Power. Over the course of the weekend the Irish compiler revised its under/over Labour seats line up 14 to 195.5 (quite comfortably the high of the campaign so far) and pulled its Tory prediction down 10 to 375.5. The two other bookies in our sample, Ladbrokes and Sky Bet, have shown far less volatility.

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Despite the fact Labour are polling much better than at the start of the campaign, the bookmakers still have Mrs May in for comfortable majority. The graph below shows the size of the Conservative majority implied by the average midpoint of the Spreadex and Sporting Index Tory seats quotes throughout the campaign.

con maj.png

Predictions of the Tory majority reached a peak just after the party’s impressive performance in the local elections. The spread firms briefly had quotes over 400 for Tory seats, which would equate to a majority in excess of 150. As the campaign has continued, with the social care U-turn and then the Manchester bombing, we have seen Tory seats quotes fall away – but less than two weeks from the election the implied majority is still north of 100 seats.

My view is there is still scope to Buy Labour seats and/or Sell Conservative seats. Expectation management it might be, but there are whispers coming from the Tory camp that the party would be happy with a majority of 60-80 seats. Mrs May is staggering to the finish line whilst Mr Corbyn does seem invigorated by the campaign. Getting with Labour on the spreads offers more realistic hope for success than backing Labour most seats (best price 8/1) or a Labour majority (best price 20/1) with the fixed odds firms.

I’ve been building up a few spread positions over the last week and am currently short at 380 Cons and long at 169 Labour. Should the Labour quote ever touch 200 I may well be persuaded to trade out before polling day.

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We need to talk about Nick

One of the most fascinating constituency battles of the election is rumbling on in Sheffield Hallam where former leader of the Liberal Democrats Nick Clegg is facing a fierce fight from Labour to hold onto his seat.

Back in the heady days of the 2010 election campaign at the height of ‘I agree with Nick’ Clegg-mania there was a national YouGov poll that put the Liberal Democrats ahead of both Labour and the Conservatives in GB share of the vote. However, this failed to translate into an electoral breakthrough, indeed the Lib Dems suffered a net loss of seats in 2010. Clegg’s decision to take his party into coalition in the Conservatives proved devastating to its electoral prospects and at the 2015 election the Lib Dems managed to hold only 8 of 57 seats. Clegg was one of the survivors but his majority was reduced from 15,284 to 2,353 and there was a school of thought that he only kept his head above water on account of tactical voting from Sheffield Conservatives as a ‘thank you’ for getting Dave into Number 10.

Labour are pouring a great deal of effort into this seat and with tactical Tories migrating back to May and a national Liberal Democrat campaign that has failed to capture the imagination, I like the look of the 7/2 that Ladbrokes offer for Labour to topple Clegg.

nick clegg.jpg

GE2017 – Tracker – Friday 26th May – Corbyn closes the gap

Conservatives: Av u/o seats = 384.8 – 24 hour change = -3 Week change = -13

Labour: Av u/o seats = 182.8 – 24 hour = +3.7 Week = +16

Lib Dems: Av u/o seats = 12.5 – 24 hour = 0 Week = 0

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Spreadex | Con 375-381 (24hr = -8)| Lab 179-185 (+7) | LD 14-17 (+0.5)

Sporting Index | Con 378-384 (-6) | Lab 179-185 (+7) | LD 14-17 (0)

(2015 result | Con 330 | Lab 232 | LD 8

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Once upon a time the biggest danger faced by the Conservative campaign was complacency. The idea was that the Tories were so far ahead in the polls and Mrs May’s personal ratings so superior to those of Mr Corbyn that voters would assume the election was a fait accompli and not bother to go the polling station.

There was a thought that the prospect of Corbyn getting into Number 10 needed to be real enough to engage the electorate. Without it, apathy may undermine a stonking majority.

Well CCHQ, be careful what you wish for. Yesterday’s YouGov poll had the Conservative lead over Labour down to just 5 points. The narrative is shifting from the size of the Tory majority to whether there will be one at all.

Only a week ago The Spectator, with its tongue only partly in cheek, published a list of ten Labour candidates that Tory voters ought to lend their vote to for the good of Parliamentary democracy. No such moderate largesse in evidence now; with the polls narrowing, every seat will be crucial in justifying Mrs May’s decision to go to the country early.

Looking at the betting over the last two days, not surprisingly we have seen significant moves to Labour both on fixed odds and the spreads. However, more surprisingly, despite Labour’s momentum in the polls bookmakers are still predicting a comfortable majority for Mrs May.

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The challenge in the constituency betting is identifying where shifts in polling reveal value.

I like the look of the 6/5 Paddy Power offer for Rupa Huq (Labour) to hold Ealing Central & Acton. Although Huq defends a small majority (274) I feel this west London seat could well be an easier hold for Labour than, say, Eltham in SE London where Labour incumbent Clive Efford is 15/8 to hold.

GE2017 – Tracker – Thursday 25th May – Democracy persists

Conservatives: Av u/o seats = 387.8 – Week change = -11.3

Labour: Av u/o seats = 179.2 – Week change = +18.3

Lib Dems: Av u/o seats = 12.5 – Week change = -0.3

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Spreadex | Con 383-389 (Week = -10)| Lab 172-178 (+10) | LD 13.5-16.5 (-0.5)

Sporting Index | Con 384-390 (-8) | Lab 172-178 (+12) | LD 14-17 (0)

(2015 result | Con 330 | Lab 232 | LD 8

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Local campaigning resumes today after an electoral truce in the wake of the dreadful events that took place in Manchester on Monday evening.

The callous bombing of a pop concert has claimed 22 lives; it will leave scars both physical and emotional on hundreds more.

Without doubt an act of terror of this scale changes the shape of an election: priorities change and perspectives shifts – but democracy’s persistence is democracy’s triumph.

It seems a long time ago now that Theresa May was widely ridiculed for her U-turn on Conservative manifesto commitments around social care. Reversing on the so-called ‘dementia tax’ was read as a desperate bid to mitigate Labour’s strengthening in the polls.

Indeed, the weekend saw the Labour average seats line swell to around 170 (from a low point of 156.5 in the aftermath of the local elections). Labour’s improvement squeezed the Liberal Democrats – down to under/over 12.5 seats across the board – and tempered enthusiasm for a Conservative party that previously had seemed unstoppable.

Many voices – some more rational than others – have speculated as to what the Manchester terror attack means for the parties’ election prospects. Looking at the betting, the impact for the time being is minimal. Whilst I haven’t published blog updates over recent days, I have still tracked the prices. Labour’s upwards trend continues with the current seat quotes of 179.5 (Paddy Power and Ladbrokes) and 178.5 (SkyBet) the highest of the campaign so far with the respective bookmakers.

However, the Conservatives remain in comfortable territory. Labour’s improved polling – in particular a barometer showing that party had retaken the popular vote lead in Wales – might have diluted talk of a crushing Tory landslide, but the narrowest GB poll gap we’ve seen so far still gives the Conservatives a 9pt advantage. Yes Labour numbers are improving and that might help candidates to cling on in defensive marginals, but the gains from Conservatives that Mr Corbyn would need to consider forming a government are still unlikely.

Having said that, given Labour’s national poll bounce and the remarkable swing in Wales, I make Labour a decent bet in Gower – where they are 7/2 to win with Paddy Power. The seat is an ultra-marginal having been taken by the Conservatives by just 27 votes in 2015.

Labour held Gower for pretty much the entirety of the 20th Century. The unpopularity of Mrs May’s manifesto suggests there’s a good chance they’ll get the seat back in the red column this time.

david gower 02.jpg

Gower in play

GE2017 – Tracker – Sunday 21st May – Weekend wobble

Conservatives: Av u/o seats = 390.5 – 24hr change = -6

Labour: Av u/o seats = 175.5 – 24 hr = +6.3

Lib Dems: Av u/o seats = 12.2 – 24 hr = 0

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Spreadex | Con 385-391 (24hr = -5)| Lab 168-174 (+4) | LD 14 – 17 (0)

Sporting Index | Con 384-390 (-9) | Lab 170-176 (+6) | LD 14-17 (-1)

(2015 result | Con 330 | Lab 232 | LD 8)

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Sizeable shifts in the betting off the back of a YouGov poll showing the Conservative lead over Labour to have narrowed to 9pts. It’s the first time the gap has been in single figures since the start of the campaign.

Sporting Index spent much of the day with its seat markets suspended as they digested the polling news, eventually re-opening with the Conservative quote down 9 on yesterday at 384-390 with Labour up 6 to 170-176. Spreadex slightly less volatile with Con down 5 and Labour up 4.

Across the fixed odds markets plenty of stories of money coming in for Labour and Corbyn. Labour to win most seats now as short as 8/1 (Paddy Power). Similarly on Betfair Labour most seats into 18 from over 30 earlier in the week.

A blip or a trend? Further polls through the coming week will shed some light.