Election

GE2017 – Gains and losses

So how was it for you? On an extraordinary election night Mrs May’s Conservatives lost their overall majority and now appear to be relying on the support of the DUP to continue in government.

Mrs May’s gamble failed, but how did my betting go? I’ve been through all the tips I’ve made through the course of the blog and I’m pretty happy with my success rate. Throughout the campaign I was more positive than the markets on Labour’s chances – a hunch which paid off on the spreads as well as fixed odds and, generally speaking, my constituency tips bore fruit.

Here’s a full breakdown of my tips (hope you were on!):

25/4 – UKIP under 0.5 seats – 2/9 – WON

27/4 – Lib Dems to win Bath – 5/6 – WON

30/4 – Over 152.5 Labour seats – 5/6 – WON

3/5 – Labour to win Broxtowe – 12/1 – Lost (although v. close, Con held by just 863 votes)

4/5 – Lib Dems to win Bermondsey – 4/6 – Lost

6/5 – UKIP under 0.5 seats – 1/10 – WON

8/5 – Conservatives to win Eltham – 4/9 – Lost

11/5 – Labour to win Sheffield Hallam – 6/1  – WON

17/5 – Lib Dems over 13.5 seats – 5/6 – Lost

25/5 – Labour to win Gower – 7/2 – WON

26/5 – Labour to hold Ealing Central & Acton – 6/5 – WON

28/5 – Labour to win Sheffield Hallam – 7/2– WON

29/5 – Labour to win Bury North – 7/2 – WON

29/5 – Labour to win Bolton West – 13/2 – Lost

1/6 – Over 63% turnout – 4/5 – WON

5/6 – Labour to hold Hampstead & Kilburn – 4/11 – WON

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On the spreads I recommended a BUY of Labour seats @ 186 (75 point win) and a SELL of Conservative seats @ 375 (57 point win)

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GE2017 – Tracker – Monday 5th June

Conservatives: Av u/o seats = 363.5 – 24hr change = +2

Labour: Av u/o seats = 208.5 – 24hr change = -1

Lib Dems: Av u/o seats = 11.2 – 24hr change =0

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Spreadex | Con 365-371(24hr = +3)| Lab 199-205 (0) | LD 11-13.5 (0)

Sporting Index | Con 366-372 (+4) | Lab 197-203 (-2) | LD 11-13.5 (-1.5)

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

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On Saturday evening I was digesting the six opinion polls that had been published and preparing a post when news of the London Bridge terror attack began to filter through on Twitter and the 24 hour news channels. As was the case with the Manchester bombing, national campaigning was suspended and I felt it would not be appropriate to publish a betting update at that moment.

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A theme of the election, certainly in the last fortnight of the campaign, has been the wide range in opinion poll figures. This trend continued over the weekend with polls putting the Tory lead at 12pts, 1pt, and pretty much everywhere inbetween. The consensus appears to be that this divergence can be attributed to the differences in each polling company’s weighting methodology, in particular to what extent they believe younger voters will turn out.

In translating vote share to seats, the difference between a 12pt and 1 pt lead would likely be the difference between a handsome Conservative majority and a hung parliament.

For what it’s worth, my own (rather dull) opinion is that the actuality lies somewhere in the middle. Yes, Corbyn’s campaign has engaged previously apathetic groups – the 18-24 demographic being one such – nevertheless, the turnout percentage implied for younger voters in the more Labour-optimistic polls are rather too high to credit.

Of course, as the cliché goes, the only poll that really matters is the one on Thursday. Looking at the betting, the Tories appear to have weathered the Corbyn surge. Indeed on the spreads and fixed odds Tory seats have nudged up a couple over the last 24 hours.

The quotes about Conservative seats are much the same as we saw at the start of the campaign. Meanwhile, Labour quotes are a good 30 seats higher and the Lib Dems 25 lower.

The Conservatives are (generally) 1/10 to win the most seats and 1/4 (shorter in places) to claim an overall majority.

A constituency bet that appeals is Tulip Siddiq to hold Hampstead and Kilburn for Labour – 4/11 with Paddy Power. Labour’s surge appears to be stronger in London than anywhere else in the country, making this a generous price for the hold.

GE2017 – Tracker – Thursday 1st June – A week away

Conservatives: Av u/o seats = 367.5 – 24hr change = -2

Labour: Av u/o seats = 201.8 – 24hr change = -0.7

Lib Dems: Av u/o seats = 11.2 – 24hr change = -0

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Spreadex | Con 362-368 (24hr = -2)| Lab 198-204 (+2) | LD 12-14.5 (-0.25)

Sporting Index | Con 361-367 (-4) | Lab 198-204 (+2) | LD 12.5-14.5 (-0.5)

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

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Much like last night’s election debate, May is now not with us and this time next week the polls will be open for hashtag GE2017. I can hardly contain my excitement.

The last two weeks have seen a dramatic narrowing in the polls which has been reflected in the betting with money coming in for Labour. For ten days or so after the local elections Ladbrokes pitched its under/over Tory seats line at 400.5 – the firm now goes 370.5. For evidence of Labour’s impressive campaign consider that at the election’s call Paddy Power offered 5/6 under/over 167.5 Labour seats (this was to drop to as low as 157.5 on May 8th) – the line is now 210.5.

See below for a graph of how the bookmakers (Paddies, Sky and Labdrokes) have bet the under/over party seats line through the campaign. Notice SkyBet have generally been more optimistic about the Tories and more pessimistic about Labour than the other bookmakers (the Murdoch influence no doubt!).

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Doesn’t need me to tell you that the polls have been all over the place recently, with the Con lead pegged at pretty much everywhere from 3 to 12 pts in the last week.

One thing that is emerging is just how important turnout – and in particular differential turnout between age groups – will be in determining the election’s outcome. Indeed, the narrow Tory advantages in certain polls appear to be a symptom of younger voters a) disproportionately backing Labour and b) according to self declaration, this demographic being more likely to turn out to vote than at previous elections.

But how do the bookies bet overall turnout?

SkyBet set the line at 63% with Unders 10/11 and Overs 4/5

Paddy Power also have a 63% line and go Unders 6/4 and Overs 1/2

On the spreads, Sporting Index are offering a turnout market and quote 62.3 – 63.

[For context: 2001 = 59.4%, 2005 = 61.3%, 2010 = 65.5%, 2015 = 66.1%, EU ref = 72.2%]

Recommendation: Back Over 63% turnout with SkyBet 4/5.

Both the 2010 and 2015 elections saw turnouts in excess of 63%. The EU referendum engaged many previous ‘non voters’. The 2017 campaign, although unwanted in some quarters has engaged others. The narrowing of the polls means complacent Tory voters or resigned Labour voters staying at home is less likely. I don’t expect turnout to exceed that of the Brexit referendum, but is likely to go above 63%.

GE2017 – Tracker – Wednesday 31st May – The end of May?

Conservatives: Av u/o seats = 369.5 – 24hr change = -10

Labour: Av u/o seats = 202.5 – 24hr change = +13

Lib Dems: Av u/o seats = 11.2 – 24hr change = -0.3

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Spreadex | Con 364-370 (24hr = -10)| Lab 196-202 (+14) | LD 12-15 (-1.5)

Sporting Index | Con 365-371 (-10) | Lab 196-202 (+10) | LD 13-15 (-0.5)

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

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High drama overnight as The Times published a YouGov poll/prediction/model/forecast (no one quite seems sure what it actually is) suggesting the Tories are set to lose 20 seats on June 8th and we’d end up with a hung parliament.

It’s an extraordinary prediction given that throughout the campaign the question has been how large the Tory majority will be, not whether they manage to win one at all.

The forecast has been met with some scepticism and it’s worth bearing in mind that yesterday a ComRes poll gave the Tories a fairly comfortable 12pt lead. Nevertheless, YouGov’s numbers are driven by a poll giving the Conservatives 42% and Labour 38% – certainly close enough that Tory losses from 2015 are possible.

As you’d expect, the betting markets have responded by shifting up expectations of Labour seats and, again, slashing (I think we can sensibly use that word) Tory lines. On the spreads for example, Spreadex moved its Labour quote up 14 and the Tories down 10. Nevertheless, the betting at this stage still implies a Tory majority of 80 or so.

Conservative most seats is still best price 1/12 and a Tory overall majority 1/6. However, Corbyn is now as short as 9/2 to be PM after the election.

If you’re a YouGov believer it’s worth looking at the constituency betting for opportunities. For the prediction to be realised Labour would need to gain a chunk of seats from the Tories and in many of the party’s top target constituencies, the Labour candidate remains odds against.

Taking the target list from psephologists Rallings and Thrasher, Paddy Power offer the following for Labour wins in the Conservatives’ most marginal defences:

Gower 2/1

Derby North 10/3

Croydon Central 2/1

Vale of Clwyd 9/4

Bury North 7/2

Morley & Outwood 4/1

Thurrock 7/1

Plymouth Sutton & Devonport 5/1

Brighton Kemptown 6/4

Bolton West 13/2

From that list the two Welsh seats (Gower and Vale of Clwyd) as well as Bury North and Bolton West look like exceptional bets. I’d leave Thurrock as I think we’ll see the UKIP collapse help the Tories there and whispers suggest the Tories are doing OK in Plymouth.

Good luck and remember to keep breathing.

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.

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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.

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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.

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Gower in play