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Will we have to wait until Sunderland South?

March 29th, 2005

    Confusing polls leave punters – confused

If the polls continue to be all over the place we might have to wait until Chris Mullin’s declaration in Sunderland South before we get any idea at all about how this election is going. Last time this result came at a 10.43 pm – less than three-quarters an hour after the polls had closed and with so much civic pride at stake it’s hard to seem them not winning the declaration race again.

In spite of four major polls in the past week and the Howard Flight affair punters are very reluctant to part their cash at the moment – at least on the main spread-betting Commons Seat markets. The Labour spreads have remained pretty stable on 351-356 seats with IG Index, and 349.2 -354 with Spreadfair

The only oddity is Sporting Index which is quoting a spread on the Labour majority of 51-57 seats which is out of line with its own Labour price of 350-355. In fact there is a minor arbitrage opportunity with IG who are quoting 58-64 on the majority.

Another good barometer of betting opinion is the main “winning party” market with Betfair which has the Tories at 7.2/1 which compares with the 10/1 it reached only a few weeks ago after the defection to Labour of the former Tory minister, Robert Jackson. Certainly that news was treated by punters as a much more damaging blow to the Tories than the Flight sacking.

The range of possible outcomes reflected in the polls goes from a Labour majority of 174 from Communicate Research to a possible hung parliament with the “certain to vote” figures from the British Election Study.

All this led to Villan, one of our regular contributors, making this observation last night …..All in all, the opinion polls are not proving much help and I can’t see it getting any better in the run-up to the election. If the polls are close, does that mean the Tories are really going to win (on votes)?.Or has the Labour overstatement been reduced by a combination of the pollsters changed methodologies and the fact it’s no longer “fashionable” to be Labour? If the polls show a big Labour lead, will that mean we are due another Labour landslide or will it allow the Conservatives in by the back-door if it encourages a poor Labour turnout? We all know the arguments and know which interpretations we would prefer to be true but none of us can be sure.

And will Sunerland South make it any clearer? Last time Chris Mullin won it with a 63% majority over the Tories and the turnout was only 48%.

Mike Smithson






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