In spite of all the latest opinion polls showing Labour either holding its ground or making progress over the Conservatives there’s been a marked changed of mood by political gamblers during the week. The spread betting market has moved substantially against Labour and now the bookmakers are easing their prices on the party winning most seats at the General Election. One has now got Labour at 1.36.
In the argument over the most accurate pollster punters are putting their money on the YouGov scenairo that has the Tories 4% ahead rather than ICM with its 4% Labour lead.
ICM’s figures would give Tony Blair a majority of 114 – YouGov would have him 11 seats short. Populus, which should have a new poll out this week, and MORI are somewhere in between. The latest spreads on Commons Seats are:-
LAB 323-333 (DOWN 4 on week)
CON 345-355 (UP 2 on week)
LIB 53-58 (UP 1 on week)
Labour need 324 to win an overall majority.
We posted a full page of predictions on Friday which we stick with. Labour WILL win most seats. Since then there has been the YouGov poll showing that Labour would be 4% better off with Gordon Brown. Clearly this is further pressure on the Prime Minister but we remain unconvinced that he will go. Our long-standing view that laying Blair and Kennedy in the “Still leaders” market remains the best place to be. A lay price of 1.85 would seem to be good value.
A big unknown is how the Euro elections on the same day will impact on the result. This might bring out UK Independence Party and Green supporters who would not normally vote in a local election. Later in the week we plan to look at the way these two parties might affect the final result. We remain with our view, set out in detail on Saturday, that this is a very close call and that the betting prices on Ken’s opponents offer real value. We do not see much change in market sentiment between now and June 10 and William Hill still has its fabulous 11 on Norris. Ladbrokes was in the market for a day only with 13 on Norris but that has now gone. Our call on him or the Tory Party at 9 or more remains with covering bets on Hughes just in case Ken comes third and the Lib Dem wins on 2nd preferences.
The line-up of mega-wealthy supporters on both sides is being seen in an intensive TV battle with millions of dollars being spent. The latest George W. Bush campaign is again focusing on Kerry’s inconsistent record and is entirely negative. In spite of a huge spend in the past two weeks Bush’s position in the polls has dropped just a touch – almost certainly in response to the continued bad news from Iraq. The expensive Kerry campaign, meanwhile, continues to use the brilliant interviews with former soldier colleagues in Vietnam – and they’ve now found a way of bringing John McCann – beaten by Bush for the Republican nomination last time. To get a sense of the battle political gamblers should check the ads themselves – really instructive. The betting markets have been fairly static on the week and we see little value at the moment. There is no point in locking up money until November unless the prices are going to change dramatically which we do not think will happen. WAIT.
No UK bookmakers have yet offered a market on the Kerry Vice-Presidential choice. You can bet with the Irish-based but US-focused betting exchange, Tradesports. This is a hard market to read because it is based on two people’s decisions – Kerry and the person who agrees to be his running mate. The current favourite is “not one of the above“. DON’T BET.
Tradesports has now opened a market on “Donald Rumsfeld to Announce his Departure as Secretary of Defense on/before 30 June 2004”. The price is the equivalent of 3.5-4 which does not seem to offer value either way. This is a classic market where wishful thinking can take over. People do not like Rumsfield and to show their dislike they bet aganist him. Unless you are absolutely convinced – DON’T BET.