Will turnout really be lower than last time?

Will turnout really be lower than last time?

    It’s 11/4 against 60% or more

As the election day gets closer – whether it’s May 5 or not – the bookies are opening new markets and you can now bet on turnout. This is the market from Skybet.

0 – 55% 11/8
60 +% 11/4
55 – 60% 11/8

In 2001 just 21.87 m out of the total electorate of 37m bothered to go to the polls producing a turnout percentage of just over 59%. Is that going to be bettered this time or will all the talk of voter disillusionment take its toll and we will see even fewer people exercising their democratic rights?

    We think the bookies have got this wrong and there is money to be made

In our view turnout will be higher and the 11/4 on 60% or more is a good value bet. The reason 2001 was so low was because the General Election was seen as a foregone conclusion. Labour had poll leads of upto 19% during the campaign and the lowest margin registered was 11%. In the end Labour came home 9% ahead.

This time received opinion has it that it will be a foregone conclusion once again – but Labour’s poll leads are nothing like what they were four years ago and the Tory move to discredit the poll ratings could create a view that the contest is closer.

A good example was the London Mayoral Election on June 10th last year. The final polls indicated that it was much closer for Ken Livingston than was being suggested. This caused many more Londoners to vote and the proportion was much higher than the pollsters said. If there’s any sense at all that Tony Blair might get close to losing his overall majority then the election becomes a much bigger story and more people will be there on the day.

The biggest event of this Government was the Iraq War which has politicised new groups. This video from BackingBlair.Co.Uk is a taster of the way the internet will become important in this campaign and could reach new groups of voters. The US Presidential Election in November also saw big increases in turnout.

The 11/4 is a great bet. Take it while it lasts. These are previous turnout rates.

1970 – 72%
1974 (Feb) – 78.8%
1974 (Oct) – 72.8%
1979 – 76%
1983 – 72.7%
1987 – 75.3%
1992 – 77.7%
1997 – 71.4%
2001 – 59.4%

© Mike Smithson 2005

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