Punters believe that the 39 year old is a near certainty
There’s been an overnight rush to back David Cameron on the betting markets following the publication of the first poll of Tory party members since the end of the MPs’ stage of the leadership selection process.
The survey by ICM for the BBC’s Politics Show involved interviews with 215 party members who went for the younger man by more than three to one. The figures were Cameron 76%: Davis 24%.
With the ballot papers due to go out in less than a week’s time it’s hard to see how the 56 year old Shadow Home Secretary can make up such a huge gap.
The ICM results are in line with a YouGov survey of party members after the Blackpool conference which had Cameron beating Davis by 66-27. Then, of course, the MP ballots had not taken place and there were other contenders still in the race.
Methodology note. We have yet to see the details of the survey but ICM did a similar poll in August 2001 when it spoke to 229 Tory members. In an important caveat last time ICM noted “Interviews were conducted in four areas – New Forest East, Blaydon, Gateshead East & Washington and Thanet South. The results are un-weighted and the poll is NOT designed or suggested to be representative of all Conservative Party members.” That poll reported an IDS win over Ken Clarke by 76-24 – the same shares, interestingly, as this survey. The actual result was IDS by 61-39.
In another big boost for TeamCameron the Cornerstone Group of right-wingers is reported by the Sunday Telegraph to be ready to put their weight behind the old-Etonian. They had previously backed Liam Fox.
News of the poll caused a huge rush on the Betfair betting exchange. At 9pm last night the Cameron price was 0.13/1. Four hours later this was down to 0.1/1. So a Â£100 winning bet from last night would produce a Â£13 profit – now the best you could get is Â£10. Davis is 8.2/1.
The best conventional bookmaker prices are Cameron 1/12: Davis 13/2.
We have now got to a stage where punters are attracted by the prospect of 10% return for what appears to be a near certainty just for locking their money up for five weeks. Unless there are unexpected problems for Cameron the price will tighten even further.