But punters are still backing Nick Clegg
Our chart tracks the implied probabilities of victory based on the best betting prices over the past twelve days since Charles Kennedy decided to step aside.
With Mark Oaten now out of the race the big question outstanding is whether it will end up a fight between the three who have already declared or could the young ex-MEP, Nick Clegg spoil the party. His price is down at 19/1 so he continues to have a level of support.
But the one remaining chance he had, surely, was if Ming Campbell stood aside and today’s formal campaign launch seems to suggest that that is not going to happen. Given the strong public support that Clegg has given the interim leader it is very hard to see how he could put his hat into the ring against Ming. He would just look opportunistic and a bit stupid.
The betting has now gone very much Ming’s way and he’s a firm odds-on favourite in almost every market.
So what could upset the Ming bandwagon? Hughes is popular in many parts of the party and did reasonably well against Kennedy in 1999. Huhne is attracting more attention as the campaign progresses and I have been surprised at how many members that I know who are going to place him as their number one choice. If he could just squeeze into the final two then it is just feasible that he could take it with second preference votes.
My betting looks good. I break even with Hughes, secure a nice pay-day if either Campbell or Clegg is elected ; but am thousands of pounds up if it’s Huhne.