Can Nick’s party beat the spread markets?

Can Nick’s party beat the spread markets?


    Have punters got this one right?

The latest buy spread level for Lib Dem general election seats is 48 – that’s 15 short of what they have at the moment. Does this represent a betting opportunity and if so which way?

The detailed data from the latest ICM polls shows that Labour was just three percent ahead of the LDs before the application of of the so-called “spiral of silence adjustment” – the calculation whereby a proportion of the vote of those refusing or saying “don’t know” are allocated in accordance with what the individual respondents said they did at the last election.

Even taking the headline figures a LAB>LD swing of 5% would see the party picking up 13 Labour seats. That’s just on the national swing and without special targeting or surprises like the one at Manchester Withington in 2005.

Of course the big surge that David Cameron’s party is enjoying should, if seats went with the national swing, see the Tories picking up a substantial number from the Lib Dems. But I question whether the gains will be anything like the numbers suggested by the mathematics.

For as we have seen at general election after general election Lib Dem incumbents have a good record of hanging on. On top of that you have to ask how the Tories are going to harness the anti-Labour mood and desire for change in seats where the sitting MPs are from other parties?

My reading is that the apparent sea-change in opinion that we are seeing is first of all anti-Brown, then anti-Labour and then to a lesser extent pro-Conservative.

If this is correct then the Lib Dems, who did well in the Labour landslide of 1997, might also do well in 2010. The same logic also suggests that the SNP could pick up further seats north of the border.

And the betting implications? The 47-48 Lib Dem seat spread buy level starts to look quite tempting. My betting is still on selling Labour seats where, if am right, I’ll benefit from LD and SNP gains as well as those from Labour by the Tories.

Mike Smithson

Coming up on PB: David Herdson – “What next for Hillary”? – at 4pm

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