Can punters trust the seat predictors and the polls?

Can punters trust the seat predictors and the polls?

Surely the methodologies are untested with a Tory surge?

Ladbrokes has got further into general election mode today with the launch of its seat markets – the first of which, for the Tories is featured above. We’ll be doing later threads on Labour and the Lib Dems.

Successful betting here, I suggest, requires an understanding of the polls and familiarity with the various seat projectors which convert projected vote shares into the number of seats actually won.

But how challenging is it predicting the election outcome with the precision required given that we are moving into uncharted waters.

For you have to go back nearly a third of a century, to 1979, for the last occasion when the Tories beat Labour to gain power. We’ve no modern experience to fall back on to judge the accuracy of the polling or the seat calculators in situations where the Tories might win.

How robust will modern polling techniques such as past vote weighting be in this environment? Could, also, the seat projectors be grossly understating or overstating the position? My instinct says the former – but who knows?

In 1997 the polls over-stated Labour national vote but the seat calculators did not take into account the huge amount of tactical voting and Labour’s overall better performance in the marginals.

There’s another issue for punters as well – we could be sixteen months away from the big vote and a lot could happen in the meantime. The only reason to bet now is if you think that prices on your chosen option are going to tighten.

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