The PH polls says it’s a Tory gain – so why the long odds?
Ever since general election constituency betting started in earnest I’ve been cross-referencing the available markets with last September’s Politics Home Marginals poll which surveyed more than 38,000 voters in 238 different seats.
My hunt has been for value bets – good odds on a party named in the survey as the likely winner where perhaps the PH prediction is not the betting favourite.
Until now few seats have stood out. But this morning Ladbrokes announced a market on Eastleigh – seat of Chris Huhne who came to prominence with his two bids for the Lib Dem leadership in 2006 and 2007. He first came into parliament in 2005 with a wafer thin majority that got even tighter, 530 votes, in the notional result adjusted for minor boundary changes.
The Hampshire seat is Tory target number eleven and is included in all the seat projections as a gain for the party with only small movements in the polling. Yet the betting price is 1/2 on the Lib Dems with the Tories at 6/4
Eastleigh, however, represents one of the problems with the uniform swing calculations. The Lib Dem incumbency effect which has been seen at every election for nearly forty years could still be a key factor – particularly with someone like Huhne who has developed a national profile for himself.
I know him and the team that is working to get him re-elected and I’d need more convincing evidence than a seven month old poll to risk betting against him. The Tories are going to find Huhne a tough nut to crack.
Also we have to remember that fieldwork for the PH survey took place last July/August when Tory support was at its height and I regard its projected gains as the most the party can hope for.
So am I taking the 1/2 on Huhne? The answer is no although I’ve yet to see a convincing strategy on what the Lib Dems tell voters in seats like this when the overwhelming mood is for change.
Tory campaigners will be scrutinising everything that Clegg/Cable/Huhne & Co are saying in order to find evidence that the party is geared more towards Labour than the Tories.
The table above shows all the LD>CON marginals in a slightly enlarged South West region.