Short Odds, Strong Nerves – Local Election Betting 2022

Short Odds, Strong Nerves – Local Election Betting 2022

On ‘Election Eve’ it is traditional for some cheeky punters to stick a small mortgage-worth of cash onto a sure thing to try and bag a quick if small return. Apparently during the week of a general election even seats as short as 1/100 see 5 figure bets on this basis, since in theory the annual equivalent ROI of such a bet is very good.

Browsing the local election odds over the last couple of days, I think there are even better opportunities for the low-risk high-stakes punter.

Hillingdon – The Tory stronghold

London is no longer a swing city where all three national parties have strong power bases. It is a Labour city, and the final seven Tory councils may well see further losses in Wandsworth, Barnet, and even Westminster.

But they will not lose Hillingdon unless something earth-shattering happens.

Hillingdon is true-blue suburbia. Affluent in much of the borough, it has returned Tory majorities since 2006 and has a 44:21 council seat majority from the 2018 result. That result, achieved with over 54% of the vote (vs Labour’s 38%) looks rock solid and actually increased the Tory lead in the borough. Two by-elections since reinforce this, both being Tory holds despite one being in a marginal ward.

Nothing is impossible in politics, but there is no massive local scandal or demographic shift to raise the prospect of a huge upset here and the Tory lead is far larger than national conditions should put at risk. Lewis Baston did a very good ward-by-ward review of Hillingdon recently and his conclusion is clear: It’s almost unthinkable for Labour to win it.

So the 2/7 at William Hill is pretty good, all things considered. StarSports also have 1/4.

Kingston-upon-Thames – The Leafy Libdem Locale

Of course, some people will be nervous about backing the Tories at short odds no matter how safe the bet appears. After all, they are likely to lose seats this election and you can imagine a surprise catastrophe for them occuring.

The Lib Dems, by contrast, should have smooth sailing – at least in the right areas. Southern councils with lots of Remain-voting graduates and socially liberal Tories is their primary hunting ground, but there is money to be made even where they are already king of the hill.

In Kingston-upon-Thames, the Lib Dems have governed nearly continually since 1994, and while the Tories had a surprise victory in 2014 the party came back with a vengeance in 2018 fuelled by the Brexit realignment shovelling Remain-voting Tories their way. A staggering 39 of 48 councillors campaign under the ‘Winning here!’ banner, a tribute to the 21% popular vote lead the party racked up.

A lot has been said about Boris Johnson’s electoral appeal in the past and his potential appeal in the future, particularly in northern and midlands seats. But in leafy south-west London the trend is not his friend, and given a difficult national picture for the Tories it is pretty much in the bag that the yellow team will continue to govern here come Friday.

The best odds here are only 1/9 on a Lib Dem hold. But the risk is so low I think even that is value.

Ultimately betting is all about value: The mismatch of price and probability. Sometimes that means spotting a 100/1 outsider with a 10% chance of victory. But sometimes the betting is low-octane but still high return if the timeframe is short. I may eat my words (and lose my money), but I think tomorrow is one of those times.

Pip Moss posts on Political Betting as Quincel. Yhe has bets on the Tories holding Hillingdon at roughly 1/3 and the Lib Dems holding Kingston-upon-Thames at roughly 1/9. ou can follow him on Twitter at @PipsFunFacts

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