Small margins and voter turnout will decide the election

MANY voters will lament today that their vote won’t change the outcome of their constituency, but the margins in many places will be unbelievably tight – and punters can profit.

We’ve seen constituency level polling that indicates incredibly close races across the electoral map and Sporting Index’s size of the smallest majority market looks appealing.

In the 2010 General Election, Sinn Fein’s Michelle Gildernew was elected as MP for Fermanagh and South Tyrone with a majority of just four votes, later revised to a solitary cross after an appeal by losing Independent candidate Rodney Connor.

Many are looking back at the 1974 General Election for clues about how the 2015 version will pan out; neither Labour’s Harold Wilson nor the Tories’ Ed Heath won a majority and a third party accumulated millions of votes but only a handful of seats. Starting to sound familiar?

Constituencies were so closely fought back then that five were won by under 30 votes. I’m expecting similar results tonight and am happy to sell at 27-32 votes with the spread betting firm.

It has become a ritual of sorts, but all eyes will be on Houghton and Sunderland South tonight for the first declaration of the 2015 General Election. Now going for their sixth consecutive crown, the volunteers will undoubtedly lace up their trainers tightly and limber up their counting fingers as they rush to confirm Labour’s Bridget Phillipson has been duly re-elected.

While the result is not in doubt, just how quickly the declaration comes is. Like in 2010, the Acting Returning Officer is aiming for a 23:00 announcement. The speed demons completed the count a full 10 minutes early five years ago.

Although a higher turnout and local council elections are expected to slow the famously fast result, I’m happy to back Houghton and Sunderland South’s speed by selling the minutes past 22:00 at 65-70.

Turnout will likely decide this election, and I get the sense that the rise of the United Kingdom Independence Party and the Scottish National Party, as well as very tight races, will see many people vote for the first time in a long time.

I’d have a small wager on overall UK turnout above 68.5% at 5/6 with Betway.

■ Pointers…
Sell size of smallest winning majority at 27 with Sporting Index
Sell time of first declaration at 65 with Sporting Index
UK Voter Turnout above 68.5% at 5/6 with Betway

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