Election night means bets for all you political punters

TWO days to go and for the first time since 1992 there seems a real uncertainty about the result of this general election. Which makes spread betting on the event even more intriguing. And it doesn’t just mean betting simply on the next leader or the big party win, there are some cleverer ways to potentially warm your wallet from the election results.

Firstly to the main spread betting market of expected number of party seats. Of course, these prices have yo-yoed, but are currently settled with online bookmaker extrabet at the Conservatives 319-324 expected seats, Labour 208-213 and the Lib Dems 83-87 seats. With such a well-formed market it’s hard to be too bullish about any of the prices but this is a momentum game and as long as Cameron keeps his private expletives off-air, the Conservatives are carrying some late form into Thursday with a rally of 10 seats in the last week. But maybe there are tastier trades elsewhere in the election betting markets.

Let’s start with Mother Nature. Unbeknown to most, the weather on election day can have a significant bearing on results. Understandably it has an effect on the number of people who actually turn out to vote. But it can also affect the distribution of seats. The forecast for Thursday is for a possibility of rain and naturally this persuades some undecided voters to forgo their vote and stay out of the inclement weather. Therefore the turnout percentage could be below the expected spread of 67-68 per cent at extrabet.

Staying on the same subject, the inclement weather is good news for the Conservatives as traditionally Tory voters turn out to vote come hell or high water. Some Labour and Lib Dem voters have, in the past, been shy about going to the polling station in the rain. This will have a potentially significant knock-on effect on spread markets such as popular vote percentage, which currently trades at 35-36 per cent for the Conservatives, Labour 27-28 per cent and the Lib Dems at 27-28 per cent. Therefore if it is a truly rainy day, then consider buying the Conservative popular vote. If the rain theory rings true and Conservative voters do battle through the elements better than their counterparts then naturally some of the swing seats may well turn blue as well. This should in theory mean more seat wins than predicted for the Tories who trade at 319-324 expected seats.

Elsewhere the smallest majority market has traditionally been popular. This simply looks at the smallest winning vote margin in any individual seat. Currently it trades at 30-40 votes but the smallest vote majority has been in single figures for two of the last four elections. To boot it has never been more than 74 in the last five elections and averages just 20 in the last 100 years of voting. History tells us a sell at 30 votes would appear the shrewd play.

Now one for the real beady-eyed political punters out there. Sunderland has traditionally been the constituency to submit the first result on election night. This accolade has been won by them at the last three elections with their result announcements coming in at 46, 42 and 45 minutes after 10pm. The spread price at extrabet is 54-58 minutes after 10pm, and with these statistics you would have thought the market would be a certain sell. But Sunderland has had its voting boundaries changed for this election and some ballet boxes will have to travel further to the counting station. Also, the Conservatives are making a bid for the traditionally Labour seat, likely to lead to additional votes, this could add a significant amount on to vote counting time. With such excitement, who needs politics?

Chris Shillington works for extrabet

Sporting Index
Size of turnout %: 67-68
Size of smallest winning margin: 30-38
Conservative seats: 323-328
Labour seats: 203-208
Lib Dem seats: 82-86
Swingometer (100 for Con majority, 50 for no majority, 0 for Lab majority): 73-77

Size of turnout %: 67-68
Conservative share of vote %: 35.75-36.75
Labour share of vote %: 26.5-27.5
Lib Dem share of vote %: 27.25-28.25
Conservative seats: 319-324
Labour seats: 206-11
Lib Dem seats: 83-87