How LAB was completely under-rated by the betting markets as polls opened on May 6th 2010

December 31st, 2014

It finished CON 306, LAB 258, LD 57

Quite often in political betting a narrative builds up about the infallibility of the betting markets. That somehow because punters are wagering their own hard-earned cash their judgement is better.

In the table above are the commons seat prices at 7am on the morning of May 6th 2010 just as voting started in the general election.

Those who had had the foresight to “buy” LAB on SportingIndex at 219 seats would have ended up winning 39 times their stake level in just over a day and a half. Those who’d bought the Tories, and even more so the LDs, would have lost on the same basis.

My first inkling that the election was not going to plan came in a phone call from a prominent PBer who was helping Labour’s Nick Palmer in his effort to get re-elected in Broxtowe. He told me that his reading was that things were going very well for Nick who was in with a shout.

As it turned out Nick failed by 389 votes which was far better than just about anybody had been predicting.

The lesson I learned from that election was that we should not get carried away by Cleggasm-type surges and shouldn’t underestimate the power of the Labour brand even when all seems lost.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble