Four months until the election - what do the betting markets say?

Big Ben, Westminster

The polls suggest that the outcome in May will be close, but do the betting markets give any better indication as to what the results will be.

YouGov’s Wednesday poll put Labour and the Conservatives neck and neck on 33% each, whilst the company’s poll the next day gave Labour a one point lead over the Tories (33%-32%). These are just two of the latest polls indicating that the results in May will be too close to call.

But can the political betting markets give any clearer indication as to who will win?

Looking to the past, in the last hours of the Scottish referendum campaign, Betfair started giving out payments to those who said that the result would be a ‘No’ vote, before the results were in. The markets have some precedent in predicting election winners. What do they say about May?

On William Hill, the site offers evens on David Cameron becoming Prime Minister, but they also offer the same for Ed Miliband becoming Prime Minister, reiterating that the race to Number 10 is tight. Odds cited are from Thursday 8th January.

The company also gives odds of 2/5 of there being no overall majority, reaffirming the likelyhood of a hung parliament. Additionally, they also offer odds of 9/2 for both a Labour majority and a Conservative majority, which is interesting as Labour have an unfair boundary advantage, which could help the party. An example of this is that in 2005, Labour got 35% of the vote and an absolute majority, whilst the Conservatives got 36% of the vote in 2010, but failed to form a majority government. Yet the markets give the same odds for a majority from either party.

The company also gives the same odds - 10/11 - for either Labour or the Conservatives getting the most seats in parliament. This reiterates the closeness of the election, but the difference between these odds and the overall majority odds continue to suggest the likelyhood of a hung parliament.

In fairness only the results of one particular company have been looked at, but they do seem to reiterate what many commentators are saying - the election is too close to call.

SEE ALSO: Four months to go - Labour and Conservatives neck and neck

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Who do you think will win the general election in May? Do either of the main two parties have any hope in getting an overall majority?