Ladbrokes took a £16,500 bet on UKIP at 1/33 to win the Rochester by-election today. That intrepid punter will be collecting a £500 profit on Friday morning if things go as expected. If by some chance the Tories pull off a shock victory, it will probably be the most profitable by-election result in history for the bookies. I don’t hold out much hope.

The media narrative has already moved on to the guessing game of whether any other Tory MPs will be jumping ship. We now make it odds-on that at least one other Conservative defects before Christmas.

Favourite for a while now has been the MP for Kettering, Philip Hollobone. Interestingly, he is an old boy of Dulwich College, along with Nigel Farage. Some shrewdies have been backing UKIP to win his seat at the general election, now 6/1. I guess that might be better value than the 2/1 about him being next out.

The morning after last week’s Rochester and Strood by-election, we made the Tories 4/6 favourites to re-take the seat next May. Punters have been even more bullish and the Conservatives are now even stronger favourites, at 1/2, with UKIP drifting out to 6/4

According to our individual constituency prices, that means Rochester & Strood is now the eighth most likely win for UKIP at the general election. The UKIP win % is the chance of them taking the seat at the general election, as implied by our odds.

RankSeatWin 2010UKIP Win %
1ClactonCons82.25%
2Thanet SouthCons64.58%
3ThurrockCons57.47%
4Boston & SkegnessCons56.06%
5Great YarmouthCons40.33%
6Castle PointCons38.47%
7Thanet NorthCons36.55%
8Rochester & StroodCons35.87%
9Great GrimsbyLab32.94%
10RotherhamLab28.51%
11Cannock ChaseCons27.91%
12DoverCons27.77%
13Louth & HorncastleCons26.29%
14Basildon S & Thurrock ECons25.67%
15Folkestone & HytheCons22.65%
16Sittingbourne & SheppeyCons22.57%
17EastleighLD20.81%
18Camborne & RedruthCons20.23%
19St Austell & NewquayLD19.83%
20Portsmouth SouthLD19.66%

So, 15 of their top 20 prospects are Tory held seats although it’s worth pointing out that UKIP might prevent Labour from winning seats like Thurrock, Yarmouth and Cannock Chase which would all be very high on Ed Miliband’s target list.

As the betting markets continued to reflect the SNP’s rise in the polls, a new milestone was established this week when they became favourites to win a seat in Glasgow this May. The nationalists are also breathing down Labour’s necks in the other six, according to Ladbrokes’ latest seat-by-seat odds.

2010 Lab vote %2010 SNP Vote %Lab OddsSNP Odds
Glasgow North44.511.911/104/6
Glasgow Central52.017.54/611/10
Glasgow East61.624.78/1511/8
Glasgow South51.720.28/1511/8
Glasgow North East68.414.11/39/4
Glasgow North West54.115.32/75/2
Glasgow South West62.516.32/75/2

Glasgow North, a constituency in which they got under 12% of the vote in 2010, now has the SNP as favourites. In the days before the Independence referendum, you could have backed the SNP at 10/1. It’s tricky for those of us who attempt to predict elections to simply ignore the results of the last election; perhaps we all have to accept that the Scottish political landscape has changed for ever and that anchoring our expectations to 2010 is pointless.

Interestingly, this seat saw a huge gamble on the Liberal Democrats to take it at the last general election – they went off at 5/4 on the day. You can have 100/1 for them to win it this year.

Glasgow East was an SNP by-election gain in 2008, only for Labour to win it back easily at the general election, so there is some history of nationalist success in the city. If they are going to do as well in May as current polls suggest, they will almost certainly end up winning seats like this. Perhaps the 11/8 is still a value bet.

If you want to reduce the election to just two constituencies, here are today’s candidates: Keighley & Sherwood.

Based on Ladbrokes’ odds on every seat in the country, we can calculate the tipping point contests which could decide the election. If the Tories are to remain as the largest party, our latest odds suggest they will have to win 281 seats. Their 281st most likely win, as implied by those odds, is Keighley.

Labour narrow favourites to win, which is strange in some ways because the Tories are currently marginal favourites to win most seats. Lord Ashcroft polled the seat back in October and found Labour ahead by 6%.

I might expect it to be a little closer if it were polled today, given that the national surveys have moved slightly towards the Conservatives since. One of the crucial factors here is how that 23% UKIP vote holds up. If the Tories can win a few of those back, and perhaps if the #GreenSurge causes a few Labour voters to switch, this could be on a knife edge.

If they want to win a majority, we need to look at their 326th most likely win;

An unexpected tipping point seat, given that the Tories hold it already and don’t have a majority. The betting implies that they have 325 more likely seat wins, though. A tiny 214 vote majority for the Conservatives and Ashcroft has already polled it twice.

Similarly to Keighley, there is a very high UKIP vote here and I would assume that incumbent MP Mark Spencer will be targeting that in a bid to achieve re-election.

The Ladbrokes’ Election Forecast is produced by looking at our odds in each of the 650 constituencies and simply adding up which party is favourite in each seat.

The full breakdown and changes since we last published on March 5th:

  • 277 Conservatives (+1.5)
  • 273.5 Labour (-1)
  • 42.5 SNP (nc)
  • 30 LD (nc)
  • 3 UKIP (-0.5)
  • 3 PC 
  • 1 Green 
  • 1 Respect
  • 1 Speaker
  • 18 N.Ireland

The half-seats occur in constituencies where we have joint favourites.

A very small shift since two weeks ago, and one that doesn’t really change the post-election maths. It’s going to be very hard for David Cameron to remain as PM with a result like this.

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