The new forecast from Stephen Fisher at electionsetc shows Labour’s chances of being the biggest party increase, but the probability of a hung parliament hitting a new high.

Similarly at Ladbrokes, the odds of no party getting a majority have now hit their lowest level at 2/5, having been Evens less than two months ago. Labour and the Tories remain tied at 10/11 each to win the most seats. Combining our odds on the most seats market and majority betting, we can produce the following implied estimates (for the purposes of this I’ve ignored the chances of UKIP and the Lib Dems, although plenty of people are backing the former):

 

 

 

 

One caveat about the Fisher numbers: They haven’t yet properly dealt with the recent SNP surge in Scotland. Once they’ve built that in, I expect their Labour majority estimate will be a bit closer to ours.

All of this has led to a totally wide open market on the make up of the post-election government.

The Liberal Democrat PPC for Ashfield, JasonZadrozny, has been the subject of some interesting market support to succeed Nick Clegg as party leader in recent days. We added him to the betting at 100/1 a couple of weeks back; he’s now 50/1 and we took some more money at that price today.

Sure, we’ve only taken a few hundred pounds on him, but that’s already more than we’ve taken on better known possibilities like Jo Swinson and Simon Hughes.

The first major hurdle for him to clear is getting into parliament. The Lib Dems did a great job of getting within 200 votes of winning the seat in 2010, making it the second biggest Lab-LD swing in the country. It might seem unlikely that they can gain any new seats next May, but we make it only 4/1 that they unseat Gloria De Piero here. This is a seat where it’s easy to imagine that UKIP might poll quite well and disproportionately take votes away from Labour.

I suppose it’s extremely unlikely he could win an immediate post-election leadership contest, if Clegg does step down. Perhaps a few years down the line though; after all Clegg was only an MP for two years before he became leader (although he already had a reasonably high profile as a former MEP).

One other relatively unknown name to keep an eye on is the PPC for Watford, Dorothy Thornhill. The popular Mayor is only 13/8 to win the seat for the Lib Dems next May and if the party wanted a female leader, there might not be much competition around after the election. She’s only 33/1 to succeed Clegg.

 

Lots of talk today about which party will be most affected by UKIP in next year’s general election. The Evans & Mellon article above suggests the Tories still have most to worry about, but I thought I’d have a look at which Labour seats are most at threat, as indicated by Ladbrokes’ latest constituency odds. The UKIP Win % is their chances of gaining each seat, as implied by the latest prices.

SeatRegionUKIP Win %
Great GrimsbyYorks & Humber32.9%
RotherhamYorks & Humber28.5%
Dudley NorthWest Midlands17.9%
Newcastle-under-LymeWest Midlands15.1%
Rother ValleyYorks & Humber15.0%
Walsall NorthWest Midlands12.9%
Heywood and MiddletonNorth West10.2%
Walsall SouthWest Midlands10.1%
Hull EastYorks & Humber10.1%
Plymouth Moor ViewSouth West10.0%

So, UKIP are not (yet) favourites to win a single Labour seat, whereas they are outright favourites in five Tory held seats (we’re including Clacton in there). It’s worth mentioning that seats like Thurrock and Great Yarmouth, which are among those five, might very well have had Labour as favourites to win if it were not for an expected strong UKIP showing.

Of UKIP’s top 20 most likely wins overall, 16 were won by the Conservatives in 2010. So, as far as the betting markets are concerned, this is still more of a problem for David Cameron than it is for Ed Miliband,

Nigel Farage AND Russell Brand on Question Time tonight? We had to roll out some betting, so here are our Buzzword Bingo odds. Your bet is a winner if any of the panellists mention the exact words or phrase on the BBC1 broadcast edition. Audience members and Dimbleby do not count.

“Trumpton” has been the big mover so far; 16/1 into 8/1. For anyone who doesn’t already know what that’s about, give it a search on twitter and you’ll soon find out.

The betting will probably be suspended around 7.30pm tonight, as the show will be pre-recording about then.

Constituency betting is now a huge part of the overall betting market on the general election. 2010 was the first time that any bookmaker priced up every seat and we’ve given it a go again for 2015.

It’s quite hard for us bookies to make any money out of this. It is a very difficult task to keep on top of 650 different local heats where, in theory, people on the ground might have access to lots of useful information that we don’t have. We were delighted to break even in 2010 – that was mainly because we took stacks of money on the Liberal Democrats to win lots of extra seats which they spectacularly failed to do. Streatham, Durham and Hull North were three of the most notable contests where Lib Dem punters got their fingers burnt.

Ladbrokes took a nasty hit in quite a few seats. The Greens winning Brighton Pavilion was most unwelcome. However, the worst mistake we made was offering 100/1 about the Alliance Party winning Belfast East: We failed to realise that the popular ex-Lord Mayor of the city was running as their candidate and had to pay out thousands to clued up locals.

Anyway, based on the last election and the money we’ve taken so far for 2015, I’m going to take a guess at the five seats that will generate the most betting interest next year.

Nigel Farage’s presence will ensure this seat gets an enormous amount of media and polling attention and we’ve taken more money here than any other constituency so far. Initially available at 3/1, UKIP were backed down to 4/9 before yesterday’s Ashcroft poll which put the Tories ahead.

The biggest betting heat of 2010 looks sure to be near the top again. The Greens’ rise in the national polls is a good sign for Caroline Lucas, but the performance of the Green led council might not be helping her chances.

Potentially the tightest three way marginal in the country. The Lib Dem selection of popular Mayor Dorothy Thornhill has made this a live chance of being a surprise gain.

Julian Huppert seems to be all over the telly these days and has a big job hanging on to his 7,000 majority in a student town. Chuck in high profile kipper Patrick O’Flynn and the possibility of a decent Green vote to make this one even more unpredictable.

Is Danny Alexander’s high profile going to help or hinder his chances of holding on to a majority of almost 9,000 votes? The SNP’s odds have gone from 4/1 to 4/9, but recently we’ve seen a few shrewd judges backing the Lib Dems to hold on, despite their woeful Scottish poll numbers.

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