With the election now only two days away the polls have the Conservatives and Labour as closer than ever, both hovering around the 280 seat mark.
Inevitably some polls show the Conservatives as slightly ahead, and others with Labour in the lead.
However, the history of political betting show us that the betting markets are a much more reliable predictor than the polls, as polls tend to focus on favourable numbers and provide a snapshot, whereas the betting markets consider trends.
The betting markets correctly predicted the ‘No’ result in last year’s Scottish independence referendum throughout the entirety of the campaign, the polls had the ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ camps as neck and neck all the way up to polling day. Although this general election is very close, there are a number of likely outcomes.
Most seats – Labour @ 4/1 (Betfred)
The markets have the Conservatives as the favourite, with Ladbrokes offering 1/5.
Labour winning the most seats is offered by Betfred at 4/1.
Labour’s numbers have been drifting over the past few days, giving the Conservatives a projected lead of 4 seats as of today.
However, with the number of seats so close this could turn at any moment, making Labour a viable option.
Prime Minister after general election – David Cameron @ 19/20 (Unibet)
Who wins the most seats doesn’t necessarily translate into who will ultimately become Prime Minister.
The odds of who is Prime Minister after the general election has both Miliband and Cameron as even.
There is not much to choose from here, but if Cameron manages to cobble together a coalition with Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party and the Liberal Democrats to edge him over 325 seats to gain a majority, then Unibet’s 19/20 price is the best that’s on offer.
Next Government – Labour minority @ 15/8 (Bet365)
There is concern over the Scottish National Party (SNP) shoring up Labour in the inevitable event of any party being able to form a majority.
Whilst Ed Miliband has ruled out a formal coalition, or ‘any sort of deal’ with the SNP, he knows that should he try to form a minority government the SNP and the other left leaning parties will most likely not vote him down.
As David Cameron would struggle to pass a Queen’s Speech without reaching a majority in coalition with other parties, he could have the first attempt at forming a minority government if he wins the most seats.
Nicola Sturgeon, leader of the SNP, has repeatedly said she wants to ‘lock the Tories out of Downing Street’, if they gain upwards of 50 seats in Scotland, as is likely, her party plus Labour would vote to oppose Cameron’s minority.
Given SNP support the most likely outcome is a minority Labour government, on offer from Bet365 at 15/8.
Most votes – Labour @ 4/1 (Betfred)
Due to the peculiarities of our first-past-the-post voting system it does not always translate that the party with the most seats is the one who received the most votes.
With both parties currently estimated to win 33% of the votes there is the possibility that Labour could edge ahead in the number of votes, even if it does not win the most seats.
A second General Election @ 9/4 (Bet365)
If either party forms a minority government it is likely that it will not last past a few months.
Minority governments are inherently unstable as it is difficult to push policy and legislation through when they are put to a vote, given that opposition parties total more votes than the government.
As happened in 1974 under Labour’s Harold Wilson, a second General Election is becoming more likely.[poll id=”2″]