Election Betting – A Three Horse Race
An audience member on the BBC Question Time show last night asked whether, in our political system, a 90 minute TV debate should be the deciding factor in determining the outcome of a General Election.
Whatever your answer to that question, the fact remains is that the televised leader’s debates have thrown the General Election campaign wide open. A month ago, anyone who didn’t want to vote for the incumbent Labour government was looking towards David Cameron, even though it felt like many people weren’t particularly enamoured by that choice either.
However, after Nick Clegg’s breakthrough performance in the TV debates, there appears to be a possible third way, and people have a genuine alternative to Labour that actually enthuses them. Odds on Nick Clegg becoming the next Prime Minister have been slashed from 200/1 to just 9/1. A month ago you’d have got 12/1 on the Liberal Democrats winning 80 or more seats at the General Election, whereas now it is the odds-on 4/7 favourite.
Astonishingly, the Liberal Democrats are now the 15/8 second favourite to register most votes on May 6th. Labour are now the rank 12/1 outsiders to poll more than the other parties at the forthcoming election. In just a fortnight, Labour have been relegated from fighting to retain power to third place behind a party that has failed to win more than 63 seats at any previous election.
It really is the most astonishing General Election campaign in recent memory. Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems could easily poll near enough 10 million votes on May 6th, and the biggest result of this shift in the political landscape might not be a hung parliament, but a public backlash about an electoral system in which the Lib Dems could run the leading party close but win a fraction of the constituency seats.
The TV debates have clearly been an unqualified success, and not just if you are a Lib Dem supporter. Over 9 million people tuned in to the ITV debate and the blanket coverage across the internet and newspapers has enlivened an otherwise dull General Election campaign. Whether the Nick Clegg bandwagon can keep rolling right up until May 6th, we can only guess.