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Will The Television Debates Affect Betting Patterns on the Outcome of the Election?

We in the UK are now well and truly in the thick of the battle for the hearts and minds of the voters. This time there is an “X Factor” in the campaigning of the parties for the General Election. Yes, I am referring to the televised debates between the leaders of the three main parties. Of course doing well in a particular debate may boost the popularity of a participant but will it ultimately help his party win the election? One should never under-estimate the power of television. Lots of political pundits have been quick to point out that the rise in popularity of Nick Clegg in the opinion polls after the first debate can only have come about as a result of the viewing public’s perception of the Liberal Democrat leader. Over 9.4 million viewers watched that first debate and it is worth noting that many people probably watched because of the novelty value of a live election debate. Many viewers would not have watched a traditional party political broadcast if it had been screened instead. For the second debate viewing figures dropped to 4 million.

But will these debates influence the betting on who will win the Election? That remains to be seen. Many online betting websites are offering odds on which party will win the most seats on the 6th May. The Conservatives are 1/5, Labour are 4/1 and the Liberal Democrats are 16/1. However if Nick Clegg continues to do well in the final broadcast debate will punters decide that a bet on the Liberal Democrats offers the best value? Polls after the second debate showed opinions mixed on who won. If either Gordon Brown or David Cameron were to be seen as the winners of the final debate would this lead to a change in the percentage of people betting on the Conservatives or Labour party to win?

With the stakes so high the leaders cannot afford to make any gaffes when they are under such close public scrutiny. You can bet that they will be under a great deal of pressure to perform well from here on in. So is it worth having a punt on the winner of the last debate? Certainly it is possible. Odds being offered on David Cameron are 6/4 while Nick Clegg is 7/4 and Gordon Brown is quoted at 2/1. Of course, unlike with the main event it is the perceived debating skills and body language of the three speakers that will determine who is considered the winner. On May 6th it will be the policies that the parties are putting forward that will be the determining factor on where the “x” is placed on the ballot paper. Nevertheless it will be interesting to see if a pattern emerges in the betting on which party will win the election and which leader will win each debate.

In some ways it is odd that election debates have not been a feature of previous elections. Certainly they have generated interest and discussion among potential voters who might otherwise not have been reached by campaigning via any other means. The same might be said for political betting. People will have bet on the outcome of the debates who would have never thought of betting on election-related issues in the past. And after putting money on your favourite in a televised debate what could be more natural than having a bet on the UK General Election outcome?

(Disclosure - this is a sponsored post)


It is tempting to 'have a flutter' as Supermac once advised us, but my old Dad once told me there were two occasions on which you shouldn't take a gamble: when you can't afford to lose - and when you can!

Good post anyway - thanks.

Intrade has Con Majority/Hung parliament at 45/55, with no other outcomes attracting prices beyond a penny or so.

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