There are around 90 hours to go until polls open for the UK General Election and few political pundits are willing to call it either way, but here at news.bwin there’s money to be made, so let’s get to it.
The Conservatives won 306 seats at the last election and would at one stage have hoped to improve on that number this time, but bwin set their over/under target at 286.5, with 3/4 saying they’ll beat that mark and evens offered about David Cameron’s crowd falling short.
After taking 36% of the vote last time out, the Tories are currently on 34% according to the aggregated poll of polls, which doesn’t sound too bad, but with Ukip likely to be a chaotic factor in plenty of seats, and winners in a few, the blues will need to make up a few points just to stay the biggest party in the House of Commons.
However, some kind of incumbency bounce, similar to the one that saw John Major’s surprise win in 1992, does feel on the way. They won’t win a majority, but at least 290 seems plausible.
Labour looked on course to bag 270-plus seats early on in the campaign, but the rampant spread of SNP support has forced Ed Miliband’s hand regarding a potential coalition with Nicola Sturgeon’s crowd. After claiming he wouldn’t do a deal in any circumstances, Scotland stopped listening.
If Labour lose 35 seats or more to the SNP in Scotland, which looks as likely as not to happen, they’ll need to gain around 45 in England and Wales to reach over 269.5, priced up at 11/10 with bwin.
Miliband pulling that off looks a long shot; according to Lord Ashcroft’s polls, Labour are four points behind the Tories in Croydon Central, their 45th non-Scottish target seat, where challenger Sarah Jones had led incumbent Conservative Gavin Barwell by six points in October.
‘Red Ed’ shouldn’t lose all hope, as under 269.5 seats (7/10 with bwin) could still make him Prime Minister if Cameron fails to control around 290, but Miliband’s bounce looks to have come and gone. He’ll be lucky to make it to number ten Downing Street.
As for the Liberal Democrats, the bad news is bwin set the seat line at 24.5, 8/11 over and 10/11 under, for a party that claimed 57 five years ago.
Nick Clegg’s crowd will forever claim they’re stronger where they have incumbency, and will defy the national swing, but 11 of the Lib Dems voted in at the last election aren’t running this time, with another eight defending Scottish seats. I think we can safely say the majority of these will go.
That leaves the beleaguered yellows going into bat for around 40 or so seats. Despite Clegg’s best television performance of the campaign on BBC Question Time, his party pulled in just 8% in the YouGov poll carried out on Friday, six points behind UKIP.
Having secured 23% in 2010, the numbers just don’t add up for the Lib Dems. They’ll be lucky to get 20, and Clegg losing his Sheffield Hallam seat, while unlikely, still can’t be ruled out.