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How To Come Up Trumps in Political Betting
There are few things you can’t bet on these days. If the public is interested in something - be it a sporting event, the Christmas weather forecast or a reality tv show, you can be sure that our friends the bookmakers will be only too happy to provide odds on the range of possible outcomes. Moreover, when it comes to public interest, there are few events which capture the imagination and media focus to quite the extent as a significant political contest such as a general election.
Enter the world of political betting. Initially seen as something of a publicity stunt by those ever media savvy betting companies, it has now grown into a hugely popular punting medium, with the firms reporting new record levels of turnover with each passing political event. From the UK Prime Minister to the US President, from Brexit to Boris Johnson’s next move, the options when it comes to political betting seem to be expanding by the day. Let’s take a closer look.
As mentioned, the variety of politically themed bets is an ever-expanding beast, with the range of options available only really limited to the imaginations of those odds compilers: Donald Trump to announce the existence of aliens being amongst the more outlandish options currently available. It is the major events which continue to generate the most betting interest though, and below we list a selection of the most popular.
Next US President:
A bet on the next President of the United States. No one saw Trump coming, but he came anyway and those to have had their bets on early will no doubt have cashed in big time.
Next British Prime Minister:
Alongside the US Presidential election, this is likely the next most popular political betting market.
General Election Betting:
Closely related to the above, this is a bet on which political party will win the most seats in the next general election.
Next London Mayor:
A bet on who will be named the next Mayor of the British capital.
A bet on the outcome on any occasion when a nation turns the vote over to its people. The recent primary example, of course, being the Brexit vote in the UK, when the public opted to leave the EU.
There are many more options available, from betting on individual seats or states to the more weird and wonderful, but the above continue to generate the most turnover.
Smaller Parties Can Bring Bigger Gains:
In the run-up to an election, the majority of the odds compilers will understandably be focussed on the major contenders. As such, the prices are most likely to be correct in this area. That may not always be true as we look further down the list of candidates or parties though. With betting options such as; to win a certain number of seats, or percentage share of the vote often being available for all parties, it can pay to look in these areas when seeking value.
The rank outsiders to win an election are rank outsiders for a reason – they most likely aren’t going to win! That doesn’t mean that they can’t outperform expectations though. One relatively recent example being the considerable groundswell in support for the UK Independence party ahead of the 2015 general election. An increase in vote share from 3.1% to 12.6% appeared shocking at first glance, but perhaps not so much to those who had carefully studied the prevailing attitudes in some regions of the country. Awareness of public opinion surrounding popular issues such as immigration or the environment can often point to some of the more fringe, smaller parties perhaps outperforming the forecast.
Style over Substance:
This may be a slightly dmning indictment of the voting public, but it is nevertheless becoming an increasingly important fact that it matters not so much what our politicians are saying and the policies they represent, but more how they look and the image they project.
When assessing a general election in particular, of course, give substantial weight to what is being said, but also consider who amongst the candidates simply looks and sounds more like a leader. In our era of celebrity and soundbites, these factors will weigh heavily upon the decision of sections of the public. Do the leaders appear strong, confident, trustworthy? If the answer is negative, you should be prepared to downgrade their chances no matter what you make of their policies.
In summary. Back the strong. Abandon the weak. It’s a cruel game this politics.
When it comes to political bets, the best advice we can offer would be to focus on betting on individual seats or areas. As with many forms of betting, it can pay to specialise, and with access to local news outlets freely available on the internet, there is no excuse not to do our homework these days.
Looking for an area of the country where there is a particularly contentious issue making the headlines. An example of this would be prospective fracking in a coastal area. Now, this may not be the determining factor in the election as a whole, but it very well might be in the seat allocated to the area in which this fracking is likely to take place. Assess the positions of the various parties to this potential blight on the landscape and place your bets accordingly.
A real-world example of this is the colossal result achieved by the Scottish National Party at the 2015 General Election when they weren’t far off sweeping the country. Surprising? Not so much when we consider that the main focus of many voters was the issue of independence following the 2014 referendum on that subject. Focussing on what is the crucial issue in individual areas can be worth its weight in gold when betting on politics.
Don’t Bet With Your Heart:
This is a pointer which can be applied equally to all forms of betting. Always remember that making a profit when it comes to betting relies in no small part on maintaining a cold calculated approach. You may well be a staunch supporter of the Monster Raving Loony Party and believe in everything that they stand for – and you would be perfectly entitled to that view. However, it certainly doesn’t mean you should be rushing out to back them to win the next general election – you shouldn’t. When it comes to political betting – perhaps more so than in any other form of betting – it matters not what you think, but rather what is the opinion of the majority of the other millions of voters. Assessing the public mood, rather than your own is the key to success.
All Polls Are Not Created Equally:
In the run-up to any political leadership vote, general election, referendum or another political event, much of the analysis in the build-up will centre upon the results of various polls. While this would seem a logical metric on which to rely when assessing outcomes - which do after all rely on the voting public to determine their outcome - the polls don’t always get it right. So far ahead was Hillary Clinton of Donald Trump in the 2016 polls for example, that there were betting firms out there paying out on her as the winner before the election had even taken place…..and we all know what happened next!
When assessing the result of a poll, what we want to know is the identity – in broad terms – and quantity of the people polled. It may seem to be a strong pointer to read that 90% of people polled said they would vote Conservative in the next general election. However, that data would not seem so reliable should we later hear that those polled were ten people on their way home from the latest Conservative party conference.
The above is admittedly an extreme example, but bias in a more subtle form does exist amongst readers of certain newspapers, residents of different counties and states etc. What we are really looking for in a poll is a large sample size, taken from as broad a sector of society as possible, and preferably reported via a source with no known political leanings.
Patience Is A Virtue:
While the early bird does occasionally get the worm – as with those imaginative souls who backed Trump early – when it comes to betting on politics, it can often pay to wait until the last moment possible before striking those bets.
The reason for this is that we ideally want to wait until all the facts are available to us. There are few more vicious contests than a political election, and you can be sure that should any of the candidates have any sordid skeletons lurking in their closets, somebody somewhere will choose the run-up to a major election as the opportune moment to reveal them all to the world.
What a presidential candidate likes to do in his or her spare time may indeed have little to no bearing on their policies, or ability to run the country, but the public likely won’t see it that way. With the instant news – fake or otherwise – of our modern social media driven world, this element can only be expected to grow in the coming years.
To paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld, we recommend waiting until as many of the “unknown unknowns” are known before parting with your cash.
Whether you are an ardent follower of politics or simply looking for a way in which to spice up the latest political showdown, it is well worth taking a look into the world of political punting. As with most other forms of betting, putting in the time and effort to do a little research, and having the patience to wait for the right moment – and right bet - can yield its rewards.
Thinking about the factors outlined in this article should help to put you on the right track towards unearthing those all-important value bets and ensure that – whatever the result for the parties in question – you achieve a positive outcome at the next election.