This article first appeared at gambling.com on November 15th. In light of the stalling Lib Dem campaign, I’m less inclined to back them in Portsmouth South now, although I haven’t given up.
To understand why this is the most unpredictable general election in living memory, check out the constituency betting. Literally hundreds could theoretically change hands – double the number under realistic consideration last time and unimaginable in political elections prior to Brexit.
Most are effectively two-horse races and I’ll be analysing the best targets for each of the main parties in the weeks ahead. First though, let’s consider these particularly fascinating seats, where it is impossible to narrow the field to two.
As things stand, with the Tories consistently polling in the high-thirties at worst, the fundamental dynamic involves how and where Labour and Lib Dems share the remainder.
Will the non-Tory vote – largely aligned with Remainers – coalesce around the best placed alternative in the marginals? Will they even know which party is best placed to beat the Tories?
Lib Dem surge throws London wide-open
This is a particularly acute problem in Remain-dominated London. On 2017 numbers Labour appear within range of several Tory targets. However the Lib Dems are polling at twice their 2017 poll share, while Labour are down a quarter. Those trends are particularly strong in the capital – a recent Yougov poll showed a 13% swing between the two since the last election.
If the betting sites are right, a split-Remainer vote will enable the Tories to retain Cities of London and Westminster (3/4 with Unibet) and Putney (8/11 with William Hill), despite over 70% supporting Remain in both. While Labour are a clear, competitive second, they cannot afford to shed many votes while the Lib Dems need a massive advance to win from third.
The former looks the more vulnerable of the two. Chuka Umunna is the Lib Dem candidate and his famous profile could win over many Tory Remainers. Labour aren’t out of it at 10/1 with Ladbrokes either, given a strong core vote, stark inequality in the constituency and their campaigning prowess. Alternatively, I give the Lib Dems a better chance in Putney, but the Tories are preferred hold on there.