2019 UK Election: Expert Betting Strategy

The UK Election Odds and countless markets can provide plenty of opportunities on the Betfair Exchange. Our Political Pundits have previewed the upcoming UK General Election and have found plenty of value in the markets.

Head to the Betfair Exchange for all your UK General Election Betting Markets.

Current Odds Below


Last month, I explained how the United Kingdom’s Brexit impasse had prompted a General Election, scheduled for 12th December. Now, halfway through the campaign, let’s consider the hundreds of markets available on Betfair.

All signals point towards a thumping Conservative win. They are between 10-19% up in the polls, very short odds to win Most Seats and strong favourites for an Overall Majority of parliamentary seats. However as we’ve repeatedly learnt, much can change down the run-in. At this stage of the 2017 election, they were trading considerably shorter for an overall majority, yet fell nine short.

A repeat is not obvious. By this stage, the switch was already underway and the narrative around both leaders in reverse. Opinions now seem entrenched, whether that be Brexit or either leader.

Boris Johnson has been a central figure in public life, whether as politician or celebrity, for decades. Everyone has a view. Whereas Jeremy Corbyn was still introducing himself and his ideas to the electorate in 2017, most have a fixed view now and his personal ratings are awful.

Will the polls change much?

It doesn’t feel like the polls will change much yet the parliamentary arithmetic means everything is still to play for. A limited advance from Labour – reducing the deficit to 6-7% – would probably produce No Overall Majority.

Plus thanks to Brexit, this election involves unique tactical considerations. The issue cuts through traditional partisan lines like no other. Whilst the Conservatives are a clear ‘Leave’ party, a significant minority of their voters backed Remain and would do so in the second referendum supported by all their rivals.

Labour’s role in blocking Brexit has already lost a large chunk of Leave voters (a minority in a largely Remain party), and hopes of a comeback rest on winning some back. They are also being squeezed by the third party. The Lib Dems want to cancel Brexit altogether and that clear stance could help them take Remainers from both. The Scottish National Party (SNP) will likely beat all three of them in 75% plus of Scotland’s 59 seats.

Given that opposition parties want a second referendum, tactical co-ordination between Remain voters – supporting the party best placed to beat the Conservatives in each constituency – makes sense. If managed effectively, they have the numbers to restrict Boris Johnson to fewer than the 326 seats required for an overall majority. If achieved, they could form an alternative coalition or at least force his government to concede a referendum.

Conservatives Seats Prediction

Tactical voting is often over-stated – there are estimates that a record 14% will do so, which still isn’t enough. Nevertheless, there are numerous websites and social media campaigns advising Remainers how to vote and things can quickly gather steam in the final days, when voters become better engaged. This could potentially alter hundreds of constituencies.

The main market to trade is Overall Majority.  The Tories will surely win Most Seats so instead the number to watch is 326 seats, which would secure an overall majority in parliament and therefore the numerical ability to govern alone and deliver Brexit.

Their current odds do not overestimate their chances of doing so and likelier reflect uncertainty. With each day the Tories remain double-digits ahead (between 10-19% this weekend), those odds should shrink. Whilst I expect them to get a majority, I’m not convinced their vote share will translate into a huge seat tally.

The Tories have a solid base but literally no chance in 200 of the 650 constituencies. Whilst on course to gain dozens off Labour, there will likely be a few reverses to the Lib Dems and SNP. Merely winning a majority will require victories in places like Wrexham – where they’ve never won before. Once they hit 350, further gains become much less likely.

My ceiling for the Tories is 380 and that would involve dozens of big upsets in the individual constituency betting. Having analysed them all, my prediction falls somewhere between 330 and 360. Back the middle band of 340-349 in expectation of it trading much shorter on the night.

Specific seats to target in betting

Rather than risking the short odds about the Tories for an Overall Majority, my plan is to back them to win a series of target seats where the conditions are particularly favourable. I find it hard to envisage a Tory majority that doesn’t include Wakefield or Darlington and can envisage a scenario where they win both but fall short of 326.

Both are heavily Leave towns, in regions where the Labour-Conservative swing far outweighs the deficit. Likewise, if you don’t mind taking short odds, add about Great Grimsby and Stoke-on-Trent North to the list.

One reason to be sceptical of the Tory advance is their lack of ground game, and historical strength in most of their target seats. Labour in contrast have a huge, active base and are embedded. The Lib Dems are historically adept at focusing their limited resources on local campaigns.

That weakness also leaves the Tories particularly vulnerable to a strong, local independent campaign. Politicians have never been held in lower esteem and it was no surprise to see independents thrive in May’s local council elections.

Among several strong campaigns, Claire Wright is particularly interesting to win the East Devon constituency at $3. A local councillor, Wright ran in the last two elections, increasing her vote to 36% in 2017. That imminent trajectory was unexpected and the incumbent has opted against standing again. This potential headline-grabbing upset may still be under the betting radar.

Betting Strategy

BACK – Conservatives to win 340-349 seats

BACK – Conservatives to win Wakefield

BACK – Conservatives to win Darlington

BACK – Claire Wright to win East Devon

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