Betting on politics: An unlikely victory

On Tuesday, two of our bets came due – but it looks as though both were duds. Neither Stephen Bush nor Rachel Sylvester won political commentator of the year at the Press Awards (the award went to John Harris of  The Guardian).

As for the special election in Pennsylvania’s 18th district, Republican Rick Saccone is refusing to concede defeat, pinning his hope on absentee and disputed ballots, but it looks as though Democrat Conor Lamb has pulled off a victory that seemed unlikely only a fortnight ago. The only consolation is that Lamb’s victory suggests a Democratic wave is building that could see them gain control of the House of Representatives, which we tipped last year.

Looking ahead, Ladbrokes is now running a book on the results of the UK local council elections. The prices on offer suggest that the Conservatives are going to do badly. I’m not convinced. The polls show that nationally the Tories are level pegging with Labour, or just behind, not that different from the position at the general election. Indeed, all this talk of a Tory apocalypse may well be a sneaky way of lowering expectations, so when the results turn out better than predicted, they can claim to have done well.

As a result, I suggest you put some money on the Conservatives to hold Westminster at 4/7 (63%). After all, the council has been firmly Conservative since it was formed in 1964. I also think the Lib Dems will easily retain control of Sutton Council, which they currently dominate, with 45 seats. So I’d suggest taking the 8/11 (73%) that’s on offer for them to do so.