Betting on politics: The contest for Watford

The contest for the Mayor of Watford is a three-horse race. Matthew Partridge weighs the odds.

Over the past few weeks I've tipped the Conservatives to hold Westminster, and Labour either to gain Trafford outright or for the council to go "no overall control" from the Conservatives. I've also suggested that thesame could well happen in Swindon.

My last tip on the local elections concerns the contest to become Mayor of Watford. It's a three-horse race, with the Liberal Democrat Peter Taylor firm favourite at 1/4 (80%). The next two contenders are Jagtar Singh Dhindsa at 4/1 (20%) with the Conservative George Jabbour far behind in third place at 8/1 (11.1%).

If past performance is anything to go by, it's hard to see how the Lib Dems could lose. This is because they have won all four of the mayoral elections that have been held in Watford (2002, 2006, 2010 and 2014). Even in 2014, when the Lib Dems were doing badly because of their role in the coalition, their then candidate romped home with 45.9% of first-preference votes.

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She also benefited from Conservative tactical voting, which saw her get two-thirds of the vote after second preferences were taken into consideration.

Labour has a few factors that work in its favour. The incumbent, Dorothy Thornhill, isn't standing this time. At the same time, Labour did well in Watford at the last general election, coming within 2,092 of unseating the Conservative MP.

However, that was only due to the fact that its candidate got a large number of tactical votes from the Lib Dems, which won't happen this time around.When it comes to this layer of government, the Liberals dominate they control 25 of the 36 seats on the council. So all in all, despite the short odds, I'd suggest that you bet on Taylor in the Watford contest.

Dr Matthew Partridge

Matthew graduated from the University of Durham in 2004; he then gained an MSc, followed by a PhD at the London School of Economics.

He has previously written for a wide range of publications, including the Guardian and the Economist, and also helped to run a newsletter on terrorism. He has spent time at Lehman Brothers, Citigroup and the consultancy Lombard Street Research.

Matthew is the author of Superinvestors: Lessons from the greatest investors in history, published by Harriman House, which has been translated into several languages. His second book, Investing Explained: The Accessible Guide to Building an Investment Portfolio, is published by Kogan Page.

As senior writer, he writes the shares and politics & economics pages, as well as weekly Blowing It and Great Frauds in History columns He also writes a fortnightly reviews page and trading tips, as well as regular cover stories and multi-page investment focus features.

Follow Matthew on Twitter: @DrMatthewPartri