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Do Political Parties Pay Attention To Betting Odds?

Polling Station SignWhen a big moment in politics comes along, plenty of polls are carried out to see what people think about the issues at hand. Phone calls are made, e-mails are sent and the general consensus is gathered from those that are spoken to. The problem is, not everyone is willing to say out loud what they are thinking about certain issues.

When the issue is somewhat contentious, such as voting for a right-wing candidate or a topic such as Brexit, some people are a little more reluctant to share their genuine feelings on it, even if it is with a complete stranger by completing a poll.

One area where people tend not to be all that reluctant to share their feelings, however, is when it comes to money. That is to say, you might not be willing to tell a pollster that you’re planning on voting for Donald Trump, for example, but you will definitely put your money where your mouth isn’t in terms of placing a bet. As a result, looking at the betting trends can tell you how a vote is likely to go before a single ballot has been cast. Politicians, therefore, tend to keep their eyes on the betting markets in order to get a sense of how the likes of an election is likely to go.

Do Polls Lead Betting Markets?

Labour and Conservative Sign Post

Obviously the results of polls tend to help influence the outcome of a betting market. If bookmakers are trying to figure out where to pitch their odds, being able to look at what people are saying to pollsters is a helpful way of them being water diviners. If a poll is released that says that most people are going to vote for Labour in an upcoming general election, bookies would be mad to have Labour as longer odds than the Tory Party after all. Polls are carried out to get a sense of where people are leaning on any given topic, but they are also far from perfect.

This means that bookies will use them for guidance, but will also look at the bets being placed in order to get a better sense of what punters are actually likely to do. If you think about it logically, you’re unlikely to place a bet on the Tories winning and then go and vote Labour, unless you know for a fact that you happen to live in a Tory stronghold and your vote won’t make any difference to the outcome anyway. Polls are a good way of getting a sense of how people are thinking and feeling, but how they place their bets is what bookmakers will react to with their odds.

The more money is placed on something happening, the more bookies will respond by lowering the odds on it or even suspending the market altogether. The polls can have Labour with a 99% chance of winning, but if every bet the bookmakers receive is on a Conservative victory then they’re not going to just leave the odds long on the Tories. It is certainly true that polls have an influence on betting markets, therefore, but it would be misleading to suggest that polls are the only factor that bookies will think about when assessing betting markets on political issues.

The Exchange Has Changed Things

people voting in the USWhen it comes to what people are really thinking, there is an aspect of the gambling industry that is even more helpful than betting alone. The way exchanges work is by pitting punters against one another in a peer-to-peer manner. Punter A wants to bet on something at specific odds, so if they feel like those odds are fair then Punter B will offer them.

In essence, that is how betting exchanges work, removing the need for a third party to decide what people can and can’t place bets on as well as the odds that people have to accept if they want to place the bet at all.

Of course, what this also means is that you can get a clearer picture of where people are willing to spend their money. Exchanges are a much more accurate reflection of how people see something working out and whilst it isn’t uncommon for people to bet against their own interest, it isn’t always the case that so many people will do it in such a way that it will move the market.

In other words, if politicians want to get a good sense of what people are thinking then they could do a lot worse than to have a look at how the exchanges are responding to any given situation.

Paying Attention Isn’t The Same As Being Influenced By

brexit vote yesWhen it comes down to it, politicians are supposed to do what the people want. It isn’t the worst thing in the world for a politician to take a look at what is happening on better markets to get a sense of what people think of any given situation. Of course, it normally isn’t the case that what people are voting on is straightforward.

The likes of the Brexit referendum was bookmaker friendly because of its binary nature; you either wanted to Remain or the Leave. The same isn’t always the case, but bookies will still offer odds and punters will still place their bets on what it is that is taking place.

That politicians and others will pay attention to the betting market isn’t the same thing as them being influenced by it. That is just as well, considering the fact that market isn’t always right. As polls closed on Brexit, the money was on Leave winning. Only as the votes started to be counted did that switch towards a win for Leave, which ultimately proved to be correct.

In fact, the betting markets were quicker than the financial markets to realise that the UK had voted to leave the European Union for some reason, with punters being about an hour ahead of financial experts.

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