In February this blog first reported on the odds being offered by bookie Paddy Power on the outcome of the European Parliament election. We promised to return to the subject on and off during the campaign.
Now that the list of candidates is known, and the opening gambits have been played, it might be a good time for another look.
Despite a lot of PR-induced clamour, the situation appears to have changed very little. The odds being offered on the number of votes that Jim Allister will receive have not changed at all. Paddy Power's customers expect him to get between 30,000 and 40,000 votes, exactly as in February.
However, in the book on who will top the poll, the odds have slightly shortened for Sinn Féin's Bairbre de Brún, and lengthened for the DUP's Diane Dodds.
In February de Brún was the bookie's favourite to top the poll with odds of 4-5 (this would mean that on a 10 euro bet, you would receive an 18 euro payout, including your initial stake). Diane Dodds' odds were even (i.e. for your 10 euro you would receive 20 in payout). What this meant was that the bookie reckoned that de Brún was more likely to top the poll than Dodds.
Today, however, the odds on de Brún topping the poll have shortened to 4-6 (the payout thus drops to 16.67 euro on a 10 euro take). Dodds' odds have lengthened to 11-10 (increasing the possible payout o 21 euro). This represents an increase in the betters' belief that de Brún will top the poll, and a decrease in their faith in Dodds.
The bad news for the UUP (dressed up as UCUNF) is that all their spin has not changed the punters' opinion of their candidate's chances of topping the poll. 14-1 in February and still 14-1 today. Likewise for the SDLP, Greens and Alliance candidates – there has been no change (and probably no bets placed) since February. It seems the only real competition is between de Brún and Dodds.