As the election approaches, the betting activity increases. The odds quoted by Paddy Power have changed again.
For the book on 'Northern Ireland - to top the poll?', Paddy Power are now quoting de Brún's odds at 2/11, which is getting very close to what punters might call a dead cert. A bet of €10 at those odds would return you only €11.82.
Diane Dodds odds on being the 'woman who tops the poll' have lengthened yet again, to 3/1. Since the start of the formal election campaign the bookies have been continuously lengthening her odds – from 11/10 to 2/1 and now 3/1. If the bookies and their punters are correct, the DUP's "disaster" may be about to become reality.
Paddy Power have added an additional book on 'Northern Ireland - to win a seat?'. Here, as might be expected, the odds on both de Brún and Dodds are very short; both are quoted at 1/50, which would return a profit of only 10 cents to anyone willing to bet €10. Interestingly, the next shortest odds are Jim Nicholson's, at 1/12. Both Allister and Maginess are on 5/1, and the two also-rans have odds of: Agnew 20/1 and Parsley 25/1.
So it seems that the wisdom of the punter, as reflected through the betting odds is that both de Brún and Dodds will win seats easily, though de Brún will top the poll, and that the third seat will be taken by Nicholson. Maginness will remain 'always a bridesmaid and never a bride', while Allister will slink off to plot his next move. If, as the odds predict, Parsley scores even fewer votes than Agnew, it surely is time for the Alliance Party to take a long hard look at itself.