The odds: All eyes on the Lib Dem bubble

by Joe Fraser

Odds on the Liberal Democrats drifted last night as polls show the debate was a close call. David Cameron and Gordon Brown both fought back against the Nick Clegg effect, delivering improved performances.

Adam Boulton chaired a more energetic and evenly matched contest as Mr Cameron dropped his “I spoke to a man.” routine, Mr Brown did less ill-timed smiling and both adopted a little of the Clegg formula. The mantra for the evening: eyes down the lens.

There was to be no standout show from Mr Clegg but no killer blow from Cameron either.

Paddy Power’s odds on the Lib Dems winning the General Election were pushed out to 14/1 after the debate from 11/1 beforehand. In spite of Gordon Brown’s hugely improved performance, Labour’s odds remain unchanged at 4/1. The only significant shortening of odds on the night was the Conservatives moving from 1/4 to 1/5.

Odds on a hung parliament suggest it is still the most likely outcome at 8/13. If Mr Cameron had hoped to cement a majority with the TV debates he will need something spectacular next week on the BBC.

Darren Haines, spokesman for Paddy Power, said: “Round two was a much closer battle than last week and a game of two halves.

“Brown was well backed by punters in the first half before falling away and Cameron was the punters’ favourite in the second half.

“Brown may not have won the debate but he at least appeared to stop the Lib Dem bandwagon and the bubble may have burst on Clegg’s election odds.”

William Hill has said that the debate had punters coming back to the Conservatives. “It is difficult to determine whether anyone emerged a clear winner, but the punters wanted to back the Tories afterwards” said Hill’s spokesman Graham Sharpe.

Hills have shortened the odds on the Conservative’s winning a majority from 11/8 to 5/4. They now have Labour at 12/1 to do the same while the Lib Dems have been pushed out from 20/1 to 25/1.

Hills have made Mr Cameron even money favourite to win the final TV debate, with Mr Clegg at 7/4 and Mr Brown, with his shortest odds yet, a 3/1 outsider.

“The last debate is likely to have a crucial influence on election betting” said Hill’s spokesman Graham Sharpe.

Meanwhile, live betting on the night suggested that punters can warm to Brown, but they don’t do it for long.

On a night short of flashpoints, Brown’s odds were quite volatile. They shortened dramatically up to 9pm, at which point they fell away again steeply.

He started and finished the debate at 8/1 to win but somewhere in the middle, he had been favourite. For fifteen minutes. Labour might be disappointed that he couldn’t hold pole position for longer.

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Paddy Power latest election odds:

Election Winner (Most Seats)

1/5 Conservatives (from 1/4)
4/1 Labour (from 4/1)
14/1 Lib Dems (from 11/1)

Paddy Power Hung Parliament

8/13 Hung Parliament
13/8 Conservative majority
16/1 Labour majority
25/1 Lib Dem majority

 Who will win the 2nd TV debate - live Paddy Power betting