With UKIP polling well at present, it is reasonable to ask whether they might win seats, and if so where. Because UKIP are such a new party, presenting their target seats by required swing is pointless. So let's go straight to the list of seats by odds:
Three things stand out. First, UKIP are serious contenders in very few seats. I have highlighted those where their odds are at 20/1 or less. There are 24 seats even with such an extended list of targets. Admittedly we have yet to get prices on some seats where UKIP will hope to prosper, but the shortness of this list should be sobering. I've included an extended list of longer shots up to 50/1 for diehard Kippers to plough through.
Secondly, this is a multicoloured list. Six out of seven of their top targets are Conservative-held, but after that we see more or less equal quantities of red and blue. They have almost as much potential to mess up Labour's plans as the Conservatives'.
Thirdly, if one leaves the longshots alone, UKIP have a very few seats where the punters think they have a decent chance. By way of comparison, UKIP are thought more likely to take Eastleigh (a seat they couldn't win in a by-election) than the Conservatives are thought likely to take Sherwood, a seat the Tories already hold.
And this should set alarm bells ringing. UKIP's prices must be too short in these seats if that's how the odds match up. UKIP could conceivably win one of these short priced seats, but the value is generally lousy. It seems that the bookies are catering to the enthusiasm of the purple punters by relieving them of their money at poor odds.
I'm going to be slow to back any UKIP shots, but what should we look for when deciding where they might be worth a flutter? I'm looking for constituencies which have seen better days, where the constituents compete for jobs with immigrants and where two parties are both looking to win the seat (reducing the total number of votes that UKIP need to reach). Of the relatively short priced seats, Great Yarmouth and Thurrock look most promising on these tests. Once we know where Nigel Farage is going to stand, that seat price will shorten also - so if you have a firm view on that, consider backing UKIP in that constituency as a trading bet.
But why back UKIP at 5/1 in Great Yarmouth when you can back them at 50/1 in the adjoining constituency of Waveney? UKIP kept its deposit in Waveney at the last election, showing that it is relatively fertile Kipper territory. And it's highly marginal - the Conservatives hold the seat by 769 votes from Labour (making that retention of deposit by UKIP look still more impressive). This price looks plain wrong to me. I'm on.