The constituency markets have changed considerably in the last couple of months, so I thought it was time to have another look at the seats ranked by odds. I've presented these in the form of a Conservative battleground. I've included every seat in the top 75 Conservative targets (where there is a market), every seat in the top 100 most marginal Conservative seats, every other seat where the Conservatives are priced between 10/1 and 1/10 and selected other seats:
Since last time, there have been three trends: two absolutely clear, one a little more tentative. First, the prices on the Conservatives have generally shortened in Conservative-held seats and Lib Dem held seats. Secondly, the Conservatives have generally lengthened in Labour-held seats (this is a little more tentative because some of this movement is down to Paddy Power now listing constituencies - Mr Power seems to take a more pessimistic view of Conservative chances in many constituencies than Ladbrokes). As a result, the red in the table looks much more sorted towards the top than the last version of this table. It seems that the bookies and punters put a heavy weight on incumbency.
If you want to, you can compare and contrast how things have changed via this post from April (I haven't directly linked to the table itself because I figured it would be too confusing having links to two very similar tables in a single post):
I suggest that you do take the time to look through both tables. There have been some fairly striking moves.
What's the net of all these changes? Well, if these seats fall in the order of the odds in this table, the Conservatives would have an overall majority if they took Waveney. That's a 3/1 shot. When I last looked at this in April, the golden seat was Yeovil and priced at 10/3. So overall prices have come in a bit for the Conservatives on this proposition.
As I write, you can get a best price of 11/4 with Ladbrokes or Betfair on the Conservatives gaining an overall majority. So there is a small advantage in backing the Conservatives in individual markets, but it's not sensational.
What about most seats? This is harder to judge because that depends on how many seats you need, which is not set in stone. In April, comparing the Labour battleground with the Conservative battleground (each arranged by odds) showed that 290 was the magic number. The Conservatives get 290 seats if they take these seats in the order of their odds up to and including Aberdeenshire West & Kincardine, which is priced at 6/4.
Again, this price has come in a bit. In April, the 290th seat was priced at 7/4.
The gap between the implied odds from the constituency market and the express odds for Conservative most seats is significant: the best price you can get on the direct bet on Conservative most seats is evens (this is widely available). The conclusion, therefore, is that if you want to cover the possibility of a Conservative overall majority, there's a bit of an edge in using the constituency markets, but it's not huge. However, to make a play on Conservative most seats, do so through the constituency markets. This is quite clear cut.
Anyway, are there any bargains? It will be apparent from the above that we should be looking for bargains in the evens to 7/4 range (and if you're so inclined, counterbalancing those bets with a bet on Labour most seats at 10/11 with Bet365 and Stan James in such a way as to maximise your exposure to a Labour victory or a Conservative victory according to taste). For seats in this band, you should probably start from the assumption that the price is good unless you have a clear reason for believing otherwise.
In the left column of the table I've included the ranking of the seat by Conservative target or marginality - an asterisk means that it's either outside the top 75 Conservative targets or outside the top 100 most marginal Conservative seats. Where seats are ranked by odds a significant distance from other seats of similar marginality, antennae should prick up. Sometimes there's a good reason (South Thanet, for example, where UKIP throw the seat into confusion, though I still like the Conservatives at 7/4 as it happens) but sometimes the reason isn't obvious. City of Chester stands out. So does St Ives. I'm on both of these.
Outside this band, Somerton & Frome at 1/2 looks a solid bet. Some of the very short priced bets on the Conservatives look like a good way of making low risk returns closer ito the election - 1/6 on the blues in Basingstoke is really good value.
But you need to plough through this list for yourself. Happy hunting.