September 08, 2004


Having a drink last night with James Morrow when Adrian the Moblogging Cabbie dropped in. He’s been scoping out the latest Centrebet election odds:

Coalition $1.45 - Labor $2.60. In a two-horse race, not only is that a slaughter, but the stewards will be called immediately to conduct drug swabs. Same result in the US - Bush $1.50 - Kerry $2.40...the free world remains vigilant.

Centrebet is an underrated guide. ANU economist Dr Andrew Leigh found after the previous election that "betting markets run by the Northern Territory bookmaker Centrebet were a better guide than the pollsters - as in horseracing, when there's money on the line, bookies have a strong incentive to get the odds right."

UPDATE. Here’s an excellent piece on betting markets as an election guide from Time Australia’s Liz Feizkhah.

Posted by Tim Blair at September 8, 2004 03:56 PM

If the bookies have it like that, you can take it as read that Howards in pretty good shape, Professional punters don't take risks and bookies take less risks than punters.

These guys would have so much information, via fair means and foul, that they would know more about the goings on than 1000 apparachiks.

Posted by: Nuffy at September 8, 2004 at 05:24 PM

Lsst year I predicted victories for Howard, Bush and Blair. I have produced the definitive blog on this issue - the CoW Trifecta.

The CoWs will win in spite, not because, of the Coalition of Willing Wars in Iraq.

This has been a complete strategic disaster, and is rapidly turning into a moral disaster. But Anglosphere voters are swinging to incumbent governments because of the Property Price bubble.

Being a successful Bull is more impressive than being a failed Hawk.

Posted by: Jack Strocchi at September 8, 2004 at 07:33 PM

This has been a complete strategic disaster, and is rapidly turning into a moral disaster.

Yeah, nothing says "strategic disaster" like taking out two psychotic state supporters of terrorism with military strikes unparalleled in human history, putting armored divisions on the borders of the remaining state sponsors, drawing the terrorist hardcore into shooting galleries outside of your own country, disrupting the primary black market for WMDs, and rolling back terrorist organizational and financial networks worldwide, and all for fewer losses than we experienced in an hour on September 11.

The moral dimension should be evident as well.

Posted by: R C Dean at September 9, 2004 at 12:09 AM

RC, this is Jack Strocchi. You know -- a complete strategic disaster in rational thinking.

As you pointed out, he ignored the moral and stragetic triumphs we have gained, largely because noting them would destroy his thesis that "The CoWs will win in spite, not because, of the Coalition of Willing Wars in Iraq."

In doing so, he slammed what he describes as the majority of voters in the USA, Australia, and England, who just may vote for Bush, Howard, and Blair because of the progress on the war.

Not exactly rational thinking in my book. More like wishful thinking mixed with egotism.

Posted by: The Real JeffS at September 9, 2004 at 12:47 AM

Actually, bookies don't care at all about the relationship between the odds and actual likelyhood. A bookie's job is to make sure that the book makes money no matter what happens. That means setting the odds so the bets are divided appropriately.

Such books tend to be accurate because folks betting real money tend to pay more attention. Bookies merely announce that consensus.

Posted by: Andy Freeman at September 9, 2004 at 01:56 AM

Andy's right. In this respect they closely parallel stock markets (especially options markets) as aggregators of information. Long contracts on Bush are around 59.5/59.8 cents bid/ask on Tradesports (note the narrow spread). Long Kerry contracts are 40/41.

Posted by: David Gillies at September 9, 2004 at 06:50 AM

Interesting. But don't odds merely reflect the volume of money being wagered for either side, rather than the actual likelihood of a win.

In events where there is a bit of barracking perhaps it just shows that conservatives like to bet more than lefties. The two recent elections that the bookies got wrong (Keating beats Hewson and Bracks beats Kennet) were both one by the ALP.

I recall (many years ago) AFL odds always tipping Collingwood (Tim's team) to win even though they were hopeless (and still are!).

But they had a big support base that liked to bet. Putting a bet on the pies was a form of support - it didn't mean they would win. It could be similar here.

However the record of bookies is pretty impressive. I certainly wouldn't bet against them this time around.

Posted by: matt at September 12, 2004 at 10:57 AM