Using betting odds as a guide to political prospects is certainly a worthwhile idea. I often monitor them here in the UK, where I live.

But it is worth mentioning a few things:

- Betting odds will be influenced by opinion polls to some extent, though not vice-versa to any appreciable extent.

- Betting activity also influences odds. If a lot of deluded people start pouring big amounts of money into bets for Kanye West, the odds on Kanye West will go down as part of a loss-minimisation strategy, even though the likelihood of Kanye West winning may be no greater.

- Odds tend to overstate what the bookmakers believe to be the actual chance of winning (in other words, if they are offering 10/1 on a certain candidate, they may believe that candidate *actually* has a 1/15 chance).

- This last one is just a guess, but I suspect very high odds on extremely unlikely choices are not calculated very rigorously, since there is no expectation of actually having to pay out on them.

Barnaby is a journalist based in Suffolk, UK. By day he covers science and public policy; by night, film and classical music. He has also been a cinema manager.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store