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The year the bookies were confounded - 150/1 on Trump becoming US President and 100/1 on Alan Partridge becoming the Mayor of East Anglia

The year the bookmakers were confounded. Picture Archant Library.

The year the bookmakers were confounded. Picture Archant Library.

Archant

It was a good year for having a punt on an outsider. Political editor Annabelle Dickson looks back at the political outcomes very few would have predicted in 2016.

Ladbrokes offered longer odds on Donald Trump becoming US president (150/1) than it did on fictional Norfolk talk show host Alan Partridge becoming Mayor of East Anglia.

This year will be remembered as the one in which Westminster, the polling industry and the bookmakers not just nationally, but internationally, realised they could no longer predict what voters would do at the ballot box. And it was also the year when we nearly ran out adjectives which could do justice to events.

We asked Ladbrokes to dig out some of their biggest errors of 2016. A spokesman admitted it was not a year their political odds department would forget in a hurry.

“The Brexit and Trump earthquakes were serious cases of the odds being defied and, especially in the case of the referendum, it led to us rethinking how we crunch the numbers,” he said.

Donald Trump 150/1 (when he declared he was running in May 2015)

Even on US election day commentators across the United States were calling the election for Democrat Hillary Clinton. She had planned to set off fireworks on the banks of the River Hudson after the polls closed, thinking she would be raising the glass ceiling of the vast Javits Center in New York. The superpower will have to wait a little long for its first female president.

Brash billionaire businessman Donald Trump’s supporters were not put off by accusations from the Clinton camp that they were “deplorables”. In the places where it mattered they turned out in their droves to produce the shock result. While Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, Mr Trump romped to victory and secured his spot in the White House with a decisive electoral college win.

Ladbrokes are offering odds of 4/7 Trump will not be re-elected in 2020, and 6/4 that he will leave office via impeachment or resignation before the end of the first term - he is unlikely to be troubled by this prediction.

Brexit 6/1 (on the day)

The polls were close, but large swathes of pollsters and commentators, even campaigners for Brexit, thought Britain would remain in the European Union.

It was when the stunning result for the leave campaign in the northern working-class town of Sunderland - where 61pc of voters wanted to cut our ties with Brussels - was declared that it looked like the pollsters and bookies had got the result wrong.

The majority of people in Westminster had not expected the outcome - not least then Prime Minister David Cameron - who had to re-write his June 24th speech, and subsequently resigned.

Theresa May to be the next Prime Minister 12/1 (in January)

Conservative leadership favourites rarely secure the top job. Margaret Thatcher and David Cameron are both cases in point.

But few would have predicted as Big Ben bonged on January 1 that the Home Secretary would be living at 10 Downing Street by the end of the year.

Theresa May’s name was always in the frame to be the next Prime Minister - but Boris Johnson and George Osborne were always seen as more likely successors to David Cameron.

Even after Mr Cameron resigned, former London mayor Boris Johnson remained the favourite. Until fellow leave campaigner, the then justice secretary Michael Gove, treacherously announced he would stand, it was though Mr Johnson would sweep up the votes of the Conservative grassroots.

In the extraordinary days after the referendum political newcomer Andrea Leadsom provided another astonishing political twist when she was forced to drop out of the race after she implied that she would be a better leader than Mrs May because she had children.

Ed Balls favourite to leave

Ed Balls was favourite to be kicked out of Strictly Come Dancing five times before he left the show. His odds to win the contest started at 150/1 and were slashed to 8/1 by the time he did leave.

MPs are rarely known for their popularity. Defeated MPs even less so.

But former shadow chancellor Ed Balls was still a good sport, signing up to be the novelty act on popular BBC Saturday night show.

He was widely predicted to be gone in the first week. But after quickly capturing the hearts of many viewers his dreadful scores from the judges were offset by the popular vote.

He may not have defied the odds Trump-style by winning on 150/1 - but he certainly confounded expectations.

The Mayor of East Anglia.

Even before councils had rubber-stamped proposals for an elected mayor Ladbrokes opened a book on the contest which could have seen the chosen person given a budget of £900m to spend over 30 years.

Councillors in West Norfolk put an end to the proposals throwing the plans. We will never know if Lord Lansley (3/1), George Freeman (8/1), Ben Gummer (10/1) or Chloe Smith (16/1) were good bets. Odds on Ed Balls (16/1), Delia Smith (20/1), Stephen Fry (50/1) and fictional character Alan Partridge (100/1) were also offered and notably even shorter than on Donald Trump becoming president when he announced he would stand.

AND ONE THEY GOT RIGHT...Nigel Farage to be the next leader of the UK Independence Party

When he stood down in September at his party conference in Bournemouth, the odds on Nigel Farage returning to lead the party were 2/1.

Sure enough, Diane James resigned, and he returned to be interim leader.

• Tomorrow: Political editor Annabelle Dickson takes a long look at a turbulent year.

•Gamble responsibly - visit www.gambleaware.co.uk

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