If the bookies’ odds are to be believed, Labor has strengthened its electoral position in the first two weeks of the formal campaign.

The odds of the Government holding power, which varied a moderate amount between 3.50 and 4.75 ten days ago, reached a consensus yesterday – the Coalition was a 5.00 chance. The odds had reached 5.50 earlier in the week, prompting some backing for the Coalition. However, as soon as news of the latest Age poll broke last night, Centrebet immediately lengthened the odds on a Coalition win to 6.00.

Centrebet has also now joined Sportsbet in offering odds on individual seats. Generally, the two firms’ odds are pretty similar, except in the seat of Mordialloc. There, by Thursday, the very odd situation had arisen where Labor were 2.50 at one and the Liberals were 2.75 at the other. Clearly different people had different perspectives on whether the Government’s Mordialloc bypass announcement was a vote-winner. One imagines that, by the time you read this, some savvy punters will have picked up the discrepancy and guaranteed themselves a profit.

In terms of other individual seats, the big firmer for Labor has been Bellarine where Lisa Neville, despite having a margin of minus 2.5% after the redistribution, has been backed from 1.62 into 1.20. The ALP’s odds have also shortened slightly in key marginals, Frankston and Carrum. At slightly longer odds there has also been a bit of specking for Labor in Prahran.

On the other hand, there has obviously been some money at Sportsbet for the Liberals in the Labor-held marginal of Macedon. It is now close to a 50/50 bet, making it the only one of the 40 seats on the Labor side of the pendulum given any serious chance of swinging to the Liberals.

Another seat where Labor’s odds have lengthened is Albert Park, albeit only from 1.18 to 1.33. This was presumably driven by the arrival in the field of singer Tex Perkins, even though Perkins himself is hardly holding a big percentage of the market at 15.00.