Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Election Blog: What is Going on Out There?

The news over the weekend that a number of opinion polls are giving the Tories a strengthening lead, particularly in key marginals is, on the face of it, a blow to both the LibDems and Labour.

So, is this “most unpredictable General Election in a generation” going to become a bit of a damp squib? My view is that this one is still too close to call and I would advise caution, particularly on polls which are attempting to gauge sentiment in battleground seats. A spokesman for the pollsters ComRes on Saturday evening was asked on TV how confident he was of his company’s data and his answer summed up the dilemma. “I’m confident of our national poll numbers, but I’m not confident of how that transfers into seats under this electoral system.”

Personally, I’m not even sure the national poll numbers are correct as there are multiple factors which could be distorting results and how they transfer down to a local level.

1: New voter registrations
Apparently there has been quite a surge in new voter registrations, particularly amongst the younger generation, none of whom will have been picked up by the pollsters.

2: Late Deciders
1 in 3 of us doesn’t make up our mind until we are actually in the ballot box.

3: Independent candidates
We have a record number of independent candidates standing against expenses scandal MPs all of whom will be armed to the teeth with details of duck houses, second homes and moats etc.

4: Local allegiances
Actually some of our MPs are quite good at their jobs and liked by their constituents. Take Jacqui Smith in Redditch for example, who is highly regarded in the constituency and had Tony Blair campaigning for her yesterday. Would Labour send TB there if they didn’t think they had a chance of holding it?

5: Minor Parties
Immigration has come right to the top of the agenda during this election campaign and that can only help the likes of UKIP and, dare I say it, the BNP.

6: Tactical Voting
This is the big one. The British have got a taste for this now and there are multiple websites which can help people work out how to vote. Also the pollsters struggle to pick it up.

I wouldn’t put my own money on any result at the moment, but I would fancy a little wager on how much egg the pollsters are likely to have on their faces come Friday.


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