UK election gets genuinely close

I am rather glad I wrote this piece at the start of the campaign explaining why I thought, even on polls showing the Conservatives set for a whopping majority, the outcome would be somewhat closer.

A big health warning is necessary here. The polls are also, of course, hopeless. UK polling is very poor compared to that of the United States or France where more advanced techniques are used. In the UK they are on average of five points out, i.e. beyond the margin of error merely on average, which is extremely rare in other countries. Since this margin is typically against both the Conservatives and the incumbent, the chances are in actuality that the Conservatives retain what will turn out to be a healthy lead on polling day.

However… even my own initial piece had not taken account of just how appalling the Prime Minister’s own performance would be. Polls do not give you accurate numbers in the UK, but they do give you a sense of the trend. Theresa May has come across as unlikeable, clueless, and frankly chicken. Whatever you say about Jeremy Corbyn, he is not all of those, and therefore the popular view of the choice for Prime Minister has closed dramatically (and understandably). This matters, as it is this plus the view on the economy which usually determines elections.

The whole Conservative campaign has thus become unhinged. The plan to replace the very word “Conservatives” with “Theresa’s team” now backfires; the assumption that Labour’s figures would not add up is easily countered by the fact the Conservatives have no figures; and even Brexit itself is featuring peculiarly rarely in a Brexit election (something which the Conservatives had assumed would turn things their way with even half of those who voted Remain apparently content to leave the EU now).

Campaigns rarely swing more than 1000-2000 votes per seat but, as noted above, snap elections can swing more because more people are genuinely undecided at the outset. Surely no one who was not already planning to vote Conservative – absolutely no one – could have decided to vote Conservative based on this ridiculous excuse for a campaign?!

To be clear, it is still best to assume a Conservative majority. However, there is some reason for optimism among their opponents that it may not be much greater than the one they have now. Which would make life very interesting…

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3 thoughts on “UK election gets genuinely close

  1. other paul says:

    shy tories

    • Yes, I *suspect* we are now at the stage where even the not-shy Tories have become quite shy because Theresa is such an embarrassment.

      I’d say she’ll still be home by around 50.

  2. 1729Torus says:

    May will be going to Brussels wounded, the stories about chaos at airports and business leaving will grind her down fairly quickly.

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