I emphasise again that I am not predicting anything, even now and even here. If elections were decided by electrons we could predict them with certainty – electors are a different matter, however.
We should not rule anything out from a Conservative landslide to a hung parliament. The probability is that the Conservatives will do much worse than originally anticipated but gains in Scotland should hand them a workable majority come Friday morning.
Back in 2010 the Liberal Democrats led in the polls during the campaign, and seemed set to hit close to 30%, after Nick Clegg’s superb performance in the televised leadership debates. However, in the event, they scored 23% – almost exactly what the polls had said at the outset.
What happened was that Clegg became cool (hence “Cleggmania”) and therefore his supporters became more likely to answer polls or to declare themselves as such. Yet on polling day they decided to do what they had always intended to do – many who gave up answering polls because their leadership candidate was less cool nevertheless voted Conservative or Labour as they had always intended, and the number declaring for the Liberal Democrats during the campaign was skewed and unrepresentative of the actual electorate.
A snap election is a slightly different thing, but it is improbable (though possible, note) even in these circumstances that polls would close in actuality as much as they have. Either they were very wrong at the outset (something I suggested at the time) or they are very wrong now – or, most likely, both! A Conservative majority of 40 would have been seen as something of a disappointment for the PM four or five weeks ago, yet it would now be seen as something of a relief. In fact, it was always the likeliest outcome.
But I myself have learned. I am predicting nothing…