Monday, 8 February 2010

Election momentum grows

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After latest ICM polls show only a 9% lead for the Conservatives, which puts the general election result back into hung parliament territory, Forecast UK is sticking with a Conservative majority. Its latest forecast is for a majority of 56, which given the other polls is surprisingly high. That is a workable majority for David Cameron and would be enough to see off any by-election defeats.

Electoral Calculas meanwhile predicts a hung parliament, giving the Conservatives 324 seats based on its latest poll of polls, one short of putting Cameron into No. 10 as of right. In that scenario I would expect him to form a minority Conservative government and go it alone for 6 months pumping out voter friendly policies with a sprinkle of tax cuts. Expect another election if the polls are looking better in October 2010, otherwise he may go through to Spring 2011. However, he hasn't got long though before the opposition parties will collaborate in trying to bring him down. The odd by-election defeat or voter frustration will impact on his poll rating and I am sure he would want a snap election in the autumn whilst he might be enjoying a brief honeymoon period.

The Telegraph General Election political map is a useful quick way to track down the 2005 constituency results together with information on a 'public services' profile for that area and sometimes useful links.

The plethora of polls will be relentless up until the election and its aftermath. then there will be an inquisition on the accuracy of polls. In spite of politicians frequently saying they take no notice of polls and only one poll counts, they do watch them and candidates and sitting MPs do fret about them. One percentage shift can mean the difference between seats being won or lost.

When Bill Clinton was seeking election it was the economy that became his mantra. he was proved right that jobs and the feel good factor were essential to an election outcome. So although we are now coming out of the recession, the worrying fact is that 46% of the electorate feel worse off now than they did a year ago according to a Channel 4 poll. It predicts that an improving economy will not save Labour at the election. I think that depends on how voters feel after an intensive election campaign where the Conservative policies are put into the spotlight and people start to think long and hard about what they want in the future. Any public sector worker earning over £18,000 will find that their wages are to be frozen next year. However, other voters will like the promise of a council tax freeze for two years. The swings and roundabouts of election manifesto's may keep people mulling over who to vote for right to the wire.

Yet whoever wins will have to cut back spending significantly in 2011 and beyond and there are no magic wands to wave. Capital spending will be slashed and jobs will be affected again.

It is vital for the political parties to differentiate themselves in believable way without just resorting to negative spin during the election campaign. Such messaging will turn off the voters and keep turnout down. The attraction for Labour to turn up the heat on the Conservative policies will be irresistible, yet voter apathy will increase and after two weeks of it the effect can wear off. Labour could face a backlash.

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