As I have been reporting, most of the Conservative candidates for Police and Crime Commissioners have been chosen. There is now the small matter of them actually winning elections on November 15th.
Who will win?
The Police Foundation have done the best they can with an interesting and thorough analysis. They look at various scenarios such as a repeat of the 2010 election or a result reflecting current polling trends. The situation is complicated by the expectation that mostly the Lib Dems won't put up candidates while independents are expected to do well.
Typically one expects supporters of opposition parties to be more motivated to turn out and vote in mid term elections to protest against the Government – regardless of what the election is supposed to be about.
On the other hand, the Conservatives poll ahead of Labour when people are asked which party has the best policies on law and order. According to a recent YouGov poll the Conservatives were 8% ahead of Labour on this measure, while the same poll found that Labour were 10% ahead of the Conservatives on voting intention for a General Election.
Then there is the fact that the Labour Party opposed the creation of these posts. They said they were a waste of money (in fact the cost of the new posts is offset by scrapping the toothless Police Authorities.) Labour has said police commissioners are a bad idea as politicians should not be able to sack chief constables. Will seeking election for posts they don't believe in be awkward?
It is likely, considering all these factors, that Labour will not do worse than they did at the 2010 election. With the Lib Dems excluded we should see Labour winning the following 13 of these huge constituencies:
- Greater Manchester
- North Wales
- South Wales
- South Yorkshire
- West Midlands
- West Yorkshire
If Labour lost any of these, there would be awkward questions for Ed Miliband.
If the results reflect current opinion polling, with Labour being ahead of the Conservatives, then Labour could win a further seven constituencies. These will be the marginals where the key battles will take place:
Staffordshire could be one of the better bets for us as some polling suggests that without the Lib Dems standing it would be won by the Conservatives.
If the 2010 voting pattern was followed in November then the Lib Dems would win in Avon and Somerset. However, given the fall in Lib Dem support this must be an area the Conservatives would hope to win. Should they do so, then even on the current discouraging opinion poll trends the Conservatives would end up winning the election of 21 commissioners against 20 for Labour. The following seats would be won by the Conservatives:
- Avon and Somerset
- Devon and Cornwall
- North Yorkshire
- Thames Valley
- West Mercia
Top of the Cops has got some more figures. They shows that Bedfordshire would be a Conservative majority of just 2.2%, Leicestershire a Labour majority of just 2.75%.
Who knows. The idea that not a single independent will be elected seems unlikely, especially as the Supplementary Vote system will help them. A Conservative supporter in Merseyside could loyally vote for the Conservative candidate with his first preference – but he can also vote again with his second preference for an independent who might have more chance of winning.