Ten reasons to be cheerful
- David Cameron would have killed for these Conservative polling levels. The last five national surveys found Tory ratings of 45, 42, 43, 48 and 43 per cent. No poll has yet found Labour ahead. All those to date have indicated a Tory win.
- In the world of real votes, local government elections less than a month ago showed May on the advance and Corbyn in retreat. The Conservatives won eight councils and gained over 550 councillors. Labour lost seven councils and the best part of 400 councillors.
- The Prime Minister’s political strategy since becoming Prime Minister has included killing UKIP with pro-Brexit kindness. It has worked so far. UKIP’s collapse is keeping the Tory rating at above 40 per cent, and it is set to stay that way.
- ConservativeHome speaks to a lot of Tory candidates in marginal seats. All report the same story that they tell all comers – namely, that although May’s support is lower than before the manifesto launches, and Corbyn’s is higher, they feel on course do well.
- The further one gets away from London, the more marked this seems to be – especially if one is travelling north. The social care fiasco seems to have hit the Conservatives hardest where property prices are highest and Tory majorities largest. So May will absorb much of the electoral hit.
- Labour’s boost in polling is partly due to support from young people, who usually don’t turn out in elections in the same numbers as older ones. Furthermore, there are fewer of them – and they may be concentrated in seats that the party already holds.
- The crucial determinant will be not the voting percentages, but where votes are concentrated. These are the target seats. Tory MPs say that they haven’t been asked to pull back from constituencies deep in Labour territory. This suggests that Lynton Crosby is still confident of an increased majority.
- Corbyn is too left-wing for many floating voters. He is heavily exposed on the IRA, Trident, the Falklands, Hamas, Hezbollah: in short, he has spent his entire career appeasing Britain’s enemies. His slip on childcare numbers has hit home – as has Diane Abbott’s innumeracy.
- The postal votes are coming in and, while one can’t know how they have been distributed, the early signs are that there is no big increase. This suggests that, once again, younger voters may not turn out in the numbers that some of the polls are suggesting.
- Finally, May called this election on Brexit – and leaving the EU, defence and immigration remain perilous issues for Corbyn. Less than a year ago, the Leave vote brought an electoral earthquake to natural Labour areas. Its effects are not yet spent.
Ten reasons to be a gloomadon-popper
- Yes, May called this election on Brexit – but, to date, the issues that usually feature in general elections have, unsurprisingly, featured heavily in this one: the economy and public services. The campaign hasn’t gone according to plan, and Conservative poll ratings have fallen.
- The social care U-turn was the biggest campaigning fiasco in modern electoral history. No party in living memory has been forced to rewrite a major element of its manifesto before polling day. The announcement was sprung on voters without any pitch-rolling – and just as postal votes went out.
- May’s personal standing has been damaged by the impact of the social care plan in the south especially, and perhaps also by the vagueness of the winter fuel announcement further north. These have shaken voters’ confidence that she is “on your side”. The episode has cost her several of her political nine lives.
- The Tory campaign has been forced off-track. It began with a core offer of “strong and stable government”. The social care fiasco brought that claim into disrepute. The shift to “me or Corbyn” has cost the Conservatives time, impetus, poll ratings and campaigning cut-through.
- The Tory manifesto is grown-up, serious – even noble. The dark side of this moon is that it there is little retail offer to voters, and that there is has been stressed late. Corbyn is offering a mass of money to Labour voters now. The main Conservative retail pledge is the dubious energy price cap.
- There was an attempt by CCHQ last week to push retail politics a bit, but its energies are concentrated on the negative rather than the positive – i.e: Corbyn’s record on national issues. The campaign has much to say to the country as a whole, but less to you and your family.
- Team May seems unwilling to deploy the Chancellor – who should be a crucial figure during election campaigns, warning voters of the consequences of backing the opposition. It is a gap that Boris Johnson, David Davis, Amber Rudd et al cannot fill, for all their strengths.
- Young voters may not turn out in large numbers, but older women probably will. Some polls claim that May’s support has dropped away among women of working age. The social care policy seems to have reinforced a sense among some of them that Tories are simply out of touch.
- Corbyn is very left-wing, but has never served in government. Consequently, he can’t be associated with the failures of the Blair and Brown administration. He is an electoral “clean-skin”. This is a big plus for him among younger voters, to whom even Blair (let alone Thatcher) is a distant memory.
- Crobsy, Mark Textor and Jim Messina may be working social media magic in the target seats and others, but we are getting reports of a lack of boots on the ground in some of them. That could matter a lot on Thursday.
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Readers will note that some of the reasons to be cheerful are about numbers, and that most of the reasons to be gloomy are about impressions.
This suggests that, while May’s ratings during the campaign really seem to have fallen and Corbyn’s to have risen, the impact of the change may be fleeting and is being exaggerated – that the London bubble media effect is kicking in again.
All in all, the Conservatives are still set for a win on Thursday. A polling move back to them during the last few days would not be surprising.
None the less, a win by less than 50 seats would not give the Prime Minister the overwhelming mandate that she sought for the Brexit negotiations, and clearly expected when the election was called. Much will depend on the size of any majority.
If ConservativeHome has one big concern, it’s that May has not narrowed the choice down to what Corbyn means for you and your family. Brexit cannot do all that work for her. She needs to do more by Thursday – to show how he would crash your car.