Thursday 27 September 2007

Can the Conservatives win the 2007 General Election?

I'm going to try to set out why I think that in the up-coming General Election, the Conservatives can greatly reduce Labour's Majority or even at a push, win. For a start there's the "Brown Bounce". If you look at the Mori Poll data below it can be seen that only as far back as March this year, the Conservatives had an 8% lead. In fact it wasn't until three months ago that Labour edged in front. Every political pundit believes that Brown has indeed had a bounce, but how will the share of the vote settle out after the bounce period is over? If we take last month's Mori poll as current (it is thought that more recent polls may be skewed by the Labour party conference) then we can see a swing of 14% to Labour in the last six months putting them 5% ahead. How much of this 14% is bounce? let's be generous and say Brown will only lose 4% of that bounce. This will leave Labour with a lead in the poll of 1% over the Conservatives.

Now let's consider the state of the Conservative party: The party has been in troubled waters of late and this trouble has coincided with Brown's Bounce. The party has been criticised by the media for not possessing a clear set of policies and for lacking unity. If the Election should be called soon and David Cameron can set out a definite set of policies to the voters, how many percentage points will that be worth? Let's be stingy and call it 2%. What if he can also pull the party together for the Conference next week, how many percentage points will that be worth? Let's be really stingy and call it 1%. By my reckoning that puts the Conservatives 2% in the lead.

Voting patterns have changed since 1997, and Gordon better be aware of this if he values his job. Because there has been a drift towards the centre by both parties, the voters are not as sure about who to vote for as they used to be. Look at the Mori Poll data below:

You can see from the two circled figures that right up until the election date, the chance that people could possibly change their vote is over three times greater now than in 1997. That means of course that the election campaign will be critical, it is in no way a done deal. It's been clear in the past that Cameron is the better public performer than Brown. It's also been said that when he appears on TV he wins the female vote (silly but apparently true). So how many percentage points can we give Cameron as leader? let's say 2%. We now have the Conservatives in a 4% lead.

But wait. Critics will say that I have fudged this by starting with a 5% Labour lead and not the 11% as indicated by a recent poll. Very true, but even using 11% it only gives Labour a 2% lead. And then, you must of course take into account the EU Referendum.

It could be a lot closer than people think. (well we can all dream).

Note: Any points I gave the Conservatives were not taken from Labour. If I had taken them from Labour, it would have been even worse for Gordon.


Anonymous said...

I still think an impressive conference speech from Cameron which brings together all his policy and strategy work from the past couple of years could scare Gordon off, but it's a big challenge for him.

Garbo said...

Time will tell if it's a Brown bounce or it was actually the electorate keeping away from Blair in his final 12 months. Either way I think the election is going to come too soon for Cameron to do anything at this election

James Higham said...

Can they win? Yes, of course. All they need to do is change the leader, demonstrating that they really are concerned with putting the best team in power and they're in.

Daily Referendum said...

All valid points Gents.

James, give Cameron a chance, he has got something that Brown hasn't and that's charisma. Let's see how the polls stand when he gets as much coverage as Gordon.

Do not underestimate the female vote;)