The news that the Tory lead has dropped to just five points, according to a Times/YouGov poll yesterday, has been dismissed in some quarters as an exception to the polls, rather than the rule. However, even if you don't buy that the Tory lead over Labour is now at its lowest since Theresa May came to power, it can't be denied that the Conservative campaign has hit a wobble.
I understand projections for the election result have shifted dramatically. The internal 'ceiling' (the best case scenario) has gone from a majority of near 200 in week one, to a majority around the 80 mark. The 'floor' is now a hung Parliament -- which is a worse case scenario and still an unlikely one. In response to the numbers, the Conservatives said they would not comment on 'polls or projections'.
The mood in CCHQ is one of annoyance verging on anger. A majority of 80 MPs is what a lot of Conservative MPs have regarded as par since the election was first called, so anything below that will be a disappointment. Theresa May's decision to run a tight ship with her two closest advisers -- Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill -- at the helm could come back to haunt her. Tories were only happy going along with the high levels of control freakery on the basis that it worked.
As James reveals in the Sun, after the dementia tax U-turn amidst the Tory manifesto mayhem, Lynton Crosby -- the Conservative election strategist -- will be exerting more control on the campaign in its final days. Although Crosby had full control of the 2015 campaign, he only saw the manifesto (which led to the costly dementia tax U-turn) a day or so before it went to the printer.
This move may be enough to get the campaign on track. But whatever way you look at it, celebration plans for Theresa May's win come June 9 have been put on ice.