James Forsyth

Why the Tory poll lead is likely to grow during the general election campaign

Why the Tory poll lead is likely to grow during the general election campaign
Text settings
Comments

Conventional wisdom has it that the governing party recovers in the polls during an election campaign. The theory is that the incumbent party both gests to choose when the election is and benefits from the polls moving from being a referendum on the government to a choice between the parties. But—as Anthony Wells, Mike Smithson and Daniel Finkelstein argue—there is no evidence to support the idea that there is an automatic pendulum effect. So, those arguing that Labour’s poll numbers are definitely understating what the party will get in the general election are wrong.

Looking ahead to the next election, I’d expect the Tories to actually have the better of the campaign and increase their vote share during it. First, there’s Smithson’s rule that the Tories do better the more David Cameron is in the news; the Tories will structure their election campaign so that Cameron is front and centre. Second, I can’t imagine that Brown will hold up well under the scrutiny of the campaign. The account of his testy confrontation with journalists on the plane to Washington makes one wonder what would happen if voters were to give Brown a piece of their mind on the trail. Equally, Brown has yet to find an empathetic language that shows he understands what people are going through with the recession. Then there is the fact that losing campaigns are always plagued by leaks which reveal the divisions inside the campaign and highlight the mistakes that are made. On a more substantive note, the issue set should also favour the Tories.

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

Comments
Topics in this articlePolitics