SECONDS OUT…ROUND TWELVE by Ian Hernon

With just days to go, it is clear that the election will be won by …the don’t knows.

Pollsters YouGov reckon that estimates 13% of the electorate who intend to vote have yet to decide, while Ipsos Mori suggested 40% of voters might still change their mind between now and polling day: 28% of Conservative supporters; 46% Labour; and 60% Liberal Democrat.

It used to be the case that few people changed their minds during election campaigns – party loyalties entrenched by family and communities were the dominant factor. In 1966, only about 13% of voters switched parties between elections.

That is no longer the case: in 2015, that figure was 43% – and in 2017, it was 33%. Across the last three elections, almost half the UK electorate (49%) voted for more than one party.

That trend was largely why Theresa May’s snap 2017 election did not turn out the way anyone expected. When it was announced, polls showed the Conservatives with a massive lead over Labour, yet the Conservatives lost their majority and there was a hung Parliament. A significant number of voters either changed their minds or left it to the last moment to make up their minds.

Brexit is key in the current contest because identification as Leavers or Remainers has outstripped party allegiance. In 2017, Labour managed to shift the debate from Brexit to austerity. There is little concrete evidence that Labour has achieved that this time around, although its claims that Boris could sell the NHS to Donald Trump appear to have achieved some traction.

People in working-class jobs are also disproportionately represented among the undecideds – 16% say they don’t know for whom to vote, compared with 12% of middle-class voters. And they could make a major difference to the result, especially in marginal northern English seats where Labour, Conservative, the Brexit Party and the Lib Dems are all competing for their votes.

In 2017, Labour was able to compensate for the Conservatives’ greater social media spend with more boots on the ground and more individuals sharing posts for free. We don’t yet know what the fallout of the online – and offline – campaign of 2019 will be.

All of this points to Boris keeping the keys to No 10, but with a smaller majority than the opinion polls are currently suggesting.

Meanwhile, America’s Toddler-in- Chief cut short his Nato trip because big boys laughed at him during a Buckingham Palace reception. Diddums.

And Corbynista colleagues have kicked up about my last blog where I listed the traits their man has in common with I forgot to mention that both have rarely read a book – colouring in doesn’t count. Sorry about that.

ROUND 12 SCORE: Tories 6/10

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