The weather forecast for Hartlepool tomorrow is for rain although it should clear by the evening. Quite what effect, if any, this will have on turnout or voting we do not know although the received wisdom is that it does not help Labour.
A bigger effect on turnout, compared with the July contests, might be that it goes dark earlier in late September. Sunset in Hartlepool tomorrow is at 6.42 pm and it’s always harder for the parties to get voters out in the dark than on a light summer evening.
The betting meanwhile has moved slightly away from the Lib Dems overnight but there has been very little activity. It’s 1/4 on Labour and 11/4 Lib Dem with William Hill and 1/3 and 3/1 on the Betfair betting exchange.
The big question will be what happens to the Tory vote. Will there be a tactical switch to the LDs to get Labour out; will Michael Howard’s party lose votes to UKIP instead of the LDs which will help Labour; or will it stay relatively intact?
In the last three by-elections the Lib Dems have found it hard to squeeze the Tory share which has seen drop of only 2-2.5%. If that’s the pattern in Hartlepool it will be good news for Tony Blair.
Another factor will be the impact of Tony Blair’s speech in Brighton yesterday. Whatever there is still a lot to play for. Our view remains – we think that Labour will just do it but we think that the chances of the Lib Dems taking the seat are better than the current odds so its worth a bet.