What do we think of “Palmer’s Paradox”

What do we think of “Palmer’s Paradox”

    If people think the Tories might win, they won’t. If they think they won’t, they might

Everyday thousands of internet users in at least ninety countries round the world are visiting the site to read the articles and the discussions try to find out what is going on in the May 5th General Election.
Everyday at least half a dozen overseas news organisations contact me and ask for my view of what the outcome will be.
Everyday I am reminded of what’s become known on the site as “Palmer’s Paradox” – named after one of our most regular contributors – Nick Palmer (above) who is seeking to hold onto his Labour marginal, Broxtowe, on May 5th.

For on the face of it the election looks like a foregone conclusion for Tony Blair – but that’s not how it feels as Polly Toynbee describes it in the Guardian this morning.

She observes “….Wherever you go it’s all too easy to find people who say they voted Labour last time but certainly won’t this time, not on their lives (though they could well be lying on either count: they may never have voted Labour or they may decide on the day to hold their noses all the way to the polls after all). Some of the “not-on-your-lifers” talk about Iraq, the Blair smirk or Blair lies. Others have some personal grudge for which they blame the government. Another lot of the “certainly-not-this-timers”, prodded for the reasons why, will admit almost in a whisper that it is immigration and asylum that stops them voting Labour now. This feels uncomfortably like a pincer movement moving in from both left and right on Labour’s previous vote. So if the polls are right then where are all the many people who will be voting Labour now who didn’t vote Labour before? Where are all the people who are supposed to be counterbalancing this anti-Blair grudge? …

Our analysis on Monday of the latest ICM poll might have been a little harsh on the pollster. But the fact that less than six out of every seven people who told the interviewer that they voted Labour last time were prepared to say they were going to do the same on May 5th reinforces the uncertainty. There are many questions:-

  • Are the polls following the pattern of most recent elections and are overstating Labour’s position?
  • Are Lynton Crosby’s dog whistles getting through but electors are reluctant to admit it to polling interviewers because they don’t want to sound racist?
  • Do all the millions who took to the streets before the Iraq War really hate Michael Howard enough to go out on May 5th so that the person who led Britain into it – Tony Blair can be returned with another big majority?
  • Second poll shows the Tories recovering
    The Times launches its daily tracker poll by Populus today. These are daily polls of 350 people, and figures are published each day based on what’s happened in the previous 4 days. Today’s numbers with changes on the last main survey by the pollster are CON 33(+2): LAB 39(-1): LD 21 (nc). This picks up the move to the Tories recorded in yesterday’s NOP survey in the Indy.

    A full round-up of all General Election Betting is available here

    Mike Smithson

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