Does pre-election polling help squeeze out the third party?
The main reason why I have been so confident in my Crewe and Nantwich predictions is the impact that yesterday’s ICM by election poll will have on voting dynamics, particularly in taking the wind out of the Lib Dems’ standard strategy.
For with the huge Tory poll surge the only real threat to Cameron was if the Lib Dems could establish themselves as a challenger to Labour thus splitting the anti-Brown vote. The LDs are always able to summon a massive activist army and they have the expertise in literature production to produce the right message at the right time.
Just look back to the start of the campaign when I published their first C&N bar chart which was shrewdly, if somewhat misleadingly, designed to show that they were the best-placed challengers.
Their problem now is that anything they say has been pre-empted by the ICM poll which had them on 16% behind Labour’s 39% and the Conservative 43%. The message from this is that it is a battle between Labour and the Tories knocking for six the argument that the best way of giving Labour a kicking is by voting Lib Dem.
This is similar, in many ways, to the Mayoral battle in London – the polls showed it was a struggle between Ken and Boris and the third party candidate just got squeezed out. If there had been no polls at all my guess is that the Brian Paddick would have done better and the overall result might have been tighter.
By elections polls have become something of a novelty. The only two we have had in recent times were in Hartlepool in September 2004 and in Blaenau Gwent
last year in 2006. The former had Labour 33% ahead of the Lib Dems making the third party’s task that much more challenging. The latter had Labour 12% ahead but on the day Labour came in 9% behind in its attempt to win back the seat from an independent.