Now let’s wait for the opinion polls

Now let’s wait for the opinion polls

Can we really envisage him being at Number 10?

One thing that we are learning from the McCain-Obama battle in the US is that instant reactions by the media and professional commentators are not always the best guide to the public’s mood. Thus a week ago the first debate was scored by most of the experts as being a McCain win or a tie – yet the polling this week has been all towards the Democratic contender.

So I’m holding my own judgement until we have some evidence – and hopefully there’ll be a new voting intention survey in the next 36 hours or so. Even that has to be treated carefully for as I’ve been arguing for weeks conference season polling is highly suspect. Many people seemed to just respond to what they’ve seen most recently in the news.

But generally David Cameron’s speech gets a pretty good press this morning although I would guess that even his team would have been surprised by the Independent’s front page reproduced above.

The paper’s Andrew Grice writes:“…figures in both main parties are talking a lot about the 1992 election, when John Major defeated Neil Kinnock. For Labour, it offers hope that in a downturn, the voters will “hold on to nurse for fear of something worse” – Mr Brown’s best hope of winning next time. For the Tories, the lesson of 1992 is that Mr Kinnock lost the election because the voters could not envisage him in No 10. Yesterday’s speech will raise their hopes that Mr Cameron will not suffer such a handicap.”

The Sun’s main editorial summed it up:“..Far from looking like a “novice”, Mr Cameron delivered the most confident and compelling speech of the political season. ‘You can’t PROVE you are ready to be Prime Minister — it would be arrogant to pretend you can,’ said Mr Cameron. And he’s right. The Tory Party has come a long way under his leadership. There is much still to be done. But with this nail-hammering performance, he showed he is more than qualified to give it a try.

According to the Times leader“..the speech also had the ingredient without which no address will work — it had a real argument. His strengths, he said, were his values — sound money and low taxes. His priorities, he explained, would be driven by his faith — in family, community and country. His qualification for office, he suggested, was his character — steely by way of sunny..But perhaps the most impressive sections were those in which he took on his perceived weaknesses. Mr Cameron had the confidence to pose the case against him much as his opponents would have done. He deftly turned back the accusation that he is a novice. He claimed for himself the prospect of progress against an experience that has, he alleged, ended in failure.”

    The big question remains – is the global financial collapse that we’ve seen this week the massive game-changer that some, particularly Labour supporters, are suggesting?

There have been some pretty amazing predictions based on the most flimsy of polling evidence and I’m not at all certain that they’ve got it right. Thus if being seen as “being best on the economy” is thought to impact on voting behaviour then how come that the same polls show the Tories with double digit leads?

The one thing about game-changers is that you can usually identify them better with the benefit of hindsight. I’m assembling some thoughts on this for a later post.

In the general election betting there’s hardly been any movement.

Mike Smithson

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