Failing to win the Eastleigh by-election is a huge disappointment to the Conservative Party, but was perhaps not surprising. The entrenched position of the Liberal Democrats in Eastleigh – holding every single council ward in the constituency with some handsome majorities – meant it was always going to be an uphill struggle.
However, as has been reported elsewhere, problems with the Conservatives’ campaign technology, Merlin, hindered the campaign. Most activists who have been involved in a recent election could tell you of the problems they’ve encountered with Merlin, but the problems have been around for so long that local parties have learned to use Merlin for what it can do, and work around what it can’t. Poor performing campaign technology is not the main reason the Conservatives lost in Eastleigh. But there’s a case to say that poor performing technology cost Republican candidate Mitt Romney the US Presidency in November, and that it should serve as a lesson to UK Conservatives on how tiny margins can make a massive difference.
Romney lost the Electoral College vote to President Barack Obama 206 to 332. That 126 vote gap may seem wide until you consider that the Democrat campaign took the four key states of Florida, Ohio, Virginia and Colorado by a total of just 405,679 votes. That’s a very small margin when you consider that 30 million people voted in those four states. It’s even smaller when you consider it’s just 0.3% of the total 123 million people who voted in the Presidential election. Those four states have a combined total of 69 Electoral College votes. So if Romney had been able to turn out an extra 406,000 Republican voters across those four states – where 10.3 million eligible voters did not vote – he would have secured 275 Electoral College votes to Obama’s 263. Tiny margins can make a massive difference.