Tories may get a majority with just 37% of the vote
Perhaps some Tories got a little excited after Thursday evening's debate. Huge relief at Cameron's good debate performance and the belated simplification of the Tory message - in the 'Contract' - gave us fresh hope that Britain can avoid a hung parliament. The polls remain remarkably stable, however. The Tories are at 34% in the ConHome Poll of Polls - essentially the same as a week ago.
In today's Daily Mail, Professor Anthony King judges that the Conservatives could win an overall majority with just 37% of the vote if support for Labour, in particular, continues to decline. Today's Sun reports that the collapse of the Labour vote means that the Tories are now hopeful about picking up all four of the party's target seats in the North-East;Stockton South, Middlesbrough South & East Cleveland, Sunderland Central and Tynemouth.
It may be that the Tories are already at about 37%:
- The Tory vote has been understated by pollsters in all of the last four elections.
- The Tories are expected to do better in marginal seats.
- The Tories' voters - who tend to be older - are more likely to vote than the younger people who have flocked to Nick Clegg.
The Tory campaign in the last few days will be dominated by the Contract. Cameron will be associated with positive campaigning on the Contract's key themes.
Professor King argues that the party should also stoke fears about a hung parliament. "According to Harris," he writes, "nearly one-third of Lib Dem voters fear a coalition or minority government would be 'weak and indecisive' and that such a government 'would fail to tackle the government's enormous deficit'. So the Tories' best tactic during the final days of the campaign could well be to play on the widespread fear among the electorate - including potential Lib Dem voters - of the political and financial chaos that could result from an indeterminate election outcome."
Also in The Mail, Peter Oborne raises the hung parliament question:
"Britain has already been plunged into a period of profound economic crisis. By a terribly unlucky coincidence we risk being plunged into a period of political crisis as well. The only way of avoiding such an outcome is for David Cameron to win the kind of convincing victory on Thursday that will enable him to make the uncomfortable and unpopular decisions need to rescue this country. Cameron's increasingly strong and statesman-like performance during the election campaign merits such a result. Anything else will be a disaster for Britain."