Candidates should not get hung up about the polls

Parliamentary candidates, a strange breed if ever there was one, see major significance in the most inconsequential events.  Amongst them are the opinion polls.  Polls cannot be dismissed as inconsequential, but they can provide comfort or cause despair when in reality they may be neither.

Polls tend to favour Labour. Historically, swing voters are more prepared to admit being Labour supporters than acknowledging their support for the Tories. In this election, we may find disaffected Tories expressing support for a party like UKIP.  But this May there is a chance that disaffected Labour supporters, reluctant to admit their intention to vote BNP, will be more inclined to acknowledge their support for the more acceptable extremists UKIP.  UKIP can expect to gather votes from former Tories, but also from traditional Labour voters. 

Sadly, Labour can expect in this election to lose support to the BNP.

The national polls, or in fact the actual votes secured, can be misleading as to who will win the election.  The Tories require over 40% of the popular vote to have an overall majority with Labour below 30%.  On the other hand, if both Labour and the Tories secure around 35% then Labour will have an overall majority. 

How will this play locally? There will be little impact in Brighton Pavilion where disaffected Labour and Conservative supporters can vote Green rather than going to one of the extremist parties. Other Labour voters will abstain while som former Tory supporters will g UKIP.  All this is extremely good news for Caroline Lucas who is attracting both this ‘negative’ vote but also those who see a Green vote as a positive and practical vote.

In Brighton Kemptown and in Hove, in the absence of a dynamic campaign such as that in Brighton Pavilion, the result will largely depend on the performance on the leaders.  On today’s performance, where Cameron has landed a number of succesful blows on Brown over National Insurance increases.  Brown himself has focussed on constitutional reform, an issue that gets my pulse racing but is hardly going to set the electorate on fire. It is early days but Brown must do better.

The Green candidate in Brighton Pavilion depends even more on the leader of her Party, but that is easy for her.  She is that impressive leader.