Sunday 11 May 2008

Cameron's Crewe handicap

An ICM poll in Crewe for the Mail on Sunday suggests that the Tories will win the by-election by a narrow margin on a 10% swing since the general election. But with the sort of poll leads they are scoring nationally, the Tories should be winning a by-election like this easily - look at the sort of by-election swings Labour secured before the 1997 election to see why. But what is most interesting about the Mail poll is that it suggests Labour has picked the right candidate, and the Tories the wrong one. For voters say they are six percentage points more likely to vote Labour in this by-election than they say they would vote in a general election. A ten per cent swing is hardly the 35% of Christchurch, the 29% of Dudley West, 22% in SE Staffs or even the 21% of mid-Staffordshire in 1990 (two years before Labour lost the 1992 election). There was only one by-election, in Barnsley East, where Labour secured a swing below 10% between 1992-97. The nature of the candidates must be the explanation for a relatively poor showing by Cameron in Crewe. So, with strong promotion of Tamsin Dunwoody and plenty of exposure to Edward "Timmy" Timpson, there is more hope than other polling might suggest for Labour in this by-election. Crewe is Cameron's to lose.

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