The end is in sight. There are now only nine days remaining in what certainly feels like the longest election campaign in memory. The final stages of the campaign have prompted a flurry of regular, and often contradictory, new polls, enabling the media to bombard viewers and readers with fresh predictions and projections every day.
As confusing as this array of polls may be for casual viewers, their headline results are actually remarkably simple. Political deadlock. The one consistent thing about the polls of the past few months has been that neither the Conservatives nor Labour are picking up enough votes to win a majority. Indeed many polls and seat projections now have the election ending in a dead heat.
The election narrative from Conservative headquarters, and shared by many election commentators, has been that at some point in this campaign there will be a sizeable swing towards the Conservatives. But this has failed to manifest itself in any polls to date and time is running out. The Conservatives now have one big hope left: the undecided.
There was a poll last week that offered a fascinating insight on the crucial role the undecided will play in this election. ComRes conducted a poll of more than 1500 undecided voters, who they last questioned at the beginning of the campaign. This poll indicated that over 80% of undecided voters have still not made their mind up on who they will vote for.
In such a tight election, with so many seats now looking marginal, the parties know the power of these undecided votes and have been targeting them accordingly. Conservative sources have been speaking for weeks about the 10,000 votes in 23 marginal seats across the country that could win them the election. Many of those votes are still currently undecided.
In an interview today Margaret Thatcher’s former strategist Lord Bell emphasised the importance of these undecided votes. He noted that in the 1992 election 18% of voters only made their mind up on the day of the election. Ultimately it was these votes that gained John Major the victory that many had deemed impossible.
Can history repeat itself? The ComRes poll does provide some positive reading for the Conservatives as David Cameron had the highest “impressed” result, at 40%, among those polled. In comparison Ed Miliband impressed 32% and Nicola Sturgeon impressed 34%.
Of course this does not guarantee a sudden surge of the undecided to the Conservative party. But it does give the Conservatives hope. Lord Bell also noted that research suggests that undecided voters tend to back incumbent governments by a rate of two to one.
If this trend repeats itself then that would be enough to save the Conservative campaign and enable David Cameron to remain in Downing Street.