Voters in the United Kingdom go to the polls this Thursday, and the race remains one of the most fascinating in recent history.
Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg has managed to largely hold on to the support he gained following the first debate, although commentators disagreed about whether Clegg or Conservative leader David Cameron won the second and third debates.
The last few days of the campaign haven’t gone well for Gordon Brown, with it reaching its low point on Friday, when Brown was caught speaking into an open mic disparagingly about a voter he had just spoken to, calling her a ‘bigoted woman’. The story has dominated the news for the last two days.
In terms of the poll, a trend has been clear for the last week. The Conservatives have topped every poll for the last week, polling in the low to mid 30s. The Lib Dems have come second in most polls, closely followed by Labour. This is reflected in UK Polling Report’s polling average of CON 35, LD 28, LAB 27. Such a result would see the Conservatives win 282 seats, Labour win 250 and the Lib Dems win 86 under the uniform national swing model.
This model of calculating the effects of swings has been criticised by Nate Silver of US psephological blog FiveThirtyEight, who has produced a new sophisticated model. Silver’s model would see Labour lose far more seats, with the Conservatives winning a few more seats and the Lib Dems a lot more. Having said that, all of the projections produce a hung parliament with the Conservatives as the largest party, followed by Labour and the Lib Dems, who would gain a large number of extra seats without overtaking either major party.
Prominent UK psephobloggers Robert Ford and Anthony Wells have engaged in the debate, with Nate Silver responding, and they are well worth reading before trying to interpret the consequences of opinion polls over the next few days. While it is relatively simple to predict the general consequences of swings in elections with simple two-party races and small swings, but in such a dramatic race with massive shifts in polls, it is extremely difficult to predict the result across the constituencies.
I will be covering the election results on Friday morning Australian time as the UK results begin to flow in. I’m also expecting my UK election map to be used on the air for CNN International’s election coverage, so keep an eye out.