Monday, 28 April 2008

Lessons to be learned after 1 May

The vitriol and the smears from the Standard have continued right up to the very bitter end, but I think Ken may just clinch this election. Today, their headlines claimed Boris had claimed an 11% surge over his rival, only a couple of days after the Guardian/ICM poll put Livingstone 6% ahead. Or, 4% if you count the people who've actually registered. So, as those who've interpreted this campaign have proved throughout, the truth is somewhere in between and not one candidate has really pushed that far past his rival.

I suspect we're in for a few surprises on Thursday - and not necessarily with the final outcome of the contest. If anything, this election will prove that pollsters' methods are outdated. Have they really taken into account the multiple combinations of first and second preference votes? There are some unholy alliances which will undoubtedly manifest themselves on polling day, and they won't be confined to the 'big four'.

So, to the big organisations who supposedly act as a weather vane for democracy - remember, not everyone in London has access to the Internet. Consider whether your sampling methods are fair and representative of the online and offline electorate. And, a caution to the candidates who judge their popularity by the number of people signed up to their respective Facebook groups. Perhaps I take democracy too seriously, but there's more to this than casually joining an online group when you don't necessarily intend to back it up at the ballot box.

I said in my previous post that I think this election could be won by the bloggers, but the issue is with the gulf of expectation between the number of people who say they'll vote, and those who've already scribbled down their choices by post or will plod down to the polling station on 1 May. More often than not, the results of these knife edge elections will have a number of factors influencing their result. Thursday could bring with it torrential storms and resulting in a huge swathe of less mobile and older people who decide against voting. On the other hand, we could be blessed with fine sunny spells - either way, it'll have an impact on the final result.

Whatever happens - the majority of voters will have made up their mind at this stage in the campaign (even if they weren't telling me so when when I went canvassing the other night!) and the final push of the Ken campaign will hopefully have made a positive impact. Ken's really made this job what it is by constantly pushing the limits and out-politicking everyone else. By doing so he has proved there's too much at stake to leave this fantastic city in the care of at best, a somewhat confused right-wing buffoon, and at the worst, a reactionary unreconstructed Thatcherite. London deserves a bit more confidence in its future than that.

1 comment:

Andy Jaeger said...

YouGov are in danger of looking more than a little bit daft once the real results are announced. Ah, but then you know as well as I do that the only poll that counts is the one that's taken on election day itself!

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