8 reasons for Labour to be hopeful

A Labour government is still a realistic possibility.

After weeks of campainging and with the polls not as close as hoped, many Labour activists are now knackered and looking for reasons to be hopeful. Here’s 8 of them.

  1. Labour’s ground game

Thousands of people have been campaigning for the Labour Party for weeks – targetting marginal constituencies. Over this weekend alone, Labour held around 1,700 campaigning events.

In contrast, the Conservative Party has far less members than the Labour Party and far, far less active campaigners.

While many political scients doubt the effectiveness of ground campaigns, at the last election Labour won almost every seat that Momentum targetted.

This time, Momentum has been more ambitious, targetting more gains rather than losses and has improved the sophistication of its software.

Instead of directing activists to their nearest marginal seat, as it did in 2017, it now directs them to the marginal seat near them which is most in need.

So if you’re one of the many Labour activists in East London’s Hackney, you’ll be encouraged not to go to your nearest marginal (Chingford) but to seats further afield with less volunteers like Bedford, Watford and Dagenham. This is an attempt to partially rectify the regional disparity of activists.

All this campaigning is focussed in the only seats that matter – marginals, a small proportion of total seats. So its impact will barely show up on national polls.

2. Labour’s ‘Get out the Vote’ superiority combined with low winter turnout

A winter election, particularly if the weather is bad on Thursday is likely to depress turnout. This could be bad for Labour – as the elderly, white and wealthy are always more committed to voting.

However, with a strong ‘get out the vote’ operation, it could benefit Labour. With less votes being cast, every vote matters more. So getting your voters to the polling stations becomes even more important.

In every marginal seat, Labour’s get out the vote operation is likely to have more volunteers and better data than the Conservatives. Low turnout could amplify this advantage.

3. Tactical voting

In dozens of seats, if Labour, Lib Dem, Green, Plaid Cymru and SNP voters vote tactically, they can stop the Tories winning.

Of course, there are problems with that. These parties differ on a range of issues – particularly in Scotland – but tactical voting must surely be something keeping Boris Johnson awake at night.

Best for Britain has estimated that, if 40% of pro-Remain voters vote tactically, pro-Remain parties would have a majority of 36.

Some examples of possible Labour wins, if Lib Dems vote tactically, are Putney, Southport and Portsmouth South.

And if Labour voters support the Lib Dems, Tories could lose their seats in places like Guildford, Wokingham and Esher and Walton.

4. Johnson’s defensive approach

The Conservative campaign is not acting like a campaign with a clear lead in the polls. As the below tweet shows, they have sent Boris Johnson to many seats that the Conservatives already hold (sometimes comfortably) rather than Labour-held seats they want to take. Have they seen internal polling that suggests these seats may be vulnerable?

Johnson’s visit to Chingford and Woodford Green is the most stark example of this. The Tory MP Iain Duncan Smith has a 2,500 majority and his seat has been inundated with Labour activists.

Recent Tory Facebook adverts also suggest they are on the defensive. They’ve targetted adverts at Tory-held seats like Thurrock, Yeovil and Hendon – saying that a vote for anyone but the Tories would put Corbyn in Downing Street.

5. Potential polling errors

The polls were wrong to predict a hung parliament in 2015 and they were wrong to predict a Tory majority in 2017. Even the pollsters will admit that they might well be wrong again.

This isn’t because pollsters are lying or incompetent – but because accurate polling is difficult. You have to make a number of assumptions which can turn out to be wrong.

This thread has been doing the rounds on Labour twitter and questions some of the pollsters’ assumptions, arguing pollsters have overlooked the fact the country is now more pro-Remain than 2017 and overlooked the number of new registrations to vote.

6. An unprecedented number of undecided voters

These undecided voters won’t necessarily go to Labour, but they generally did in 2017 and could do so again.

7. What happened in 2017

On the eve of the 2017 election, a poll for the Independent predicted the biggest Tory majority since Thatcher.

Critics of the Labour leadership have said repeatedly that this election ‘doesn’t feel like 2017’. But, they are misrembering what 2017 felt like – it certainly didn’t feel ‘like 2017’ until the exit poll came out.

Before that, hardly anyone was predicting a hung parliament and reports from the doorstep (where people tend to be older) were consistently negative.

Sure, the polls narrowed more consistently in 2017 and there were more mass rallies – but the chances of a Labour government seem higher now than they did in that campaign and there much more people campaigning in a much more organised fashion than there are this time around.

8. The odds

Most bookies have a hung parliament at somewhere between 3/1 and 4/1. This is the same odds that Everton were to beat Chelsea this Saturday – and they won 3-1. Bets like these come in all the time – technically about one in four or five times.

Given the SNP and Liberal Democrats are unlikely to prop up the Conservatives, a hung parliament is likely to mean a Labour minority government.

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3 Responses to “8 reasons for Labour to be hopeful”

  1. Joe

    Remember that Survation were the most accurate polling in 2017 !!!

    Westminster voting intention:

    CON: 45% (+3)
    LAB: 31% (-2)
    LDEM: 11 (-)
    BREX: 4% (+1)
    GRN: 2% (-2)

    , 05 – 07 Dec
    Chgs. w/ 30 Nov

  2. Julia Gibb

    Scotland has not voted Tory in several decades.
    We once sent 50 MPs to Westminster every election. They became know as the “feeble 50”
    We will now deliver a large batch of SNP MPs.
    What will England do? They will vote Tory! Once again we will have Government forced upon us.

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