A funny thing about elections is that people’s expectations of what the result will be can affect what the result actually is. There have been hints of this in my polling over the course of the election campaign. The survey I published yesterday found more people expecting a Conservative victory than was the case last month. At the same time, enthusiasm for switching to the Tories among some critical voters – the thing that makes such a result possible – has diminished.
There could be several reasons for this. But one might be that with Boris Johnson apparently safely on course for a majority, some may feel they don’t need to sully themselves with a Conservative vote. In focus groups over the last few weeks we have witnessed how agonising many Labour voters find the choice this year: people who want to get Brexit done and feel Jeremy Corbyn’s version of the party has ceased to represent them, but struggle with an ancestral injunction never to vote Tory. The idea that they can have the outcome they want without having to vote for it must be a tempting one to embrace: the problem is that it is an illusion, and one that represents a serious threat to the Tories’ chance of getting the majority that would drag politics from its three-year quagmire.