So the big day (!) is finally upon us tomorrow. For me, the campaign has actually gone very quickly- if you’re a resident of Eastleigh, I imagine it’s been akin to slow, painful torture. Analysis has been done, campaigning is over, it’s now a matter of getting out the vote. So, time for some good old-fashioned predicting.
I think that in line with most of the polls, and the bookies, the Liberal Democrats will hold the seat. I think they are organised well enough locally to get their vote out, and I don’t see the Rennard story having too much impact in Eastleigh at all. These by-elections can become almost insulated against national stories, and I believe that this is one of those occasions.
Second and third will be fought between the Conservatives and UKIP. After weighing things up, I am going to be boring and say that the Tories will come second, but I think it will be close. I actually think that the closeness of the two parties will enhance the overall Lib Dem win- I am not expecting either of these two parties to win the by-election outright- but stranger things certainly have happened.
Labour are not going to do well here. 10% would probably be a decent enough result- and they should achieve this. Anything lower and there could be some questions asked about how seriously they took this campaign (answer: probably not very). It seems that Labour were reasonably happy to let the Lib Dems and Conservatives fight this one out- probably figuring that the more damage they can do to the senior coalition partner, the better.
Of the minor parties, the National Health Action party are getting their message out well, and could take 5th place, which would be a very good result. I find it odd that the Greens are not even running a candidate in such a high-profile by-election- it’s possible that this is where their potential voters could end up. None of the minor parties/candidates will retain their deposit.
Liberal Democrats: 35%