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The UK election again

- May 3, 2010

Probably my final bit of pseudo-political scientific speculation on the UK elections before they actually happen. Apparently, David Cameron did well in the final debate – a lot of UK newspapers are touting this as heralding some kind of broader electoral resurgence. I’m quite skeptical about this. My best guess – as discussed before – is that the initial boost for the Liberal Democrats from the first debate was less a simple result of Clegg having done well, than of Clegg suddenly appearing to be a viable candidate, voters (who might have preferred to have voted Lib Dem if they didn’t think their vote was going to be wasted) seeing that others perceived Clegg as a possible winner and revising their own voting tactics etc. In other words – the debate didn’t pick winners or losers based on the strength or weakness of their performance so much as it revealed possibilities that voters had hitherto discounted. If this is right, we will _not_ see a major boost for Cameron in the final vote. Instead, we’ll see a continuation of the trendline – Labor doing badly, the Liberal Democrats doing well, but bleeding some support, and the Conservatives doing fine, but not fine enough to win a majority in Parliament. That’s my bet – and I’m sticking to it. More seriously though, I do think that this is an interesting contrast (as I suggested in my original post) with the US experience, and I look forward to more serious political scientific work on it.