Why the Speccie’s James Forsyth thinks the Eastleigh Lib Dems are a “racing certainty”

February 21st, 2013

The by-election is all about the power of the party databases

There’s an excellent feature in the latest Spectator by political editor, James Forsyth, in which he gets to the heart of why the yellows should hold the seat. It’s all about the data and how it’s deployed.

Forsyth writes:

“… While the Tories are knocking on doors trying to find supporters, the Lib Dems know precisely where their electors are. As Thornton and Ming Campbell march down the street, a clipboard-wielding activist bounces along beside them shouting out which house to go to and the name of who lives there. They have a laser-like focus on their own support base: it is a get-out-the-vote strategy. The ringmaster is thoroughly irritated by Sir Ming’s habit of setting off down every garden path.

Most Tories involved in the Eastleigh campaign are reluctantly coming to the conclusion that the Liberal Democrat ground operation will carry the day and they are already preparing excuses: ‘We’re trying to overturn 20 years of grass-roots campaigning in two weeks.’ One senior figure in the campaign estimates that they have, at best, a 33 per cent chance of winning. On a big post-it note in Lib Dem HQ, volunteers write why they have come down to help out. One message stands out, ‘Because Eastleigh is ours’…”

Mike Smithson

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