There is exactly one month left until the most exciting election in over 20 years. Labour and the Tories are neck and neck In the polls, but the surge in support for smaller parties has made the election completely unpredictable and far too close to call. The picture above is the YouGov nowcast, which states that the Tories are currently 1% ahead of Labour, and that the election is far too close to call at the moment.
The share of the vote in the poll represents a swing to Labour of 3.5% since the last general election. However, due to the Labour collapse in Scotland, which has itself knocked off at least 1-2% from the Labour vote share overall, the overall swing is expected to be around 5%, which would result in a very narrow Labour lead on seats if repeated on election day.
Neither Labour or the Tories will be particularly dissatisfied about the current position, because both of the parties know that even a small swing in either of their direction will result in a victory for them. It is really as tight as that. Labour seems to be doing better in the target and marginal seats rather than nationally elsewhere or in safe seats, which will give the party a lot of confidence. It is possible that a 1992 style crossover may occur and the Tories might suddenly jump into a massive lead, but that scenario remains quite unlikely. It looks as if Labour and the Tories will remain deadlocked until election day, as they have been for most of the past year, and Labour may edge ahead very narrowly on seats due to its performance in the marginal seats.
So, we have talked about Labour and the Tories, and the expectations both parties have. What about the smaller parties who have seen a surge during this parliament, UKIP and the Greens? Below is a list of some of the hopes and expectations of the smaller parties for the election.
Boston and Skegness represents the best chance that UKIP have of electing an MP outside their heartlands in Kent and Essex. On the basis of the current YouGov Nowcast, which uses 150,000 interviews nationwide includng interviews within the constituency to make its predictions, the seat is currently far too close to call. This is good news for UKIP and bad news for the Tories-UKIP came 4th with just under 10% of the vote last time, with the Tories 1st on just under 50%. The BNP vote was also quite high, which will encourage UKIP as it tends to mop up the BNP vote.
Another largely white working class constituency, but this time one with a largely Labour rather than Tory constituency, Great Grimsby is number 2 on the national target list UKIP have drawn up for this election. Austin Mitchell was the MP and the new Labour candidate, Melanie Onn, has some work to do if she wishes to hold off UKIP. UKIP won the popular vote her by a whopping 15% in this constituency at the European elections and have made strong local gains, but I would back Labour to hold on due to its superior ground campaign which has seen it pour in resources from nearby safe Labour and Tory seats, a feat which the UKIP campaign simply cannot match.
Thurrock is in an area o the country where UKIP can be said to have a "Stronghold", the East of England region. At the last election, Labour collapsed in this region, turning it into a virtual one party state. The Lib Dems have never really had a presence here either, which meant that there would obviously be room for an insurgent party to blossom, and there you have UKIP. The race looks incredibly tight, but UKIP are the favourites to win here, in yet another deprived white working class seat with a strong resentment toward the Westminster establishment parties.
South Thanet needs no introduction. YouGov declined to do a constituency estimate here due to "Hyperlocal factors", i.e the presence of Nigel Farage as the UKIP candidate. A poll here recently by Comres suggested a tough three way fight, with Labour, the Tories and UKIP all 1% within each other. Expect this to be probably one of the most exciting seats on election night.
Norwich South is an area long targeted by the Green Party. As it is, they look unlikely to win here, because Labour seems to have benefited most from a collapse in support for the Liberal Democrats. The Greens will probably aim to come 2nd and set themselves up for a challenge next time, as they will then be able to present themselves as the clear alternative to an (Perhaps) unpopular Labour government. The seat is a liberal left-wing seat with many students, and can therefore swing very heavily between different parties, as it did in 2010 when the Lib Dems ousted former home secretary Charles Clarke here.
Bristol West is another major target for the Green Party. The party has done fairly well here on a local level, picking up a few councillors, and has capitalised on the collapse of what used to be a sizeable liberal democrat vote here. However, the Lib Dem incumbent seems to have squeezed enough Tory votes to put him into contention with Labour, who are currently favourites to win in Bristol West, so it looks likely that the Greens will end up 3rd rather than 1st in Bristol West anyway.