Thursday, 26 April 2012

Number crunching

A week to go and into the last lap. I had planned a stall in Bonnyrigg for market day, but even my enthusiasm for politics wanes a little when it's belting rain and blowing a gale. However, I did go out and deliver the last 300 cards through letterboxes and noted in passing that none of my opponents had ventured out to the market either, so a no-score draw there.

I've now finished canvassing - having covered just under half the ward in five weeks. Last night was my first "Sorry son, I've goat a postal and ah've already voted", a sure sign of diminishing returns for effort this late in the game. However, week of poll cards have now arrived and are ready to go out to targeted addresses in the last few days before polling.

The SNP have now realised that this is a STV poll and their second leaflet rectifies the problems of the first, even to suggesting a first preference split between their candidates depending on which polling station you go to. Thanks, but I'll not be taking your advice. They've also cottoned on to Labour's spurious claiming of the credit for the new Lasswade High School - the Labour leaflet incidentally using Midlothian copyrighted photos of the school without permission, to add insult to injury.

It's still difficult to say how this ward will go. Last time, Labour polled four and a half times my first preference votes, and the SNP nearly three times, so it's a big gap I need to make up. Assuming I get the 100 or so transfers I got last time from the Socialists (who aren't standing), the ratios are still 3.9 and 2.5 respectively.

However, turnout will no doubt play a big hand in the result. In 2007 the turnout in the Bonnyrigg ward was 56.38%. The most people seem to be predicting this time is 45%, as the Holyrood election is not taking place the same day. That would represent a drop of a fifth in the number of those going to the polls.

However, a drop in turnout will undoubtedly affect Labour more than the Nats, given the way the Labour administration has run the council and the disaffection their councillors here seem to have attracted.

Assuming the drop in turnout affects Labour and SNP equally, but without affecting my vote (which is much more likely to hold up), the ratios would then fall to 3.1 and 2.0 respectively, which is looking much more promising, but with a bias in lower turnout towards affecting Labour more, I would imagine a more realistic ratio of 2.5 for each. Given each will get at least one councillor elected in this three member ward, they will need at least double my vote to take that third spot.

That makes transfers all the more important, and anyone I've spoken to on the doorsteps who have said they are voting for someone else, seemed willing to give me a second or third preference. Add to the mix some of the Labour vote going to Jackie Aitchison, and the election seems wide open. My guess is I need 1,000 first preferences to win, from the 'notional' 750 last time (including Socialist transfers). With our much stronger campaign this time, and my much higher profile in the community, I'd say that is very much achievable. A week tomorrow we will know, and I'll be watching the weather forecast for Thursday very carefully.

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