November 04, 2019
Brexit tactical voting is happening - on both sides
The UK elections are probably not as much of a cliffhanger as UK political commentators suggest. The Tories are well ahead in most of the polls. Tories and Labour have gained support at the expense of the smaller parties. This tells us that tactical voting is happening, and that it is fairly evenly spread.
There are limits to tactical voting in first-past-the-post systems, especially in three-way marginals. Brexit as the dominating issue favours tactical voting, but there are limits. There are Remainers who cannot get themselves to vote for Jeremy Corbyn, just as there are Leavers who dislike Boris Johnson and his Brexit deal.
Also noteworthy is the rise in voter registration by young people, which could benefit Labour. According to the Electoral Reform Society there are still 9.4m people missing from the electoral rolls, mostly low-income citizens.
We expect that the Brexit Party is not going to be the decisively factor. Nigel Farage got some headlines with his Donald Trump interview and his campaign launch on Friday. But his poll ratings are falling. He now said he won't contest a seat himself. We expect the Brexit Party not to win a single constituency. The Daily Telegraph's paranoid lead story this morning is that Farage could be the man who threw away Brexit. But we doubt that very much. Johnson is the only pro-Brexit choice on the menu.
The fear that Farage could sabotage Brexit has its precise mirror-image on the other side. Tony Blair expressed his frustration about the election, and made a rather desperate call for people to vote tactically anti-Brexit. But they are doing this already without Blair's prompting.
Events can still intrude, but for now this is not a close contest.