The “99%” certain CON gain according to the exit poll
At about 4pm on election night in December 2019 I decided to call it a day and try to get some sleep. Before I did I checked if my own result in Bedford had come in and the BBC website suggested the count was still going on but that this was a “99% certain Tory gain” according to the exit poll.
Well that was pretty emphatic and I didn’t bother to check what had happened until the following afternoon when what had happened came as quite a shock. In an election that had seen an overall LAB to CON swing of 4.6% Bedford had remained Labour with a swing of just 0.7%. If ever there was a seat outcome to confound the universal national swing theory this was a great example.
The reason I recall this now is that the LAB incumbent involved, Mohammad Yasin, knocked on my door on Friday evening as part of his effort to retain the seat next time. This was the first time that I had met him and I discussed the December 2019 election night with him.
What struck me more than anything was that he was out campaigning in July 2021 even though we could be more than three years away from a general election. If, as I understand, he had done similar extensive door-knocking throughout the 2017-2019 Parliament then that was one explanation of why he managed to hang on two and a quarter years ago. Voters generally liked being canvassed by their MP and they remember his/her visit.
The “campaign effect” can confound predictions in specific seats.