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Last British polls: good for the Tories, but...

The final polling in Britain points to a victory by David Cameron and his Conservatives, but they still appear short of a majority of seats in parliament. A leader of the Conservative campaign called their party’s chances of gaining a parliamentary majority “slim.”

Here’s how the Guardian, a liberal paper, led their final election story:

The Conservatives appeared to be on the brink of regaining power tonight at the end of one of the most tumultuous and tightly fought general election campaigns since the second world war.

A Guardian/ICM poll tonight showed the Conservatives with an eight-point lead over Labor, just short of what they need for an overall majority. The survey put the Conservatives on 36 percent, Labor on 28 percent and the Liberal Democrats on 26 percent.

And here is a nice chart from U.K. Polling Report summarizing the final polls:

There is simply no way to know for certain how this will shake out in terms of parliamentary seats. Nate Silver, whose site has done a great job following this election, offered this final seat projection:

David Cameron's Conservatives now project to win 308 seats in the House of Commons on Thursday, according to our latest projection model; this reflects a gain of 9 seats from the total of 299 that we had projected them at four days ago. Labor's projected total is barely changed -- 198 seats rather than 199 -- while Liberal Democrats now project to win 113 seats, down from 120 last week.

Nate has no peer in what he does, but from looking at other projections, I think Labor will win at least 20 or 25 seats more than that, and I’d put the Lib Dems under 100. Most of the projections I have seen are in Nate’s range for the Conservatives. Nate, careful and honest as always, makes a point of writing: “Bear in mind that our model methodology is controversial and unproven.” Obviously, if the polls showing a much smaller Conservative margin are closer to the mark, Labor could do quite a lot better, given their advantage in the way districts are drawn and how close some of these individual races could prove to be. Just a few points in the nationwide numbers could shift a lot of seats.

So I am done speculating, and we’ll just have to watch. Like you, I’m looking forward to election night.

By E.J. Dionne  | May 5, 2010; 6:39 PM ET
Categories:  Dionne  | Tags:  E.J. Dionne  
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… and a British election is all about what happens in the individual constituencies. It's going to be a very close-run thing, depending on which way a whole string of marginals go, where the outcome might be decided on by a handful of votes.

I'll be interested to see if there's a last-minute surge in votes for the Conservatives. As things stand, this is a disastrous result for them - even if they win! After 13 years of being in opposition and with a hugely unpopular Prime Minister to run against, they ought to be polling much better than this.

Posted by: davric | May 6, 2010 1:52 AM | Report abuse

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