1) Theresa May’s honeymoon is well and truly over
Back at the start of this election campaign, I mooted the idea that the enormous Tory poll leads were unrealistic – a peak moment of Theresa May’s long honeymoon with the voters. After a week of manifesto chaos and sliding poll numbers, it is definitely over. Suddenly commentators are even likening her inept campaigning skills to Gordon Brown. Ouch!
The <strong>dementia tax</strong> and subsequent humiliating u-turn is unlikely to prevent her returning to Downing Street but, along with other manifesto mis-steps discussed on Friday, it has very much taken the shine off. Once journalists and opponents sense weakness, they attack in herds. It is often forgotten that Brown was once ‘Prudence’, the ‘Iron Chancellor’, even the ‘Father of the Nation’. It took about a month of relatively banal mistakes for the reputation he’d built over a decade to disintegrate. The current PM may be a couple more bad interviews – Question Time next week will be challenging – away from unravelling.
2) Huge majority expectations must be scaled back
The campaign has been transformed and, with it, expectations. When they were 20% up, it made sense for the Tories to venture into deep Labour territory, in pursuit of an historic majority. Previously 150-174 was clear favourite in our Size of Conservative Majority market. Now it is 100-124 and on the current trajectory, even lower bands could soon become the most likely.
These recent polls will bring them back to earth, in realisation that lesser targets and even defences may require a lot more attention. As May keeps reminding us, a net loss of six seats would deny the Tories a majority. Suddenly, they can’t take that majority for granted. The odds about No Overall Majority have shortened from 36.0 to 10.0.