I blogged previously about a conference at which academics made predictions for potential election results based on a range of factors.
One of those factors was money.
It is possible, by looking at the Electoral Commission website, to see which constituency or local parties have received the most in donations in any particular quarter. Parties have to send this information in by law when donations are over a certain amount.
Election campaigns cost money. Election campaigns in seats which a party is hoping to win, or is defending hard, cost more money. So logically those local parties generating most in donations are those who are main players in tight contests.
It’s also the case that national party fundraising efforts will often focus on particular target seats. I know as a party member myself that requests for money are being made for some constituencies and not others.
So to test this thesis, let’s look at what everyone would agree is a marginal seat (Warrington South) and what everyone would agree is a safe seat (Bootle).
Warrington South, from 1 September until today, shows £15,000 of large donations coming in to two parties (Labour and Conservative). Bootle however shows no large donations to any party. Even if the searching reaches back to 2013, still no large donations appear.
Now of course it is possible that donations go to another part of a political party before being moved to a local account nearer the election. It may also be that some local parties are very active in fundraising terms, but the sums donated are small enough to be under the regular reporting radar. But even with these caveats, the contrast between Warrington South and Bootle is stark.
come cannot be a sole predictor. After all it’s not just what you’ve got, it’s what you do with it. But in an environment in which a ground campaign could make the difference, the capacity to campaign, and the preparation to do that, is significant.