Will a royal baby affect the election?

My boss and I have had a running joke about how the royal birth could affect the general election if it is just a few days before – when would be the most decisive time etc. Well it has happened; baby Charlotte Elizabeth Diana was born on Saturday evening, only five days before the general election. So could it affect the outcome? And what might that effect be?

The obvious response is to say that if there is to be an impact it will be a boost for the Conservative party. They are the ones traditionally considered closest to Queen and Country, a surge in patriotism should serve them well. Such events also tend to increase optimism, something which should incline voters to vote for the incumbents.

There is however no precedent of this actually happening at such a pivotal moment in the media age so no one really knows the actual result. However, perhaps fortunately, it looks like the impact is likely to be pretty much zero. When Prince George was born just under two years ago it was labour who made marginal gains in the polls – but the lead stayed the same a week after the birth implying it was not the cause. Support did increase for UKIP after Prince George’s birth, but again it was small so we have little way of knowing if the royal birth was the cause.

 And the opinion polls are showing practically no change since Friday. Of course it is always possible the Conservatives (or someone else) would have had a sudden slump without the birth but this is extraordinarily unlikely.

Anthony Wells who works for Yougov assures us

Anthony Wells wrote:
The birth of Prince George had no discernible effect upon the polls, the Royal Wedding had no discernible effect. The Diamond Jubilee was followed by a couple of polls with a reduced Labour lead, but nothing that couldn’t have been normal sample variation. Events with direct relevance to the election normally have little or no effect on voting intention; the leaders debates had minimal effect, scandals and policy announcements normally have minimal effect. The idea that something with such a complete disconnect from the things that determine voting intention will have an impact is somewhat fanciful.

So no joy for anyone hoping such an event might shake things up.

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