A massive victory for the Tories and Brexit if it’s accurate, and almost certainly the end of the Corbyn era for Labour. Aces all around.
To put this in perspective, the Conservatives won 317 seats in the last election in 2017. They need 326 for a majority. At the moment they have 298 seats with Labour second at 242, which is why they’re holding an election: Parliament’s deadlocked over Brexit, with neither side able to muster the votes it needs to pass it or scrap it.
Unless there’s been a massive — massive — error in the exit polling, that’s about to change dramatically.
BORIS FREEDOM pic.twitter.com/zkHZkhmUZd
— Seth Mandel (@SethAMandel) December 12, 2019
In an era when all Anglo-American elections seem to be close-run things, with neither side able to durably and decisively defeat the other, that number is a legit shocker. It’d be the biggest Conservative Parliamentary majority since 1987 if the exit poll is dead on. And the UK would almost certainly leave the EU as scheduled, by January 31.
Could the exit poll be wrong? Sure, but…
How wrong would the exit poll need to be for conservatives to fall short of a majority?
Well, it would need to be the worst result since the first BBC exit poll
And fwiw they've been doing quite well recently pic.twitter.com/6lFyhOf19M
— Nate Cohn (@Nate_Cohn) December 12, 2019
…apart from the crazy 61-seat miss in 1974, no exit poll has missed so badly that the Tories would be denied a majority tonight if this new exit poll misses just as badly. That is, even if it’s as far off as the 1987 poll was, missing by 38 seats, the Conservatives would still have a governing majority of 330.
A genuine political earthquake in the Anglosphere is shaping up. Stand by for updates.
Update: Vultures circling for Corbyn:
That would be the worst Labour result since 1935
— Sam Freedman (@Samfr) December 12, 2019
Update: This is a good point:
The bigger issue here is that the SNP will almost certainly move for a referendum if these numbers hold, and I don't see a path for a Labour majority in this generation if Scotland bolts.
— David Dayen (@ddayen) December 12, 2019
“SNP” is “Scottish National Party.” If left-wing Scotland leaves the UK, how does Labour find a majority coalition for a left-wing government?
Update: It could be a long night if you’re waiting around to see whether returns back up the exit poll. According to election-watcher Jeff Blehar, the battleground seats won’t be counted until later this evening.
Update: Jokes are already trickling in on Twitter about tomorrow’s pundit hot takes that Corbyn’s crushing defeat means Democrats should nominate a moderate. Is that really a hot take, though? Some Democratic voters are bound to view a Corbyn-led Labour wipeout as a visit from the Ghost of Christmas Future and shudder. Biden’s bound to benefit to some degree, albeit probably small, at Bernie’s expense. And John is certainly right about this: “If Corbyn had won a surprise victory, lots of people would be confidently touting it as proof that moving far left is the only way to go.” Not even a victory — any sort of improvement on Labour’s 2017 numbers would have been treated by American progressives as smoking-gun proof that Sanders is electable.
Update: Yeah, Corbyn’s done:
Labour source: “Any attempt to blame this on Brexit is folly. The one thing that came up time and time again from voters – Corbyn. Whether that was his support of the IRA, his antisemitism or limited grasp of economics. He was the problem.”
— Lewis Goodall (@lewis_goodall) December 12, 2019
There’s still plenty of opposition to Brexit among British public opinion. A wipeout like this is due to the losing party being deemed utterly unfit to govern.
Update: Is there a chance that Conservatives will do even better than the exit poll? Seems hard to believe, but look again at Cohn’s tweet above and you’ll see that their numbers were lowballed by exit polls in the last two elections.
Update: Ed reminds me that Tony Blair warned three months ago that Corbyn’s radicalism was steering Labour towards disaster. Blairite centrism is about to get a second look.
Update: This analysis noting how the Tories’ base in the UK has begun to track with the Trump-era GOP’s base in the U.S. is worth your time.
For decades, British politics were understood largely in class terms, with Labour the natural party of working-class voters and Conservatives generally banking on the support of more affluent voters. Now, the Conservatives’ support is growing in whiter, poorer areas outside the affluent southeast. In parts of the country once dominated by heavy industry, the links between workers, organized labor and the Labour Party have grown weaker. Memories of the miners’ strike, a brutal showdown between Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government and the National Union of Miners in the 1980s, have faded in communities that not so long ago seemed inoculated against voting Tory. Labour, meanwhile, is set to become the party of the cities, solidifying its base in built-up areas while hoping to make inroads in suburbs and commuter towns that were once safely Tory but are becoming younger more ethnically diverse.
As the average Labour voter gets younger and better off and is more likely to have a college degree and more likely to be nonwhite, the party starts to resemble Democrats more closely. For Conservatives, the party’s base is trending older and whiter, compared with national demographics, and is less likely than the rest of the electorate to have a college degree. This will ring a bell to observers of the Republican Party in recent years.
Update: There may be more good news from tonight’s results:
Another wrinkle: the Liberal Democrats – the wokest of them all – collapsed. Their leader Jo Swinson couldn't say what she believes a woman is. She may even lose her seat. Great victory against the "social justice" cult.
— Andrew Sullivan (@sullydish) December 12, 2019
Update: Here come the returns, and early signs are good:
Conservatives win Blyth Valley for the first time in history. It has never gone Conservative. Labout have won it every election since its creation in 1950. It sure looks like the blowout is on. #GE2019
— Varad Mehta (@varadmehta) December 12, 2019