Obama’s victory last year was based on data management, many field offices and keen volunteers. The ground war was won.
The Lib Dems in Eastleigh had superb data management (based on decades of election work), very keen volunteers and unbelievably slick organisation. I had loads of messages and encouragement to go down to Eastleigh. At 6pm today I was tweeted to ask if I could stay on for another hour. I did. The level of organisation was, unbelievably, a notch or two above normal for a by-election. Absolutely slick and fantastic.
On the other hand, we should not under-estimate the impact of the Tories’ electoral data company going into administration halfway through the campaign, sending their voter system down the swanee at least temporarily with, no doubt, a struggle to recover. Add to that the fact that they didn’t have very good data coverage in the first place. I saw a Tory volunteer today wondering around an estate like a fart in a colander. He knocked up one or two houses in an hour. Pathetic.