Mayor Election 2016: Who is going to win the mayoral election?
Election fever is upon us, ladies and gentlemen. The leaflets are falling through the letterboxes, the activists are braving the rain to knock on door after door and that big black box with a cross on top has been positioned in the middle of Cabot Circus.
But forget all the election promises and manifesto pledges that are filling your recycling box and Facebook feed – as exciting as they are – and take a step aside with us to look at who is the most likely winner come May 5.
Firstly, this is a two-horse race. Despite what the Lib Dems told you when they knocked last week, there is no #LibDemFightback. Not here. Not in this mayoral election.
But who are behind the faces? Well, the Labour Party have far more resources and willing party members as campaigners. They are not just calling on every Labour councillor and council candidate fighting all 70 seats in Bristol to shout for Marvin, they have also had regular visits from the top brass, including two so far from Jeremy Corbyn himself.
So it’s George against the Dragon? Not quite. Ferguson has his supporters, although they may seem a little quieter. He also has the money to fight the Labour machine. His last campaign cost £50,000. This time, he has turned to crowdfunding for an extra boost.
However, his odds have lengthened from 1-3 to 2-5 while Rees’ odds have shortened from 3-1 to 7-4.
Odds shmodds! Last time around, Ferguson was 10-1 on the day before the election and ended up winning by a comfortable margin.
Plus, odds and polling data didn’t prove very helpful at the last election, where the Tories ignored all the predictions and took control. And then look at Jeremy Corbyn who was 200-1 to become the next Labour leader.
So, on that note, we should all put a bet on Mayor Festus Kudehinbu, the Nigeria-born taxi driver from St Paul’s who is currently 200-1. Go on, put a fiver on…
After the first and second preference votes were both counted in 2012, George won by about 6,000 votes.
Granted, the turnout was very poor at just under 28 per cent, leaving him with a mandate from about 12 per cent of the population of Bristol.
Since then, the Labour Party has extended its grip of the council chamber and are now the largest party with 30 of 70 seats. And since the last General Election, three of the four Bristol MPs are Labour.
But it’s probably important to remember that Labour suffered a major disappointment overall in the General Election.
George’s voters are thought to be in the wealthier wards across Bristol; think Henleaze, Redland, Clifton and Southville – where the turnout last time was higher than average.
Labour’s traditional heartland, meanwhile, is on the fringes of Bristol; think Filwood, Hartcliffe, Bishopsworth – where the turnout was well below average last time around.
The above map created by The Bristol Cable gives you a hint at what we’re on about. Labour will need the turnout to be high to be in with a good chance of winning.
There have been some pretty shockingly unshocking public backing of George by current and former Green Party members over the last few months.
A total of nine have loudly chosen to defect to the mayor’s camp, saying he is the only man who can keep Rees out of office.
But underneath this very public embarrassment for the Green Party there may be a deeper current.
The Tories don’t much like Labour either (I know, who’d have thought?). And there are quite a few Tories in Bristol (just over 8,000 voted for the party’s candidate last time around).
See what we’re getting at? Yes, that’s right, tactical voting is likely to come into play and quite probably in George’s favour.
The incumbency factor
He’s introduced parking restrictions, speed limits, sacked council staff and closed care homes. All populist policies.
But on top of that there is another thing going for this guy; the incumbency factor.
It is said by some people sometimes that the incumbent has the advantage as he or she is recognised and trusted in the seat of power.
However, this didin’t work out so well for the Lib Dems at the General Election last year and there are no guarantees.
The Corbyn factor
Labour’s membership has risen in the UK by almost 200,000 since the General Election last year and the party has been thus reshaped by its new supporters.
One of the highests increases outside of London was recorded in Bristol, where support for the new leader has been visibly strong on his recent visits to the city.
All the Labour top brass have swooped into Bristol to be pictured with Marvin campaigning, knocking on doors and generally fighting the fight for their man in Bristol.
And then there are the Greens. Some analysts believe that the rise of Jeremy Corbyn and the return of the left to Labour has eaten into the Green Party’s support.
However, with many Greens already publicly backing George, it might be a question of which way do all the rest turn?
Ah, the weather. The great British weather. You can forget all your tactical analysis, your expert opinion or your computer algorithms – the most important factor, as usual, might just be the forecast.
Labour supporters don’t brave the rain or cold so much, according to some theorists. Tories will come out whatever the weather, apparently.
And as for George? Well, given he is in charge of all Bristol, his best bet is to summon the rain clouds if he wants an easy waltz back into office.