Wisdom is easy after the event. So here before the results of the Ed Davey versus Jo Swinson contest are announced is how various pieces of evidence are looking.
Liberal Democrat Newswire survey
Points to: A Jo Swinson victory in the vicinity of 60%-40%.
Caveats: In the last contested leadership race, the LDN survey was very accurate, but even so this is not a full opinion poll with all the rigour and safeguards that go with that.
Harry Samuels informal poll
Points to: A Jo Swinson victory by 54%-46%.
Caveats: Nearly as accurate as the LDN survey in the last leadership contest, but again runs the risks of self-selecting participants and a skewed sample.
Reports of leaked postal vote data
Points to: Claimed in the media to show the contest as almost 50:50 with Swinson only just ahead but Davey with enough momentum that he might win.
Caveats: One reason cited to doubt these figures is that no postal votes have been counted yet. That is true but… because of the tight turnaround between the postal vote deadline and the result announcement I understand that some processing of the postal vote paperwork has started. And as anyone familiar with such sessions should know, it often is possible to get a good idea of relative vote shares long before formal counting commences. That said, there is still a big caveat: postal votes are often very different from votes cast by other means, not only in public elections but also, for example, in a previous Lib Dem presidential contest (where figures for online and postal voting were published separately). If, as the data from the LDN survey and Harry Samuels polls suggests, Davey is doing better the older members are, then it’s quite plausible both for him to be on nearly 50% in the postal and to be losing by a comfortable margin. Or if he has momentum then a final flurry of last-minute electronic voting may have him running even higher and winning. We will soon know…
Liberal Reform newsletter survey
Points to: Davey being ahead of Swinson 50%-43% amongst readers
Caveats: Are readers of a Liberal Reform publication (even though it is not restricted to its members) typical of the wider membership?
Google search trends
Points to: As was the case prior to the leadership contest, Jo Swinson continues to attract more Google searches from people wanting to find out more than Ed Davey. The ratio is 4:3.
Caveats: There’s a large field of study covering many topics looking at when Google search trends data does or does not track what is happening in the offline world. It doesn’t always.
Points to: Davey is (now) spending more on Facebook advertising (£1,130 to £0 for the last seven day) along with, judging by reports, posting more leaflets than the Swinson campaign.
Caveats: Not all campaign activity is fully and objectively trackable and doing the most campaigning does not automatically lead to victory.
We’ll know on Monday afternoon how well or badly each of these possible measures has performed…
UPDATE: The Liberal Democrat Newswire survey did pretty well.
The 2019 Lib Dem leadership election is being covered by me both in podcast form with Stephen Tall in Never Mind The Bar Charts (subscribe here) and in email newsletter form with Liberal Democrat Newswire (sign up here).