Winchester is a county constituency in the South of England.
It has a three star target rating for Lib Dems at an upcoming General Election.
For remain-motivated voters Winchester offers a fair chance of a remain outcome – by voting Lib Dem to defeat the Conservatives there.
There is also almost no risk that voting Lib Dem will increase the chances of an accidental leave outcome.
For voters unable to support Lib Dems on conscience, but keen to still deliver “outcomes” other than a Conservative MP, please consider the following options:
Remain-motivated voters: Campaign for nearby Southampton Itchen’s Labour candidate could help Labour win this very marginal Labour v Conservative constituency. The candidate – Simon Letts – likely supports the Labour position of a referendum.
Labour-motivated voters: Nearby Southampton Itchen is among the highest target seats for Labour, so needs Labour campaigners to keep this seat from the Conservatives.
Green-motivated voters: No neighbouring seat is high on the Green target list, but Brighton Pavillion not far away and this “safe” Green Party seat should not be taken for granted and needs Green campaigners to ensure it is held.
Why Winchester is a Three Star Lib Dem Target
Based on our criteria (read here) the following five factors are key:
Narrowness of 2017 defeat
In 2017, Lib Dems came second to the Conservatives by 17.5% (9,999 votes).
This is not quite within the margin of their uplift in polls since then – and so will require other factors to strengthen the Lib Dem outcome here. But it is within the combined Lib Dem uplift and Conservative downturn in polls since then.
Lack of rivals
In 2017, Labour came third with 10.5%. That was 24.0% behind the second place Lib Dems.
This means a split “opposition” vote is a risk, but the lack of realistic chance of Labour winning can aid tactical voting for Lib Dems.
Remain 2016 counts
In 2016, Remain won Winchester by 60.36% to 39.64% .
This means a pro-remain campaign will likely go down well in this pro-remain seat.
Steve Brine MP (Conservative) recently voted in the Commons in favour of blocking “no deal”.
This might have made him a strong opponent for the Lib Dems – unable to cast him as a hardline brexit supporter in a firmly remain seat.
However, he was then expelled from the Conservative Party – presumably to be replaced with a candidate likely to be very strongly pro-brexit and “no deal”, which would aid the Lib Dem campaign.
Steve Brine has also signalled he may stand as an independent Conservative. This would likely split the Conservative vote somewhat, but also draw some anti-Tory votes away from the Lib Dems.
Brexit Party standing
The Brexit Party has not announced its candidate, but has not announced it will pass over Winchester either.
Presumption is they will stand – potentially attracting otherwise Conservative voters – but we will update when more is known.