This week end saw British and French conservative candidates go down to embarrassing defeats. In both instances, if the main parties had held on to conservative base voters they would have won by comfortable margins. Smaller, more ideological parties siphoned crucial votes away from Cameron and Sarkozy. In the weeks, before the run-off vote Sarkozy desperately tried to win back conservative voters he had ignored during his term in office. This last ditch effort came up short.
In England, the Tories lost local elections throughout the country including in a slew of traditional Conservative constituencies. The only significant Tory victory came in London’s race for Mayor. The incumbent, Boris Johnson beat the far left former Mayor Ken Livingstone. Commenting on his victory Johnson said he had survived even though he had received the endorsement of Prime Minister Cameron. This slap in the face was not appreciated in Number 10 Downing Street.
In the response to this debacle, Conservative ministers called for a return to conservative principles.
One might say that these votes were a classic throw out the bums reaction, but the London Mayoralty did show an incumbent can win in tough economic times.
A more important lesson to be learned is that conservative voters can not be taken for granted. Turn your back on them enough times and they will abandon you on Election Day.