After a long and tight battle, what did we learn about how the major parties fought for your vote?
At least four months of General Election campaigning finally wraps up today as voters have their say.
If we’re lucky, the lull might last until winter, by which point, as Nick Clegg predicts, we might be back in this mess.
Looking back, there have been clear strategic failings, and successes, from Labour and the Conservatives.
For Labour, the core vote plan has backfired horrendously. If you watch any of the Ed Miliband Q&A sessions held by Labour in various key seats, you will be familiar with the comfort zone Mr Miliband inhabits.
Typically there will be questions on benefits and how hard things are as a result of the bedroom tax or some other slight against those without a job or on low income. For Mr Miliband, this is proof his moral crusade is right, that people are keen to hear his commitment to fight for the vulnerable.
David Cameron gets asked these questions as well. His answer is quite different. Instead of trying to defend a policy, he tells you that the solution to your problem is a job. Create the conditions for job creation and you can help yourself. With Mr Miliband the solution is always government.
The Labour campaign has also failed to motivate anyone but labour party members over the NHS. In the mid 90s there was scare story after story of NHS failings. Not there are statistics stories about waiting times and a Labour threat that things will get worse. Most voters haven’t experienced the crisis-hit NHS Labour says is there.
When it comes to Labour successes during the campaign, Mr Miliband has been a Labour plus point. The Conservatives thought they could use his gawky image to put of voters, but in fact, at almost every opportunity to show leadership and defend his record Mr Miliband has preformed far better than expectations.
Except once. The Question Time event showed Mr Miliband’s best rabbit in the headlights impression as he came up against voters who didn’t care what he thought about the bedroom tax, they wanted to know if their jobs would be safe under a Labour government, and they left none the wiser.
For the Conservatives, the campaign has showed the highs and lows of message discipline. Jobs and the economy and deficit and debt and all the stuff we thought was broke but now looks fixed.
The Tories have never even pretended they were interested in answering any question without a jobs-based answer. And the message has got through. Voters trust the Tories on the economy. The problem with such a message, is that it fails to inspire.
You’re not asking people to vote for a better world, just the one they have right now, and the hope that they will be put off by Mr Miliband’s soon to be mates in the SNP.
With two very uninspiring campaign messages, it is easy to see why this election may not be the last one in 2015.