British elections have everything U.S. elections don't: a rollicking monthlong campaign sprint, contested parliamentary districts and accurate exit polls. Last week's vote returned Prime Minister Tony Blair and his Labor Party to power for a historic third term but with a shrunken majority after a bruising public debate over Blair's support for the war in Iraq. It was also a referendum on the chattering classes' ability to peer into the clouded political future of America's closest foreign ally. Here's how some pundits performed.
37% for the center-left Labor Party, 33% for the Conservatives, and 22% for the antiwar Liberal Democrats
--Results of May 5 BBC exit poll (Actual tally: 35%, 32%, 22%)
"We are going to finish with Blair once and for all. It will be quite easy. There is no doubt about that."
--Maurice Saatchi, Conservative Party joint chairman
"What I think we are seeing is support for the Conservatives disappearing like snow off a dike, support for us coming up and Labor very badly rattled by the Lib Dem challenge in the closing stages."
--Charles Kennedy, Liberal Democrat leader
"It may well be an omen.... and I'm confident [Conservatives] will see the same result."
--Michael Howard, Conservative leader and fan of the Liverpool soccer team, referring to the team's upset victory on May 3
"[The election] will be a moment for Labor to deal with something for which the party's current generation may be ill-equipped: the experience of defeat."
--Martin Kettle, columnist for the left-leaning Guardian
"This election has the feel of 1992 about it, when the polls were proved wrong and the Conservatives emerged triumphant."
--Chris Moncrieff, veteran journalist and political analyst
"Labor will win the election with a reduced majority in the House of Commons."
--Prediction of six psychics on Your Destiny, a cable TV show
103-seat majority for Labor
--The final preelection prediction of UK-Elect, an election forecast service that predicted Labor's 2001 victory margin to within two seats. (Labor's majority in last week's election was about 65 seats.)
"Something mighty strange is about to happen.... The public believe in large numbers that Tony Blair is a liar.... And yet the
pollsters tell us that this same electorate is about to vote Labor back."
--Melanie Phillips, columnist for the conservative Daily Mail
-- Allison Hoffman