"I've always voted Labour, but..." is a phrase I hadn't heard from voters on the doorstep for more than 20 years. But these words have been heard increasingly in recent weeks, especially on the doorsteps of Crewe and Nantwich.
When I lost my political virginity as a canvasser in the early 1980s, I heard it a lot, mostly from those living in council houses which Margaret Thatcher had enabled them to buy. Lifelong Labour supporters were realising that the Tories were giving them a chance to fulfil their aspirations.
Come 1997, Tony Blair appeared to be doing the same and so the same large group of voters - often referred to as C2s by sociologists - transferred their affections to him.
The fact that the Tories are now enjoying a 15 to 20 point lead in the opinion polls suggests that the C2s are returning to them in droves. If they weren't, it would be more or less impossible for David Cameron to attain the 43-45 per cent support that he now enjoys.
That's the good news. But where there is good news, a few clouds of bad are never far away.
The reasons for the shift of so-called Essex Man's and Worcester Woman's affections seem to reflect a growing anti-Labour feeling rather than a positive enthusiasm for the Tories. Does this matter? Well, yes: this support can evaporate just as soon as it arrived. The electorate is volatile and less tribal - and will transfer its affections at the drop of a hat.
The lesson for the Tories is that once you have attracted extra support, you must fight hard to retain it.
The boost in party fortunes is at least 80 per cent due to the lamentable performance of the Prime Minister and his government. What Mr Cameron needs to do over the next six months is fight to the political death to entrench the support of the C2s.
His speech earlier this week on "good housekeeping" and lower taxes sounded like a first salvo in the ground war.
His words reflected the anger out there over the rising cost of living, rising taxation and government waste. He used pseudo-Thatcherite language about "living within your means" to address voters directly who didn't realise he spoke their kind of language.
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