What follows is my current view on how this will shake out – subject to change as we approach E-day (8 June).
The Conservatives’ campaign is fairly straightforward: “We, and we alone, are the best chance the 52% has to get what it wants.” All the subplots in the Tory campaign – “coalition of chaos,” insistence that the Liberal Democrats and the SNP will prop up Jeremy Corbyn as PM (a line which got some unexpected help from a Labour source talking to the Daily Mirror), the quest for northern Labour seats to flip, etc. – will feed into this 52% strategy. To American observers, aiming for 52% sounds dicey, but in the UK, no one party has scored 52% of the vote since 1935, and even then it was as part of a larger coalition. The last time a political party won 52% or more while asking to govern on its own, Disraeli and Gladstone were still alive (and indeed, the latter became Prime Minister again as a result). Of course, that means winning over UKIP and Labour Leave voters, but polls are showing that some of both are moving to the Tories (with the caveat that UK polling has unique problems that should be taken into account). I don’t expect all of them to do so, however.
The Liberal Democrats have an equally simple message: “We, and we alone, are the voice of the other 48%.” Again, that may sound strange to Americans, but the Liberals haven’t seen 48% since 1906 – and even they know they won’t come near it again. What they can do is peel off Remain voters from the Conservatives and from Labour, and I suspect that will succeed much better than anticipated, especially in places where Lib Dems won in 2010.
The other parties are all over the map, except being anti-Tory. Nationalists and Labour are having a hard time squaring their pro-EU preferences with a party base that is clearly divided. The SNP may be able to avoid this based on Scotland’s campaign being focused on independence (although some SNP Leavers are probably anti-Labour voters who could find the Tories acceptable where they’re competitive). Corbyn and his team are already at cross-purposes over the subject, and the solution onto which they’ve latched appears to be anonymous leaks and spokesman speaking out of both sides of their mouths while the actual candidates say nothing of value (see the aforementioned Mirror piece).
Finally, it’s too soon for Northern Ireland Unionists to recover from their self-inflicted wounds, so expect them to lose their majority in MPs (keep in mind, the Alliance Party, while largely a competitor for Protestant Unionist votes in NI, is officially neutral on the Dublin vs. London question).
All in all, I see big trouble ahead for Labour, UKIP fading, but the Liberal Democrats charging forward (and the SNP largely holding their 2015 bushel of MPs). My projection, for now, is…
Conservative: 355 (+25 from 2015), Majority of 60
Labour: 169 (-63)
Scottish National Party: 55 (-1)
Liberal Democrat: 48 (+40)
Democratic Unionist Party (NI, pro-London): 6 (-2)
Sinn Fein (NI, pro-Dublin): 5 (+1)
Plaid Cymru (Welsh nationalists): 3 (No Change)
SDLP (NI, soft pro-Dublin): 3 (NC)
Alliance (NI, neutral): 2 (+2)
Ulster Unionist Party (NI, pro-London): 1 (-1)
Green: 1 (NC)
Independent (NI, pro-London): 1 (NC)
Speaker: 1 (NC)
UKIP: 0 (-1)
As I said, that’s subject to change (and I expect it will be changed before the big day).