The biggest interest in this election, for election nerds like us, is not if the Greens can take control or even if a bizarre ConDem pact can seize control of City Hall - but just what will the City election results be without the UEA student voting?
Don't for a moment believe this is limited to just University Ward itself - these days students impact greatly in Bowthorpe, Nelson, Town Close, Wensum and to a lesser extent in Sewell, Thorpe Hamlet and Eaton too. I know that turnout isn't great (where is at local election time) but when the student vote is so Green-Lib leaning, could their absence leave the Tories smiling and Labour frustrated?
You see, UEA automatically registers all first year student on campus - but now they've gone. So the politically motivated learners have to get postal votes or tramp back to their common rooms to vote at a time when the university isn't even open for the new term. Similarly those who have moved off site seem unlikely to have registered yet. Third years who were registered may have buggered off, never to return (let alone to vote). Basically there is a UEA student shaped hole in canvass sheets across the City.
So what of the impact then? Well, it should make Bowthorpe safe for the Tories (a cheer from OGH there?) and also University safe for Labour, where Bert Bremner's opposition tends to come from campus. It will dent the Green majorities in Wensum and Nelson but not so far as the wards could be lost (although the Green candidate in Wensum - who served one year as Mancroft Councillor then quit doesn't inspire confidence). The most interested impact may be in Town Close, where the Greens had 42% to the LibDems 24% and Tory 20% last time. Without the student vote in the Golden Triangle, that may just be closer than it seems.
So, as I said, a game for political nerds that we leave us pouring over the exact stats on 10th September, but for what its worth I don't think the lack of student votes will actually tip any wards whatsoever. It'll make some safer, some less so but I don't see any of the big student area seats changing hands ... yet.
The author is a volunteer who responded to my previous request for articles. He is not a member of any political party (at the moment) but wishes to remain, in the spirit of these posts, anonymous.