Henley voters go to the polling booth on Thursday, not that you would know it. Maybe it is because it is a safe seat, maybe because the candidates are doing nothing outrageous, but it is not on the media radar. But the candidates are not exactly striving for national media attention as was the case in Crewe & Nantwich. Conservative favourite John Howell's campaign is embedded within the local Conservatives' site and hinges around a video of him talking about his local-ness and how his concerns are those of the people he seeks to represent. LibDem Stephen Kearney offers similar selling points on his page of the Henley party site, but also opportunities to interact via Facebook and Twitter. Labour's Richard MacKenzie seems to have given up, the party page for him was last updated on 5th June announcing his selection.
The local paper takes a similarly subdued approach, it recognises visits from both David Cameron and Nick Clegg but for them the two Miss World contestants get more attention, though all the candidates, Cameron and Clegg have been interviewed by the newspaper and videos are on the site. But what it seems to lack is any real sense of a contest, the attitude is clear: this seat will not change hands so effort is minimal. Now this makes perfect sense in terms of preserving the campaign funds. But it should also lead to lower turnout and lower interest locally. Research on local voting suggests that voters need a reason to vote, and being asked to and made to feel important are both key to turnout. If effort and asking online equates to the same on the street, which is impossible to tell, Kearney seems most active while Howell is second. That is not going to be the result but if voters are mobilised by effort and there is a link then the LibDem vote could increase proportionately.