Election 2015: What to look out for in last 48 hours of campaign

Nick Clegg Image copyright PA
Image caption Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg is launching a "two-day dash" from Land's End to John O'Groats

After a seemingly endless election campaign there are just two frenetic days left before voters decide who should be given the keys to Number Ten. It's certainly a nail-biting time for the exhausted political classes.

The party spin doctors will be on high alert, shepherding their political charges from one campaign event to another in the last hours. Nothing like a last-minute mistake, big or small - an unscripted phrase, a real or perceived policy misstep, an embarrassing TV moment - to undo all the weeks of hard campaigning.

Everyone will be scrutinising the polls - the public ones and their own private polling - for signs of movement in their favour. So far, the two main parties, the Conservatives and Labour, have been pretty much level-pegging and neither has managed to pull ahead, not decisively anyway.

All the parties will be looking for even the smallest sign of a bounce in their favour. The smallest shift will be hailed as conclusive. No joy so far, with the polls stubbornly pointing to a hung parliament. But the polls can be wrong. Just as important though is the fact that a few last-minute swings in key marginal seats could change the overall electoral picture dramatically.

No more rabbits

For an election campaign that has been criticised by some for being overly cautious, with senior politicians seemingly reluctant to meet real voters or say or do anything unscripted, the next two days promises more of the same: the endless repetition of the same tried and trusted phrases and messages. There are no more rabbits to be pulled out of the hat in terms of policy.

It's now a case of hammering home the message that the campaign managers have decided is the one that will convince the voters to get on side. Be prepared for more carefully crafted attacks on other leaders, with just enough wriggle room not to turn off undecided voters. And stand by for ever more lurid warnings from each party leader about the dangerous consequences of voting for someone else.

The party leaders will be putting in the air miles over the last 48 hours or so. No part of the country will be immune from a last-minute campaign stop. Watch out for which leader goes where. That will give some small, possibly telling, clue about the state of each party's campaign. Any part of the country they're ignoring is either lost and not worth the effort, or it's in the bag.

Everything to play for

The next couple of days are not just about election night itself. Not in today's political landscape.

Watch out for the big political messages about what might happen on the morning after the vote, the arguments that have already begun about who will talk to whom and about what, the so-called red lines, say the cynics, that may not be red lines in the cold light of day, and who has the "legitimacy" to do what and so on.

This is now as important as anything else, given the new dispensation in which no single political party is necessarily guaranteed a majority. The campaign teams will be working hard to ensure that they frame the news narrative for the day after the result, because if the polls are right there's everything to play for in the immediate hours and days after the election.

Party managers will want to define what constitutes victory for their man or woman, and dictate the post-election agenda before someone else does.