Tomorrow, I am going to cast my vote in the 2010 general election. Then, I am going to sit up half the night watching the results come in. I will console myself in sorrow by drinking a decent wine of some sort. Which uncannily will be the same way I toast any unexpected good news.

There was a time, let us call it 1997, when I loved elections. In the elections since then a combination of no serious opposition and some fairly brutal disillusionment has left me less enthused. The 2001 election found me in Amsterdam, going to bed early. In 2005, I sat up and watched the results, but found little to savour.

This one though is different. No matter what the result, the process has regained its thrill as a spectator sport. In 1992 the opinion pollsters ended up seriously embarrassed. Not so in the intervening visits to the ballot box. But a combination of things makes this one hard to call. There have boundary changes, meaning a number of new constituencies have appeared. These have no history and so all parties can claim nobody knows how they will fall. Or at least that’s the story. In my own neighbourhood of Hampstead and Kilburn (described as “the home of the chattering classes and the liberal intelligentsia.” Doesn’t look quite so much like that from the Kilburn end of it where I live), both the Tories and Labour are proclaiming the LibDems ‘can’t win here’ despite independent estimates (and not just those favoured by the LibDems) suggesting it is a LibDem/Labour marginal.

Then there is of course the Clegg effect. It might be a glorious triumph for democracy and an indictment of the way the two main parties have acted to squeeze out their competitor, or it might be something more depressing. Politics is a beauty contest for ugly people, and many studies suggest our decisions about how to vote are made with our heads firmly not screwed on. Clegg is new, and he is not Brown or Cameron. He has an easy way with a TV camera in much the same way that Brown, for instance, has a difficult way with a TV camera. In fact Brown seems to have a difficult way with any form of communication.

And there is tactical voting. In 1997, it drove the Tories to an historic low ebb. Will it do the same for Labour now? Or will it do something weirder. Tactical voting is a bit of game theory in practice. What you get will depend on the actions of others. And the actions of others will depend on your actions in the form of the preferences you have communicated to them before the election. This is one of the ways the 1992 result was so off – nobody would admit to voting Tory, but nonetheless still went out and did it. There might have been a different result if people had appreciated that Major had a real chance of winning. The results of tactical voting will depend crucially on the accuracy of the information communicated. I know people who don’t know which way to vote in supposed marginal’s because the Clegg effect has shifted perceptions so much they don’t know who is in second place.

I suspect that people are more likely so say that they are going to vote LibDem than actually go out and do it. So my own money is on a slim Conservative majority, or the Tories being the largest party in a hung parliament. For us science types at least Cameron was the only leader to mention science during the televised debates. That said, I wouldn’t hold out great hopes for funding given the economic climate. On the other hand, when the alternative is Peter Mandelson preferring science that is good for business you have the feeling of two gamboling demons proclaiming they are the lesser evil.

This last government has not covered itself in glory when it comes to science. Indeed, it has shown a marked tendency to brush inconvenient scientific advice under the carpet (eg here). Alan Johnson as home secretary has obviously preferred to get his science advice in the form of updates downloaded from the Sun rather than professional scientists who might disagree with him.

However that’s not to say I would welcome a good Tory showing, if only (and it’s not only) because it will probably scupper any chance of electoral reform. First past the post produces a house of commons of a political complexion wildly out of kilter with that of the country. Before people start banging on about coalitions, let me offer you the case of Germany. Look at the German GDP, look at how they came out of recession before the UK. Look at the history of coalition governments.  In fact, if you check out those countries with tip top AAA credit ratings, you’ll see that most of them enjoy some form of proportional representation and coalition governments. Just saying.

Naturally I’m not going to tell you how to vote.  But do vote.