As part of his speech today Nigel Farage showed off polling for various target seats. A couple of the polls were just the figures from previous Ashcroft polls that showed UKIP doing well, but three are Survation polls for UKIP that we haven’t seen before. They show UKIP well ahead in Boston & Skegness – on 46% to the Conservatives 26%, one point behind in Thanet North and on 37% to Labour’s 48% in Rotherham. Of course, polling conducted for political parties should be treated with a medium sized ocean of salt until you’ve see the tables with your own eyes (I’ll put up a link once Survation put the tabs up (UPDATE: here)), but the previous Survation polls for UKIP donor Alan Bown have used their standard methodology.

The polls got very brief attention as they were rapidly followed by Mark Reckless defecting to UKIP and precipitating a by-election in Rochester and Strood. Rochester and Strood probably won’t be the complete walk in the park for UKIP that polls have suggested in Clacton (Clacton’s demographics are absolutely perfect for UKIP and Carswell particularly well thought of). UKIP came top in Medway in the European elections, but that was hardly unusual and as an all-out unitary authority we have no recent local elections in Medway to judge from. The seat does not appear in Rob Ford and Matt Goodwin’s list of the most UKIP friendly Con seats. The unusual circumstances of a by-election though mean anything is possible – and from a national polling point of view, it keeps the UKIP bandwagon rolling, keeps them in the public eye, keeps the publicity coming, keeps them looking like a viable choice.

321 Responses to “Constituency polls and Rochester and Strood”

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  1. CHRIS

    @”Time to devote more time to politics.”

    Dear God-and that is what you endured slavery for ?

  2. “Of the high-profile Tories, Theresa May is the obvious choice.”

    The obvious choices rarely get picked.

  3. @ Bill,

    Fair point. It might be more accurate to say they have a mini-version of the Lib Dem problem, where everyone perceives them to be on the opposite side of the political spectrum from themselves? So the Bluekippers think the Conservatives are soft metropolitan liberals and on the other hand you’ve got BME voters still associating the party with Enoch Powell’s “Rivers of Blood” speech and Sarah Wollaston threatening to leave if they move any further right.

    @ Catmanjeff,

    I think Bill means it’s an impediment to people like us voting for them.

  4. @Colin

    Ashcroft’s recipe for Tory success seems to be a minority view within the Tory party. Like you he’s more of a right of centre centrist, with the Tory centre of gravity shifting towards UKIP.

  5. @RogerH: “There’s only a swing-back theory …”

    The scientist in me says “swing-back hypothesis”, surely – at least until it is shown to have both explanatory power and predictive value.

  6. @Spearmint

    Ah, okay.

    I would politely suggest that the Conservatives will be very unlikely to appeal to me.

    If they are trying woo voter like us, they are probably barking up the wrong tree.

    Empirical evidence points to the Swing Back hypothesis to be true.

    Tory Governments have a swing back to them in the run up to the GE. 1997, 1992, 1987, 1959, 1955 are some examples when they have done better on the real day of voting than they did in the polls seven months prior to the GE.

  8. @Chrislane1945

    So the null hypothesis is that there is no swingback. Can we disprove that with sufficient confidence? Although we don’t need to accept a 5 sigma threshold I don’t think that this even supports 1 sigma!

  9. @Floating / Postage

    “People just don’t like getting poorer.”

    I wonder if it might be more a case that while people can accept getting poorer from time to time, and in small amounts, they won’t accept it if the richest are sitting back, avoiding tax, and getting richer than they ought, if they paid their taxes?

  10. CatmanJeff –

    I very much doubt he is – this story earlier this year had a ring of truth to it:

    He’d only want the job so he could be Prime Minister, and by the next opportunity to do that he’d be 71 (and presumably he’d want to spend some time actually doing the job as well). That ship has sailed.

  11. AW

    Thank you for the link.

  12. @ Catmanjeff,

    Well, okay, not us us. But let’s say, Sarah Wollaston? Or Nick Clegg.

  13. @CHRISLANE1945

    “Empirical evidence points to the Swing Back hypothesis to be true.”

    At best, sometimes true. Add to the mix that polling companies all revised their methodologies post-’92 and that we have a coalition rather than a Tory government and that we have UKIP taking votes from the right without the LibDems taking votes from the left.

  14. @Anthony

    “You could be a bloody genius and if you don’t get a lucky break, it just doesn’t happen.”

    Very true.

  15. Re: “Employment rights for self-employed”.

    Yes, this is targeting the “Agency Model” of employment, where instead of being a direct employee, a firm instead contracts to agents. Thus side-stepping almost all employee protections.

    This used to be mainly used for high paying employees who didn’t care that they lost benefits they could easily afford themselves, when they were in a “sellers market” for their skills. However, it then took off in the building trade. Office temp agencies quickly took up the model, and from there it expanded into general data-entry staff and even customer support staff. Now it’s a factor in practically every branch of employment, from cleaners on up. It’s possible to entirely staff out your company, without only its board members on permanent salary.

    I do think they could have hammered this point home by explaining the toxic side of the agency model… But… That may well be part of reserving it as an issue to bring back up closer to may.

    Set it side by side with proposals to tackle Zero Hour contracts and you can present it as a whole “Employment Reform Package”. Possibly even including some reduction of employment rights for transient migrants as a sop to the “Everything has to be linked to Immigration!!!1!” voter.

  16. New thread

  17. Re: Reckless defection.

    This actually seems Reckless. While Clackton can only be a three horse race under the worst of situations for the Conservative Party, Rochester & Strood (nee Medway) was a marginal back in 2005. Reckless swung it around to “Safe Seat” through boundary review and convincing UKIP not to stand against him. With Labour back up to 2005 strength, and UKIP the pseudo-incumbent and strong challenger, this will return the seat to a target marginal.

    Again, this becomes another Must-Win by-election for the Conservatives. Based on the 2010 result, Labour can claim it was a safe right-wing seat if they lose, even if they come behind UKIP. UKIP will take what ever level of support they get here as “Showing that UKIP is a challenger to the Political Establishment”. Only the Conservatives are in the place where they can’t spin a loss as no big deal.

    My back-of-the-envelope guestimate is that Labour can get to between 34-38, based on a LibDem swing alone. So the Conservative can afford to lose no more than 15 points of support to UKIP.

    Of course, I await polling.

  18. “In it together” was a great slogan but when the public got the impression that it was just a slogan things turned sour quickly

  19. Spearmint,

    I think the general problem for the Tories is that a lot of groups (BME voters, WWC voters, Celtic voters of all stripes) see them as “Not looking out for people like us”. That is more of a problem for them than any individual policy, and I think it’s the fundamental problem behind the suspicion that ideologically polar opposites can both have for the party.

  20. Catmanjeff,

    Labour, the Guardian et al would LOVE to have a Conservative leader whom they could portray as a George Bush/Sarah Palin type.

  21. keeps them looking like a viable choice

    Or perhaps shows them to actually be a viable choice?

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