Lord Ashcroft has released a new poll of Rochester and Strood. Topline figures are CON 32%, LAB 17%, LDEM 2%, UKIP 44%, Others 5%. This is a narrower UKIP lead than the ComRes and Survation polls at the end of October, but still enough for a comfortable UKIP win (especially since the poll was conducted at about the time postal votes were going out, so opportunities for people to change their mind are now fading).

Ashcroft also asked about how people would vote in Rochester and Strood come the general election, and found a substantial contrast. The figures aren’t exactly comparable since Ashcroft didn’t do likelihood to vote at the general election or reallocate don’t knows, but it suggests around a one or two point Conservative lead in general election voting intention amongst those giving a voting intention – hence raising the possibility of Mark Reckless winning his by-election, but losing his seat next May. Full tabs are here.

131 Responses to “New Ashcroft poll of Rochester & Strood”

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  1. @AC

    “Another Labour lead of 1% but presumably it has been rounded off so it’s really probably 0.75% again.”

    Why speculate? Do the maths and you’ll find that the lead’s about 1.3% today..

  2. “Another Labour lead of 1% but presumably it has been rounded off so it’s really probably ”
    “Why speculate? Do the maths and you’ll find that the lead’s about 1.3% today..”

    It’s always been rounded off as there is a margin of error of 2-3%. Speculating about what it be if it was more precise is silly, but so is calculating what it would be if it was more precise. Polls of this size simply aren’t that precise, and cannot be made so. The lead is 1 point.

  3. According to the DT, Labour voters choosing to vote tactically in Rochester and use Ukip as a vehicle to embarrass the Tories represents Labour weakness.
    If the Tories genuinely believe that, they’re barking mad.

    The levels of spinning which the right of centre press have conducted this parliament have been heroic. The 2014 budget was a masterstroke which had won the tories the election…except there was practically no bounce. the 2014 elections were disastrous for labour, even though labour won 300 council seats, and the euros were the first time the tories had ever come 3rd.

    Rochester will be trumpeted as a sign of labour failure, even though the tories will have lost a 2nd seat to UKIP, with over 40% of their 2010 voters in Rochester plumping for Reckless.

    It’s brilliant spin. The tories actually think Miliband’s being so useless is their lifeline…I think Mili is very poor, but UKIP will kick dave out of no. 10. I think Farage sees that as his personal mission.

  4. @James Peel

    Apart from Ashcroft’s data suggests about half UKIP’s Rochester vote is coming from LAB – not people that might have voted for LAB were it not for UKIP, people who voted for LAB when their leader was Gordon Brown.

    If LAB were in a good place at the moment they’d be getting some 2010 CONs and a big wadge of LDs crossing over to them. As it is it looks like they’re going to do much worse in R&S than in 2010 – quite some achievement with the CON vote down considerably and the LDs dropping like a stone.

    Ashcroft’s data also suggests that more CON-UKIP switchers than LAB-UKIP switchers plan to swap back for the GE (obviously much could change between now and May).

  5. It’s a by-election. People behave very differently in a by-election for all sorts of reasons (and will behave differently in seats that have had a by-election because of its distorting effect), so it’s silly to think polls of R&S are indictative of what Labour voters would do at a general election, especially since we’ve got lots of proper general election polling to look at.

    Please let’s leave parties spin on elections elsewhere.

  6. @Chris

    According to the DT, Labour voters choosing to vote tactically in Rochester and use Ukip as a vehicle to embarrass the Tories represents Labour weakness.

    Well according to the tables, only 14 of those polled intend to vote UKIP in the by election, and Labour in the General election. By my calculation that works out at 2% of the vote here, so the tactical vote looks immaterial anyway.

    Labour’s real weakness here is that even with a reported strong candidate it appears they will only hold onto 60% of their 2010 voters at the GE, similar to the Tories. With the Tory vote being split between the Tories and UKIP, that should have put Labour in contention in 2015.

    But – 2010 Lib Dems break 22% for Tories, 18% Labour, so not boost there, and Labour lose 24% of their 2010 vote to UKIP, the Tories 25%, so no boost there.

    With an end result of Conservative 28%, UKIP 27% and Labour far behind at 16% in the GE before the re-allocation of don’t knows. It should be one third each really.

  7. @Roger Mexico
    Roger, please put me out of my misery regarding 2nd September this year. Why is it significant to my bank telephoning Scotland during the ref campaign? I have looked on the web and can find nothing significant. There was however a big security operation in Mexico, what were you up to?


    Remember it well, as you say happy days.

  9. I think we really should heed what Anthony says about the by election. These are very false snapshots, where traditionally we see surges and squeezes that are unlikely to be repeated in a GE.

    Great care needs to be taken when assigning any significance to what happens to the holding parties vote, but even greater caution is needed when assessing the performance of the second and third parties in the event of a squeeze.

    For what it’s worth, I posted on two different threads my view that the initial R&S poll that showed Labour doing reasonably well (somewhere mid 20’s I recall) was probably a better means to judge the real state of the parties in the constituency.

    My reasoning was that it was pretty clear that there would be all manner of bandwagon and squeeze effects which would distort sentiment to such an extent that GE implication could not be drawn from this.

    However, somewhat usefully, we now have additional polls asking how people would vote in a GE, and while these too are likely to be partially distorted, we can hazard a guess that Reckless is likely to do much better in the GE than people thought.

    It perhaps is worth noting that a good number of people thought Reckless wouldn’t win the by election. The fact that polls suggest he is a whisker from taking the seat at the GE is really the big news here.

  10. Alec

    “The fact that polls suggest he is a whisker from taking the seat at the GE is really the big news here.”

    Only if that is how they vote at the election which is six months away.

  11. Anthony,
    I see you confirming your unsuitability for the role as the psephologist on By-Election specials?

  12. @ALEC
    Quite agree.

  13. Better news for workers?

    “Wages are now rising at a stronger pace than inflation for the first time since 2009, easing the squeeze on household budgets.
    Pay has largely lagged inflation since the financial crisis of 2008 and the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said today that wages, excluding bonus payments, rose 1.3% on an annual basis in September.”

  14. A good analysis of Rochester and UKIP in general here


    Some snippets
    “By essentially withdrawing from this battle Labour is again easing the rise of Ukip. Were Labour taking the contest more seriously then Ukip’s lead would be significantly diminished and the race would be far more competitive.”

    “This is striking given that Labour controlled this area as recently as 2010, is the main party of opposition and has an impressive candidate in Naushabah Khan. The Labour candidate is especially strong when set against the abrasive Conservative candidate Kelly Tolhurst. Having watched both candidates in a televised debate last night (watch it here) it is the former that appeared as the better candidate. I am convinced that the Conservatives got this wrong -they should have stood a calmer, more inclusive and ultimately a more experienced candidate that non-Ukip voters could rally around. This mistake might be repeated in Thanet South where the Conservatives are again standing a similar ‘Ukip-lite’ candidate against Nigel Farage.”

    “But perhaps more significant than any of the above is what the data are pointing to in terms of party organization and campaigning. This is the neglected aspect of the Ukip story.”

    Well worth reading the whole post.

    I agree with what they are saying. Ashcroft’s latest marginal poll showing UKIP now above 20% in 8 of the 12 marginal seats shows that UKIP is now a force to be reckoned with, and I don’t think there is going to be the squeeze many are expecting.

    Adopting and talking about UKIP policies and having UKIP like candidates has not worked, it has just increased their support. Kelly Tolhurst is a prime example – if you want a candidate who bangs on about immigration, she surely fits the profile you want. But she hasn’t attracted any of the UKIP vote, and instead has turned off the anti UKIP vote, and the polls are showing she is set to lose.

  15. Roland

    If you had clicked on the link in my comment:


    it would have led you to the page in the now (in)famous YouGov survey which showed the IndyRef polling switching from Yes 47% No 53% (in a poll taken 28 Aug – 1 Sep) to Yes 51% No 49% (in a poll taken 2-5 Sep). Cue general panic in Westminster, vows, Gordon Brown etc.

    I was teasingly suggesting that this so far unexplained rapid switch from 2 Sep onwards might have been due to the effect on the Scottish people of your dulcet tones down the line from Bucks.

    Sigh, it’s not really a joke if you have to explain it [sad face].

  16. @phil haines
    “Do the maths and you’ll find that the lead’s about 1.3%” +/- about 3%

  17. @Richard
    “I agree with what they are saying. Ashcroft’s latest marginal poll showing UKIP now above 20% in 8 of the 12 marginal seats shows that UKIP is now a force to be reckoned with, and I don’t think there is going to be the squeeze many are expecting. ”
    At large-scale elections in the last two years, UKIP’s vote has been higher than the general prior polling level.

  18. @Roger Mexico
    I guessed as much. I certainly tried to get on to your link but it would not work for me. (I think its the silk underwear). Strange when I went for the headlines for that day, it did not show up. Anyway, this does not explain your part in the Mexican security sweep.

  19. One thing that is happening in R &S which won’t happen at the GE much is LDems voting tactically to keep UKIP out.

    22% of 2010 LDems voting Tory (see Richard’s post above) looks extremely unlikely as a pattern in a GE, but easily explainable in terms of committed Liberals, who will very likely vote abUKIP on a tactical basis.

  20. AW

    As a scientist I was quite happy to give a measurement of say 31.4 +/- 2.9 so people quoting figures to a higher precision doesn’t perturb me.

    When they start doing analysis with that number and ignore the errors as part of the analysis, it makes me hold my head in my hands.

    I can perfectly understand why you don’t quote more precision to journalists. They never let facts get in the way of a good story.

  21. Retweeted by someone called Wells

    POLL: CON 32 (+2); LAB 29 (-4); LIB DEM 9 (+1); UKIP 14 (-2) IpsosMORI

  22. MORI poll


    “Support for the Labour Party is at the lowest level since the final days of Gordon Brown’s premiership,”

  23. TOH

    @”Better news for workers?”

    The BoE Inflation report today, and Mark Carney’s remarks are , if anything, more interesting from a VI point of view.

    If BoE forecasts are correct , inter alia, :-
    Inflation will fall below 1% for a few months , and take up to three years to reach 2%
    Wage growth will accelerate through 2015 to +2% in real terms.

    Whilst there is precious little time left before the GE for these effects to have major short term polling consequences, there is plenty of ammunition here for GO to shape the GE Campaign narrative.

    Policies around “Cost of Living Crisis” , & “Energy Price Freeze” were always at risk of change in circumstance -and I think this is happening -to Conservative advantage.

    There are obviously many other factors at play from SNP, through UKIP to Marginals-but I think the idea that the “Economy” as an overarching narrative is a busted flush for Cons, may be over egged after today’s BoE opinions.

  24. No doubt Anthony will be putting up post as he munches his sarnies, but tables are here:


    as usual with MORI click through from OldNat’s link for topline results and their always informative historical charts.

    As always with MORI, you do need to be careful about the strict ‘certain to vote’ filter (without it Con and Lab are both on 30%) and the resultant smaller effective sample size 600-ish means that MoE is high – Ashcroft of course has the same problem on a weekly basis. But it’s not Labour’s finest hour (nor indeed the Conservatives.

    In headline ‘certain to vote’ Greens on 7%. SNP on 6% (58% in Scotland).

  25. Another poll in which including the Scottish VI within GB figures probably hides the reality in England. MORI usefully have an England crossbreak.

    Con 35% : Lab 31% : UKIP 15% : LD 11% : Grn 7%

  26. devastating ipsos mori poll for labour….[Miliband] is the big problem…


    I think the sample size is 1011 . . .


    It’s a good poll for those hoping to avoid a Labour led government but it is just one poll and could be an outlier – let’s wait and see if it is replicated in a couple more before getting too enthusiastic. Bear in mind that such partisan posts will incur the wrath of the masses!

  29. AW

    Now the JP post has been modified you may as well remove my last one!

    Thanks . . .

  30. If the SNP VI virtually trebles since 2010 at the expense of Labour, wouldn’t that show up in UK VI? I think it’s worth about 2% off Labour. The rest looks to be directly due to Milliband.

    I think Labour can usually count on picking up more votes from those less certain to vote, so it’s not so bad in England.

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