Mark Reckless, UKIP - 44%.
Kelly Tollhurst, Conservative - 32%.
Naushabah Khan, Labour - 17%.
Geoff Juby, Liberal Democrat - 2%.
Another party’s candidate - 5%.
If this result is repeated on the actual day of the by-election, then UKIP will gain their second MP, following Douglas Carswell’s victory in Clacton last month. Douglas Carswell won in October with almost 60% of the vote, well ahead of the Conservative candidate, on just 25%.
If the polls are to be believed, for next week’s by-election, then UKIP’s second MP’s majority will not be as high as in Clacton. However, a lead of 12% is still an impressive result and will send a strong message to the Conservatives. UKIP are a serious party. UKIP are here to stay on the political field.
A UKIP victory next week will be another blow to David Cameron, however, the Conservative leader can comfort himself with some positive news for his party in Lord Ashcroft’s poll.
The poll suggests that despite 44% intending to vote UKIP in the by-election, the Conservatives will do well in Rochester and Strood next May. When respondents were later asked: “As you may know the next general election will be held on 7 May 2015. Which party do you think it is most likely you will end up voting for at the general election next May?”, of those who named a party, 36% said Conservatives, 35% said UKIP and 16% said Labour.
The election is still a while a way - but less than six months - so this could all change, but it suggests that many of those supporting UKIP will switch to the Conservatives in the general election. However, the fact that UKIP come a close second suggests that the party is still in with a fairly good chance of retaining the seat next way, assuming Mark Reckless wins next week.
Additionally, the poll also shows the extent to which UKIP and the Conservatives are taking this by-election seriously. A total of 84% of those questioned said that UKIP had contacted them in the last few weeks. 81% said the same of the Conservatives, whilst just 63% said they had been contacted by Labour. Ed Miliband’s party are likely to perform badly next week, if the polls are to be believed, but they are still trying to contact the voters. As for the Liberal Democrats, just 24% of voters said they had been contacted by Nick Clegg’s party.
Overall, it appears that UKIP will take Rochester and Strood next week. The best the Conservatives can hope for is a close second, with Labour miles behind in third place. After next Thursday, if UKIP win, the party will be riding higher than it ever has before. And who knows, more defections could be around the corner.
The fieldwork for the poll was done between the 7th and 10th November and asked 1,002 adults in Rochester and Strood. The full results of Tuesday’s Lord Ashcroft poll can be accessed here: http://lordashcroftpolls.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Rochester-Strood-poll-summary-141111.pdf