COMRES POLLWATCH: Rochester & Strood: Magnitude 5 on the Richter scale
Rochester & Strood: Magnitude 5 on the Richter scale
the UKIP earthquake erupted in May at the European elections (as Nick Robinson
reported), then there have been a number of aftershocks ever since. All the
signs are that this week we’re due yet another such aftershock, although it
perhaps a sign of how far UKIP have come in recent months that Mark Reckless’
victory at the Rochester and Strood by-election is being treated as a foregone
polling in the Kent constituency last month had UKIP 13 points ahead of the
Conservatives and the question in Rochester and Strood now appears to be not
“will UKIP win?” but by how much? While the headline poll figures point to a
substantial victory, a closer look at the data shows that UKIP are picking up
many would-be voters who did not vote in 2010. UKIP have of course been making
a point of galvanising those fed up with the status quo and Westminster
politics. However, having 28% of their vote coming from people who did not
turnout in 2010 is also risky: can they be counted on to vote on Thursday or indeed
on 7th May?
good news for UKIP is that voters across the political spectrum in Rochester
and Strood want to use the by-election to kick David Cameron and his Government:
fully six in ten (62%) voters there say that this is a “good opportunity for me
to show David Cameron and the Conservative Party how unhappy I am with their
government.” The bad news for UKIP is that it points to potential dangers in the
are fantastic opportunities for the self-styled “People’s Army” and UKIP have
replaced the Liberal Democrats as the by-election party to beat. However, the
danger for UKIP is being seen as simply a party of protest, a “none of the
above” option. Their real challenge will be to hold on to their supporters at a
national, General Election when they are up against the full might of the other
parties’ campaign machines, both nationally and locally.
have, though, continued to confound expectations. Despite various false claims
that their support has peaked at various times in this Parliament, their
momentum has not been stopped. Rochester and Strood will be another significant
milestone. By the end of this week they are likely to have doubled the number
of MPs elected to the House of Commons. This will have a real impact,
especially on broadcast coverage of the General Election including the case to
include Nigel Farage in at least one Leaders debate. It may also
encourage other prospective defectors who, unlike Messrs Carswell and Reckless,
and given the proximity of 7th May, could cross the floor of the
House without necessarily having to fight a by-election.
the political circus leaves Kent at the end of this week attentions will turn
towards May 2015. We can expect rumblings among Conservative MPs but, just as
Ed Miliband survived discontent from his Party over the last few weeks, so
David Cameron will not face a serious threat to his leadership this close to
the Big Day.
Conservatives are within touching distance of Labour in most current polls. But
that is due to a fall in Labour support rather than an increase in Tory
popularity, and UKIP now pose a real threat not only to the Conservatives but
also to Labour. There is good evidence that the anti-Labour vote in some
constituencies is coalescing around UKIP.
purple victory in Rochester and Strood does not guarantee the seat for UKIP in
2015, but it does keep the good ship UKIP hurtling across the tired political
seas. The question is how many more aftershocks will there be before 7th
poll for the Independent on Sunday/Sunday Mirror this weekend contained a gem
of a question asking voters which movie actor they would like to see playing
each of the main political leaders. While both Hugh Grant and Colin Firth
were hot contenders to play either/both David Cameron and Nick Clegg, the
preferred actor for both Nigel Farage and Ed Miliband was Rowan Atkinson.
the perceptions of each party’s voters were slightly different. In
particular, Conservative voters were keener on having James Bond actor Daniel
Craig play tDavid Cameron, while UKIP voters were noticeably keener on Sean
Bean. Perhaps it was his experience fighting the forces of Sauron as
Boromir in Lord of the Rings which made him a suitable contender to play the
leader of the People’s Army.
ComRes on Twitter for the latest polls and analysis: @ComResPolls
Author:Tom Mludzinski @tom_ComRes
Head of Political Polling
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