Make no mistake, it has been a difficult few days for UKIP as they suffer the scrutiny that their poll standing brings. Finding themselves under heavy bombardment from their political enemies in the run-up to Thursday’s local elections was, of course, no coincidence.
Don’t let that discourage you from putting your money on Team Farage this week. It is a tough one to call, but Guido is backing UKIP to take over 50 seats. Here’s why…
First and foremost, this week’s number of note: UKIP is running candidates in 72% of the seats up for grabs, compared with a paltry 24% when these seats were last before the electorate in 2009.
What the academics are saying about UKIP…
Any psephologist worth his salt will tell you this translates to a considerably-increased capacity to win big. The political academics Colin Rallings and Michael Thrasher are projecting 40 seats will be won by UKIP, based on UKIP improving on their performance in seats where they stood in 2009 — less than one quarter of the contested seats. This time round they are standing in three quarters of the seats contested and polling much higher nationally.
The party has been on a steep trajectory since the Conservatives made sweeping gains in 2009. This time round, with David Cameron suffering mid-term blues in Downing Street, those traditional Tory seats are there for the taking. With three times the manpower, UKIP will undoubtedly inflict damage on Dave.
Normally, mid-way through a parliament it is the second or third parties who steal the spoils. But Ed Miliband is polling badly for a Labour leader three years into a Tory-led government. As for the Lib Dems, the traditional protest party in local elections, Coalition has been nothing but catastrophic for them in the polls.
It is worth noting that UKIP take less than half of their support from former Conservative supporters, and a further quarter from Labour and the Lib Dems. Nick Clegg’s pantomime villains have no chance of rivalling UKIP as the untainted anti-establishment choice, and it will be particularly interesting to see how Farage’s troops can hurt Labour in the North. Don’t be surprised if they make more than a few gains from the reds and yellows, as well as the blues.
UKIP have been riding high nationally
Punters will understandably be concerned by the negative press UKIP have received over the weekend. Guido doubts this will have much effect on Thursday’s result. Voters won’t be interested in the petty politicking between rival political parties, and in truth little has come out over the last few days that will change the minds of the vast majority of UKIP voters. The party has been riding high in the polls at around 15% over recent weeks. Don’t expect that to change off the back of a few negative stories.
Thursday could well be the breakthrough ahead of next year’s Euro elections for Nigel Farage (pictured above). One thing is guaranteed: his party will win a much greater share of the overall vote than ever before. Whether this translates into seats is another question, but you can be sure that they will hurt the Tories and cause problems for the other parties too. The battle to reach the 50-seat mark will be hard, but the numbers suggest it is good value for a flutter this Thursday.