It’s expected that Nigel Farage will be confirmed as the UKIP candidate for Thanet South sometime next week; it was always the favourite in our betting on which seat he’d stand in. UKIP were 6/4 to win the seat before he announced he was seeking the nomination and, as you’ll see above, we’ve cut the odds to 11/10 in response. If you do a bit of maths, those odds imply a “true” probability of just over 43% that UKIP win the seat.
Lord Ashcroft polled this constituency in July, before voters would have known that Farage was the likely candidate. This is what he found:
- 33% UKIP
- 29% Conservatives
- 29% Labour
- 4% Lib Dems
- 5% Others
So, a desperately tight three way contest at the moment. The Tories have selected Craig Mackinlay, who was actually UKIP leader for a brief period in 1997, presumably hoping to shore up their Eurosceptic vote.
Although it’s not obvious right now who you should vote for if you were a “Stop Farage” voter, I think that probably will become clear between now and next May. We can be fairly sure that there will be several polls of this constituency between now and then and I think it very likely that one of either the Tory or Labour candidate will emerge as the obvious challenger. There was some anecdotal evidence in May’s Newark byelection of Lab-Tory switchers who wanted to prevent a UKIP victory
I would be surprised if Farage can get a vote much above the mid 30s. The lowest winning vote share in the 2010 general election was the 29.4% that got the Lib Dems over the line in Norwich South. Next were the Greens, who managed to win Brighton Pavilion with 31.3% There were a total of 17 seats in Britain with a winning candidate getting under 35%, so mid 30s could plausibly be enough IF it remains a three way contest.
Constituency profile courtesy of UK Polling Report