UKIP remain fairly strong favourites to gain a second MP when the by-election is held on November 20th. Their odds actually hit as big as Evens a couple of weeks ago, before a poll of the seat showed them 9% ahead of the Tories. This now looks like a clear two horse race, with Labour’s odds drifting from 7/1 to 25/1. It’s widely believed that they won’t be putting much effort into this.
I still believe there is a good chance that the Tories will win this. It sounds as if they will be mounting a huge effort to retain the seat and making Mark Reckless’s life as difficult as possible over the next five weeks. They will want to be sending out a very clear message to any other potential defectors that no-one will be getting an easy ride back into parliament.
I also think the idea of an open primary to select the Conservative candidate will help; we’ve issued prices on the two candidates.
Kelly Tolhurst is favourite for no other reason than she is more “local” than Anna Firth. Voters seem to put a lot of store in that these days.
We’ve also produced some odds on UKIP’s vote share. I would imagine that they’ll need something in the high 30s to win.
The Survation poll had them on 40%. I expect if the constituency was polled again today they might be a bit higher, in line with UKIP’s improvements in the national polls.