— Mike Smithson (@MSmithsonPB) February 7, 2014
Getting data is absolutely essential
Once again Lord Ashcroft has done what the mainstream media seems to have all but abandoned – commissioned an expensive phone poll on an upcoming political event and come up with data that adds to our understanding of the current political scene.
No one is particularly surprised by the voting numbers in his Wythenshawe poll – LAB 61, UKIP 15,CON 14, LD 5. This is a contest in a LAB stronghold in part of LAB’s heartlands at a time when the party has solid general election voting leads.
There’s really nothing in this for either of the coalition partners but it does present a big opportunity for UKIP to maintain their insurgent narrative. They need a good result next Thursday.
What strikes me about the poll are the party activity findings above. UKIP are doing okay building a presence but they haven’t talked to many voters. Look at the very low figures for knocking on doors or making phone calls.
A political campaign in a first past the post election requires knowledge of who your potential supporters are and a system to manage the data so it can drive postal voting and the GOTV effort on the day. Under the current rules postal voting can be crucial. This is support in a low turnout election where a party machine can have a big impact.
The Lib Dems held Eastleigh and Labour South Shields last year because they had done the grunt work being in direct contact with voters. Looking at the Ashcroft data above the most telling number is the percentage of those polled saying that they had been called or had been canvassed by LAB.
In the days when they were an insurgent party the Lib Dems and predecessor parties had huge contact rates with voters. If the above figures are am indication UKIP hasn’t learned that lesson.
There comes a stage when good second places in by elections like this are simply not enough.