Both Tories and UKIP go for the tactical vote in their final push in Rochester

Both Tories and UKIP go for the tactical vote in their final push in Rochester

Will by election voters want to stop UKIP or give Cameron a bloody nose?

After a campaign that seems to have been going on forever we are now into the final day of the Rochester and Strood by-election effort.

The polls and PBers in the prediction competition all go for UKIP by a double digit margin and anything less than that will be spun as some form of victory by the blue team.

All the polls show that the Tories have won the battle for those who voted for the party in 2010 when Reckless was the candidate. UKIP, however, has built a coalition based on the balance of the Tory vote, ex-LAB and LD ones together with a sizeable slice of non voters from last time.

I’m told that the Tories have not given up hope and their final message is in the top Tweet above. It will be interesting to see if this resonates as much as Tory strategist hope it will. Do the good citizens of the area really wanting to wake up on Friday with a UKIP MP?

    We do know from by-elections past that there can be big swings in the final 24 hours and a huge effort is being put in.

The first target is keeping the Tory loyalists on board. Then there are the other party switchers to Reckless. The latter might not be persuaded to switch to CON but if they go back now to their own allegiance or simply not vote then that will be a plus. The second target group are those planning to vote LAB whom the Tories think might come on side.

The Reckless approach is also strongly tactical – trying to encourage ANTI-CON voters to give Cameron a bloody nose. The really surprising feature of the election is that LAB party HQ decided right at the start not to put central resources in.

So what’s going to happen. It is very hard to argue against the polling but I wonder whether the margin of victory might not be as large as the surveys suggest and that it could be a lot tighter.

Whatever the outcome will have a huge impact on the political climate in the run-up to next May.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble

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