Reckless Rochester numbers pic.twitter.com/JST7qvcIM7
— Robin Brant (@robindbrant) November 21, 2014
But can he be confident of holding on next May and will it encourage more defectors?
In the end the Rochester result was a lot closer than any of the final polls had suggested but the first stage Mark Reckless’s massive gamble has paid off – he’s back again as MP for Rochester.
The winning margin was 7.2% which compared with the gaps of 12% and more that we had from the three final polls. It was much tighter than most people and the betting markets had predicted.
It did suggest that you have to be cautious with polls where a significant part of a candidate’s support is coming from non-voters who are traditionally the ones least likely to turnout
He was helped by the decision of LAB not to take the battle seriously and put the resources in and by the dramatic collapse in Lib Dem support to less than one percent.
Looking forward there are two questions: is Reckless going to be able to retain the seat next May and will the less than emphatic winning margin act as a deterrent to other potential defectors?
In last week’s Lord Ashcroft Rochester poll the Tories had a margin of 1% when the the sample was asked for their general election voting intentions. But that poll has the UKIP by-election lead at 12%. This looks very tight for next May.
What we do know is that leading UKIP donors have been funding private polls so other potential defectors can test the water before they decide to jump. The Rochester result will put those findings into context.
EdM's position would be so much stronger this morning if LAB had decided to make a fight of it. It had best candidate & could have won
— Mike Smithson (@MSmithsonPB) November 21, 2014