Nigel Farage is on track to win a seat in the House of Commons in May. A new poll has revealed that he currently enjoys an 11 percent lead over the Labour Party, whilst the Tory incumbents will be pushed into third place. This is the first poll to name the candidates in the questions.
Previous polls from Survation and Lord Ashcroft in South Thaney, where the Ukip leader is standing, have put Farage behind. Lord Ashcroft polled in the constituency last November, predicting the Conservatives to hold the seat by taking 33 percent against Ukip’s 32 percent, with Labour trailing on 26 percent.
But the new poll by Survation has revealed the full effect of the “Farage Factor” – the name recognition that will help to boost the leader’s election bid. Yesterday’s results showed Ukip taking a commanding lead, with 38.6 percent of the vote. Labour were second on 27.6 percent, and the Conservatives one point behind on 26.6 percent, despite winning the seat in 2010 with a majority of over 7,600.
Ukip is often derided as being a party for the elderly, but the party will take cheer from results showing that a very healthy 43 percent of 35-54 year olds are planning to vote for Mr Farage.
The poll also shows what Ukip have long claimed: that their support is coming from all sides. One in three former Conservative voters are now planning to vote Ukip, as are one in three former Liberal Democrat voters. One in five Labour supporters plan to give the party their backing.
Farage’s campaign to take South Thanet is being masterminded by Chris Bruni-Lowe, the same campaigner who led Ukip to victory in both the South Thanet and Rochester and Strood by-elections.
Ukip expert Matthew Goodwin, writing for the Times Red Box has described the strategy as “professional, targeted and rooted in grassroots engagement.” He explained that it hinges on Farage “consciously avoiding the ‘pop star politician’ routine” by attending regular events within the constituency whilst eschewing media coverage. “His message -’use me to give Thanet a powerful voice in Westminster’- is clearly resonating,” Goodwin said.
Goodwin is also of the opinion that the Conservatives have made a strategic error in their choice of candidate in South Thanet, picking ex-Ukipper Craig MacKinlay to try to out-Ukip the Ukip leader.
“Is Craig MacKinlay likely to attract floating moderate Conservatives? No. Will anti-Farage Labour voters turn to an ex-Ukipper? No. I see no way back for the Conservative Party in Thanet South, who may well conclude that are better placed containing the spread of Ukip in other nearby seats, such as Thanet North [sic], Gravesham and Sittingbourne and Sheppey,” Goodwin said.
Farage took time out from his campaigning schedule this week to appear at the CPAC conference in Washington, the first foreign leader to do so, where he told delegates “I accept that I’m a foreigner, and I don’t want to meddle. But if the Republican Party is going to win the next presidential election, I think the Republican Party needs to get the kind of people voting for it that were voting for it 30 years ago.
“Reagan Democrats — people that worked hard, people who were patriotic people, who aspired and wanted to get on. I don’t think, at the moment, the Republican Party is attracting those kinds of people.”