Up to four million people are thought to have voted tactically today and UKIP could be one of the biggest victims, according to a YouGov poll published by The Times this morning.
Peter Kellner, YouGov’s president, said that tactical voting could have a dramatic effect in a number of marginal seats: “In England, the Liberal Democrats could hold six more [seats], while if the Ukip vote is squeezed this could give 10 to 15 seats to the Tories.”
In an unprecedented move, both Tory and Labour activists have been actively trying to convince citizens to vote tactically to keep in the three major parties and avoid voting with their convictions for smaller parties.
Rob Hayward, an election analyst and former Tory MP told The Times: “Labour will have been trying to get Liberal Democrat and Green voters to support them to keep the Tories out while the Conservatives will be urging UKIP and Lib Dems to keep Labour out. People will also be voting tactically because the election is so tight.”
Many of the four million tactical voters will be unionists in Scotland voting to keep out the SNP; “In my judgment Labour could now get seven or eight seats rather than just one or two, while the Liberal Democrats could also get two more than they expected in Scotland,” Mr. Kellner said.
Labour and Lib-Dem supporters voting tactically for the Tory candidate in South Thanet is one explanation for UKIP’s slump in the polls in the lead up to the election.
Ironically, though, Farage’s Tory opponent, and the man most likely to deny the most popular party leader in the country a seat, is an ex-leader of UKIP.
Craig Mackinlay temporarily led UKIP in 1997 before being replaced by Michael Holmes. He began his career in 1992 as an independent in support of the Anti-Federalist League in Gillingham. The Tories may have chosen a Eurosceptic candidate to tempt back UKIP voters.
The one UKIP target seat that could benefit from tactical voting is Great Grimsby – a Labour stronghold – where the party is likely to pick up some Tory votes as right-wingers vie to keep Milliband out.