The Times newspaper has used a tiny, unrepresentative survey of UKIP establishment officials to claim grassroots favourite and frontrunner in the race to be leader, Raheem Kassam, has just nine per cent of support.
The article was based on an “exclusive survey of elected UKIP councillors” conducted via the SurveyMonkey website. No more than 150 local councillors were contacted and just 91 replied.
This mean that 7.64 per cent of UKIP’s 497 councillors said they supported Mr. Nuttall, supposedly justifying the headline: “Nuttall zooms ahead in Ukip leadership race”.
Because of the exclusive focus on councillors, the survey is likely to be unrepresentative of those eligible to vote in the contest, which includes all party members, not just elected ones.
Sources at the top of the party have said there is an emerging consensus within the party’s establishment, including councillors, that outsider Mr. Kassam must be stopped from winning at all cost.
However, from the beginning, Mr. Kassam’s campaign has been focused on grassroots members rather than establishment party officials. He broke the record for online engagement with members in a UKIP leadership contest after just 5 days of campaigning.
A survey focusing on a small number of elected party figures, therefore, would be expected to favour establishment candidates over a grassroots outsider.
Unsurprisingly, of the 92 party establishment figures who responded, 42 per cent said they backed Mr. Nuttall, 22 per cent got behind former Tory councillor Suzanne Evans, and nine per cent supported Mr. Kassam. Almost eight per cent planned not to vote regardless of who stood.
The findings of the small Times survey also appear to be contradicted by a larger, more representative, YouGov poll of 1,003 UKIP members released this weekend.
Just 22 per cent wanted the party to move to the centre, as Ms. Evans has promised, compared to 73 per cent who want it to stay on the right, as Mr. Kassam favours. Only 22 per cent were prepared to scrap favoured policies in order to attract new voters.
Furthermore, more than two-thirds of members (69 per cent) said they were on the right or right of centre, whilst just nine per cent consider themselves on the left.