Daniel Regan is Head of Cicero Elections.
“If we can win here, we can win across the country.” – Mark Reckless, 21st November 2014.
Whilst recent focus has been on UKIP’s high profile wins in the South East, an analysis of recent local elections across the UK shows that the party’s support has grown across the UK. Cicero Elections, a political analysis site, has discovered that UKIP is far more popular with voters once they are in the voting booth than when they’re approached by polling companies.
Yesterday, an Ashcroft poll showed UKIP support increase to 18%. Cicero Elections’ ‘real votes tracker’ indicates that rather than this being a jump in UKIP support, it’s simply national polling catching up with national sentiment.
Below is a map of England and Wales showing the local election results for UKIP in 14 local by-elections across the UK since mid-October 2014. In just one month, thousands of people across the nation cast their votes and UKIP averaged 27.8 per cent , almost double their national polling average. This is excluding a by-election in Sheppey on 21st October, where Farage’s party won an astonishing 58.4 per cent of the vote.
Most interestingly about this map is the geographic spread of UKIP’s support. Whilst the accepted view has been that UKIP’s supporters are ‘little Englanders’ in the South East of England, this map shows that English and Welsh voters are turning to UKIP, a party that polled at only 3.1 per cent in May 2010. The myth that UKIP is only succeeding in the South East is over.
UKIP performance in marginals
The implications of UKIP’s polling surge can be particularly seen in their performance in the marginal seats with low majorities which will become the key battlegrounds across the UK during the election. Cicero Elections’ ‘real votes tracker’ has been following UKIP’s performance in local by-elections within marginal constituencies this year, and comparing each of those results to the national polling figure on that day. The results are startling: when UKIP mobilise and campaign, they outperform their national polling figures almost every time.
In both Conservative and Labour marginals such as Thurrock, Amber Valley, and Walsall North, we are seeing significant UKIP support turn-out in local elections. Even if much of this support is ‘protest’ and drops away before the election, it will not take many to decisively influence the outcome of these seats. Unfortunately, vote share shifts aren’t available from many of these local elections so it’s difficult to tell which parties are suffering from UKIP’s surge, but the key finding is clear: UKIP are more popular than the national polls would let you believe, and they’re coming to constituencies near you.