An addendum. Today’s To The Point post is even shorter than usual because it’s really just an addendum to Tuesday’s. That one had a chart showing all the constituencies where UKIP finished second behind Labour in May, along with the distances between the parties in terms of votes and percentage points. The Conservative equivalent is pasted above.
Are the Conservatives under greater pressure from UKIP? The standout quality of this latest chart is its length: there are 75 constituencies where UKIP finished second behind the Conservatives, compared to 44 for Labour. If this suggests that the Tories face a stronger purple tide than does Her Majesty’s Most Loyal Opposition, so too do the extremities of the chart. The Conservatives’ largest majority over UKIP (28,556 votes, Surrey South West) isn’t as large as Labour’s (34,655, Knowsley). Their slimmest majority (2,812 votes, Thanet South) is even slimmer (3,024, Hartlepool).
Nope. But first impressions aren’t always correct. A lingering glance at the numbers reveals that the Conservatives are actually in a more comfortable position. Their average majority over UKIP is 18,328 votes, compared to Labour’s 12,959. Only six of the 75 Tory seats are below the national average majority of 11,480 votes, compared to 17 of Labour’s 44.
Explaining UKIP’s position. What explains UKIP’s great proficiency for finishing in distant second-places? Each seat will have its own reasons, but this post by House of Commons researcher Steven Ayres offers a persuasive overall account. As he puts it, “The sizeable drop in the Lib Dem vote share may have bumped the UKIP candidates up a place, but it also may have reinforced the Conservative majority so that they were barely closer to winning those seats.”
Tuesday repeated. All of the caveats from Tuesday still apply, including one made by “formercon” in the comments section: that some of UKIP’s best results came in constituencies where they finished third. But so does the central point: that Farage and his party face an immense challenge to turn silver medals into seats.