Most voters who have an opinion expect UKIP to win the Clacton by-election – and 36% of those who voted Conservative in 2010 say they would vote for UKIP if they lived there
Former Conservative MP Douglas Carswell defected to UKIP on Thursday, resigning as an MP and forcing a by-election in the seat of Clacton, Essex. If he is voted back in he will be the first elected UKIP MP in the House of Commons. Mr Carswell said the decision had given him “sleepless nights”, but that many of the Conservative elite were not serious about change. On Europe he said David Cameron’s advisers had "made it clear that they're looking to cut a deal that gives them just enough to persuade enough voters to vote to stay in", adding: "once I realised that, my position in the Conservative Party became untenable".
A new YouGov poll for the Times Red Box finds that most British people who are in the know believe that UKIP will win the by-election in Clacton.
Excluding those who don’t have an opinion (45%), 51% think UKIP will win. 33% predict the victor will be the Conservative Party; 15% think it will be Labour.
With Clacton having the highest proportion of retired residents in the country, it is one of the most suitable seats for UKIP. Douglas Carswell also has an established reputation in the area, giving him an incumbency advantage.
Asking people who they would vote for if they lived in Clacton gives an insight into how people would vote if they thought UKIP stood a chance. 36% of those who voted Conservative in 2010, excluding don’t knows and wouldn’t votes, say they would vote for UKIP. 14% of 2010 Labour voters say they would do the same.
Since Mr Carswell jumped ship, there has been speculation that more Conservative MPs may follow suit. UKIP’s Treasurer Stuart Wheeler says he has had discussions with eight Conservative backbenchers, while Nigel Farage says he is “constantly” talking to like-minded Conservatives.