What voters remain unsure about is the nature of UKIP’s policies outside of immigration and Europe
With a majority of 12,000 votes in the Clacton by-election, Tory defector Douglas Carswell has become UKIP’s first elected MP. However, according to UKIP leader Nigel Farage, the more significant story was Labour’s near-death experience in the Heywood and Middleton by-election. There, Labour's majority was cleaved to just 617 by a better-than-expected second-place finish by UKIP.
YouGov’s latest voting intention polls have UKIP hovering around 15%, near their all-time high-water mark of 17%. New research by YouGov finds many more British voters are sympathetic to core elements of the UKIP message, even as many remain unclear on UKIP’s policies beyond immigration and Europe.
Overall, 37% now agree with the statement that UKIP is “more in tune with the concerns of people like me than the other three main parties”. This includes significant minorities of voters who back one the two biggest parties: nearly a quarter of Labour voters and two in five Conservative voters agree with the statement. Around half of voters nationally also continue to believe UKIP is “here to stay” as a force in British politics.
UKIP has not yet shaken the impression that they are mainly a protest party as opposed to a serious party with workable policies. Only 17% of voters nationally, including 16% of Conservatives and 7% of Labour supporters, see UKIP as more of a serious party than a protest party. Even 14% of current UKIP supporters call see the party as mainly a party of protest.
Additionally, the party has done little to improve public understanding about how it would govern, even after a conference in Doncaster where they announced several new policies on a range of issues. While most voters feel like they have some grasp on UKIP’s policies regarding immigration and Europe, around six in ten say they “don’t know anything” about UKIP’s policies on issues like the NHS, the economy, education, crime or defence. There has been virtually no change on this measure since May, when YouGov asked the same question on the eve of the party’s first-place finish at the European elections.
Many who say they will vote UKIP are also in the dark: one in five UKIP supporters say they don’t know anything about the party’s policies on the NHS or the economy, though this is a minor improvement from May.