Both campaigns – Labour and Ukip – are confident here in Heywood & Middleton ahead of tonight’s result.
Two polls, by Survation last week and Ashcroft on Monday, have suggested Labour will win by around 20 points, but the local Ukip campaign office thinks they will come far closer.
Ignoring Clacton, where they are set to win their first MP tonight, the party are likely to win more votes here today than they have in any other election. They expect to win above 30 per cent, which would be higher than the 28 per cent they managed in Eastleigh last year.
Ashcroft poll’s suggested as much, but also showed the Labour Party nearly twenty points ahead. But the campaign thinks some of the ward-level figures the poll suggests are too low. They also argue the poll is now nearly a week old, and they have since delivered 28,000 leaflets.
A win may be too much, but there is a confidence that the party will come a much closer second than the polls suggest – which would fit with our forecast earlier this week, based on by-election results since 2010.
The Labour campaign are not complacent. They say they have had more than 100 MPs campaign in the seat in the past month; Stephen Twigg, the Liverpudlian MP and former shadow education secretary, and Will Straw, Labour PPC for nearby Rossendale & Darwen, were among those here today.
We will have more on the seat and the views on the doors shortly, but Labour are combatting increasingly familiar problems: a reaction against globalisation and immigration, and a disaffection with a political class that is seen to no longer represent traditional Labour values.
These are the issues driving many long-time Labour voters to vote Ukip. It’s unclear whether enough have been converted – or will turnout – to pull off what would be a great upset.
As Ian Warren has noted over at Election Data, Ukip performed particularly well in May’s local elections in the seat’s central towns, Heywood and Middleton, but turnout in these areas is likely to be low.
One Ukipper reported back encouraging numbers from a Middleton polling station – enough to make him hopeful of victory – but both campaigns seem to expect a turnout figure in the 30s, which would be in line with by-elections over the past four year. It seems Ukip will need a bigger number than that to win tonight.