Speaking to sources on the ground in Stoke and Copeland, as well as national sources, the expectation is that the Labour Party will win Stoke and lose Copeland. Sources were keen to stress that “anything could happen”, with one saying “I’ve given up predicting given how crazy politics is right now, but it’s likely we will win Stoke and lose Copeland”.
A senior local source in Copeland said, “Our vote just isn’t holding up. There is very little evidence of work done in the past in the seat. Members simply aren’t turning out to help. I’m very worried”.
A high ranking Labour official I spoke to says that they are pinning their hopes on being able to turn out voters whilst other voters stay at home. Labour is highly effective at turnout and postal vote operations, that give them significant advantages in low turn out elections.
There is a sizeable UKIP vote in Copeland (6,148) and if currently polling trends play out, there will be a several point shift from UKIP to the Tories. Given the current trend in the polls of Labour losing votes to the Lib Dems, and that in 2015 there was only 2564 votes in it on a 63% turnout, the situation is looking bleak for Labour. Turnout will be significantly lower than 63%.
Voters of course are highly volatile in by-elections and the local NHS situation is definitely a major issue. If Labour has played this to full advantage this could help to overcome the daunting polling & electoral math issues. One organiser on the ground told me that this is why some still think Labour can win.
The evidence in Stoke is that UKIP Leader Paul Nuttall’s campaign has imploded and Labour sources with sight of internal canvassing figures are confident that Labour will hold the seat. They have also managed to attract huge numbers of activists due to the easily accessibility of Stoke via road and the west coast mainline.
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