Who stands the best chance of winning the Newark by-election after Patrick Mercer’s resignation? It is a safe Conservative seat, which Mercer has held since 2001. At the last general election, Mercer was reelected to Newark with a 32 per cent majority:
The Tories announced when Mercer resigned the party whip that Robert Jenrick, a lawyer who currently works at Christie’s auction house, would be standing for Newark at the next election. Will Jenrick hold the seat? According to Electoral Calculus, there is an 87 per cent chance that the Conservatives will win Newark based on the current polls — but by-elections are more unpredictable.
Ladbrokes have the Conservatives on 4/5 to win a Newark by-election, while Ukip are on 2/1. The latter party’s candidate, Tom Irvine, garnered 3.8 per cent of the vote in the 2010 election, 0.7 per cent more than the party’s national vote. Based on this, it doesn’t look as if Ukip have much hope, but as George Eaton pointed out, Ukip did manage to poll 17 per cent in a Newark council by-election last year.
Rumors are already spreading that either Nigel Farage or Boris Johnson will throw their hat into the ring for Newark. Farage has ruled out standing if the by-election is held on Euro election day, but has not said he won’t stand otherwise. Although Newark is safe enough for Boris to contemplate, the timing might not be right; there’s still over a year to the election. Yet, the odds are currently at 10/1 for Boris to stand in Newark while Farage is at 5/1. Westminster is already delirious at the prospect of both of them standing.
PS: This map from the Election Data blog suggests that Newark may be fairly ‘receptive’ to Ukip: