Talk of a major Ukip "revolution" at the general election look to have been seriously overblown.
New constituency polling released by Lord Ashcroft today show that Ukip is running behind in four key target seats currently held by the Conservatives.
Most worrying for the party, a poll of Boston and Skegness - where Ukip won their largest majority in last year's council elections - suggests they have now been pushed back into second place. The seat has previously been described as Ukip's best chance of gaining a seat at the next general election.
Ukip are on course to pick up just 35% of the vote in the seat, behind the Tories on 38%. Three other polls in Castle Point, North East Cambridgeshire and South Basildon and East Thurrock, also find the party running behind.
All is not lost for Nigel Farage. The margins in three of the four seats are small and Ashcroft has found that voters in the seats were up to twice as likely to have received campaign literature from the purples as they were from the blues. The polling will also allow them to position themselves locally as the best challengers to the Conservatives.
1. Boston & Skegness: pic.twitter.com/qPH9zxPmZL— Lord Ashcroft (@LordAshcroft) February 19, 2015
2. Castle Point: pic.twitter.com/fN7TOjZ1bi— Lord Ashcroft (@LordAshcroft) February 19, 2015
3. South Basildon & East Thurrock: pic.twitter.com/PtDrEtY0qI— Lord Ashcroft (@LordAshcroft) February 19, 2015
4. North East Cambridgeshire: pic.twitter.com/UC2rVWuJPn— Lord Ashcroft (@LordAshcroft) February 19, 2015
However, hopes that the party are on course to grab up to dozens of seats from the Tories and others now look grossly exaggerated. They are seriously bad news for the Ukip leader, who is also running narrowly behind the Tories in Thanet South according to an earlier Ashcroft poll.
The polls are also worrying for Ed Miliband. Ashcroft has yet to release polling of Ukip's target seats against Labour. However, any failure by Ukip to pick up seats from the Tories will make it even more difficult for Labour to offset losses in Scotland and win a majority. The polling suggests Ukip could hurt Labour's chances of picking up English seats from the Tories. South Basildon and East Thurrock was until recently Labour's 98th target seat across the country. However, today's poll finds the party has actually lost ground there since 2010.
We should not get carried away. These are only four polls. However, they suggest that the rise of Ukip could present the worst of all worlds for Labour, costing them gains against the Tories while not actually picking seats off of the Tories either.
Not that it is particularly good news for the Conservatives either. If the current trend continues, the party are set to lose large numbers of seats to Ukip in future elections, even if they have a stay of execution in May.
But in a land of darkness, the man with a single candle is king. Today's polls have given David Cameron that candle.