​Out of steam? UKIP support falls as Farage eyes defeat in general election bid

Leader of Britain's UK Independence Party (UKIP) and member of the European Parliament (MEP) Nigel Farage (Reuters/Vincent Kessler)
Support for the UK Independence Party (UKIP) has fallen by one- quarter over the past six months, prompting Prime Minister David Cameron to invite disillusioned Tory defectors to “come home.”

A poll by YouGov found UKIP’s nationwide support has fallen from 16.75 percent in November to 12.25 percent this month.

UKIP’s support has been waning since its popularity peaked when two Conservative MPs defected to the party last fall.

Former Tory MPs Douglas Carswell and Mark Reckless triggered by-elections in their constituencies when they decided to switch allegiance to UKIP.

Both won their seats back with comfortable majorities, giving UKIP its first MPs in parliament.

UKIP’s popularity slump since last November sees its leader Nigel Farage fighting to win the seat of South Thanet after he fell behind the Conservatives in a poll conducted by ComRes.

Farage had a 10 percent lead over his rivals in February, according to a Survation poll.

He told the BBC last month he would “probably win” South Thanet and would quit as UKIP leader if he fails.

The ComRes poll was not released publicly, but was leaked to the Mail on Sunday over the weekend.

UKIP dismissed it as inaccurate, claiming they would never commission work from a pollster they have “problems with.”

A UKIP spokesman told The Guardian: “ComRes use weighting to 2010 figures. The methodology is flawed as it asks not ‘Who would you vote for?’ It discounts those voters who say they have voted UKIP in the recent past and will do so in the future.

Farage’s election woes prompted him to ask UKIP supporters across the country for help in his South Thanet campaign.

The UKIP leader posted messages on Twitter and Facebook asking his followers to “please do me a favor” and travel to Kent to campaign on his behalf.

He wrote: “I know a lot of you are fighting your own campaigns locally, but if you could spare just one or two days, I’d really appreciate the support.

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More than 500 of you came and helped on my first action day and it was a tremendous success. We’re going to be delivering postal voter leaflets, adverts for our public meetings, and doing some canvassing too! So please do me a personal favor, and come along on the 11th.

Cameron took advantage of Farage’s waning support to urge disillusioned Tory supporters who have defected to UKIP to return to the Conservatives.

The PM told an audience in Bristol: “Look, we’ve heard the message loud and clear about the things you want to see changed and we’ll change those things. Come with us, come back home to us, rather than risk all of this good work being undone.”

Cameron has promised a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU in 2017 if he is reelected in a bid to defuse UKIP’s threat to Tory seats.