If the cause of the by-election had been different, I would say that the result would be a clear Liberal Democrat hold. Besides the fact that Eastleigh Borough Council has an overwhelming Liberal Democrat majority, LibDems have been increasingly gaining seats from Conservatives in council by-elections throughout England. There is also the intriguing possibility that UKIP will mount a stronger challenge than in 2010, taking votes and helpers away from the Conservatives. The recent "gay marriage" controversy will not help.
The figures suggest that what might be described as the "social vote" will be crucial. If these people stay at home, or vote Labour, it may allow a Conservative challenger in. Will people understand what Liberal Democrats have been able to achieve in government and allow the fight for fairness to continue? I am sure that Eastleigh LibDems will make sure the message gets through.
Chris Huhne LDm 24966
Maria Hutchings Con 21102
Leo Barraclough Lab 5153
Ray Finch UKIP 1933
Tony Stephen Pewsey EngDems 249
Dave Stone Ind 154
Keith Low NatDem 93
Update 2013-02-05 16:20: BBC News Channel reports that \Nigel Farage has ruled out standing in Eastleigh but will instead concentrate on organising UKIP's local council election campaign