The figures – the first test of public opinion since the politician rocked Westminster by defecting to Nigel Farage’s party – predict a record 48 point swing towards UKIP.
Shocking: According to the poll, London Mayor Boris Johnson would win 27 per cent against Mr Carswell’s 60, cutting UKIP’s lead by 11. But it would still leave Boris with a yawning 33 point deficit.
And they put the anti-Brussels party a staggering 44 percentage points ahead of Mr Carswell’s former party in the Essex constituency.
If the results are repeated in the by-election, expected in October, the swing would exceed the current record 44 points achieved by Lib Dem MP Simon Hughes when he thrashed Labour’s Peter Tatchell, the gay rights campaigner, in a by-election in Bermondsey, South London, in 1983.
The biggest anti-Tory swing to date is the 35 points achieved by the Lib Dems in the Christchurch by-election in 1993.
The 48 point UKIP swing in Clacton is partly the result of the party not having stood in the 2010 Election, so their support has gone from nought to 64 per cent in one leap.
The poll blow came as senior Tory MP Sir Nicholas Soames fiercely criticised Mr Carswell.
Former Defence Minister Sir Nicholas told The Mail on Sunday: ‘What Douglas Carswell has done is sheer madness.
Staggering: The figures – the first test of public opinion since the politician rocked Westminster by defecting to Nigel Farage’s party – predict a record 48 point swing towards UKIP.
‘It is rank disloyalty to a party that gave him a place in Parliament.
‘Douglas is a very unusual MP and it has been clear for some time where his true political sympathies lie.’ Tory chiefs plan to flood the seaside constituency with Ministers and MPs in an attempt to hold back Carswell’s tidal wave of support.
But the poll suggests it may be impossible. Mr Carswell’s lead means the Tories will need a miracle to retain the seat and stop him becoming UKIP’s first MP.
Even charismatic Boris Johnson would have little chance of defeating strait-laced Mr Carswell.
According to the Survation poll, the London Mayor would win 27 per cent against Mr Carswell’s 60, cutting UKIP’s lead by 11. But it would still leave Boris with a yawning 33 point deficit.
Mr Carswell’s astonishing 64 per cent appears to be a reflection of a combination of enormous local personal support for him – and for UKIP.
Of those who intend to vote UKIP, two-thirds said that they would do so because they liked the party, and one in three because they like Mr Carswell. Fewer than one in ten said it was to protest against the Government. Fewer than one in five Tory supporters in Clacton believe he has ‘betrayed’ the party – half hail him as a hero.
Mr Farage is close to being the most popular party leader in Clacton, polling 25 from all voters, one point behind Mr Cameron on 26.
Nor is Mr Cameron’s attempt to strike back at Farage by arguing that a vote for UKIP will make it easier for Ed Miliband to become Prime Minister having any effect on UKIP’s support.
Nearly seven in ten said such warnings had no impact; 15 per cent said they were less likely to vote UKIP with 16 per cent more likely. Mr Carswell’s reasons for defecting to UKIP also win strong approval:
Half or more agreed with the statements that Mr Cameron is ‘too keen’ on staying in the EU; refuses to ‘shake up the Westminster clique’; has lost control of the UK’s borders; should cut both spending and tax; and should bring in new laws to make it easier for voters to sack MPs in between general elections.
Former Tory MP Douglas Carswell defects to UKIP
Likewise, the residents of Clacton, which is opposite the Belgian coast, heartily agree with Mr Carswell’s determination to cut the UK’s ties with Brussels. A total of 54 per cent say the UK should go it alone, more than twice the number who want to stay in the EU.
Immigration is by far the biggest issue in Clacton. Nearly half say it is their main concern, followed by Europe on 13 per cent, cost of living six, jobs five and health three.
While the Tories are by far the biggest loser in Clacton, the survey also makes grim reading for Mr Miliband and Nick Clegg.
Labour support has halved to a mere 13 per cent since the 2010 Election and the Lib Dems are almost off the graph at a paltry two per cent, compared to 11 per cent in 2010.
Mr Miliband’s personal rating is eight per cent, with Mr Clegg on just three.
A Tory official said last night: ‘Mr Carswell has had the benefit of huge publicity over the last few days. We were taken by complete surprise by his defection.
‘Once we have chosen a candidate and started to canvass in Clacton and can show that voting Tory is the only way to get a referendum in the EU, we are confident we will do very well in the by-election.’
Survation polled 700 people online on Thursday and Friday.
David Cameron’s drive to reform the EU ahead of a mooted in-out referendum was given a major boost by the new president of the European Council last night. Donald Tusk, who will give up his job as Polish Prime Minister, said he ‘could not imagine’ the EU without Britain as a member – insisting it would be possible to ‘reach an agreement’ on issues such as freedom of movement of labour.
This really IS a political earthquake, writes Damian Lyons Lowe, chief executive of poll firm Survation
Political earthquake is an expression often used without justification, but not in the case of our Clacton poll result.
It shows that the by-election triggered by sitting Conservative MP Douglas Carswell’s defection to UKIP could go down in British political history as one of the most dramatic of all time.
Based on the poll, the 12,000 majority Mr Carswell won as a Conservative in Clacton in 2010 would turn into an even bigger one for UKIP of more than 15,000 on a similar turnout.
It has alarming implications for David Cameron and the Conservatives.
Mr Carswell has been accused of betraying his party, but that is not how the vast majority of his constituents see him.
Today’s survey lays to rest the notion that Mr Carswell defected for cynical reasons after becoming convinced that if he didn’t, he would lose to UKIP.
Such is his personal popularity that he would almost certainly have won the seat had he fought it with a blue rosette next May, rather than now in the yellow and purple colours of UKIP.
Most worrying of all for the Prime Minister is the reaction of other potential Tory MP defectors to the likely outcome of the by-election.
If Mr Carswell lost or won narrowly, other like-minded Conservatives toying with going over to UKIP would probably conclude it was far too risky.
But if he wins with a record-breaking swing, as our poll suggests he could, they may decide it is more risky to fight the next election as a Tory candidate than as a UKIP one.
And that could change the landscape of British politics.