Mark Reckless
Ukip candidate Mark Reckless is the clear favourite to win the Rochester by-electionGetty

Ukip have a 12-point lead over second place Conservatives in the upcoming Rochester and Strood by-election, according to a poll.

The survey, from Lord Ashcroft, places Ukip's Mark Reckless on 44%, ahead of the Tory Party candidate Kelly Tolhurst on 32%.

The Labour party are on 17%, with the Lid Dems potentially suffering an embarrassing loss of deposit in the Kent constituency as the latest poll pits their support in the area at just 2%.

The by-election, due to be held on 20 November, was triggered after Reckless defected to Ukip from the Conservative Party and resigned his Commons seat.

According to Lord Ashcroft's research, 54% of 2010 Conservative voters said they would stay with the Tories in the by-election, with the remaining 44% switching to Ukip.

The survey consisted of just over 1,000 adults in the Rochester and Strood constituency being interviewed by telephone between 7 and 10 November.

Of those who said they would be voting for Ukip, 82% said a large part was because "they have the best policies on particular issues I care about".

Just under two thirds of responders said a large part for voting Ukip said it was because they want Nigel Farage's party to win next year's general election, with 62% said they were voting for Ukip because they were making "a protest to show I'm unhappy with all the main parties at the moment".

However, 36% of those taking part in the survey naming a party for the 2015 general election said they would probably vote Conservative, compared to 35% who would vote Ukip.

With just over a week before the election, more than four out of five voters said they had received literature, direct mail, visits, telephone calls or emails from the Conservatives (81%) and Ukip (84%). Labour had reached just under two thirds of voters at 63% and the Lib Dems – who appeared to have thrown in the towel – only reaching out to less than a quarter (24%) of potential voters.

An earlier ComRes Poll, commissioned by the Daily Express, gave Ukip a seemingly unassailable 13% lead over the Tories in the run-up to the by-election.