The Labour vote held up despite a low turnout for postal votes and their candidate being a misogynistic Remoaner with anger issues. The illegal religious campaigning by muslim Labour supporters will have helped no end, as will the campaigning by the trade unions who have offices in Stoke. But the biggest two factors are probably the terrible weather discouraging voters from turning out on the day and the dirty tricks campaign waged through the left wing media against Paul Nuttall. His response to the dirty ticks campaign - or more likely his staff's response - did him no favours but there's really very little anyone can do to counter the likes of the Guardian, the Independent and the Huffington Post when they're prepared to lie and deceive to undermine the democratic process.
In Copeland UKIP were pushed into fourth place after the Conservatives pulled off a historic win to become the first incumbent government in nearly 40 years to win a parliamentary by-election. In Copeland the Labour Party's negative campaigning was directed at the Conservatives rather than UKIP with one leaflet claiming that children would die if the Conservatives won.
The Electoral Commission surely has to act soon to regulate partisan political campaigning by these organisations to prevent them having such undue influence over elections. It's one thing to endorse a candidate or party and another thing entirely to engage in dishonest negative campaigning against a rival.
The results were both disappointing but it's worth remembering that Stoke Central was 72nd on UKIP's target seat list. If it wasn't for the size of the Leave vote in Stoke it would have been written off as a dead loss. What we've learnt from these two by-elections is that a Leave vote doesn't equate to a UKIP vote. These were the first by-elections UKIP contested following the referendum and it's something to be reflected on. What it absolutely doesn't mean is that Paul Nuttall is a failure as either a candidate or the leader of the party.