So let us cut to the chase and ask the question that is by turns fascinating and terrifying most of Westminster: how well is UKIP going to do in the Eastleigh by-election?
I spent this morning (Wednesday) with the campaign in a bid to judge whether the party is on course for a merely very encouraging result, a major breakthrough or something truly mind-boggling.
Given that the bookies make a UKIP victory a 6-1 shot compared to 100-1 for a Labour victory, it is already a given that the smaller party will thrash the socialists and their comedy candidate John O’Farrell.
Doing that, together with securing say one in every five votes cast would match the target that the UKIP high command dared to hope for at the outset of the contest.
To beat one of the two coalition parties into second place would, on the other hand, constitute a very major breakthrough in what has been seen all along as a two-way Lib/Con marginal. It would be the kind of breakthrough that will have unpredictable and unwelcome consequences for at least one of the governing parties.
And then there is the mind-boggling, which I will leave to you to define for yourselves.
As I travelled to Eastleigh it was with the thought that “very encouraging” was clearly by far the most likely outcome. But I left having had my eyes opened to the possibility of something even more exciting for UKIP supporters.
For a start, the UKIP campaign HQ operation in the town is on an altogether more impressive scale than it has been in previous successful by-elections. Helpfully for media profile it is the first retail space on the high street for anyone walking from the nearby train station (ie nearly all the visiting London media).
There are many more volunteers than there were in previous campaigns such as Corby. The response from local voters is also much more enthusiastic. Observing the Corby campaign led one to the view that maybe only one in two people who said they would vote UKIP would come through at the ballot box. In Eastleigh the assurances from voters are much more enthusiastic and less qualified.
Having Labour effectively out of the scene is clearly a major boon when it comes to hoovering up anti-government and protest votes. UKIP’s candidate, Diane James, also exudes poise and purpose. No wonder she was marked out by party high-ups as a “special one” as soon as she went through their candidate assessment process.
MPs from other parties have confided on returning to Westminster from days out campaigning in Eastleigh that she appears to exude more authority than their own candidate. I now see why.
And to see Nigel Farage in action campaigning is at once to understand that he has now joined the select band of pop star politicians. Such is his celebrity that people cross roads to shake his hand – the same people who would normally cross a road to avoid a politician.
From voters one hears the same issue mentioned again and again. Not the European Union as such, but immigration. Especially immigration from Eastern Europe and most of all the prospect of a new wave of it coming from Romania and Bulgaria.
UKIP’s simple message – that only a party willing to break from the EU can keep border controls and benefits restrictions in place on citizens of these countries – appears to be well understood.
Then there is the general “anti-politics” mood among people most of whom are still experiencing falling living standards and a dearth of good news.
UKIP’s most crucial breakthrough of recent months was probably the Rotherham social services row, when leading figures from the bigger parties finally admitted there was nothing racist of extremist about it and that it deserved to be considered a mainstream party.
That furore gave those disenchanted voters who worry about being seen as “not respectable” the green light to swing behind UKIP, at least in any mid-term election that came their way.
The one obvious fly in the ointment is that the Lib Dems have made this campaign so short that postal votes began being completed very early – before UKIP had established its current momentum on the ground. That favoured the Lib Dems as the established political brand in the seat and the Tories as the second-paced party.
So how well will UKIP do tomorrow? If pressed now I would say the result that beckons will be more than merely encouraging and at least very close to a major breakthrough.
Looking into the eyes of UKIP’s now battle-hardened core team of campaign organisers that is the signal that comes back. But in one or two cases there is an extra glint in the eye, a glint that says something even more dramatic is certainly not out of the question.