David Cameron is bracing himself for a by-election defeat today, as voters in Corby go to the polls to replace their departed MP Louise Mensch.
Mensch won the midlands seat by just 1,951 votes in 2010 and Labour will expect to snatch it back in its first by-election victory against the Tories for 15 years.
However Labour's candidate Andy Sawford has been careful to avoid complacency, in public at least, telling The Huffington Post UK that the election is "going to be really hard fought" arguing the Tories have put an "awful lot of resources" into defending the seat.
However in private Labour will be confident of victory. One Tory source told the Daily Mail: "It’s going to be a bloodbath. We are going to get absolutely hammered."
Bookmakers William Hill have made Labour the almost unbackable 1/100 favourites to win the seat from the Conservatives.
Mensch, whose decision to quit parliament for New York after just two years forcing a by-election on the prime minister, is likely to face much of the blame for the defeat. And while Sawford does not heavily criticise Corby's jet-setting media friendly former MP, he says voters want a different kind of representative this time around.
"They do have views on the kind of MP they want, someone who will work for the whole area, someone who will take what they say seriously and who will be a full time MP," he says. "There is a view of kind of person they want."
Corby is also notable as a weathervane seat, the way it votes has been the way the country votes as a whole since 1983. Defeat for Ed Miliband here would be a disaster, indicating Labour's persistant lead in the national opinion polls was deeply unstable.
The Tory candidate, Christine Emmett, has a tough job to upset the polls however. And her campaign was dealt an embarrassing blow yesterday when her campaign manager, Tory MP Chris Heaton-Harris, was secretly filmed boasting he had encouraged a rival candidate to stand against her in order to raise the profile of the anti-windfarm cause.
Given the reported hostility towards her Tory predecessor in the seat, Emmett may not welcome Mensch's interventions and endorsements from across the Atlantic.
As for the Lib Dem candidate Jill Hope, she is a distant 150/1 to win the seat. Being in government has dented the once formidable Lib Dem by-election machine and William Hill has Ukip as "red hot" favourites to push her into fourth place.Suggest a correction