It is almost impossible to discern which way the political wind is blowing in the Rochester and Strood by-election but if you are to believe what some commentators are saying, the Conservatives are bracing themselves for a loss.
I don't necessarily subscribe to that view but there is no avoiding that the convergence of various issues is not offering the party a particularly propitious backdrop to its campaign.
The by-election is being dominated by the twin issues of immigration and the UK's membership of EU as much as anything else.
So, to say it was unhelpful to have been ambushed by the EU demanding an extra £1.7bn is something of an under-statement. The fact that the Prime Minister had to truncate a campaign visit to Rochester because he was still in Brussels at a press conference last Friday only served to underline the seriousness of the issue.
Of course, it is possible this could play to the Conservatives if the PM manages to negotiate a reduction but for many, the demand for the money is another illustration of the suspicion we put in rather more than we get out, which plays to Ukip's appeal.
On immigration, Conservative spirits would not have been helped by the comments made by the Mayor of Calais Natacha Bouchard, who gave evidence to the Home Affairs select committee this week.
In fairly blunt remarks, she told MPs the reason so many migrants were gathered at the French town was because the UK was seen as "El Dorado" and there were jobs to be filled and benefits to be claimed.
This was followed by a set of figures suggesting that there was a growing backlog of asylum seeker claims and 50,000 asylum seekers were "lost" - exactly the kind of thing Ukip laps up to suggest that the governemnt has and is losing control over its borders.
Finally, it seems the government is preparing for a revolt by Conservative backbenchers over the European Arrest Warrant, with MPs believing that it hands other countries too much power to detain UK citizens.
In 2012, the Dover MP Charlie Elphicke organised a letter to the Daily Telegraph signed by more than 100 MPs which outlined their concerns over the EU Commission's ambitions for "a pan-European code of Euro Crimes" - and "deep concerns" over the EAW.
Among the signatories were eight Conservative Kent MPs but I rather suspect they will be brought round to support the government when a vote is held.
With all these issues heaping pressure on the Conservatives, perhaps the question is not so much whether it can win but whether Ukip can lose.
A chirpy Ed Balls followed his leader down to Rochester to rally support ahead of November 20 but it does seem that their objective is not outright victory but not to lose so badly that it undermines their prospects in Kent at the general election
It is a measure of the changing political landscape that it has almost been forgotten Kent has, over the last four elections, been a battle between Labour and the Conservatives rather than a contest between Ukip and the Conservatives.
But Ukip's growing appeal is drawing support away from Labour as much as it is from the Conservatives. Yet the party knows that to form a government, it will have to win seats in Kent - it is not enough to base your strategy around general national poll ratings which put you marginally ahead of the Conservatives.
It seems the party has one eye on next May but it does seem curious it has allowed the impression to form the contest is a two-way battle between the Conservatives and Ukip while it plays for a decent third place.
Tony Blair recognised the secret to the party's success over his three terms was to ensure it won over "middle England" voters who are now peeling off to Ukip in large numbers. Ed Miliband seems to be concentrating on shoring up its core supporters, a more defensive strategy.
Perhaps there is some consolation in the fact that a new poll out today puts the NHS as top among voters' concerns in Rochester and Strood - one issue that Labour is strong on.
If you want an indication of how difficult it is to read this by-election, take a confrontation that William Hague and Kelly Tolhurst had with a disgruntled former Conservative voter in a walkabout in Rochester.
Donna Ripley confronted the pair to demand why a "mega" mosque in Gillingham had been given planning permission and asked whether "this was the way you want England to go?"
She was rather underwhelmed by the reply.
So, would she be voting Ukip? Not at all. "I think they are racist and bigoted."