The good news for Clegg in the poll details

Overall the pattern of the debate polls is one of a close result: 3 polls make Clegg the winner, 2 make Cameron the winner. The political impact is more contentious: edging it in the majority of polls would, in any other circumstances be a triumph for Clegg – but was it enough given what happened one week before? Similarly, failing to clearly win the debate in other circumstances would be a disaster for Cameron (remember all those polls and betting odds in advance of the debates saying Cameron would win?). But after last week, perhaps this was good enough?

Well, there’s a hefty clue in the details of the Populus poll which overall just gave the debate to Cameron over Clegg, though all within the margin of error (37% – 36%). But look at the impact on party support:

Has tonight’s debate made you think any more or less likely to vote for any of the three parties?
52% Yes
48% No

Amongst those 52%,

17% say more likely to vote Conservative, 18% say less likely: NET -1%
10% say more likely to vote Labour, 25% say less likely: NET -15%
34% say more likely to vote Lib Dem, 4% say less likely: NET +30%

In other words, Clegg’s performance continues to attract people to the party while Cameron’s performance did no more than tread water for the party overall.

It’s a similar story in ICM’s poll which has 18% changing their minds on how to vote after the debate, with 43% of them switching to the Lib Dems and 24% each to Labour and the Conservatives. Similarly, the Angus Reid poll has net more/less likely to vote for scores of -24% for Labour, -14% for the Conservatives and -5% for the Lib Dems. The wording of their question pushes all the scores more negatively than other pollsters but the overall pattern of the Lib Dems doing best is there again.

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10 Comments

  • Good analysis.

    I was struck by the crosstabs in the Angus Reid poll how events have conspired to drive a wedge between Conservative voters and everyone else. The debate hardened opinions for and against the Tories, with very little movement between parties.

    But interestingly, 17% of Labour voters said that the debate made them more likely to vote Lib Dem, the largest flow from one party to another by some 7%.

    The last thing that Cameron wants is for Labour voters to be flocking to a viable-looking Lib Dem alternative, but that may be exactly what he gets…

  • I would like to have seen Nick hit back harder at condescending Brown on Trident? There is an alternative to Trident – it’s called ‘intelligence’ ! Come on how are you going to afford Trident, we haven’t got a super power budget, we can’t keep living beyond our means, and robbing front line troops of life chances. Our best defence in in co-operation with allies, and it is not independent anyway! How can you both stand there in agreement like a pair of Dodo’s?

  • Anthony Aloysius St 23rd Apr '10 - 5:15pm

    “The last thing that Cameron wants is for Labour voters to be flocking to a viable-looking Lib Dem alternative, but that may be exactly what he gets…”

    Surely Cameron wouldn’t mind at all if that happened in Labour-held Tory target seats?

  • David Allen 23rd Apr '10 - 6:44pm

    It’s interesting to see what works and what doesn’t in this debate format. The lesson to my mind is, don’t fudge.

    On both immigration and Europe, Nick won the debate by having a very clear line of argument which hung together well, and which appealed to common sense and practicality – even though, in both cases, it was an uphill struggle against the general trend of public opinion. Even those who hate asylum sekeers will no doubt have been thinking “well, yes, I understand what Clegg is saying, it would be nice to get them into paying tax”.

    On Afghanistan, by contrast, Nick did less well. Perhaps he (wrongly) felt less worried by that topic, because we are broadly in line with the mainstream, and we might therefore appear to be at less political risk. However, because we didn’t have a clear line, Nick found himself talking about the quality of military equipment once too often, and the public will have sensed an uncertainty. Meanwhile Cameron, who knows he’s a confirmed warmonger, was relaxed enough to waffle some reasonable-sounding platitudes about the ethnic balance of the Afghan army, thereby posing as a thoughtful politician. The lesson is that on an issue like Afghanistan, we have to sort out a clear line and stick to it.

  • I was surprised that Nick did not say more about not repeating the mistakes of Iraq again and did not take the other two to task for voting for it.

    He missed a number of good opportunities to point out the differences. In particular the question of wasted votes. What about party funding. He could have laid out the proposals for a strict limit on personal contributions and contrasted that with the way that the Tories just want to wallow in foreign millionaires’ money.

    I just don’t think Nick did any preparation. Perhaps he wanted just to “be himself” but he was too laid back and not prepared enough. He must do better next time to stop Brown pulling the old “I’ve got the best experience” line on the economy.

  • Golden Sarah 23rd Apr '10 - 9:14pm

    Jeremy Paxman has just given Lib Dems a huge endorsement during his interview with David Cameron. Paxman we are ‘change’.

  • “The last thing that Cameron wants is for Labour voters to be flocking to a viable-looking Lib Dem alternative, but that may be exactly what he gets…”

    I’m not so sure. The hidden danger in Labour going to pieces completely is that many of their supporters will switch to the Tories, and that could be just enough to give Cameron an overall majority. We need the Labour vote to hold up in Lab/Con seats where we have no chance to stop that happening.

  • Yes, indeed. Nick needs to bang on about the Iraq war far, far more. He needs to remind the electorate that the Tories supported it, and did so, not because they believed the lies about WMD, but out of craven subservience to Cheney and the military-industrial complex. He then has to say that unlike Brown and Cameron, there are no strings attached to him that get pulled in Washington. The Lib Dems, unlike the other two parties, believe in British independence.

    On Trident, we have to repeat, repeat, repeat the fact that it is NOT an independent weapon system. It is an extension of the US nuclear arsenal paid for by us.

    BTW, I am wondering if Cameron’s citing of China as a potential nuclear threat really was a gaffe. Isn’t China next on the neocon hitlist, after they’ve finished with Iran. China is the biggest single economic threat to US global hegemony, even if its military ambitions are more limited.

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