If the last few weeks of campaign coverage have been anything to go by, would anyone have predicted that Nick Clegg would be the new political darling on the morning after the first televised election debate?
Four polls show Clegg to have been the viewing public’s clear winner last night, with stunningly high averages over the other two leaders, even in the most conservatively estimated poll done for Sky News.
Polling Results for first General Election Leader's Debate
|Poll||Nick Clegg the Winner|
|Gordon Brown the Winner|
|David Cameron the Winner
The Liberal Democrat leader’s strategy of distancing himself and his party from the other two seemed to pay off. And the public seemed to warm to his efforts to talk in a relatively unaffected manner about the issues, and to weave the questions from the audience into his summing up.
Clearly, this is only the first debate of three, and it is still early. But this result must have important implications for the next few weeks.
For a start, it will give Nick Clegg a much-needed profile (and confidence) boost.
Quite likely too it will have to raise levels of awareness amongst Labour and Tory strategists about how they both relate publicly to the Liberal Democrats, with one eye on the possibility of a hung parliament.
The next TV debate, on International Affairs, takes place next Thursday night on Sky.
Zara. Thanks for the comment, but aren’t samples for all polls supposed to be drawn to reflect the voting preferences of the same group (i.e. all eligible voters?). If they are sampling the same group, such a wide spread of results really brings into question the sampling methodology used by some of these pollsters. If they sampling different populations, then this should be reported along with these polls.
I don’t think it’s to do with different audiences, I think it’s to do with the fact that every pollster weights their numbers based on a ‘likely voter’ model and this is done slightly differently for each.
I think that Clegg’s ‘plague on both your houses’ line is an effective one, there is not all that much difference in substance between the parties, what people vote on is less policy on national issues but rather on local issues (parliamentary system means that all politics is forced to be local), and character/style of the leaders. I think that Clegg scores very well through this argument on trustworthiness, freshness, outsider image etc etc, and depending on what goes on in the next debates I think he could do very well.
I also don’t think that the debate format was restrictive at all, especially when you compare it to the American debates. The much complained about 76 rules were practically invisible I thought and it was a good bit of television.
Kennedy, I reckon a lot of it has to do with the different audiences that each pollster attracts.
The various poll results are indicative of one significant thing, in my mind: if you haven’t read or watched any other political coverage of the election so far, Nick Clegg’s tone and style of answering will seem refreshing and honest. However, for the very small minority of the public who’ve been following affairs for a bit longer, I would suggest that he’s actually become very formulaic in his answers, and that they are too often overly simplistic and “a plague upon both your houses” in their conclusions.
The difficulty comes if people decide to vote, solely on the basis of this highly restrictive debate format, and come to the conclusion that Clegg has the strength in depth in the rest of his team to be a credible political force.
Perhaps someone could offer an opinion as to why the four polls have such different results. For example, “Clegg as winner” ranges from 37% to 61%, with no two polls offering similar results. Is this the election test that is going to separate competent pollsters from the pretenders?