Did both leaders achieve their goals?
The experience of US presidential debates and, of course, the British GE2010 is that “winning” the debate is not necessarily a good pointer to its impact on voting.
For Nigel Farage and Nick Clegg the critical upcoming election is on May 22nd – the Euros. Farage has built up expectations about a UKIP win on votes while at current polling levels it is not inconceivable that the LDs could lose all their MEPs.
Both men hope that these two debates, the second one is next Wednesday on the BBC, will reinforce their party’s positions.
Hopefully we’ll get some new EP 2014 numbers this weekend and my reading is that both will see their parties up a notch.
For although the audience for last night wasn’t large (YouGov had to poll many thousands to find enough people to survey for their quickie poll) the media coverage will widen awareness.
The rationale for Clegg’s challenge in the first place was to try to court LAB and CON EU-backers as well as encouraging former party voters to come back on board.
Farage was always going to benefit because he had the platform and that will be helped by the YouGov instant reaction result.
My main reservation about the UKIP leader’s performance last night was his comment on Ukraine and the EU suggesting that he prefers Mr. Putin to Brussels. This is something that he might later regret. The Tories, in particular, will likely use that against him,