Did Nick Clegg get his first “debate dividend”?

Did Nick Clegg get his first “debate dividend”?

What’ll be the consequences in the marginals?

Did I miss the glaringly obvious when I wrote that I did not know what had caused the 3% boost for the Lib Dems in the overnight YouGov daily poll for the Sun?

For the reason was plain to see as Mike L commented on the previous thread: “Last night’s news was dominated by the announcement of the Leader Debates – Clegg was side by side on split screen with Brown and Cameron and clips of all 3 were shown at the top of every news programme.

This could explain the LD rise in this evening’s YouGov poll. If so it may be an indicator of what will happen following the actual debates.”

That surely is right for the big challenge the Lib Dems always face is in securing media coverage. The debates give them a peg which will continue throughout the campaign. The big question is how this will impact on outcomes in the marginals?

For even without the “debate dividend” Clegg is already enjoying higher approval ratings now than Charles Kennedy got before the last election. Check out the Ipsos-MORI archive for the run-up to the 2005 election and here for the latest data.

I envisage this having two consequences: it’s going to be hard for the Tories to secure all the victories against Lib Dem incumbents that the crude uniform national swing calculations suggest they should get.

Secondly it might lead to higher Lib Dem shares in crucial LAB>CON marginals reducing anti-Tory tactical voting which could make Labour’s task that bit more challenging.

Already the prime focus of Labour’s ground campaigns in these crucial battle-grounds is to put the squeeze on known Lib Dem supporters (including me!) on their database to “unite behind Labour incumbents to stop the Tories”. Will they be less responsive if there’s a higher profile Nick Clegg?

That’s a big question and on it the election might be decided.

Mike Smithson

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