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?
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.