Their night out in Salford has left David Cameron and Ed Miliband without a hangover, Don Brind reports. They did all right in the post-debate polls.
There were four instant polls and in one Miliband is a point ahead of Cameron. In two others they are tied but in the fourth the standout performer was Nicola Sturgeon: her 28 per cent in the YouGov poll was the highest figure scored by any of the seven party leaders.
ICM: Miliband 25, Cameron 24, Farage 19, Sturgeon 17, Clegg 9, Bennett 3, Wood 2.
Subscribe to The Week
Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.
Survation: Cameron 25, Miliband 25, Farage 24, Sturgeon 15, Clegg 6, Bennett 3, Wood 2.
ComRes: Farage 21, Cameron 21, Miliband 21, Sturgeon 20, Clegg 9, Bennett 5, Wood 2.
YouGov: Sturgeon 28, Farage 20, Cameron 18, Miliband 15, Clegg 10, Bennett 5, Wood 4.
So, Nick Clegg, the star of the 2010 leader debates, came fifth in each of the polls - a position his party is desperately seeking to avoid in the election proper.
He was separated from his coalition partner David Cameron by five podiums but made a point of being tough on the PM: according to Paddy Ashdown in the “spin room” afterwards this was putting in the public arena the tough talking that had been going on behind closed coalition doors for the past five years.
Given the talk of a post-election pact between Labour and the SNP, it was striking that their leader Nicola Sturgeon was at pains to argue a UK-wide case. The Independent’s Steve Richards described her as “persuasive and authoritative “ as she put “the Keynesian case for higher spending”.
In polling done before the debate, the Tories reached a milestone. The latest YouGov poll puts them on 37 per cent - the national vote share they achieved at the 2010 general election.
The bad news for Cameron is that over that period Labour have moved from 29 to 35 per cent. Con 37 (up 1), Lab 35 (up 1), Lib Dems 7 (down 1), Ukip 12 (down 1), Greens 5 (up 1).
That means there’s been swing from Conservative to Labour of three per cent since 2010, enough to give Miliband significant gains in English marginals on 7 May.
Continue reading for free
We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.
Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.