LDV readers say: Televised leaders’ debates will be great help to Lib Dems

by Stephen Tall on January 9, 2010

A fortnight ago, LDV posed the question, What difference, if any, do you think the televised leaders’ debates will make to the Lib Dems’ standing in the polls? Here’s what you told us:

  • 60% (258 votes) – They will be a real help to the Liberal Democrats
  • 24% (105) – They will make only a marginal difference either way
  • 8% (34) – They will backfire for the Liberal Democrats
  • 8% (33) – They will be utterly irrelevant to how people vote
    Total Votes: 430 Poll ran: 26th December 2009 – 8th January 2010

So, a convincing majority of you – six in 10 – think the debates will be a big plus for the Lib Dems, with only eight per cent believing they will backfire. One-third of you think they will, at most, make a marginal difference, or else will be utterly irrelevant.

This seems right to me – with two big caveats. First, there is always the chance that Nick will be the one who makes a gaffe (“It’s Lib Dem policy to kill all the first-born” – you know, the kind of thing any of us might inadvertently utter under the pressure of hot studio lights and live TV) which is pounced upon by our opponents and the media.

Perhaps an even bigger issue for Nick is winning the expectations battle. The media and readers of this site will be expecting the Lib Dems to get a boost merely as a result of Nick’s presence in the debates. If, for whatever reason, the instant polls suggest no increase in Lib Dem support, then there is the risk that Nick will have been seen to have failed – even if he performs perfectly well.

But we know these risks – and the rewards of success are likely to be far greater than the costs of failure.