ComRes meanwhile have the result as 33% thinking Clegg won, and Cameron and Brown in equal second place on 30%. So Clegg ahead rather than Cameron, and a closer spread between the three party leaders than with YouGov’s figures. Angus Reid’s current figures also have Clegg ahead of Cameron by much the same margin (35% to 33% as I type, but they are not final figures), but have a much lower rating for Brown.

We have different polls calling different winners, but what is very clear is that Nick Clegg has not been the same sort of runaway winner with the public that he was in the first debate. This was a much closer run thing.

UPDATE: Since they are already cropping up in the comments, these three are the only legitimate instant polls of the debate I am aware of (though other companies may well deliver figures tomorrow morning). Other things, like the Channel 4 website poll, will be open access voodoo polls that will not be representative of wider public opinion… even if you prefer the result.

The final Angus Reid figures are Clegg 33%, Cameron 32%, Brown 23%

372 Responses to “…but ComRes have Clegg ahead”

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  1. The dynamics of these television debates are really interesting to me – the experience we’ve had with them here in the US on the Presidential level since 1960 when Kennedy took on Nixon may be somewhat instructive. That debate has developed a whole mythology of its own – the radio listeners famously gave it to Nixon while those who watched on TV found Kennedy the winner by a landslide. We all know how that turned out. One thing for sure is that the television debates definitely reinforce the telegenic, likable candidates to the detriment of the candidates who may not look good but know their stuff. In this case, Cameron and especially Clegg are probably better positioned than Brown to benefit from the format.

    In the US, stagecraft often supplants policy. Before the debate format is decided, the parties here squabble relentlessly over the distances between the podium and the background – John McCain’s camp wanted the candidates to be seated during the debates because Obama is taller than McCain, and his handlers thought that the height difference would look bad.

    In the US experience, at least, the television debates have sometimes moved public opinion, but it seems to be more of an exception than the rule. John Kerry won all three debates in 2004 but Bush still managed to win the election, largely on the basis of the horrendous ‘swift boat’ attacks. Obama beat McCain badly in the debates, but it was really the financial crisis that catapulted him to his landslide victory. UK elections are mercifully short compared to ours, but I think as these televised debates become more common in the UK their effects to persuade the public will probably wane.

    The UK public is probably a bit more skeptical than ours and may be immune to the pre-packaged remarks that the candidates come up with here, but in the US these short quips are usually the only thing people remember about the debates. I felt at home when Gordon Brown told Cameron that he could airbrush his posters but not his policies in the first debate – that for me was the most “American” aspect of the whole endeavor. Same for Clegg’s quip today about finding 900,000 immigrants to deport.

    One final thing – in my outsider’s opinion, it was a mistake for Cameron to go ahead with the debates. Here in the US they are ingrained in the election mythology, but the leading candidates all try to have as few as possible. I think Cameron inadvertently let Clegg have an opportunity that he may not have had otherwise had.

    Ultimately, the second debate is the least important by far in the US, and I suspect it may be the same in the UK. It’s sandwiched between the first debate, which garners high ratings, and the last, which is the one that every candidate wants to win because it’s often the public’s final impression of the candidates. The last debate on economic policy could turn out to be a boon for Gordon Brown and it might help him staunch the bleeding or make a bit of a U-turn in his polling numbers.

  2. Made this post earlier, but is stuck in moderation, i presume because i wrote the street word for female mammary glands. This is the post with that very offensive word ;p

    It seems alot of people here are making the mistake of taking these polls as reflecting voting intentions. Saying someone won a debate doesnt mean you will necessarily vote for them.
    On the other hand, there is a story to these debates. People seem to have a short memory. Prior the debates the Cons where very close to an out-right majority, with Lab floundering at 32% and the Libs in no mans land with 20% (even though the ICM poll on the 15th seems to indicate that the Lib surge was already materializing prior the debate). After that debate, we had the Lib surge, Cons dropping to 32-3%, ie miles away from where they need to be to win this, and Lab dropping a good 5 points and going to 27%.

    What is unfortunate is that 32/27/30 is not that bad for Lab but is disasterous for Cons. So what the Cons needed today was to show ppl where they truly are a shoulder above the rest and deserve to be trusted with running this country. Yet i doubt that what seems to be a three way tie could do that.

    The Libs will be happy with this because they held strong, coming out ahead on a number of polls – lets be honest we all expected the Libs to drop under the pressure as we think that they are not ready for the big game. Did that happen? A clear no is the answer, so i read that as very poistive for the Libs.

    Labs too have something to be happy about as GB did very well tonight. He didnt win, but after all he never can, 1) because he has as much charisma as a door mat 2) his negatives are too high and too ingrained for ppl to all of a sudden say “hey one moment i actually like this guy”. But the fact that with all his baggage GB can come out par with DC in one of the polls should be sounding the alarms big time in Con HQ.

    Has this sealed the deal? No. Still to much to play for and the last debate will definitely be the most important. In terms of my reading of this I would say that very little will change, maybe at best Lab returning to 30% and Cons solidifying at 33-34%. Though things could still go t**s up for Lab because of the leaflet saga (definitely not a good response by GB on that one).

    Now, in terms of my personal bias, I dont know you lot but the most exciting parts of the debate where when Nick and Gordon where going at each other. There seemed to me to be a spark and a shoot at some genuine debate. Whilst DC tried to stay aloof looking down on the two squabbling, i rather got the impression that he didnt have strong enough opinions to argue about, was passionate about the debate and looked rather detached and disengaged. On the other had the other 2 looked more alive and genuine, genuine about their difference but also about the discussion that we need to have which after all that is what politics is about. BUT ONCE AGAIN THAT IS MY BIAS AND IS SIMPLY OPINION (i hope thats a good enough disclaimer(smiley)).

    Overall, thumbs up for the debate and thumbs down to sky, expected much better from them.

  3. On the economic debate next week, some completely unasked for advice I’d give Brown – who as far as I know is the only one of the 3 who eats, drinks and breathes economics – would be to casually use a few more obscure terms and references than “interest rates”, “vat” and “deficit”, when directing questions or comments at his opponents. Without economic advisers at hand they’d doubtless look as lost and out of their depth as any other member of the general public.

    Just a thought.

  4. It seems to me that these debates have replaced the normal electioneering process at a national level, especially if you add in the cabinet posts debates on BBC. It’s a much cheaper process than press conferences & staged events. Party Political Broadcasts are being ignored, too. The LibDems’ lack of cash is not a disadvantage if the main events are provided free.

  5. Democracy on Facebook has a very different poll result:

    48% Nick Clegg
    26% David Cameron
    26% Gordon Brown

    I wonder what the consensus will be in the morning?

  6. @ChrisInTheNorth
    I was embarrased for Kay Burley. She is not a political presenter and was totally out of her depth.
    And it’s a shame. I watch SkyNews election coverage every evening, and it really is very good and very balanced. But after the debate, something went seriously wrong. I don’t know why, but it did.

  7. Maybe being partisan but the fact that Brown came so close has to be seen as a victory – as the incumbent Brown is always on the defensive and to come within 6 points of the winner is rather impressive – esp if you include Angus Reid which I wouldn’t.


    Times now saying DC 37 NC 36 GB 27

    Averages from YG, Com Res, AR, Populus & ICM

    NC 33.4 DC 32.8 GB 27.6

    NC very narrowly in front

  9. @ Sam



    Cameron – 37%
    Clegg – 36%
    Brown – 26%

    Check the Times website and Sky News

  10. Just seen some of the headlines from tmrs papers at the end of newsnight. Far better for Cameron in terms of the general headlines and reaction.

  11. A Times/Populus poll released after the debate showed Mr Cameron defeating Mr Clegg by 37% to 36, with Mr Brown on 27%.

    so that’s Another one Anthony.

    Also I don’t understand why your calling those the final Angus Reid figures, since they aren’t, Angus Reid is a long way from being complete and currently the figures are different from what you report here.

  12. I’m not a labour supporter but I agree Christopher – Brown performed well

  13. @Richard – wow there’s a shocker – what other shocking news are they reporting? It’s Friday?

  14. @ American Observer

    Thanks for your thoughts. I would tend to agree after the coverage of our second debate here, so far, things seemingly are fairly static. A small if any amount of improvement for both Cameron and Brown, stable for Clegg I think.

    I think the very big changes would be seen after the first and last debates. Well we saw those changes after the first debate, so far no very big shifts in such a small amount of time since the 2nd debate, Cameron is not going to win an overall majority now I don’t think.

    I guess that we will all have to await the next polling data maybe tomorrow for anything more.

  15. I stopped watching Sky Entertainment (er, News) on a regular basis a while ago, so I can well believe all the reports in here about their presenting of it. But I did happen to hear Adam Boulton say to someone about Brown and Cameron that it was like choosing whether to get hanged or shoot yourself in the head, and wondered if it was appropriate a few days before hosting an important event! I was watching it solely for the polling figures in the corner, honest, but was pleased to be watching right then. :-)

  16. “If Cameron and Brown improved – which they did – then how can the Lib Dems GAIN in the polls?”

    Because – other than (most importantly) giving the LibDems equal exposure – the debates don’t matter one way or the other?

    I reckon the Tory slide and LibDem rise will both continue but that we won’t find that out until May 7th because the polls can’t cope with a three-way contest with so many new voters..

  17. “If Cameron and Brown improved – which they did – then how can the Lib Dems GAIN in the polls?”

    Narrative: “See! It’s wasn’t just a flash in the pan or even a one-off.”

  18. @RogerH,

    I disagree on that. I think the Tory vote will hold up quite well over the next week. Just my personal hunch though. I guess we’ll see over the next few days!


  19. “Just seen some of the headlines from tmrs papers at the end of newsnight. Far better for Cameron in terms of the general headlines and reaction.”

    But do they matter? I’m not sure anyone takes the newspapers that seriously any more (if they take them at all).

  20. Anybody know how the Mirror, in their headline tmr, can report that David Cameron came third. He didn’t in any one of the 5 polls that have been published, which is perhaps they don’t say which poll they are referring to.

    Morale of the story, there is strong bias in the press on both sides of the political spectrum.

  21. @RogerH

    “I reckon the Tory slide and LibDem rise will both continue but that we won’t find that out until May 7th because the polls can’t cope with a three-way contest with so many new voters..”

    I would agree the 3 way contest is definitely fascinating, as is the increase in voter registrations, which is up about 17% in some areas accordinjg to reports from the BBC.

  22. @richard – I take that point – but it’s just a breeze compared to the hurricane backing of right-wing press.

  23. American Observer:

    Thanks for your thoughts.


    Sounds like we’re as one on the Tory figure for the election. I do have a very charismatic doormat though, and reject the slur.

  24. @Christopher
    I actually think that the fact that brown is still electorally alive is nothing short of sensational. I mean:
    1 – He only has the support of one newspaper (the Mirror) after being abandoned by The Guardian
    2 – He was widely expected to be hammered in the debate
    3- He’s coming through the worst recession in living memory
    4 – He is facing a “change” election after 13 years in office (Lab that is – although Brown has been in the government for 13 years).
    By any standard of conventional wisdom he should be doomed. But he isn’t. In fact he’s actually inching upwards. Astonishing and barely believable.

  25. Tory vote will definitely hold up, no question.

    Labour is done for.

    The only question is how many people who would otherwise have voted Tory will, in fact, now vote Lib Dem because of these awful tv shows that have so debased politics.

  26. Brown performed well and this is the result. Hardly any point turing up, was there? Minds were already made up.

  27. Richard O “….there is strong bias in the press on both sides of the political spectrum”

    Yes but 85% of the press is Tory which makes the playing field very unbalanced.

  28. @RAF,

    I agree.

  29. Richard O

    I imagine that you could say that the polls which show Clegg in the lead and Cameron/Brown in joint second could be turned into Cameron being in joint third place or joint last place depending on whether or not you are standing on your head

  30. Newspapers are important because they establish the talking points for the telly. I would guess many people are like me in only seeing the newspaper headlines on the news & talk programmes.

  31. @Richard O
    Well, yes. But as stated above, Labour only now has one paper to do their bidding. The cons have at least 4 (Mail, Express, Telegraph, Sun). The LD are likely to have two (Guardian, Indy). The Times look like staying neutral.

  32. @RAF – Speaks more on Cameron i’m afraid in that case.

    Add a 5th point to your list – a massive partisan and right-wing media including at least one TV outlet, and i’m not including Sky in that.

  33. raf:

    I agree as well. it’s almost unbelievable in fact. well done him.


    yes, it is rather sad. still, we can see through it…..

  34. Sky News have a poll of polls of all the post debate polls except for what Anthony calls the “Voodoo” Channel 4 poll. That is they have added up all the sample numbers in the CR, AR, YG, Populus, and ICM polls. It has:-

    Cameron – 33%
    Clegg – 33%
    Brown – 27%

    Evidently a tie between Cameron and Clegg. Brown is the clear loser for the second week running.

  35. Guardian/ICM – Clegg won
    Clegg: 33%
    Cameron: 29%
    Brown: 29%

  36. My thoughts tonight are as follows:-

    – NC performed admirably considering the amount of pressure he was under. He was always going to be under a lot more pressure this time round, but he retained his calm, reassuring public speaking style that made him so popular and appealing in the first debate.
    – DC improved drastically on the 1st debate. He was much more aggressive and direct than before. For me, he was marginally the better performer on the night.
    – GB surprised me the most. Not only did he show that he had the ability to address the British public effectively, I thought he showed that, whilst he will never be a natural orator, he does give better speeches/debates than most people give him credit. I was surprised at just how well he did tonight.

    So, all in all, a pretty even debate with no clear winner. I suspect that there will not be the great surge in opinion polls as we had last time, but there is still the possibility that this debate may move the parties a few % either way.

    I await the next few days’ polls with eager anticipation!

  37. The only question is how many people who would otherwise have voted Tory will, in fact, now vote Lib Dem because of these awful tv shows that have so debased politics.
    That would be compared to the press, to the likes of the Sun, Mail, Telegraph, .. that wouldn’t debase politics , would it now,

    I don’t necessarily like the outcome , but no one can deny open debate is so much better for democracy.let the people make thier choice. Debased politics?, all seems to ring of snobbery to me.

  38. When’s the first post-debate VI poll? Is it worth waiting up?

  39. After Clegg’s powerful victory last week I feel that Brown and Cameron have directed their battle between themselves towards Nick Clegg (Probly because they didnt expect such a thrashing last week), even though Clegg was under direct attack he didn’t respond badly. Gordan Brown finally put up a worthy fight as the current priminister, but that said I think he has only realised the real threat of loosing his position, And Cameron. What Happened. First debate he seemed in his comfort zone and still came only second, he should have used that advantage and run but Clegg got there first and was consistant, tonight was poor, poor from Cameron. He use to work in PR these debates should be his forte but no he let the torries down.

    In conclusion Clegg is clearly leading, followed by Gordon then Cameron.

    Did any one else feel that Brown went over the top with “Get Real”, soon to appeal to a younger audience he’ll use phrases such as ‘whats the 411 on that’

  40. @James
    “Evidently a tie between Cameron and Clegg. Brown is the clear loser for the second week running.”
    – – in your humble and absolutely non-partisan opinion?

  41. @ Skudor

    “The wow-factor is gone, but the new landscape remains.”

    A perfect summary, in my view.

  42. Chrisin the north

    I felt exactly the same about Kay Burley. She seemed to show her Tory credentials which was disgraceful. I thought that Brown had done very well and she just dismissed this totally. Outrageous.

  43. Matt

    Totally agree as regards Cameron and Brown and their performances, but I had doubts about Clegg – I thought he looked uncomfortable on some policy issues and I felt the middle position didn’t suit him as it didn’t suit Cameron last time around. However, the public has scored him equal with Cameron and I think underscored Brown – difficult to know how Brown can improve on how he performed tonight.

  44. @Craig – totally agree – since when has she been serious political reporter? Summed up a poor show all round from Sky.

  45. Lol at the Mail headlines:

    “Comeback Kid Cameron!”, “14,000 MailOnline readers say Cameron won the debate”

    Then further down the page…

    “Later the MailOnline poll showed Nick Clegg pushing Cameron into second place…” (paraphrasing)

    Going to be interesting to see what all the papers say, as there is no clear winner this time. Conceivably, they could make it sound like anyone won. Also I tip my proverbial hat to the Mirror for deciding to stick with backing Gordon Brown.

  46. Robert Corbishley:

    “tory vote will hold up. no question”.

    Hold up to what number?

    By the way, I’m trying to get my head around your seeming sense of unfairness, because some voters may have shifted from Con to Lib Dem, having had the opportunity to listen to their respective leaders for three hours.

    Quite what IS your point?

  47. Portillo just said how good it’ll be for the LibDems to have Clegg’s photo on the front page of all the papers.

  48. Bet Boulton will get some stick for asking that question to Clegg regarding donors? Surely that wasn’t part of the rules to be challenged by moderator like that.

    Sky almost ruined this debate and hope they don’t get another one.

  49. Christopher.

    I thought the ITV debate was far better controlled although the questions might have been better tonight. Boulton didn’t control things as well and the over enthusiastic reaction to Cameron was a sham! Brown did well and nobody will convince me otherwise. It may be that it is the 13 years in Govt mantra which is making it difficult for him in the polls as he personally played a blinder tonight and bossed the debate for me. He may be right that people won’t really make up their mind until the last few days.

  50. Apparently The Sun are now censoring their own polls

    h ttp://

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