Election Round-Up

Reacting to the Guardian endorsement of the Lib Dems over Labour, Tim Montgomerie hopes:

Gordon Brown may end up with only The Mirror's backing. The FT is also certain to jump ship after four successive endorsements of Labour.

Massie warns Clegg:

There's danger for Clegg in all this jockeying for position and influence too. One way to become just like the "two old parties" he lambasts might be to behave just like any other horse-trading, in-it-for-his-own-advantage politician. Novelty, like any other sheen, can wear off quickly.

Michael Tomasky thinks this happened in yesterday's debate:

I think the thing that happened here is that – and this, lo and behold, is something I did predict accurately after the first slugfest – the novelty of Clegg wore off by round three. And since most people are tired of Brown anyway, and especially in the Duffy aftermath, the post-glow Clegg support went to Cameron not Brown.

Jacob Weisberg has the same take:

Clegg's act wore thin in the third. He did not succeed in establishing himself as a responsible choice, as opposed to a protest vote. He avoided further swithering on the question of a hung Parliament only by evading the issue entirely. What on previous occasions came across as a Bill Clinton-like gift for engaging with ordinary people felt too slick. "Tonight's debate is about you," he announced a little too giddily at the outset. And Clegg's sucking up to every questioner was smarmy enough to elicit laughter and groans in the press room.

So does Rachman:

I thought some of the gloss came off Clegg tonight. In the first debate, he seemed affable, cheerful and above-it-all. In this debate he was clearly riled by the attacks on the Lib Dem policy of a partial amnesty for illegal immigrants - and got aggressive with Cameron. Regardless of the merits of the argument, that was a tactical mistake. Voters seem to be turned off by Westminster-style point-scoring.

James Forsyth looks at tactical voting:

Labour supporters in Lib Dem Tory seats will vote for the Lib Dems to try and keep the Tories out. But, interestingly, I hear that Lib Dem supporters tactically voting in Labour in Labour-Tory marginals is unwinding. Lib Dem supporters who have voted tactically in the past are now conscious of how significant it would be if the Liberal Democrats finished second in the popular vote and so are backing their own party.

Nick Wood loves Cameron's Contract With Britain:

Right now the strongest reason for voting Conservative is a negative: Cameron is not Brown. That has long been the main source of Cameron's political strength. But as polling day nears, he needs to ensure that the public go to the ballot box with a few big but simple reasons for switching to the Tories. They need to know why they are backing Cameron.

That's why his Contract with Britain is essential.

People won't vote for a Big Society. But they will vote for concrete policies that bring the Tory manifesto to life.

Tim Montgomerie has more details:

Two million copies of the contract will be distributed to households in battleground seats - three-and-a-half million people in total. Another one million will be distributed at railway stations and on the campaign trail. Key components of the contract will be highlighted on each day of what's left of the campaign.

Peter Mandelson, Labour’s Head of Election Strategy, isn't as pleased:

With days to go it's vital that voters take a close look at the small print behind the Tories' PR. David Cameron is trying to sell people something without revealing that his plans mean cuts to tax credits, cuts to Child Trust Funds, cuts to schools, cuts for manufacturing, and cuts to the police. David Cameron might think he can fool the voters with a glossy leaflet but he should give them more credit than that.

Massie explains why Cameron's task is so difficult:

it's the failures of the past and that he inherited that make Dave's task so difficult. If 2005 hadn't been such a ghastly failure perhaps the Tories wouldn't need to win an extra 130 seats to win a majority. In other words, they essentially need a landslide just to win a small victory. That's what Cameron inherited and his critics might care to remember the abject failure of their kind of Toryism. If three thumping defeats don't demonstrate that the Tories "own original and successful coalition" has disappeared then I don't know what does.

Mike Smithson analyzes the above Labour poster. Dizzy's feelings about last night's debate:
The general feeling was that Clegg got hammered on immigration by the other two, personally, I thought that whilst he did get hammered by them his argument was actually the most sophisticated because it essentially comes straight out of the drug decriminalisation playbook about how the criminal gangs rely on prohibition or illegal immigrants by operating in a black economy - starve the black economy, solve the problem.

Whilst I say it's the most sophisticated of the arguments, it doesn't really play well with most people, just as the decriminalisation of drugs argument doesn't play well either. The other two rightly hammered him on the assumed logical conclusions of an "amnesty" that you just send a message that if you come to Britain illegally then disappear for long enough you'll be allowed to stay eventually.

Labour strategist Alastair Campbell -surprise!- calls yesterday's debate for Brown:

The polls are not great for Labour. True. But the sheer number of undecideds is good news for Labour. It means despite all they have seen and heard, despite all the posters, despite Murdoch, the Mail and the rest, they are still holding out against a Cameron premiership. And last night [Gordon Brown] did a very good job of giving them the very good reasons why they are right to hold out, and right to keep asking the questions Cameron and Clegg don't want to answer.

And the betting markets are predicting a greater chance of a Tory majority after last night's debate: