Second Brit Debate Reax
1) This has not been a game-changer, in the way that last week's debate was.
2) Clegg has not crashed. In fact, he's been pretty good. (According to the Guardian tracker, he's winning.) His opening statement was very good, and he concluded with a powerful statement about the way politics can change. If anyone thought the Lib Dem bandwagon was going to be stopped tonight, they were wrong.
3) Cameron wanted a win. I don't think he's had one. Labour will come out saying the fact that he did not dominate meant that he was the loser tonight. I don't think that's fair - he held his own very well - but he did not dominate the debate like a prime minister-in-waiting.
Here's the instanst spin: Labour people say: it isn't about presentation; Cameron failed to land a knock-out blow. Not very convincing. Lib Dems pretty jolly, feel their man came through foreign-affairs unscathed. Tories feel Dave's anger worked for him and that he raised his game on last week. Last two both vindicated by two early polls: Clegg wins in [one]; Cameron the other; poor Gordon trails in both.
You have to admire Clegg. Immigration is a very weak hand for him but he’s gone on the offensive and is actually dominating this question. I’d love to see the worm on this one. If it were a debating contest you’d give it to him but he is still telling people what they don’t want to hear.
Sky announces an instant YouGov poll which has Cameron the winner on 36 per cent, Clegg second on 32 per cent, Gordon Brown 29 per cent.
Today's YouGov/Sun poll also showed the Tories back on top, but not by much. Anthony Wells looks at ComRes's numbers which found "33% thinking Clegg won, and Cameron and Brown in equal second place on 30%":
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.
I'll write something more detailed later, but my verdict on the debate would be that Cameron and Brown really raised their games, with Clegg still performing strongly, but not as strongly as last week. I think the YouGov/Sun instant poll got it about right but I'd put Brown slightly ahead of Clegg and Cameron just inching it.
My early take? Cameron needed a comeback narrative out of this debate. He need to halt Clegg in his tracks, and he didn't manage it.
Nick Clegg was hit from both sides and seemed frankly unable to cope. He ended up looking shallow and glib, and to the great viewing public who may have had no idea that it was LibDem policy to introduce an amnesty for illegal immigrants, or to give up our independent nuclear deterrent, or to embrace Brussels with open arms, this debate may well prove as the saying goes a game changer.
The most striking thing to me as an American was how much of this national security debate had nothing to do with national security. That Grace seemed like a very sweet lady, but you don't talk about old people's pensions in a national security debate.It just goes to prove that being the world's policeman is our responsibility alone.
Don't underestimate how disciplined and how ambitious Clegg is, my veteran Lib Dem strategist pointed out this week. He is ready for the fact that the other parties will play the man not the ball, just as they did in this morning's disgraceful rightwing papers. Tonight's debate was proof that both Labour and the Conservatives remain very afraid. This one is going to go right down to the wire.