Many of you will have watched the seven-way party leaders’ debate last night. Personally I thought the format worked slightly better than I had expected – or feared – for which much credit must go to Julie Etchingham, the presenter. It didn’t quite turn into the seven-way shouting match that some had feared, although it verged on it once or twice. I also think that all the leaders, notwithstanding their different styles, performed creditably. But then there are reasons why people become party leaders (i.e. they tend to be quite good at this politics stuff).
Still, no-one really cares what I think. What did the public make of it all? There was the, now customary, rather silly race between the pollsters to deliver their verdicts on who ‘won’ in the instant reaction polls. (For what little it is worth, I believe my friends at YouGov actually got their figures out first…). This race rather obscures the fact that some more interesting data emerged a little later, in the details of the polls carried out by the four companies doing post-debate polls last night.
You can find the detailed poll findings here: from YouGov, ICM, Survation, and ComRes. I’d encourage you to look through them for yourself. There are a number of questions in these surveys which strike me as much more useful and informative than those that simply asked for a single ‘winner’.
One of the best questions was in YouGov’s poll, where instead of asking for people to nominate one winner they asked for people to rate all the leaders out of 10. Unfortunately they have not been able to provide a ‘regional’ breakdown on these figures; however, these are the GB-wide averages:
The other polls do provide some regional breakdowns; although the sub-samples are fairly small, and not weighted for representativeness within those regions (and so should therefore be interpreted with considerable caution), the figures still give some useful indications. For instance, all the Scottish sub-samples show Nicola Sturgeon rating very strongly among Scottish viewers of the debate. It is difficult to imagine that the debate will have done anything other than reinforce her party’s currently strong position in Scotland.
ICM do have a question on the leaders’ performances which is, I think, almost as good as that of YouGov. Respondents were asked to state whether they thought each of the leaders had performed well or badly. Subtracting the percentage of ‘Badly’ responses from the ‘Well’ ones for each leader, we get the following results:
Among the Welsh sub-sample (a fairly small one, at only 78 respondents), these were the following net well-badly ratings: