A 7 way mish mash of a political debate is going to take place on April 2nd! Who will win?
Well when it comes to a straight up comparison of results like YouGovs debate winner poll the odds are in my opinion somewhat in favour of David Cameron – but that is mostly an artifact of the way the debate is going to take place.
Firstly you have the minor parties, Greens and the 2 regionals. The focus of these parties will be to spin everything towards their base. They simply cannot not win the debate because they would be stupid to try and win the debate. The most benefit they can get from the debate is to say ‘They are wrong because it would effect Wales/Scotland/environment thus’. This method will help them win seats, and it is incredibly difficult for the major parties to compete against such attacks without diluting their own message (and thus costing them votes elsewhere). However by focusing so narrowly these parties all but rule themselves out of contention.
UKIP are actually the odds on favourites in many bookies at the moment, but personally I do not rate them. UKIP are incredibly popular among their likely voters (who are the most enthusiastic of any voters this election by far) – however outside of this core demographic voters have become entrenched against UKIP, in part from actions of a few UKIP members, and in part from over a year of UKIP being shanked by the press at every opportunity. It is very difficult for a swing voter to say ‘UKIP won’ after repeatedly hearing ‘anyone who supports UKIP is a racist’.
Then we move on to the first of the Big Three. Liberal democrats are likely to lose a lot of seats this election, but they will most likely hold onto ~20-30 seats which could still make them the power brokers post election. 5 years ago Nick Clegg proved himself to be a strong and convincing speaker during the election debates, creating the stir that was ‘Cleggmania’. This time around the shine has come off of the Lib Dems, and even if he gives a convincing performance it is unlikely he will be able to fully overcome the cynicism people have developed towards his party.
The final two, David Cameron and Ed Miliband are very difficult to rank. Both will get votes purely on the basis that they are the ones capable of becoming Prime Minister. When you couple this with the big base of support that the two parties have it is extremely likely that one of them will win. So why do I call it for David Cameron? Well simply put there are 2 right wing parties and 5 left wing parties (whilst the Lib dems are not strictly speaking left wing, left wing floating voters would be prepared to vote for them, whilst generally right wing floating voters are unlikely too.).
A combination of a strong number of party loyalists and wooing floating voters will decide who wins this debate, and in this Cameron begins with a definite advantage.