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And the debate winner is… early polls pick clear winner
The candidates had barely begun debating Thursday night, when viewers started posting their opinions, picking winners and the losers, and providing their own informed – and sometimes uninformed – analysis of Britain’s first-ever televised debate.
Instant polling reached new heights last night. Yet, the real impact of this on the final result of the elections is yet to be seen. Andrew Jones, a professor at the Robert Gordon University in the UK and a media expert, said: “This new approach to a general election reflects the growing pressure to constantly update data in a 24-hour news environment. There is no reason to believe that they are not an accurate snapshot of the campaign at any given moment. However, national trends can hide specific issues in different parts of the UK and need to be treated with some care.”
Opinions expressed on the Web seem to agree that Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg had won the country’s first-ever televised general election debate. Shortly after the debate, an instant poll organised by Channel 4 declared Clegg the winner with an approval rating of 57%, followed by Labour candidate and current Prime Minister Gordon Brown who obtained 28%. Cameron came last with 13%.
‘Rate the Debate’ on Facebook
Twitter, the popular microblogging site, featured a lively array of instant judgments. “I give Clegg the winner's medal. Great performance against the more experienced Brown and Cameron,” read a tweet posted by a user identified as “mickthehack”.
Despite the technical hitch, frustrated viewers shared their opinions on the wall of Democracy UK. A user named “Osian Llwyd Jones” said, “Nick winning by a mile. Shows that the only thing that's stopped Lib Dems (sic) in the past is a platform (or money) for their voice to be heard.”
However, the significance of Thursday's instant polls remains unclear. “The variety of data published after last night's debate tended to focus on the performance of each party leader. This is new territory. It is not yet clear how far that will correspond to firm political support. It will take a couple of days to see if there is any significant impact in the overall position of each party,” Jones commented.
Sky News will be hosting the next debate on April 22 on foreign affairs. The final debate will be broadcasted by BBC1 on April 29, where the topic under discussion will be the economy. Whether this innovation will have a direct and significant impact on the polls on May 6 remains to be seen.