New poll puts Lib Dems in second place

Nick Clegg's widely-praised performance in the party leaders' TV debate has catapulted the Liberal Democrats ahead of Labour in the race for the General Election, according to a poll published today.

The YouGov daily survey for The Sun suggested the contest had become a real three-horse race, with the Lib Dems on 30 per cent to Labour's 28 per cent and the Conservatives in the lead on 33 per cent.



Mr Clegg's party leapt ahead eight points compared with the previous day, taking four points from the Conservatives, three from Labour and one from other parties in the poll, conducted after the historic 90-minute debate was broadcast on ITV1.



Today's poll is the second to show a surge of support for Lib Dems in the wake of the debate, following an ITV/ComRes survey yesterday which put the party up three points to 24 per cent, but still trailing Labour on 28 per cent and the Tories on 35 per cent.



It indicates that the first televised leaders' debate in British General Election history may have blown the race for 10 Downing Street wide open.



Not since the days of the SDP/Liberal Alliance in the 1980s have Labour been forced into third place in national polls of this kind.



Polling evidence suggests that the swing to the Liberal Democrats is even stronger among the 10 million voters who tuned in to watch Thursday's debate.



The ITV/ComRes survey found that, of a sample of 4,000 viewers who watched the broadcast, some 35 per cent said they would vote Lib Dem, against 36 per cent for the Tories and 24 per cent for Labour.



And Mr Clegg was picked as the winner of the debate in four separate instant surveys, racking up support as high as 61 per cent in one poll.



The Lib Dem leader will focus on health policy today as he and his wife Miriam, in a rare joint appearance on the campaign trail, visits the south London hospital where one of their sons was born.



Thanks to the complexities of the Westminster voting system, the figures in The Sun poll may be more disastrous for the Tories than for Labour.



According to the BBC's election seat calculator, if repeated on an even swing across the country on May 6, they would produce a hung Parliament with Labour the largest single party with 276 MPs against 246 Tories and 99 Lib Dems.



Such a result - coupled with Mr Clegg's role as "kingmaker" - would be certain to increase the pressure for electoral reform.



Observers will now be keenly watching to see whether the Lib Dems' dramatic surge in support is repeated in later surveys. With a three-point margin for error in most polls, statisticians are always keenly aware that an individual poll may simply represent a freak result, rather than a genuine trend in public opinion.



Today's development will mean the spotlight is very much on Mr Clegg as he continues his election campaign, and particularly when he squares up again with Gordon Brown and David Cameron for next Thursday's debate on Sky News.



Over the past 24 hours, Tories have launched a sustained attack on the Liberal Democrats' "eccentric" policies in a bid to offset the impact of Mr Clegg's TV performance, while Labour responded by underlining how close they were on some key issues with the third party.



Shadow chief treasury secretary Philip Hammond last night said Mr Clegg had successfully presented himself as the "outsider" in the debate, but predicted that voters' enthusiasm for Lib Dems would wane as their policies were put under scrutiny.



The election would not be judged like a "sixth-form debating contest", he said.



Mr Hammond told BBC2's Newsnight: "What people will want to look at now is the Lib Dem policy on areas like crime, immigration, defence, Europe, and when they come to look more closely at what Liberal Democrat policies actually are, they will find they are not quite as Nick Clegg was presenting them."



Labour's Schools Secretary Ed Balls said that previous Lib Dem leaders like Paddy Ashdown and Charles Kennedy had enjoyed a surge in the polls early in an election campaign as they began to receive more media attention than they were used to.



But he said that the key message from the debate was that Mr Cameron had been wrong to think he was heading for certain victory.



"He has been completely exposed," said Mr Balls. "Nick Clegg did well in the debate, Gordon Brown defined the question for the election which is how we secure the recovery, but David Cameron was completely knocked off course."



Mr Balls suggested that while Labour had "some differences" with the Lib Dems on policy, the two parties had more in common with one another than with the Conservatives.



Lib Dem foreign affairs spokesman Ed Davey told Newsnight: "Nick had a very good performance. That's given us a boost, but we know we have got a hard job over the next few weeks to turn that into massive Liberal Democrat success."



* YouGov polled 1,290 adults for The Sun on April 16.

News
people Emma Watson addresses celebrity nude photo leak
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
News
Boris Johnson may be manoeuvring to succeed David Cameron
i100
News
His band Survivor was due to resume touring this month
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
News
In this photo illustration a school student eats a hamburger as part of his lunch which was brought from a fast food shop near his school, on October 5, 2005 in London, England. The British government has announced plans to remove junk food from school lunches. From September 2006, food that is high in fat, sugar or salt will be banned from meals and removed from vending machines in schools across England. The move comes in response to a campaign by celebrity TV chef Jamie Oliver to improve school meals.
science
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
Life and Style
fashionAngelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
News
i100
Sport
Tom Cleverley
Loan move comes 17 hours after close of transfer window
Sport
Alexis Sanchez, Radamel Falcao, Diego Costa and Mario Balotelli
footballRadamel Falcao and Diego Costa head record £835m influx
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Madame Vastra and Jenny Flint kiss in Doctor Who episode 'Deep Breath'
tv
Extras
indybest 9 best steam generator irons
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Project Officer (HMP Brixton Mentoring Project)

£24,000 per annum pro rata (21 hours per week): Belong: Work as part of a cutt...

Construction Solicitor / Partner

Highly Competitive Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - Senior Construction Solici...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £45000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Key featuresA highly motivated ...

DT teachers required for supply roles in Cambridge

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: DT teachers required ...

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering