Interesting times ...
For obvious reasons, I have not seen any sign of a swing to the Liberal Democrats: if they were to win every seat in England except one, this would be the one.
In the constituency where I live, work, and am campaigning, nearly a quarter of the working population are directly employed by an industry which it is Liberal Democrat policy to close down. (And many more people work in businesses for which the nuclear industry or its' employees are a major part of the customer base.)
In fairness, Frank Hollowell, the Lib/Dem candidate in Copeland, does not support his party's anti-nuclear policy. But as he wants Nick Clegg to be in a position of power, and "Calamity Clegg" is on record as saying that the thousands of Cumbrians who his policies would throw out of work (probably about 17,000) could find something else to do, Frank is unlikely even to finish in the first three.
Consequently the recent Lib/Dem surge in the opinion polls has passed most of Copeland by - they may pick up a few more votes around Keswick but that's about it.
Apart from Frank and his agent, I've only met one person in West Cumbria so far in this campaign who was willing to admit that she was considering voting Lib/Dem, a lady who lives at Drigg (round the corner from the LLWR). It took me four seconds to put paid to that with the question "You do know that the Lib/Dems want to shut down the nuclear industry?"
So the main reaction in West Cumbria to the most recent opinion polls seems to be a mixture of bemusement, disbelief, and concern: probably what you would get in Dagenham if a party committed to abolishing the motor car had a big surge in the polls.
For a whole host of reasons, we should see the current bout of "Cleggmania" not as indicating that the election result is already determined but that it is wide open and all the parties have everything to play for.
Hat tip to Political Betting where one poster points out that the details of the Sunday Times YOUGOV poll show that
1) The Tories are 13% ahead with older voters (who tend to actually vote)
2) The Tories are 6% ahead of the Lib/Dems and 8% clear of Labour in England, and
3) The Lib/Dem surge is largely among the under 35s.
If there isn't a significant change in the pattern of who turns out to vote, (usually in recent elections older voters have been most likely to do so and younger voters least likely,) then the polls over the last few days could be understating the Conservative position and overstating the Lib/Dem position.
More to the point, the Lib/Dem bounce was the result of the first of three debates. The experience of US elections, where presidential candidates have held debates for years, is that the last debate is the most influential. There is everything to play for.
I do not normally turn to the News of the World for classic political journalism, but they have an article today called "The Tamagotchi of British Politics" which refuses to get carried away by the hype and makes a measured reponse
Examples of comments from the article
"There was nothing in Clegg's performance to mark him out specially, other than the indisputable fact that he could point at the other two leaders and say: "I'm none of the above.
"He won by default because, well, he's a novelty.
"On Thursday, Clegg took the moral high ground over expenses, while his own MPs were up to their necks in corruption as the Westminster gravy train ran free.
"And that's before we get round to the fact that the Lib Dems still refuse to give up £2.4million donated to them by fraudster Michael Brown.
"Then there's his party's disarray on the issue of Trident nuclear missiles. Clegg wants to scrap them - but during his leadership campaign three years ago he opposed the move.
"Or how about crime? Clegg's Lib Dems want to scrap prison sentences under six months, a move that would see thousands of criminals freed.
"Out of the three party leaders, Nick Clegg is now under the greatest pressure. He goes into the next leaders' debate with much to lose.
"Wait until English voters - notoriously twitchy about all matters European - hear him explain his continued desire to scrap the Pound in favour of the Euro."