Everything right now is analysed through the prism of "what it means about the leadership".
Beyond the bluster and rhetoric, there is a surprising degree of consensus on the reforms needed.
Farage gets to enter the political establishment, while Clegg has a chance to reconnect with those voters who warmed to him in 2010.
The party is pushed into last place by a candidate whose policies include the legalisation of brothels with a 30 per cent reduction for OAPs.
The Business Secretary tries to appeal to fiscal conservatives by highlighting that reduced EU migration will lead to "a much slower reduction in the public debt".
The PM said during the first 2010 leaders' debate that the Lib Dem policy was too expensive.
Danny Alexander and Lynne Featherstone are both vulnerable to Labour challenges.
It will become harder for the PM to insist he can succeed when the europhile and the europhobe both declare he will fail.
Having successfully transcended his party's left-right divide, the Scottish Secretary could be the man to hold the Lib Dems together after the next election.