Another setpiece TV event, another good night for Jeremy Corbyn.
Just how worried should Theresa May be? The different approaches the pollsters took to fixing their 2015 problems – not enough over 75s and too many graduates in the samples, essentially – are producing very different answers. But whether it is YouGov, today showing the lead down to three points or Panelbase’s rather healthier 15, the one thing all the pollsters agree on is that the Conservative lead is smaller than it was at the start of the election campaign.
Away from the polls, what the parties all agree on is that May’s difficult campaign has damaged her. Conservative candidates are venting their anger to HuffPo‘s Owen Bennett using words that wouldn’t make it past your firewall if I repeated them here. Labour candidates are having a better time of it than they were at the start of the campaign.
But both sides also agree that May’s big lead among older voters is largely unscathed. Whether that means a Conservative government with a small majority, a Conservative government living hand-to-mouth thanks to the DUP or a Conservative majority depends on whether – and more importantly where – young voters turn out this time.
It’s clear, too, that May is not the figure she was in the eyes of the public. There is a fierce row blazing over whether or not the BBC’s debate audience last night was stacked full of lefties – something that the BBC and ComRes, who were tasked with finding a representative audience are contesting, of course – but that, coupled with the open laughter at May on Monday fits with the idea that something is afoot.
I’m old enough to remember when the pro-Brexit crowd in the referendum debate meant the BBC had got its sampling wrong – they hadn’t. I also remember that first televised debate of the 2015 Labour leadership race – when everyone accused the BBC of messing up its audience selection because of the great reception Jeremy Corbyn got.
It’s clear that Corbyn’s has tapped into something that the commentariat has largely missed. It’s plausible, but not in my view likely that something is big enough to win an election.
But I haven’t forgotten that “plausible, but not in my view likely” was my account of Corbyn’s chances when he got that 35th signature to put him on the Labour leadership ballot just under two years ago.