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Mark Penn's tragically timed case of Cleggmania

Yesterday, I pointed to this column from pollster Mark Penn and asked whether his optimism about the UK's Liberal Democratic Party was a bit hasty. For example, here's Penn on the political impact of the Lib Dems' (as they're called) election push, led by their popular leader Nick Clegg.

Cleggmania shows that even the most tradition-bound electoral systems are facing the pressures of rapid change made possible by modern communications. These movements may not win out of the gate, but they will become significant political factors. ... Nick Clegg is a dynamic leader who was able to increase support for his Liberal Democrats through the country's first televised debates. And he set off a firestorm.

With only 22 out of 650 seats left to count, the Liberal Democrats have won 53 seats -- down slightly from 2005. Their overall vote percentage (a flawed number in these elections because so many other parties get votes in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland) is up only 0.8 points. The Conservative Party has, as many thought they would before last month, grabbed a swing vote that hadn't trusted the party until it made some left-leaning reforms over the past five years. This isn't an error on the scale of the ones Penn made in the 2008 campaign, but it's one anyone could have predicted.

By David Weigel  |  May 7, 2010; 8:34 AM ET
Categories:  Polls  
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