Though it probably wasn't convincing enough to spoil the conservatives' lead in most pre-election polling, some polls taken after Tuesday night's debate between Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn showed Corbyn, with a promising upswing, polling almost neck-and-neck with the PM.
According to Bloomberg, the YouGov/Sky News poll of 1,600 people gave Johnson a narrow victory, with 51% saying he won the ITV debate, while 49% said Corbyn performed best.
The prickly Corbyn has often struggled to win support among normal every-day Britons, thanks to his reputation as a one-time communist sympathizer and radical leftist. Corbyn entered the campaign with a satisfaction rating of minus 60, the lowest such score of any candidate since the agency started tracking the data. Though by the end of last month, Corbyn's likeability levels had improved to +2.
While it was only one debate, several more are planned, including another head-to-head showdown between the leaders of the two biggest parties. And last night, Bloomberg captured how many times each candidate said either "Brexit" or "the NHS" during the course of the debate.
Between the finger pointing and befuddled stares, we counted how many times the words "NHS" and "Brexit" were mentioned in the U.K. #LeadersDebate— Bloomberg TicToc (@tictoc) November 19, 2019
(P.S. There was only 1 hair ruffle) pic.twitter.com/NF2FUp9nnJ
In one of the most consequential elections for Britons in recent memory, voters will face a choice on Dec. 12 between Johnson and his plans for a speedy departure from the EU, and Corbyn, who has embraced plans for another embattled referendum that could ultimately scrap the Brexit deal altogether.
Even as he pulled ahead, Corbyn struggled to deny allegations that antisemitism is rife inside the Labour Party, and was repeatedly mocked by some in the audience for claiming his policy on Brexit was clear, when he couldn't say whether he'd vote to leave or remain. But Corbyn won big cheers for promising to end the privatization of the National Health Service.
A moment of levity arrived when both candidates were asked to reveal which Christmas gifts they would have bought for each other.
🎄What gifts would the 2 rivals give each other this Christmas?— Bloomberg TicToc (@tictoc) November 19, 2019
Corbyn: "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens
Johnson: "My brilliant Brexit deal" (or damson jam) pic.twitter.com/6E9ckNfUTn
Playing into accusations he had a one-track mind, Johnson said he'd give Corbyn a copy of his Brexit deal, which many dismissed as lame. Meanwhile, Corbyn said during his final message of the night that as PM he would protect the NHS and invest in “good jobs” across the country. "Vote for hope and vote for Labour on the 12th of December," he said.
According to the YouGov poll, Corbyn beat Johnson 59% to 25% on being in touch with ordinary people. But Johnson beat Corbyn 54% to 29% on appearing prime ministerial, and 54% to 37% on likeability.
Most recent polls put Johnson's conservatives at 42% of likely voters, a double-digit lead over Labour.