#leadersdebate: Remember 1959?
One of my neighbours was a veteran Labour MP. He pointed out to me today that in 1955 the Liberals were "nearly dead" (they had just 6 MPs). He believes, and he was active then, that the mass rollout of TV, combined with televised elections between then and 1964, saved them.
They had 6 MPs in 1959 and 9 in 1964 and rose thereafter. It's just a theory - but if you fast forward to 2010 - to leadership debates plus the internet - my observation is that the more "mass" the media, the better chance the third party has. Clegg seems to be ahead in most of the realtime scoring polls (though Guardian saying a lot of clicks coming from Libdem HQ).