Guido has obtained some interesting poll data in advance of C4 News tonight - although some of the comments suggest that it originates from Chris Huhne's site.
This polling data puts Campbell on 44%, Huhne on 34% and Hughes languishing on just 14% - which means that the destination of those 8% undecided and the Hughes second votes crucial. I'd posit that Huhne could benefit the most from the don't knows - he's the least known of the candidates and my theory is that if you are an LD member, you'll know already if you are in the Campbell or Hughes camp. Both of these have enough profile for people to know who they are and what they stand for. If you haven't already decided for one of them, you might well be holding out to see what the other candidate has to offer.
I'm not entirely convinced by those figures - that seems to be awfully low for Hughes - but there is a paucity of good polling information coming out of the LDs at the moment (and there are the usual questions about sample size and polling methods to be asked, but let's stick with the headline data).
The real ballot papers went out today, but I suspect that many of the membership will hang on until Thursday's Question Time to see the performance of the three candidates.
Campbell was on the Politics Show yesterday and it wasn't a massively effective performance - hampered by dodgy audio feeds from the satellite. The awkward questions about precisely what discussions he had with Huhne and others about the Kennedy succession before Christmas (i.e. BEFORE there was a vacancy) were blocked by a mantra of maintaining the confidentiality of discussions with colleagues. He seems to be in the box seats at the moment, but things can change very quickly in this contest.
Whether Campbell or Huhne wins, it seems likely that there will be a rightward drift in the Liberal Democrat economic policy as the Orange Book proposals are developed into policy. I'm not buying into the idea that this is the end of the Liberal Democrats - there's too much invested in them for the party to implode at the moment. I do think that they are going to face a period of rebuilding and regeneration. Increasingly, they are going to be pressured by a resurgent Tory party and a Labour party revitalised by a new leader - both recovering their soft vote lost to the third party in recent years.
Here's a scenario, though. Imagine the potential of a Campbell leadership...
Three years down the line, Campbell is forced to stand down due to ill health and Kennedy - still a youngish man - returns to the fray. He's popular in the party (remember that 40% of a recent LD poll wanted him back) and now, hopefully, still sober. Could he make a comeback?