Today, politicalbetting.com has reported on a study by researchers at Manchester University of the public's mood across a large number of issues.
This "macro-competence" measure is running heavily against Labour and is now about where it was in the party's locust years in the early 1980s. The researchers note that the Conservatives' "macro-competence" has been on the up since 2005, but not to the extent that Labour's has tracked downwards.
This may help to explain why current opinion polls suggest that a general election held now would result in a hung parliament.
But the Labour "macro-competence" chart also shows why talk of a hung parliament is a big risk for the Liberal Democrats. The Conservatives will (and are) claim that by voting for the Lib Dems, people may end up with Gordon Brown as PM for five more years. ("The only way you can sure of getting a change . . . ")
So the Liberal Democrats' challenge for the general election campaign is two-fold: (a) to help keep the Conservatives' "macro-competence" score as low as possible; and (b) to present greater Lib Dem influence in parliament as an opportunity, and not a threat - a change that will be for the better. The party is more likely to be able to influence the second of these, but shouldn't give up on the first.
Yes, that's right. It's about telling a hung parliament story that has a happy ending.