Huhne overtakes Clegg – sort of

Look – it’s close, OK? Too close for the difference to be meaningful. And it may not actually be good news for Huhne anyway. But there has been a small but measurable swing to him from Clegg in the attention they’re both receiving among bloggers.

The turning point was the Calamity Clegg dossier, which rather underlines the potential downside of this – the mere fact he’s being written about doesn’t guarantee that nice things are being said about him. But didn’t Oscar Wilde once argue that it was better to be notorious than unknown?

If you feed both their names into the BlogPulse trends tool from Nielsen and ask it to compare what proportion of the chatter in the blogosphere is about each of them, the results are interesting. Here’s the graph:

Trends in blog posts over the last two months.

You can see very clearly that, apart from the spike caused by the launch of Huhne’s campaign, marginally more attention was paid to Clegg during the first two thirds of the campaign. There wasn’t much clear air between them (compared with what you get if you add John Hemming to the mix, or even CK or Vince after the first ‘will they stand?’ flurry was over) but you could see a slight advantage.

And then came the day of the dossier – Huhne attracts more interest, for obvious reasons, but he managed to keep at least a marginal advantage for most of the time since then – although there’s a hint in the last couple of days that they may be even again.

So what does it mean? Not a great deal, probably, except that Huhne has once again managed to muscle his way into the forefront of people’s attention. How good a thing this is for him and the party depends on what they’re actually saying.

And, of course, neither are exactly setting the world apart compared with more important issues like Britney Spears:

Graph with added Britney