To be absolutely frank, it is a fantastic but daunting prospect. The party will immediately face two crises: one will be the constitutional wrangling of a minority Parliament, the second will be the continuing economic crisis.
Barring a fluke, there seems no chance for the Conservatives or Labour to form a majority government, and the Parliament seems set to be "well hung" (not a tribute to Nick Clegg's supposed potency, but to the fact that the Liberal Democrats could choose between the other two parties as to who they wanted to work with). Indeed there is an outside chance that the Liberal Democrats could end up with a plurality of seats, though this is still, for the moment, less likely. In any event, the sharp surge in support for the Liberal Democrats of the kind the polls are suggesting, is now the trend would give Nick Clegg dramatic moral legitimacy to dictate terms to the other two parties.
In my view, this is not to make a choice of coalition: it is to offer the other parties a joint coalition over two years while the constitutional changes that the public want are enacted and a serious attempt is made to tackle the UK debt crisis.
The first issues to address should be constitutional: introducing STV, with or without a referendum should be the first priority (a crushing Lib Dem victory gives the party a mandate to move as it sees fit in this area). I think the less open or fair systems of AV and AV+ should be rejected. After electoral reform for the House of Commons, I think that the Liberal Democrats should offer a constitutional convention to discuss such issues as the way to reform the House of Lords. It would be far better to make the drafting of a new constitution an all party affair- in a way that Blair did not. The issue of the "English anomaly" needs to be addressed: either a single Parliament or regional Parliaments, to be agreed by consensus or by referendum if necessary. In any event, no matter what, the Liberal Democrats will need to reach out to the other two parties in order to build a new political system that can improve upon the old one.
With economic policy, the outlook is also unstable, and the minority Parliament is going to need all parties to work together in order to address the crisis hee too. It is, I think perfectly reasonable to ask that Vince Cable goes to the Treasury- he is the single most trusted politician on the economy, and so this is the second measure for Nick Clegg to insist upon. A unity government will need to agree some wrenching changes to government expenditure, but there is a basic consensus emerging across the parties about how to tackle this: which was demonstrated during the Chancellors debate.
Even if Nick Clegg were able to achieve a majority Liberal Democrat government, even if he could become Prime Minister as the leader of a minority government, in my view we should be proposing a joint administration if the election result justifies it.
If any other party tries to form a minority government without Liberal Democrat approval then the Liberal Democrats would be well within their rights to vote down a budget or Queens Speech that was proposed on those terms. The message that these polls are sending is that the public expects a new form of politics- and the same old Punch-and-Judy now will not do.
This surge is a challenge to all of the parties, including the Liberal Democrats themselves- it is so unexpected that few will have been prepared for the scale of the change- however welcome that change turns out to be- so the aftermath of the election is going to need much careful thought- and very clear focus on the core issues, values and interests of the Liberal Democrats and more, of the UK as a whole.