Voting Intention

The Conservative party has finally chosen a leader and normal politics has resumed. Sky have released the final opinion poll of the Tory interregnum, conducted by YouGov. With the last few days newspapers having been an orgy of Cameronia, it is rather unsurprisingly a good poll for the Tories – for the first time since the beginning of the general election campaign it shows the parties neck and neck: CON 36% (+1), LAB 36%(-1), LD 18% (-2).

The change from the last poll is well within the margin of error and, if repeated at a general election, these shares of the vote would still give Labour an overall majority. However by the time of the next election Gordon Brown will be Labour leader, not Tony Blair. A separate question asked respondents how they would vote at the time of the next election assuming that the party leaders are Charlie Kennedy, David Cameron and Gordon Brown. Far from Brown increasing the Labour vote, the Conservatives took a 5% lead: CON 38%, LAB 33%, LD 18%. Of course – the same caveats that I used to attach to polls asking hypothetical questions about voting intention under potential Tory leaders apply to questions about potential Labour leaders as well – it may be a long time until we know what effect a Gordon Brown leadership would really have on Labour support.

YouGov also asked about how the three present party leaders and Gordon Brown were seen by the public. Cameron was seen as having an attractive personality by a greater proportion (23%) of people than any other party leader, and significantly more than Gordon Brown on only 6%. He was also seen as less out of touch with people’s problems than Brown or Blair and, while 29% of people said they didn’t really know what he stood for, similar numbers of people said the same about Brown. Cameron’s lowest score was the proportion of people who thought he was more honest than most politicians – only 9% compared to 16% for Blair, 20% for Brown and 29% for Kennedy.

Gordon Brown had better ratings than Tony Blair on every count, except upon having a likeable personality where he trailed badly. Finally Charlie Kennedy as usual scored very highly across the board – he was the leader who people though least out of touch with people’s problems, the least unclear about what he stood for and far and away the most honest. The only places where he was beaten by other party leaders were being seen as likeable by fewer people than Cameron, and as having good ideas by fewer people than Brown.

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