YouGov’s monthly tracker poll is in today’s Telegraph and shows the Conservatives continuing to enjoy a slight lead over Labour. The topline figures with changes from YouGov’s poll last weekend are CON 38%(+1), LAB 36%(nc), LDEM 18%(nc). It won’t be for a month or two until we can tell if if Conservative advance is a real change, or just the boost from a new leader. As Tony King points out in his analysis of the poll, YouGov found almost identical levels of support a month after Michael Howard became Tory leader and in his case they fell straight back behind.

David Cameron has also caught Tony Blair in the best Prime Minister rating, with both leaders on 30%. Again, there is a precedent for this – Michael Howard ever so briefly matched Tony Blair as preferred Prime Minister in 2004 before dropping behind. The main loser on the best Prime Minister question is Charles Kennedy, who had been up at 18% at the last general election and is now at 10%. Once again though, there is a precedent – back when Michael Howard became Tory leader Kennedy’s rating for best PM fell to 10% before recovering.

All in all, on YouGov’s polls at least the topline figures for David Cameron are no improvement on those Michael Howard achieved when he first became Tory leader – it’s the normal “new Tory leader” boost. Only when you look at the underlying figures do we find significantly more positive figures for David Cameron.

Firstly, there seems to be far less hostility towards the Cameron-led Conservative party. Back in 2003 when Howard became leader YouGov asked what people’s reaction would be were Michael Howard to form a government – 19% would have been delighted, 32% wouldn’t mind, 34% would have been dismayed, a net balance of -15 (by February 2005 this had decayed to -28). In today’s poll 21% of people said they would be delighted if David Cameron formed a government, with only 24% saying they would be dismayed, a net balance of only -3.

YouGov also asked a series of questions offering respondents pairs of words and asking which best applied to David Cameron. YouGov asked the same questions about Tony Blair at the end of November. On every count more people associate David Cameron with the postive option, and on every count his figures are better than Blair’s, in some cases quite startlingly so. 52% of people thought that Tony Blair did not listen to reason, a net rating of -22. Cameron’s rating was +15. While 46% of people thought that Blair was likeable, 38% of people though he wasn’t. In contrast Cameron was seen as likeable by 51% of people, with only 12% saying he was not likeable. Blair’s net score on trust was -34, Cameron’s +2 and so on. A lot of this is because people don’t yet know Cameron – on nearly every count the majority of people said don’t know – but those that did have an pinion tended to be positive.


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