David Cameron’s honeymoon as Conservative leader seems to be coming to a close – there is criticism of his strategy from the Thatcherite old guard and murmurs of disquiet from party donors, at the same time the media have started to ask questions rather than bathe in the glory of the Tory wunderkind. So, what do the polls say? Have his first 2 and a half months been a success.

YouGov’s February poll for the Telegraph has the Conservatives back in the lead, with topline figures of CON 38%(+1), LAB 36%(-3), LDEM 18%(+3). As with ICM’s poll earlier this week the Liberal Democrats are now back where they were prior to Charles Kennedy’s resignation, with a consequential drop in Labour support.

The narrow two point lead held by the Conservatives would be enough to deprive Labour of an overall majority, but it is nowhere near the sort of lead the Conservatives would require to win a majority at an election – still, on voting intention Cameron does seem to have made a difference. Prior to last December Conservative support was pretty much stable around a 30-33% range, now they seem to have largely settled around the 37-39% mark.

David Cameron’s early approval ratings were positive, but the same applied to Michael Howard and Iain Duncan Smith who both rapidly declined once all those people who said “don’t know” decided they didn’t like the new leader after all. The early signs are that David Cameron might not be following the same pattern – the percentage of people telling YouGov they don’t know what they think about Cameron is down from 44% last month to 35% this month and it seems that, unlike his predecessors, they are breaking in his favour. His net approval rating is up from +22 to +27 this month. Of course, this could merely be a “baby boost” from the birth of his third child.

Asked if they agree or disagree with various statements about Cameron, 60% of people agree that, under Cameron, the Conservatives have “aquired a new freshness and vitality” – this includes 47% of Labour voters and 58% of Lib Dem voters. 36% think the Tories under Cameron represent the values and aspirations of the British people better than before and 53% think they have greatly increased their chances of winning the next election. However, the Labour party do seem to have correctly identified David Cameron’s potential weakness – 36% of people agree that David Cameron “flip-flops” and 63% agree that “David Cameron talks a good line but it is hard to know whether there is any substance behind the words” – that includes 51% of Tory voters.

So, how has he done? He’s certainly started to increase the level of Conservative support. He is also a popular leader so far and he seems to be getting more popular as people get to know him. He has certainly given the Conservative party a more postitive image. On the downside, even Conservative voters are wary about whether he means what he says and he may well be vulnerable to charges of flip-flopping.


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