There have been new polls on the Tory leadership by both YouGov and ICM over the weekend, and David Cameron seems increasingly unbeatable. YouGov’s poll in the Telegraph showed Cameron leading Davis amongst the general public by 34% to 13%, and amongst Conservative supporters by 56% to 16%.

Asked who would make the better leader on several specific criteria, such as how they come across on the television, how they perform in the Commons, what chances they would have of winning the next election and who would make the best PM if they did, David Cameron trounced Davis on every count.

As Tony King points out in his commentary, support for Cameron must be largely image based, since the majority (61%) of the public had little idea on what Cameron’s views were in regard of levels of public spending on reform of public services. That said they were equally ignorant of what David Davis’s views were, thought the survey was likely carried out prior to David Davis’s well publicised pledges on taxation.

Meanwhile ICM’s poll for the Politics Show contacted Conservative party members to ask how they would vote in the leadership election. The sample size was only just over 200, but the actual figures were broadly inline with YouGov’s earlier poll of party members – 24% said David Davis, 76% said David Cameron.

The ballot papers for the Conservative leadership election will be sent out next Friday, and conventional wisdom is that most party members will return them almost straightaway. Unless something goes spectacularly wrong for David Cameron in the next week, or next week’s Question Time sees a major turnaround, David Cameron appears to have won.

This brings us onto the question of what happens next – YouGov also asked what voters would like to see the Conservative party do in the future. The results were quite interesting – most of the answers supported moving the party towards the centre ground, the public wanted to see the Conservative party move towards the Centre (net approval of +41), giving more help to the less well off (net approval of +64), paying more attention to the economy and public services and less to immigration (+41) and opposed promises of big tax cuts if they meant cuts to public services (net disapproval of -42). Conservative voters broadly shared these opinions.

However, some radical policies were supported by both Conservative voters and the general public – radical reform of public services ‘including privatisation’ was supported by 47% of the public, and opposed by 30%, while threatening to withdraw from the European Union was supported by 49% of the public and opposed by 29%. While public opinion does seem to favour a Conservativbe party that moves back to the centre ground, gives more help to the needy and worries less about taxes and immigration, they do seem to be receptive to radical solutions in a few specific areas.

UPDATE: I’m told there was a further ICM poll of party members, presumably with a larger sample, being carried out over the weekend. Perhaps it’ll be in tomorrow’s Guardian.

MORI’s October political monitor has also been published, and included questions on the Conservative leadership. Asked who they would most like to see as Conservative leader David Cameron was the most popular choice amongst the public. Unlike YouGov’s poll the public were given the choice of all the candidates, not just those remaining in the race, so this the first time that Cameron has overtaken Ken Clarke in a poll of the general public. Asked to chose between just Cameron and Davis Cameron is ahead by 42% to 15%.


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