Saturday’s Telegraph has a snap YouGov poll reacting to the Question Time debate between David Cameron and David Davis. It shows that David Davis won the debate pretty convincingly and has made up some ground on Cameron, but despite this Cameron still enjoys a convincing lead amongst party members.

57% of YouGov’s respondents said they watched the Question Time debate, and 45% said that Davis impressed them the most, compared to only 18% who thought Cameron came out on top. 26% of those who watched Question Time were impressed enough with Davis to say that in the the light of the debate, they were now considering voting for Davis rather than Cameron.

On the list of questions about who be the better candidate to lead a united party, to challenge Blair and Brown in the Commons, in coming across on TV, increasing the Conservative chances of winning an election and being a good PM if they did, David Cameron continues to beat Davis quite convincingly on every count.

On the other hand asked about the candidates’ images, some strengths emerge for Davis and some weaknesses for Cameron. Members overwhelmingly think that David Davis is the candidate who has more well-developed views on policy and think he is more substance than style. Members also felt that Davis came across as being well-informed – a man who knew his stuff – although a majority also thought this about Cameron.

David Cameron meanwhile was seen as the candidate more likely to make bold decisions, the candidate with more self-confidence, he was seen as more of a potential Prime Minister, was overwhelmingly seen as the candidate who would allow the Conservatives to make a fresh start and who appeared to be a “man of the future”. On the downside almost 60% thought Cameron lacked political experience, 40% thought he had style, but little substance, and 24% thought he was a lightweight.

Next YouGov asked some questions about the positions of the candidates on taxation. Without identifying which candidate held which position, they asked respondents if they agreed with the candidate (in fact David Davis) who had said the party should promise to cut taxes by £1,200 a year, funded by the resultant growth in the economy. By a small margin members disagreed with this stance. Members were far more supportive of the candidate (in fact David Cameron) who said the party should wait till much closer to the election to make tax promises – this was supported by just under two-thirds.

The bottom line, however, is what difference will it make to how members vote. The last YouGov survey of party members immediately prior to Liam Fox’s elimination found that, excluding don’t knows, 77% preferred Cameron while 23% preferred Davis. The effect of the past weeks campaigning and Thursday’s debate had been a swing to Davis – the topline figures are now Cameron 68% to Davis’s 32%.

So while Davis is gaining on Cameron, Cameron still enjoys a hefty 36% lead and, while the debate has given him the momentum, Davis is running out of time to turn the situation around. Ballot papers go out this weekend and 50% of party members (including 58% of those supporting Cameron) told YouGov they would return their ballots almost immediately. Davis has won this battle, but he still looks set to lose the war.


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