By Tim Montgomerie
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There's been a lot of blogging and tweeting about how David Cameron's ratings are now as bad as those of Ed Miliband. And in answers to one particular question it's true. Ask people if Cameron or Miliband are doing well/ badly and they both have similarly negative ratings (-25% in the case of the PM and -21% in the case of Ed Miliband)*. This 'coming together' is more about the decline of Cameron than any new found enthusiasm for the Labour leader, however.
The more pertinent question is surely a direct head to head comparison between the two men. When asked who would make the best Prime Minister Cameron scores 32% and Ed Miliband scores just 22%**. A 10% lead for the Tory leader. There has, of course, been something of a slide. In the wake of the EU veto Cameron's advantage soared to +24% at the start of this year. Most importantly, however, all of the narrowing of the gap has happened because Cameron's standing has fallen. Ed Miliband's rating has hardly improved at all.
When he first became Labour leader 25% thought Ed Miliband would be best PM. At the start of 2011 the number was 23%. At the end of last year it was 19%. Now it's 22%. It has never risen above 26%. Or to put it another way it's never been higher than the number Gordon Brown scored at the May 2010 General Election – 26%. Ed Miliband remains a drag on the Labour ticket.
Only 6% think Ed Miliband would be good in a crisis. A miserable 7% see him as strong. 4% see him as charismatic. 4% as a natural leader. This compares with respective 11%, 15%, 21% and 15% numbers for Cameron. Cameron's ratings are hardly great but they are significantly better than those of the Labour leader.
Labour doesn't have to do particularly well to win the next election. As I often blog, he has gained a huge bloc of ex-LibDem voters while Cameron is losing Tory voters to UKIP and stay-at-home. What is under-reported, however, is the persistently low ratings for Ed Miliband. My guess is that the British people have decided he simply isn't prime ministerial and that's very, very unlikely to change.
* Clegg's net rating is -59% with YouGov.
** Clegg scores just 6%.