The latest ConservativeHome poll of party members shows a seismic transformation in the grassroots’ view of David Cameron, George Osborne and the party’s prospects at the next General Election.
The bottom line is that David Cameron currently enjoys more support from the party’s rank-and-file than at any time in his leadership.
NET SATISFACTION WITH DAVID CAMERON
When David Cameron first became leader, 82% of members were satisfied and 16% were dissatisfied. This produced the net satisfaction rating of +66%. His rating slowly eroded after that but began to deteriorate badly at the time of grammarsgate. By the end of September there were slightly more members dissatisfied with him than satisfied – 49% to 48%. For reasons explained last evening we didn’t publish that number at the time. Today the situation is transformed. 89% of members are now satisfied with the Conservative leader and only 11% dissatisfied. I put it down to the transformation in the opinion polls, the inheritance tax cut, the rebalancing of the overall party message, that Conference speech, strong (sometimes angry) performances at PMQs and, of course, Labour’s self-inflicted wounds. Throughout the last few weeks one thing is clear: Brown bottled it but David Cameron held his nerve.
NET SATISFACTION WITH GEORGE OSBORNE
The other big winner in this month’s survey is George Osborne – the author of the inheritance tax cut. 88% say that they are satisfied with the Shadow Chancellor now and only 9% dissatisfied. I was certainly one of the 1,206 members who voted "satisfied" but I will be campaigning hard against a repeat of George Osborne’s pledge to match Labour’s spending but that’s a discussion for another day. For those who can’t wait for strong arguments in favour of spending control, please see today’s Platform piece by Andrew Haldenby. Essential reading.
Tomorrow I’ll post the ratings for all of the shadow cabinet. The ratings of every shadow cabinet member rose (except one).
LIKELIHOOD OF DAVID CAMERON BECOMING PRIME MINISTER
This third graph captures the change in expectations of victory. At the start of 2006 77% thought David Cameron was likely to become PM after the next General Election. That number slipped to 29% last month but is now at a new high this month: 80%. Today’s ComRes poll giving the Tories an 8% lead will encourage the optimists but there is a long road ahead. The election might not be until 2010. Will Brown’s standing continue to erode? Will events come to his aid? Will Clegg regain some of the LibDems’ lost support? There’s a lot of work to do before anyone can open any champagne.
I’ll put up the survey’s EU Treaty findings at 10am. If you heard them featured on this morning’s Today programme please wait until then to discuss them.