Over at political betting, Mike Smithson has reported our poll published earlier today that found Theresa May overtaking Boris Johnson as Party members’ choice to be the next Conservative leader for the first time. (As he says, “this could mean something or it could mean nothing”.) When he reported our poll findings last month about members’ general election expectations, he was able to produce a graph showing a steady decline during the autumn in the proportion of them expecting David Cameron to be Prime Minister after the next election.
If he does the same graph today, it will show a move back up again – though certainly not a dramatic one. Last month, 55 per cent of respondents expected Cameron to return to Downing Street after 2015. That figure was reached by adding together the 20 per cent who expected a Conservative majority, the 16 per cent who expected a second Coalition and the 19 per cent who expected a Conservative minority government.
That headline finding is now 60 per cent. 22 per cent expect a Tory majority, 18 per cent a second Coalition and 20 per cent a Conservative minority government. That 60 per cent figure is just below the 62 per cent one from October’s survey. In my view, the drift up in all three sub-categories reflects a certain Tory recovery of nerve since the autumn statement, a fading-away of the effects of Ed Miliband’s big conference season push on energy prices, and slightly better polls (in some cases).