So why has Osborne topped the poll – beating even the Home Secretary, the present future leadership favourite of our party member respondents in the survey – when the deficit remains unconquered?
I think the answer is straightforward. Any Conservative election victory in May hinges on economic prosperity, and the Chancellor has helped to deliver recovery.
Our respondents will also like the way that he takes the fight to Labour, and is one of the very few (arguably the only) political strategists that the Party has in Cabinet.
Osborne was also the top choice of website respondents as whole, leading May by 35 per cent to 28 per cent.
We have kept an eye on the write-in nominations. Michael Gove won 32 of these – more than Clark’s 19. Iain Duncan Smith was named by 19 people and Paterson by 18.
Had any of these three been named in the poll, the Chancellor would have had to look to his laurels. Gove’s move from Education remains unpopular – as some of the comments indicated.