One of my leitmotifs about the monthly ConservativeHome future party leader poll is that it is strongly influenced by whether or not its protagonists have recently been in the news.
Our survey this month came in the wake of Boris Johnson, Churchill-like, wielding a gun in Kurdistan and calling for more arms for its people.
And lo and behold, up he goes from 20 per cent last month to 25 per cent. Theresa May, in the meanwhile, is down from 27 per cent to 23 per cent.
Were the Home Secretary’s ratings falling consistently, I’d believe that the rise in immigration overall and the tensions between her and Downing Street were responsible.
However, her score rose last month, and a more convincing explanation for this month’s results is the Boris publicity bonanza and very slight rises in support for some others.
The most notable of these is Liam Fox, whose rating is up for a second month in a row. George Osborne is down three points. Sajid Javid is third.
Overall, I’ve reason to return to another regular point: the poll is very consistent, and most variations are so small as to be margin of error stuff.
This also applies to the response of our non-party member readers, who give the Mayor and May lower scores than party member ones, and keep returning David Davis in third place.
Here are the figures in full:
Boris Johnson: 25 per cent (up five points).
Theresa May: 23 per cent (down four points).
Sajid Javid: 11 per cent (down one point).
Liam Fox: 9 per cent (up two points).
George Osborne: 8 per cent (down three points).
Owen Paterson: 7 per cent (unchanged).
David Davis: 6 per cent (up one point).
Michael Gove: 6 per cent (up one point).
Philip Hammond: 3 per cent (no change).
Chris Grayling: 1 per cent (no change).
Jeremy Hunt has simply vanished from the ratings altogether, scoring under 1 per cent. I think this is simply a consequence of the reporting of the NHS Almost-Winter-Crisis. The results of the survey are compared to those of a control group which was supplied by YouGov.
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A footnote: 65 people skipped the question, while only 25 skipped the one above – namely, who would respondents like to see leading the party into the next election? (Answer: David Cameron, who scored a record total of 80 per cent.)
In my view, this abstention rate shows that some party members naturally want to rally round the party leader as an election approaches to the point where they view the future leadership question as otiose.
However, 760 others did answer it, so they presumably take a different view. My intention at the moment is to keep asking it until the start of the campaign proper. However, we will pull the other leadership question, since it has outlived its utility.