In our last Next Conservative Leader survey, conducted before the final day of Tory MPs’ ballots a week ago, 27 per cent of those polled backed Michael Gove, Sajid Javid or none of the above.
Half of 27 per cent is 13.5 per cent. Add 19 per cent to Jeremy Hunt’s score, in that poll, of eleven per cent and one reaches the 30 per cent of the vote he takes above.
In other words, well over half of those who voted for neither Hunt nor Boris Johnson last week have shifted to the former this week (presuming that his voters have stuck with him this time round). If you weren’t voting for Johnson before, you’re unlikely to be voting for him now.
But in the grand scheme of things, that scarcely matters. Johnson’s vote may only have improved by three per cent from 62 per cent, compared to Hunt’s rise of 19 per cent from 11 per cent – but he still leads the Foreign Secretary by a whacking 36 points.
Johnson now has two-thirds of the total vote, 66 per cent, and remains set to win this election. As we suspected on Tuesday, his domestic row seems to have made next to no difference to his standing among activists.
“Most Party members prize the delivery of Brexit and a Conservative election victory – and see Johnson as better placed to deliver both,” we wrote – adding that they tend to see the Guardian as an opponent. And since that paper carried the report of the incident, most Party members appear to have discounted it.
Hunt’s mission now is to close that 36 point gap. It looks as though for him to do so will be a challenge too far. None the less, he is performing significantly better than he did when our last Hunt-Johnson run-off was held earlier this month.
That time round, the score was Johnson 68 per cent, Hunt 25 per cent. The month before, it was Johnson 61 per cent, Hunt 33 per cent – much as now.
The Foreign Secretary is in it to win it, but if he can get up to 40 per cent of the vote we think he will have done very well indeed. A final word on the survey’s form: we have stuck to “other” rather than “don’t know” because that is the format used in its predecessors.