And then turn to our new Conservative survey and to YouGov’s poll of earlier today – both of the Tory leadership contest. Here are the figures.
Liz Truss: 58 per cent (ConHome), 60 per cent (YouGov).
Rishi Sunak: 26 per cent (ConHome), 26 per cent (YouGov).
Don’t know: 12 per cent (ConHome), 11 per cent (YouGov).
YouGov gives her a 34 point lead which extends, on a forced choice, to a 38 point lead (69 per cent to 31 per cent). Divide our 16 points of don’t knows and others evenly between the candidates and, lo, Truss has a 32 point lead (66 per cent to 34 per cent).
That our own survey, unweighted but a good guide in 2019, and YouGov’s poll, weighted and similarly accurate that year, have produced what in effect are identical results this time round is great news for Liz Truss and dire news for Rishi Sunak.
Granted, neither can be proved right or wrong: as our proprietor has it, a poll is a snapshot, not a prediction. If our survey is correct, all that follows is that Truss would win the contest, were it held now, by 32 points among those who have declared their hand.
However, if we and YouGov are right it is very hard to see how Sunak recovers in the month or so between the opening and closing of the poll. For even if during that time he won over that 16 per of undecideds and others, Truss would still beat him by 58 per cent to 42 per cent.
In short, if our survey is correct he would have to add to that 16 per cent of don’t knows and others some nine per cent of Truss’s supporters – i.e: persuade them to switch.
This seems most unlikely if YouGov’s question about certainty of intention is taken into account. For it finds that 83 per cent of Truss voters and 70 per cent of Sunak voters have made their minds up.
What odds would you give on Sunak winning over all those don’t knows and others (from our survey), and then adding to that pile over half of Truss’s soft support (using YouGov’s figure)? I would say that they are very long indeed.
Furthermore, ballot papers are apparently now being sent out by post. We had originally intended this new survey, taken yesterday and today, to coincide with them arriving through members’ doors, but there has been a delay. So the vote is almost upon us.
All in all, Sunak needs a massive game-changer to turn this contest round if our new findings and YouGov’s are right. And it’s very difficult to see where that could come from.
Those interested in polling and the recent past will note that we originally found Truss ahead of Sunak by 17 points (July 12) and that the gap then closed to seven points (July 17). YouGov had Truss ahead of Sunak by 24 points (July 13) with the gap then closing to 18 points (July 20) – on an unforced choice in both cases.
Those interested in events slightly further back will recall that Boris Johnson beat Jeremy Hunt by 66 per cent to 34 per cent during the leadership election of 2019. That’s exactly the same margin as the Truss-Sunak forced choice I spell out above from our new survey.
One way of looking at Conservative leadership election as matters stand might be to forget the thrills and spills, hype and blunders – such as Truss’s yesterday over regional public sector pay.
And stick instead to the simple thought that the Tory membership divides right-of-party-centre to left-of-party-centre by about two to one and so, all other things being equal, the leadership candidate perceived to be more right-wing than the other will win by a margin about two to one.