Poll of Conservative voters puts Rishi Sunak clear

Nearly half of Tory voters think Rishi Sunak would make a good prime minister, according to a poll that puts Penny Mordaunt behind Liz Truss and the former chancellor.

Rishi Sunak during a visit to Teeside Freeport on Saturday – Charlotte Graham for The Telegraph/

© Charlotte Graham for The Telegraph/
Rishi Sunak during a visit to Teeside Freeport on Saturday – Charlotte Graham for The Telegraph/

A survey of more than 4,400 people found that of those who had heard of each candidate, 48% who backed the Tories in 2019 thought Mr Sunak would be a good prime minister, compared with 39% who said the same Mrs. Truss thing. and 33% who supported Ms Mordaunt.

The JL Partners poll, which also looked at the characteristics voters are looking for in the next prime minister, found that 19% of Tory supporters and 24% of voters overall most wanted a “truthful” leader.

The survey, carried out last week, highlights the scale of the challenge facing Boris Johnson’s successor, putting Labor 11 points ahead of the Tories, out 42 points to the Tories’ 31.

James Johnson, co-founder of JL Partners and former Downing Street pollster, said it showed the public was “holding judgment” on Ms Mordaunt, who has become a surprise favorite among MPs, adding: “Among those who have heard of Mordaunt, the prevailing view is that of neutrality.

An MRP model, which maps the results of the survey to every seat in the country, found that, of all voters, Mr Sunak had the highest net approval score in 76% of seats won by the Conservatives in 2019, compared to 19 per cent in which Tom Tugendhat came first and five per cent in which Ms Mourdant scored the highest.

Neither Ms Truss nor Kemi Badenoch came top of the seats currently held by the Conservatives.

A fifth of voters who backed the Tories in 2019 said Mr Sunak would make a poor prime minister – slightly more than Ms Truss’ 18 per cent.

Nationwide, nearly one in three voters (32%) who had heard of Mr Sunak said he would make a good prime minister, while 22%, 21% and 20% said the same from Mrs. Truss. , Mrs. Mordaunt and Mr. Tugendhat respectively.

A similar proportion – 32% – said Mr Sunak would make a bad prime minister, compared to 35%, 29% and 25% who said the same of Ms Truss, Ms Badenoch and Ms Mordaunt respectively.

The results appear to contrast with a YouGov survey of Tory members which identified Ms Mordaunt, the Minister for International Trade, as the favorite to become Tory leader.

Likewise, the MP for Portsmouth North retained second place in the contest after two rounds of MP voting – leaving bigger rivals such as Ms Truss in her wake.

The 2019 Conservative Voters Survey, conducted between July 12 and 14, found that the top three attributes voters wanted to see in a new prime minister were someone who was truthful (50%), knowledgeable ( 46%) and “trustworthy to make big decisions” (45%).

The fourth most frequently chosen characteristic was someone who is “realistic about what can be achieved”, selected by 40% of voters.

The wish lists of attributes selected by Conservative voters and those who supported other parties in 2019 were surprisingly similar, with both groups prioritizing the same characteristics.

Across all voters, the most popular policy priority was to ‘restart the economy’, tackling the NHS backlog and restoring trust and integrity in public life coming in second and third respectively .

Lowering taxes was the fourth priority, chosen by 38% of all voters and 40% of Conservative voters. The poll also highlighted that Conservative voters were more likely to believe that transgender rights should remain as they are rather than extended, and that the UK should leave the European Court of Human Rights.

Ms Mordaunt has been accused of failing to stand up for women in the trans rights debate – which she denies – and Ms Truss says she is ready to leave the convention.

Some 29% of 1,407 voters who had heard of Mr Tugendhat said he would make a good prime minister, compared with 21% of 1,229 voters who had heard of Ms Badenoch.

A spokesman for Mr Tugendhat’s campaign said: “It is clear that there are only two candidates left who can beat Labor in the next election. Tom has just started showing up in the country. Three days ago, he was virtually unknown. People see it and they love it. Last night it was clear that the only way for him was to go up.

JL Partners said: “Tom Tugendhat topped the standings in 70 of the constituencies currently held by the Conservatives and was in the top three in almost every other, well ahead of Truss and Badenoch.”

On Saturday, Mr Sunak’s candidacy was endorsed by Ben Houchen, the Conservative mayor of Tees Valley.

James Johnson: Sunak popular with all-important 2019 Conservative voter

The Conservatives have a narrow path to victory in two years.

Although weakened in recent months, much of the public fury was directed at Boris Johnson rather than the wider party. Questions remain about the party’s core competence, the extent of its unity and its intentions. But with public support for Sir Keir Starmer shaky, there is a way forward for their future leader. Our survey seeks to answer what that may be.

Westminster is abuzz with talk of tax cuts, trans issues and the ECHR. But the public has three very clear questions they will expect the next leader to answer. Can they fix the economy? Can they deal with the NHS backlog? And can they restore confidence in our politics?

No one expects these challenges to be completely resolved. They’ve been disappointed enough to know it’s not going to happen. But they will want someone with the intention and the strength to deliver.

They will also expect to focus. For the general public and Conservative voters, these priorities far outweigh the fight against cancel culture, corporate tax cuts and taking a tough line with the EU. The next leader should remember that the people who will determine if they are only in office for two years have bigger problems frying.

It’s the “what”. The “who” is more difficult. Many people are unaware of those who are standing. To solve this problem, we filtered voters who have not heard of a candidate. It’s a necessary step at this stage of the contest, but creates a tougher test for those more known to the public.

Penny Mordaunt cut a good figure in the round of MPs and got party members excited. But the public withholds judgment for now. Among those who have heard of Ms Mordaunt, the prevailing view is one of neutrality. Only 21% say she would make a good prime minister, and 25% say she would make a bad one. The public does not dislike her strongly; neither is she very popular. There may be “Pennymania” in Westminster. In the countryside, it’s more of a shrug of the shoulders.

Kemi Badenoch occupies a similar position. Tom Tugendhat forged more of a connection. He is the highest rated candidate in more Tory-held seats, 70 in total, than Ms Mordaunt, Ms Badenoch or Liz Truss.

That leaves the two best-known candidates in the race: Ms. Truss and Rishi Sunak. Judging by these two, we can be more sure of the audience’s reaction to them.

Mrs. Truss looks like a high risk bet. Only one in five call her a good prime minister, but more than a third say she would be bad. Worryingly for the foreign minister, she is not at the top of the list of candidates for a seat held by the conservatives in the country.

Mr. Sunak invites strong opinions. A third of voters think he would be good at the top job, a third don’t.

But in an unpopular field where every other candidate is in net negative territory, that zero score makes him the crowd favorite. He is particularly popular with the all-important 2019 Conservative voter, as the only candidate to have him half-approved.

Crucially, Mr Sunak is the top-rated candidate in 76% of seats won by the Conservatives in 2019.

As the public ruminates on the economy, the NHS and public trust, Tory MPs may have a much simpler question: who is the best candidate to take their seat? On this evidence, the answer is Mr. Sunak.

James Johnson is a founding partner of JL Partners and a former pollster at No 10 Downing Street

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