I recall reading on CNN about a complaint by an MP (who was possibly a Mordaunt supporter) along the lines that the Conservatives have already lost the next general election given the leadership choice narrowing to Sunak or Truss. I wonder if there's any factual basis to that claim or is just sour grapes.

I do recall that the British opinion pollsters like to ask head-to-head questions whom the electorate would prefer as PM across parties (and that e.g. Corbyn was surpassed by Boris Johnson on that kind of question in the run up to the previous election). So, have any such polls been conducted and published already in the present circumstances, i.e. whether the general public sees Sunak or Truss as less preferable than Keir Starmer as PM? (Of course, things can change by the next election. I'm just wondering if the complaint mentioned in the previous para is somehow based on some present poll data like that.)

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At the start of the contest (6th-7th July), JL Partners conducted a head-to-head matchup poll against Keir Starmer for each candidate. The full tables can be found here, or in graph form below. Sir Keir had a 12 point lead against Liz Truss, but trailed Rishi Sunak by 1 point.

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After the field narrowed to the final three contenders, Find Out Now and Electoral Calculus published a poll which asked participants “for which party they would vote, if there were an immediate general election, and given particular possibilities for the new Conservative leader – Rishi Sunak, Penny Mordaunt, Liz Truss”. This is perhaps more relevant to the MP’s complaint, given Electoral Calculus’ attempt to apply the results to an actual election, rather than a presidential-style matchup.

It found that Penny Mordaunt was likely to have the most success of the three candidates, winning 215 seats in an election compared to Sunak & Truss’ 191 and 185 respectively. All three of these results, however, would represent a crushing defeat and a return to opposition for the Conservative party.

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    Good research, perhaps worth noting that polls at this stage tend to reflect public awareness rather than public approval. They have very little predictive power for the result of the general, whenever it comes. They are what Peter Snow used to call "just a bit of fun".
    – James K
    Commented Jul 23, 2022 at 22:41
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    @JamesK: yeah, but the funny thing is that Mordaunt was less well known. So it seems that the more identifiable the figure is (with the present gov't) the more likely that would work against them... Commented Jul 24, 2022 at 15:30
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    Most British general elections are ultimately fought on the question of the economy. And the next two years, with an expanded debt, a growing deficit, increasing inflation, and a soaring NHS waiting-list, do not look like being a happy time for whoever is in power. Were I offered the choice today, of being either PM or Leader of HM Opposition - I would definitely choose the latter. And I've no doubt KS will make the most of it, just as the Conservative opposition did following the crash of 2008, when Gordon Brown was PM.
    – WS2
    Commented Jul 24, 2022 at 17:24
  • @WS2 I had the exact same thought, except that I applied it to Sunak. He's young, he could easily pass on PMship, spend the next 5 years and shoot for the top job after Labour has unsuccessfully tried to steer the UK through the cheese submarine and was now associated with the dead albatross as well. Commented Jul 25, 2022 at 20:50
  • @ItalianPhilosophers4Monica The smartest thing the Tories could do, for their own long-term survival, would be to throw in the towel. That really would have Keir Starmer worried. It was always going to be a case of après Boris le déluge.
    – WS2
    Commented Jul 26, 2022 at 6:23

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