For the first time, David Cameron is trailing behind his party, according to the latest polling from Lord Ashcroft. Labour has long struggled with this problem, but as the charts below show, voters now also feel more favourable towards the Conservatives than they do to Cameron himself:
The PM's allies within the party have long argued he is their greatest electoral asset, and this would make any attempt at removing him a folly. Now this is no longer the case, the dissenters have a whole new round of ammunition to fire at the leadership. Cameron need not utterly despair — he’s still the preferred option to Miliband as Prime Minister at 57 per cent. Just 30 per cent would to see prefer Miliband living at No.10.
In his personal analysis of the polling, Ashcroft bemoans a lost six months for the Tories. Ashcroft believes Cameron's EU speech was an opportunity to make great gains. But instead, the Tories have lost ground. On the crucial matter of the economy, the Coalition leadership team of Cameron, Clegg and Osborne still ranks ahead of Miliband and Balls at 40 per cent vs. 26 per cent on trust respectively. But the coalition has dropped three points since the beginning of the year and more than two thirds of those polled still believe the economy will be no better (or possibly worse) in three years’ time.
With decreasing confidence in Cameron, attention will no doubt once again turn to Boris Johnson. The Sun's own polling this week revealed that the prince across the water is seen as the most interesting, genuine and honest politician, above Clegg, Cameron, Miliband and even Nigel Farage. But beyond popularity stakes, Cameron is still viewed as the best in a crisis and the most suited to governing the country. These are the electoral assets that the Prime Minister can still use ruthlessly against his opponents.