Matt is right that the Tories would be daft to dump Dave. First, Labour would have an absolute field day accusing the Tories of panicking and ‘lurching to the right’. Second, it would turn the Tory party into a laughing stock and, last but not least, it is hard to see who could do a better job than Cameron.
I was making this case to someone earlier when they asked me: has an opposition party ever won an election after being this far behind in the polls at this point in a parliament? I was stumped and couldn’t think of an example: anyone know of one?
Personally, I don’t think the polls at the moment should panic the Tories that much. It was inevitable that Brown would get a bounce, although Brown’s keen strategic sense and Cameron’s own missteps has made it more pronounced and sustained than people expected, and once the dust has settled the Tories will not be that far behind.
Cameron does, though, as Tim Montgomerie argues, need to come across as more of a conviction-driven, substantive politician. He needs to give the country a sense that he wants to be Prime Minister for a reason other than that it is the top of the cursus honorum.