My hunch at the moment is that in a run-off before the Great British Tory Public, Cameron beats Davis, Davis beats Fox, and Fox beats Cameron.
Back in 2001, my parallel hunch was that IDS beats Clarke, Clarke beats Portillo, and Portillo beats IDS.
It may very well be that I like to construct these parallel circles more than I’ve got any kind of insight into the contest. Probably. And given the various trumpetings of Cameron in polls and the press in the last few days, I’m not sure how confident I am that Fox could beat Cameron.
But you can sort of see how the logic of all of this is supposed to work, as the various candidates neutralise one of the other’s supposed strengths: Cameron can play the telegenic youth card against Davis but not Fox; Davis can harvest the non-headbanger vote against Fox but not against Cameron; Fox can get the right-wing vote united against Cameron but not against Davis.
Which means that if I’m right, and if Cameron’s guaranteed a place in the run-off, then the only way to stop him is for Davis supporters to turn en bloc to the doc, as it were, later this afternoon. (But I’m probably not right.)
It’s marvellous entertainment.