Leading article: The Gordon and Dave show

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The Independent Online

Modern politics, we are told, is all about personality. A leader for today must be charming and telegenic; he (or she) must be a "people person" with oodles of that elusive quality "emotional intelligence". Friendliness, cheerfulness and accessibility are considered the essential ingredients for electoral success. So who, in a hypothetical election, would you think had the best prospect of becoming Britain's next Prime Minister?

As the survey we publish today shows, David ("call him Dave") Cameron ticks all the boxes. Two thirds of those asked found him "likeable", a full 25 per cent more than said the same of his chief rival, Gordon Brown. Dave, with his family kitchen webcam, his house with its mini wind turbine and his glossy old-Etonian manners, should beat the Chancellor (and presumed next Prime Minister) into a cocked hat.

Yet - and here we must marvel once again at the gritty capacity of ordinary British voters to buck any trend that is out there - in a contest between David Cameron and Gordon Brown, they would back "grumpy" Gordon any time in preference to debonair Dave. Mr Cameron may have scored more highly than Mr Brown on almost every behavioural indicator considered key by modern pollsters, but Mr Brown's narrow superiority in the "principled" category apparently tips the balance.

Perhaps there is also the feeling that "grumpy" matches the British national mood rather better than Mr Cameron's ever-sunny disposition. So Gordon, cheer up, the battle is far from lost; the voters are happy with you how you are. Just don't allow yourself to cheer up too much.