Mr. Major’s electoral record was mixed: he surprised many by winning a modest majority of 21 in the 1992 general election. But that victory was quickly followed by a financial crisis that undermined his reputation and opened the way to a landslide victory five years later. by Labor Party leader Tony Blair.
This time, the crisis erupted before Mr. Sunak took office. But that leaves him no more than two years to save his party before the next election, and he faces the headwinds of soaring inflation, rising interest rates, social unrest and a recession. Depending on when Mr. Sunak chooses to call that vote, it is possible that American voters will elect a president around the same time.
Will Mr. Biden be in this race? The odds of him running again have increased after midterms, not to mention the president’s proposal to revamp the Democratic Party’s primary schedule so that South Carolina, which resurrected its presidential fortunes in 2020, will now vote first, ahead of the Iowa caucus.
There is no evidence that Mr. Biden and Mr. Sunak discussed politics when they first met face-to-face at a summit in Indonesia last month. Indeed, given their difference in age, background and politics, there is little indication that they will develop the kind of rapport enjoyed by, say, Mr. Blair and President Bill Clinton. When the Conservatives elected Mr Sunak as leader, Mr Biden hailed it as a “revolutionary step”, although he added: “As my brother would say, ‘Go figure.'”
At the moment, bettors are betting against Mr. Sunak. There is even speculation that if the Tories are beaten in the local elections next May, his enemies could move against him and try to reinstall Mr Johnson. But Mr Sunak’s allies are hoping for a Biden-like surprise that could give him a firm footing for the next general election (it’s due by January 2025).
Given Labour’s formidable lead in the opinion polls – and a Labor leader, Keir Starmer, who rivals Mr Sunak in skill over charisma – few analysts see a path for Mr Sunak towards a convincing victory. But some believe the outcome could be much closer than some Labor supporters now believe. For one, Mr. Sunak’s polling ratings exceed those of his defeated party, which is the reverse of Mr. Biden and the Democrats before the midterm elections.
“There’s a big difference between what voters think of the Conservative Party and what voters think of Sunak,” said polling expert Peter Kellner. “The big question now is whether the Conservative Party is driving Sunak’s ratings down or whether Sunak is driving the Conservative Party’s ratings up.”