The campaign, fueled by Prime Minister Boris JohnsonThe couple’s resignation in July has highlighted the couple’s different approaches to tackling the country’s rising cost of living.
Sunak, whose resignation as finance minister over a series of government scandals sparked the leadership contest, is considered a better public speaker.
But he has come under fire for clinging to fiscal orthodoxy to deal with runaway inflation and crippled by his image as a wealthy technocrat.
At the same time, he was charged with treason for taking down the Tories’ Brexit hero Johnson.
Secretary of State Truss, on the other hand, has emerged as the favorite in the grassroots Tory vote, the result of which will be announced next Monday.
“She’s a better politician,” said John Curtice, a political scientist at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow.
“If you ask me what Liz Truss’ campaign was about, I’ll tell you right away: ‘a tax cut, not alms’. Very clear,” he told AFP.
“There is no slogan for Sunak, nothing.”
For Curtice, Truss has effectively conveyed “traditional conservative messages” to Tory members, while Sunak is more nuanced.
“It’s also a bit of a lecture,” he said, judging that Sunak appeared “a little brittle” under pressure.
“You can tell she’s been in the game for longer,” he added.
Truss, 47, has described her rise to the top of British politics as a “journey” in which she has been criticized for being ambitiously opportunistic.
Coming from a left-wing family, she initially joined the centrist Liberal Democrats before jumping to the right-wing Conservatives.
She became a Member of Parliament for the South West Norfolk constituency of eastern England in 2010 and survived revelations about an affair that nearly cost her the nomination.
Since 2012, she has held a series of ministerial posts in education, finance and departments, as well as a difficult period in justice.
In 2016, she campaigned for the UK to stay in the European Union, but quickly became one of its strongest supporters when Britons voted for Brexit.
When the UK left the EU, Johnson put her in charge of new free trade agreements before appointing her as Foreign Secretary last year.
In the role, she took on the controversial task of trying to review disagreements with Brussels over post-Brexit trade in Northern Ireland.
Like Johnson, she has been tough on Russia and unshakably supportive of Ukraine.
Truss’ dress sense and photo opportunities posing in a tank in Estonia and wearing a fur hat in Moscow have earned her comparisons to Tory icon Margaret Thatcher.
Her sometimes stiff style has become visibly more relaxed, and allies have tried to soften her image and reveal her love for karaoke and socializing.
“For a party that has become quite populist in recent years, it has been able to present itself as more authentic, more ordinary than Rishi Sunak, who is all too easily presented as part of the global elite,” he said. Tim Balefrom Queen Mary University in London.
“Like Boris Johnson, she loves the idea that there is some sort of elite that needs to be countered and she positions herself as outside the establishment despite serving in government for eight years.”
Sunak, 42, the grandson of Indian immigrants, grew up the son of a doctor and pharmacist in Southampton, on the south coast of England.
He attended the prestigious fee-paying Winchester College School and then Oxford University.
Truss, who attended a state school in Leeds, northern England, also studied at Oxford. Both studied politics, philosophy and economics.
Sunak met his wife, Akshata Murtywhose father founded Indian tech giant Infosys, at Stanford University, before joining Goldman Sachs and investment funds.
He has represented the Richmond constituency in Northern England since 2015, where he was quickly identified as a potential future Prime Minister.
He became finance minister in early 2020 and quickly gained credit for leading government support for people and businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
But Sunak, a self-confessed nerd with a penchant for Star Wars, saw opinions turn against him this year after it emerged his wife didn’t pay UK taxes.
Critics have also used his private wealth, expensive clothes and houses to portray him as having no contact with the general public.