“You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.” Abraham Lincoln’s maxim seems supported by today’s opinion polls. Polling at this stage of the electoral cycle does not carry much weight. The AC Nielsen results in the Fairfax rags today have Labor in front 52 to 48%. “The Government’s primary vote plunged six points to 41%, John Howard’s approval fell eight points to 54%, and Kim Beazley significantly narrowed the gap as preferred PM from 21 points to 10 points,” Michelle Grattan writes. One choke does not a summer make.

Grattan says Labor has “surged ahead of the Coalition as voters react against rising interest rates, negative economic signals and the sending of more troops to Iraq”. But look at the Newspoll. Its key finding? “The strengths of Prime Minister John Howard’s leadership are managing the economy and national security.” Spot the contradiction?

“Opposition Leader Kim Beazley trumps his political rival on being trustworthy, likeable and in touch with voters,” Newspoll admits. “However, 62% of voters believed Mr Howard had the judgment and capability to lead Australia’s economy, while only 24% of voters believed Mr Beazley displayed the same characteristics. Mr Howard also retained a strong lead – 56% to 28% – when it came to being better able to manage national security issues.”

So get some policies, Kimbo. Cherry pick the best ideas from all the players in the Government backbench tax debate, follow your instincts over defence – don’t waffle like you did over the extra Iraq deployment – and you might be polling well when it actually matters.

Get Crikey for $1 a week.

Lockdowns are over and BBQs are back! At last, we get to talk to people in real life. But conversation topics outside COVID are so thin on the ground.

Join Crikey and we’ll give you something to talk about. Get your first 12 weeks for $12 to get stories, analysis and BBQ stoppers you won’t see anywhere else.

Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
12 weeks for just $12.