Another Newspoll in today’s Australian – “Beazley’s support crashes” screams the headline – but the rest of the coverage seems more balanced than usual.

The story is written by Steve Lewis, as Dennis Shanahan is in Washington with the PM. Shanahan has a habit of burying the two-party preferred numbers, the only thing psephologists really care about, at the bottom of the story – especially when, as in the last two polls, they show a swing to Labor. But today’s story features them in the third and fifth paragraphs. As it happens, both they and the primary votes show very little movement – a small swing to the government, putting it ahead 51%-49%.

To borrow the words of Peter Brent at Mumble, there’s also some “stuff about something called approval rating, which some people seem to think is important.” As Lewis says: “Voters are making a harsh assessment” of Kim Beazley – his approval rating is down to 33% from its peak of 52%. But leaders don’t necessarily win by being popular, and opposition leaders in particular don’t necessarily win by being anything: they just have to be in the right place when voters are sick of the government.

Peter Fray

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