Gary Morgan has succeeded in getting some media coverage for his state opinion polls: in this morning’s Age, Paul Austin gives featured treatment to the Victorian one that shows the opposition going backwards. In a separate analysis he argues that “Robert Doyle’s leadership has entered a danger zone.”

Personally I always take Morgan’s figures with a grain of salt, but if
these are even roughly correct then it’s no wonder they have set alarm
bells ringing in the Liberal Party. In two-party-preferred terms they
show a swing of almost three per cent to the ALP, which would wipe out
half of the already-depleted Liberals in the lower house.

As Austin says, “Conventional wisdom has been that the Liberals reached
their ‘low-water mark’ in the 2002 Bracks landslide and could expect to
reclaim at least some ground at next year’s election.” But that just
shows the foolishness of relying on conventional wisdom, especially
when it comes to the Victorian Liberal Party.

Consider the other two state governments to have reached this point in
the electoral cycle. In New South Wales in 2003 the Liberals made no
net gains at all, and went backwards in two-party-preferred votes. The
following year in Queensland they gained a small swing but won back
only two seats. There is no obvious reason why Victoria should be any

Doyle’s leadership has manifestly failed to make an impression, but
it’s hard to see how anyone else could have done any better. In any
case, if a change was going to be made, it should have been done a year
ago. It’s now too late for any new leader – most probably Ted
Baillieu, the shadow planning minister – to establish enough
credibility to turn things around, and dumping Doyle now would just
mean burning two leaders instead of one.