All elections are winnable. And the Victorian Liberals
can win the next State election with or without Jeff Kennett. Today the Liberals
start well behind the government with the latest Morgan Poll
showing the ALP with 61.5% of the two-party preferred vote and the Coalition
with 38.5% – their lowest level of support since February
2004.

The ALP’s strength lies in the popularity of their
Premier: the April Morgan Poll
showed 67% of Victorian electors thought Steve Bracks is a better
Premier than Robert Doyle. Premier Bracks’s approval rating is solid
with 56% approving of the way he is handling his job as Premier, his
disapproval rating is moderate: 34% disapprove of the way he is
handling his job. However disapproval is low
amongst ALP voters (18%) and minor party supporters and undecided voters
(14%).

The table below shows why Robert Doyle had to
go:

April
2006

Electors
18+
Analysis
by State Voting Intention
ALP L-NP Minor
Parties/
Undecided
Doyle 13 14 13 9
Kennett 38 27 58 23
Asher 15 19 12
Baillieu 11 12 9 10
Clark 2 3 1
Someone
else
2 3
Can’t
say
19 22 7 58

An overwhelming majority (58%) of Coalition supporters
wanted Jeff Kennett to lead the Liberal Party. Support for Kennett was four
times the support for Robert Doyle (13%), which was only fractionally higher than
support for Louise Asher (12%) and Ted Baillieu (9%). Even amongst ALP
supporters (27%) and supporters of minor parties and those who couldn’t say,
(23%) support was highest for Kennett.

Elections have been won by leaders with low approval ratings – Margaret
Thatcher, John Major, Ronald Reagan and Helen Clark. However it remains
to be seen if a leader with a high approval rating can lose an
election. At the moment, Bracks’s approval rating is 56%, those of the
new Liberal leader are not yet known. There is a lot of work to be done
for the new Liberal leader in the next six months, but as Harold Wilson
is said to have remarked “a week is a long time in politics”, so six
months is an eternity.

Peter Fray

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Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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