John Howard is still the man to the lead the Liberals, according to a special Morgan Poll taken over the past two nights. But the finding that will really get the Treasurer tizzy is that voters believe Kim Beazley would make a better Prime Minister than Peter Costello.

Forty eight per cent of all electors would prefer to see the Labor leader in the Lodge. Forty one per cent support the Treasurer, while 11% are undecided.

This should be a worry to Camp Costello, as 61% of voters believe John Howard is a better prime ministerial option than Kim Beazley. He only scores the support of 34% of all electors, with five per cent undecided.

Approval of the way John Howard is handling his job is up too. Fifty two per cent of punters give a tick to the PM – up three per cent since March – while an overwhelming 87% of Liberal/National voters approve.

Coalition voters continue to overwhelmingly support John Howard in the top job, the poll finds. He scores 70 % support, with only 12% backing Peter Costello.

The Treasurer does come up with the consolation prize. If John Howard goes, he is the preferred Liberal leader with the support of 31% of all electors and 33% of Coalition voters.

Eight per cent of all voters would like to see Alexander Downer leading the Liberals at the next election, six per cent back Malcolm Turnbull or Tony Abbott while three per cent support Brendan Nelson.

Peter Fray

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