John Howard once famously ‘fessed up to liking Bob Dylan in a conversation with Luke Grant on Newcastle’s 2HD, although he admitted to being unsure about the lyrics. That’s a shame, because the times they are a changing, even in his own electorate of Bennelong.

7.4% of Bennelong voters who supported the PM in 2004 say they intend to back the ALP at the next federal election. If this figure stays the same between now and the poll, these people will deliver around twice the swing needed to lose Bennelong and will put the PM put out to pasture.

The Crikey Morgan Poll taken last week has identified exactly where the sands are shifting. IR is the killer. Out of the shifting 7.4%:

  • 59% (all Bennelong electors 38%) think Mr Howard should retire before the next Federal Election compared to 34% (all Bennelong electors 55%) who think he should contest the election.
  • 83% (all Bennelong electors 59%) disagree with the Government’s industrial relations reforms compared to 10% who agree (all Bennelong electors 26%).
  • 73% (all Bennelong electors 49%) think Kevin Rudd would make a better Prime Minister than John Howard (23% compared to 47% of all Bennelong electors).
  • 87% (all Bennelong electors 75%) approve of the way Mr Rudd is handling his job as Opposition Leader compared to 7% (all Bennelong electors 11%) who disapprove.
  • 38% (all Bennelong electors 47%) disapprove of the way Mr Howard is handling his job as Prime Minister compared to 45% (all Bennelong electors 44%) who approve.
  • 56% (all Bennelong electors 38%) think the ALP will win the next Federal election compared to 40% (all Bennelong electors 46%) who think the Coalition will win.
  • 87% (all Bennelong electors 51%) would like the ALP to win the next Federal election compared to 7% (all Bennelong electors 40%) who would like the Coalition to win.
  • 67% (all Bennelong electors 62%) think the Government should ask the American Government for David Hicks’ immediate return to Australia compared to 33% (all Bennelong electors 31%) who think Hicks should remain in US custody to face trial.
  • 27% (all Bennelong electors 29%) think Australian forces should continue to fight in Iraq compared to 66% (all Bennelong electors 64%) who say Australian troops should be returned home.

Pollster Gary Morgan says:

Liberal policy makers need to identify the reasons why former Liberal voters are intending to switch to Labor.

The Crikey Morgan Poll identifies the IR reforms as a major turnoff: 83% of Bennelong electors who voted Liberal at the 2004 Federal Election but now intend to vote Labor disagree with the reforms compared to 59% of all Bennelong electors.

And there’s a fear that the PM is simply staying too long: “Of these swinging voters, 59% (all Bennelong electors 38%) think Prime Minister Howard should retire before the next Federal Election compared to a relatively small 34% (all Bennelong electors 55%) who think he should contest the election,” Morgan  says.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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