Morgan polling out last week found that a higher proportion of Australian voters said Kevin Rudd would be a better Prime Minister than John Howard – 51 to 44%.

However, newly released qualitative research from Morgan finds that while the Prime Minister may be plummeting in the polls, he still seems to dominate the political landscape.

Howard seems to be the key to people’s voting intentions – no matter which way they go. Morgan found:

  • Howard’s experience was the recurring theme among electors who said he is a better Prime Minister than Mr Rudd would be;
  • Howard’s management of the economy and Rudd’s lack of experience were some of the other reasons electors cited for their decision;
  • There is a large amount of discontent and/or resentment towards Howard and some of his Government’s policies among those who preferred Rudd as Prime Minister; and
  • While there certainly are characteristics of Rudd that are appealing to Australian electors, the number of electors who said they preferred Rudd due to disillusionment with Howard and the Coalition Government far outweighed those who cited positive aspects about the Opposition Leader and his party.

It’s hard to disagree with pollster Gary Morgan’s comments:

This Special Roy Morgan Qualitative Research identifies three major themes. Mr Howard’s experience is the prevailing reason among electors who said he is a better Prime Minister than Mr Rudd would be; a vast majority of Mr Rudd’s supporters cite resentment towards the current Government’s past policies and decisions; and ‘time for a change’ was prevalent amongst Mr Rudd’s supporters.

What looms as a major factor in the upcoming election is how Labor’s recently announced industrial relations policy resonates with electors.

Particularly now that the government’s admission it got IR wrong lets Labor recover from its own stumble of a few weeks ago.

Peter Fray

Help us keep up the fight

Get Crikey for just $1 a week and support our journalists’ important work of uncovering the hypocrisies that infest our corridors of power.

If you haven’t joined us yet, subscribe today and get your first 12 weeks for $12.

Cancel anytime.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey