Since Kevin Rudd rose to Sunrise-induced prominence late last year, and eventually to the ALP leadership on 4 December, his Labor Party has overwhelmingly dominated the opinion polls.

From “Better Prime Minister” to “Approval Ratings” and “Voting Intention”, the Coalition Government has sorely lagged behind — and not by just a short margin, either.

Whilst commentators are struggling for exact reasons for the recent ALP dominance — and asking if and how the Coalition can revive itself (make sure you fill out Henry’s survey at the bottom right-hand corner of the homepage) — Treasurer Peter Costello will no doubt be revelling in his own positive ratings.

A Morgan Poll released 18 May found that 57% of Australian electors consider Costello to be a better Treasurer than his Opposition counterpart Wayne Swan, whilst only 26% consider Swan to be superior.

Special Morgan Poll Qualitative Research found some of the reasons why Costello so dominates his opposite number:

  • “Costello has a proven track record. There are a lot of unknowns coming up in the Labor Party and it’s a bit scary.”
  • “Costello has done well as Treasurer — in the history of this great country he’s the one who’s achieved the best record: inflation is low, unemployment is remarkably low. Not many countries have done that and for him to do it for so long is just fantastic. I think Costello will be the next prime minister after John Howard.”
  • “He’s got the experience and the knowledge to keep the country on the move.”

Worryingly for the Opposition, the Special Morgan Poll Qualitative Research found that many of the people who considered Wayne Swan to be a better Treasurer actually did so due to their negative opinion of Costello and Howard — not because they actually liked ALP economic policies:

  • “Because Howard does not have respect for most Australians — he does not understand working people.”
  • “I think Costello has had a privileged background and he is only looking after the rich.”
  • “I have a very low opinion of Costello — he is totally out of touch with Australians. The other fellow (Swan) couldn’t do any worse.”

This is a significant result not only for Costello, but also for the Coalition Government, as Pollster Gary Morgan highlights:

  • “Treasurer Peter Costello is a Coalition asset and the Labor Party would be fools to personally attack him as they did in the 2004 election campaign.
  • “There is a long time until the Federal election and as we have seen with Therese Rudd’s IR ‘wrong doing’ much can happen in a week. Unfortunately for the ALP and the Unions this mistake will not be forgotten by Coalition strategists when full scale campaigning begins.”

More reading at Henry Thornton.

Peter Fray

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