Everyone involved in politics is waiting anxiously to announce the end of Kevin Rudd’s honeymoon with the electorate. Senior members of the Government have been saying since December that it will happen ‘soon’. Many commentators said it happened at the beginning of March.
On Tuesday of this week, The Courier Mail interpreted a Galaxy Poll to mean the Rudd honeymoon had ended in Queensland.
Crikey has rightly subjected Galaxy’s recent poll in Queensland to a great deal of scrutiny. Possible methodological flaws were identified and sources said the Courier Mail’s reporting was poor. Attention was also drawn to problems in the wording of questions.
Yesterday, Peter Brent suggested that the order of questions was correct, while problems in questionnaire design might have been caused by the tension between newspaper editors and market researchers.
The analysis has been considered and appropriate — but some of the implications of the poll might have been lost. Labor, it should be remembered, achieved a primary vote of 45% and a two-party-preferred vote of 52%. The Courier Mail said this meant “Mr Rudd’s local credentials are having little influence”.
Queensland is of particular interest because it is Rudd’s home state and because Labor holds only 6 of 28 seats. Some history to put things in perspective:
- Since 1949, Queensland has been Labor’s worst-performing state with an average two-party-preferred vote of 45.8%.
- In this time, Labor has only twice achieved a two-party-preferred majority in Queensland: 50.7% in 1961 and 50.2% in 1990.
- In Labor’s seven election wins under Whitlam, Hawke and Keating, their average two-party-preferred vote in Queensland was 48.6%.
Quite simply, a two-party-preferred vote of 52% for Labor in Queensland (a swing of 9.1% since the last election) would be a remarkable achievement for Labor. Even allowing for more movement back to the Government, Labor’s position in Queensland is strong in historical terms. Rudd’s popularity may yet decline – but commentators must remember that sometimes what brings a honeymoon to an end is permanent domestic bliss.