Parliament sits this week for perhaps the last time before the election – perhaps.
Leadership speculation persists, but as APEC draws closer and closer and change seems even less likely. Which means it’s back to the endless succession of polls.
Today’s is from ACNielsen, in the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. It’s being portrayed as good news for the government, yet it still gives Labor a whopping 10% two party preferred lead of 55 to 45 and the primary vote goes Labor 46 to the government’s 41.
The voting intention figures are really only good when compared with Nielsen’s last effort, which gave Labor a massive primary vote of 49% while the Libs languished on 39 – results virtually everyone thought excessive.
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The figures that give hope to the government, though, deal with economic management and the Prime Minister himself. He might be mean and tricky, but a vast majority of voters believe interest rates would be similar or even higher if Labor had won in 2004. And it seems that voters are unconcerned with the PM not serving a full term if re-elected, don’t consider his age to be an issue – but appreciate his experience.
The seeds of a fight back for the government on traditional strengths are there.
Labor still has a daunting task ahead. It needs to hang onto every seat it already holds and take another 16 from the Coalition to govern in its own right.
If the government can formulate the right pitch to the marginals and hold enough, it will be returned. Which takes us to the most prominent marginal of them all, the Prime Minister’s seat of Bennelong.
Polling out yesterday looked grim for the PM. It had Labor in front 53 to 47 per cent, a turn around of about seven per cent on the last election and a little under the swing showing up in national polling.
It’s lead to a flood of stories on the seat, but the best and simplest comment has come from ABC election analyst Antony Green.
“Whoever wins government will win Bennelong,” he says.
“If the Government is returned, John Howard will win Bennelong. If Labor wins the election then I think John Howard will probably lose his own seat.”