The latest Morgan poll will make for dispiriting but not unexpected reading for Brendan Nelson.

After the Opposition’s IR reversal, Alexander Downer’s long lunch and plenty of abuse from Julia Gillard in Parliament, his poor polling continues, with a low approval ratings (32%) and high disapproval ratings (42%) — especially among 25-34 year olds, nearly half of whom have taken a dislike to him. The Prime Minister’s golden run continues, with an approval rating of 71%, pretty evenly distributed across all demographics – he even scores 91% approval from hard-to-please Green voters.

But worse for Nelson is the superior performance of both Peter Costello and Malcolm Turnbull when run head-to-head against the Prime Minister. While he can only manage 77-9% in the preferred PM stakes, Peter Costello, despite having done nothing but sit on the backbench and scan the Employment pages during Question Time, manages 67-28%, while Turnbull rates 66-21%.

It’s only one poll. But a few more like it and Nelson will need to be officially termed “embattled”. Only problem is, who would want his job? There’s still nearly three long years to go. And at the moment Costello, Turnbull and Nelson put together don’t come within cooee of Rudd.