The last Morgan poll suggested Brendan Nelson was entering the Olympics — when public life would be more or less put on hold while we watched people doing strange sports in Beijing — relatively unscathed by his emissions trading scheme stumbles and the growing “We Want Pete” calls from News Ltd.

We spoke too soon. Even with the populace preoccupied with the five-ringed sportsfest the Coalition’s primary vote has dropped two points and it is back to the sort of political oblivion it occupied earlier this year, trailing 43-57 on the 2PP vote. The result arrests what had been a promising convergence of the 2PP vote back to the normal realms of political engagement.

With a drop in petrol prices, likely drop in interest rates, Costello’s book coming out and the Prime Minister looking statesmanlike — and Michelin Man-like — in the Pacific, the halt could last a while. There’s even been a significant increase in the number of people who think Australia is heading in the right direction. Coalition MPs won’t be enjoying the return to bleak late-winter Canberra on Monday.

Peter Fray

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