With varying degrees of enthusiasm, the punditocracy has given the Rudd government the thumbs-up in its first-year retrospectives. Given Labor’s consistent double-digit poll leads and Kevin Rudd’s near-record approval ratings, it would be very bold of them to have done otherwise.
Yet, despite the conjunction of professional and popular opinion, it might not do to place bets on the outcome of the 2016 election quite yet. It is well understood that a government’s best days come at the beginning of its term in office, when its stocks of political capital remain unspent. However, the length and intensity of honeymoon periods is variable, and can often serve as a pointer to the government’s success over the longer term. The question thus arises of how well the Rudd government’s polling record compares with its recent predecessors at the equivalent point in the cycle.