You can just sense the disappointment at The Australian when the fortnightly Newspoll figures came in last night. Fairfax had got a great run all day with their AC Nielsen poll showing a decline in both Labor’s vote and the Prime Minister’s popularity. And now their people had come in with a finding that the support for the Government had gone up and not down. Talk about rotten spoil sports! What’s a sub to do? Well forget about the support for the parties for a start. Accentuate the negative. Give the Coalition punters some hope. Hence this headline in the print version giving an exagerrated importance to a small decline in Kevin Rudd’s personal approval rating.

Over on the website they thought that could be toughened up a bit. Change the Rudd word to Labor and hey presto our poll findings are every bit as dramatic as Neilsen’s.

Until, of course, someone had a look at the actual figures showing the backlash trimming to be an increase of four points in Labor’s primary vote and a one point improvement in two party preferred terms.

The Democrats try an internet revival. With the departure of its last Senators nearly a year ago, the Australian Democrats seemed to be a dead and buried political party and perhaps it is, but that is not stopping its rump of enthusiasts from having another shot. The old party email list has been resurrected and the website is being revamped. The next 18 months will be an interesting test of whether the internet can provide salvation for a political party with neither money nor parliamentary members.

A contest revived. Japan once again looks like having a close election contest later this year with a new leader of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), Yukio Hatoyama, doing well in the first opinion poll since he replaced previous DPJ leader Ichiro Ozawa. The poll, conducted for the Mainichi Shimbun at the weekend, had 34 percent of the public saying that Mr Hatoyama would be most suitable as prime minister, compared to just 21 percent supporting incumbent Taro Aso of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). Last month the Mainichi polling had Prime Minister Aso rating better than his then opponent Mr Ozawa who was embroiled in a scandal over illegal fund raising.

Swapping the candidate at the top of the ticket has clearly restored the DPJ’s chances of winning at the election which must be held before 6 September this year. If Mr Hatoyama is successful it would be only the second time since 1955 that the Prime Minister was not an LDP member. In the mid 1990s the departure of Mr Ozawa, a long time LDP stalwart, resulted in its only loss of power since its inception.

The Japan Times describes the climate in which the election will be held as being one where “poverty is becoming a major problem that is threatening the basic social fabric of this nation.” In an editorial this morning the paper says,

What is particularly worrisome is the replication of poverty as children from low-income families are unable to benefit from higher education. The government needs to work out effective support measures for low-income families, especially single-mother households, to prevent the nation heading into what members of the government’s Council and Economic and Fiscal Policy have termed a “society of lost hope”.