Kevin Rudd and the ALP’s approval ratings took another hit yesterday, with Newspoll, Galaxy and Essential all coming in with a two party preferred vote of 50-50 — which, if accurate, would see Labor lose government — and Rudd’s approval holding at a low 39% for Newspoll and sinking three to 42% for Galaxy.

So what’s wrong with Kevin?

Yesterday, Crikey‘s Canberra correspondent Bernard Keane published the first part in his special report into what’s really behind Labor’s plummeting poll numbers:

… this collapse has been swift and has been focussed entirely on Rudd, whose appeal to voters has collapsed as spectacularly as Labor’s vote.

In his pursuit of the prime ministership, much of Rudd’s political persona … consisted of what people projected onto him, rather than what he projected.

Stay tuned for part two in today’s Crikey Daily Mail.

With Rudd on the nose with voters, many are now speculating about whether the ALP would be better off replacing him with his more popular right-hand-woman Gillard. In yesterday’s editorial, we argued:

The fact that some dogs are barking about Gillard now is little more than a media beat-up. But that won’t be the case after this year’s election, unless Rudd is able to improve the government’s margin, which seems highly unlikely.

… That’s when the Gillard bandwagon will become a real bandwagon.

Take a look at who and what the nation’s pundits are blaming for Rudd’s polling pain, and whether they’re hopping on board the Gillard bandwagon themselves:

The Australian

Dennis Shanahan: It all comes down to belief in leaders

… fewer and fewer voters are believing Rudd, and their disbelief or scepticism is shifting to the entire Rudd government and its attempts to restore fiscal conservatism.

Peter van Onselen: Gillard shapes up as Libs’ next target

Rudd revealed himself to be a callow politician who stands for very little when he dumped his commitment to an emissions trading scheme some weeks ago.

Samantha Maiden: Julia unassuming, despite poll

More than ever, the orthodoxy about Julia Gillard never being a serious player for the leadership because of her historical ties to the Left is looking hollow.

… one day they are more likely than not to give Gillard a go.

Jack the Insider: Never too old to ask for help

[Rudd] has failed to heed the old adage to never give a mug an even break and now will struggle to break even at the next election.

Sydney Morning Herald

Phillip Coorey: Rudd needs his dunny-cleaning mates – and that’s the bottom line

Rudd, who is suddenly short of friends and is inconceivably the subject of leadership tittle-tattle, is not only trying to keep those he wooed to Labor in 2007, he is no longer taking the traditional friends for granted.

The Age

Mark Davis: The myth of the post budget bounce

… a government’s standing in the polls has more to do with the wider political and economic context than with the political management of the annual budget ritual.

Herald Sun

Phillip Hudson: Julia Gillard’s loyalty program is the one thing Kevin Rudd needs most

… the alarming thing for Rudd is the chatter about the Gillard ascendancy. It wouldn’t happen if he was on top of his game.

Courier Mail

Paul Williams: Odds still with Rudd

From bungled roof insulation programs and an overblown building education revolution to a shelved emissions trading scheme and a poorly sold super-profits mining tax, Labor’s undeniable clumsiness has seen its primary vote collapse eight points in just a few months.


Niki Savva: Gillard may save Labor but who will save Rudd?

[Rudd] had so much political capital but instead of spending it wisely, as an investment in his future, he squandered it.