Daniel "Dan" Andrews has a problem. The Victorian Opposition Leader, who tried to get everyone to call him Dan in recent election advertising, isn't very well liked. According to yesterday's Newspoll current Premier Denis Napthine leads Andrews 47%-34% in the preferred premier stakes. Last week's Fairfax Ipsos poll isn't any better -- 45% consider Napthine the preferred premier to Andrew's 36%. Regardless, the unliked and relatively unknown Andrews is on track to be Victoria's next premier, as he leads a party with a commanding two-party preferred vote of 54%-46% according to Newspoll, or 56%-44% according to Ipsos.
If Andrews wins, it wouldn't be the first time an unpopular leader has led a party to victory. The metric has a history of throwing up misleading and counter-intuitive election commentary, frequently being in opposition to, or failing to reflect, the depth of the direction of the two-party preferred vote. Kevin Rudd had a lead on Tony Abbott in the preferred prime minister stakes right up until the last few polls before the election, even though Abbott's Liberal opposition was ahead on the two-party preferred vote the whole time. It was a similar case when Julia Gillard was in power -- she was more personally popular despite floundering in two-party preferred polling. And in 2007, many commentators argued John Howard still had a chance because he was only marginally behind Kevin Rudd as preferred prime minister -- needless to say the election result proved otherwise. Going back even further, Kim Beazley led Howard on preferred prime minister in the 1998 election campaign. Paul Keating was more popular than Howard -- that didn't stop him losing. In 1993, John Hewson was the preferred prime minister over Keating, but, again, that proved a poor indicator of the final result (though last-minute gaffes may have had something to do with that).