Monday, October 08, 2007

Polls Still Bad But PM Has Hope

The latest Herald-AC Nielson Poll continues the bad news for Prime Minister John Howard. The numbers show voter consistency of opinion over months: The 2-party-preferred count shows Labor 56%; Coalition 44%. However, as with other polls, this does not include the "uncommitted", a figure of about 12%.

Number-crunching shows the approximate figures as:

  • Labor: 49%
  • Coalition: 39%
  • Uncommitted: 12%

It is this 12% of uncommitted voters that gives John Howard hope. I expect that about 7 in 10 of these will vote for the government (Coalition), just because they are in government, and because such voters are more likely to be befuddled by a government scare campaign. That would give figures close to:

  • Labor: 52%
  • Coalition: 48%
and result in a much closer election result.

The challenge for John Howard is to harness the scare campaign. He really only has 3 bullets: voter perceptions of his economic management (multiple successive rises in interest rates notwithstanding) and fear of refugees. He and his ministers will continue their assertions on these issues. The third bullet is pork-barrelling the voters. He's started with highway funding, and will continue on to hospitals, both of which are areas of voter concern. "But wait, there's more - ..."!

The challenge for Kevin Rudd is to continue to push the image of a leader who has a vision, and who wants to restore public faith in public structures such as health, education and transport; and the image of leader who wants to undo the worst degradations of WorkChoices without alienating businesses.