After a week in which the Coalition was plagued by candidate problems, notwithstanding Labor having problems of its own, and the opposition appeared to find some momentum, it is interesting that the two party vote of the government didn’t slip in the latest Newspoll.
It stayed steady on 49 per cent compared to Labor’s 51 per cent.
The explanation has to be the unpopularity of the Opposition Leader Bill Shorten. It sharply cuts through with voters. His net satisfaction rating is minus 18 compared with Scott Morrison who is on minus one. And Shorten trails Morrison on the better PM rating by a full 11 points. It really does seem like some voters are baulking at the idea of a Shorten prime ministership.
Yes Morrison is a one-man band, and his lack of a team should concern voters. But in presidential style campaigning Shorten’s strong team around him can’t paper over the perceived limitations of the leader.
All that remains to be seen is whether Shorten’s drag on Labor’s vote turns the victory into an ugly win, or the unthinkable happens and Morrison manufactures the biggest political comeback in Australian history.
The former remains the most likely outcome.
With only one more Newspoll to go before Election Day, were the Coalition to get back to level pegging, or even edge in front, it really would be the political equivalent of the try after the siren in a football match.
Most people have lost count of the number of consecutive Newspolls the Coalition has trailed in. When Malcolm Turnbull surpassed Tony Abbott’s fail in this respect it seemed like the Coalition would never work it’s way back into the lead.
When Turnbull started to defy the nay sayers and clawed the government back to within striking distance — four consecutive Newspoll results of 49-51 per cent — the geniuses on the had right of the party orchestrated a coup to try and install Peter Dutton as leader.
Fortunately for the viability of the Liberal Party that attempt failed, and Turnbull supporters realising their man was damaged goods threw their support behind a third candidate, Morrison.
In the aftermath of the coup the government’s polling support slipped well away, but it has now twice matched Turnbull’s final four polls, doing so less than two weeks out from the election.
We’ll see if Morrison can score that last minute try next week, snatching victory from the jaws of what has long looked like certain defeat.