Mark at LP wrote an excellent post yesterday on how Howard is now looking so bad in the polls, pointing out in part that margins in the last two elections were closer than is generally acknowledged and Howard would have lost those elections had the ALP had a credible alternative leader to offer that truly appealed to the electorate.
The truth is that Howard’s own permanent campaigning style has almost certainly done him in. If he’d largely ignored Rudd from December last year, and projected the image of a steady and responsible government, he might be in better shape now. But his self-belief in his own “cleverness” wouldn’t allow him to do this. So we’ve had nigh on a year of increasingly shrill and hyperbolic ranting and a veritable plague of rabbits escaping from his empty Akubra.
Howard’s been on borrowed time for years, and it’s caught up with him. Various commentors take the theme and run with it.
“Rudd looks like the kind of bloke Howard’s mum would have liked Howard to be.”
“Rudd has given voters permission to acknowledge that they always despised Howard.”
“Now, Howard is not only disliked (or has at least lost whatever halo he might have had), but the ALP have now elected a leader without any obvious personality disorders, who has the added bonus of speaking Mandarin. That makes him both safe and interesting. Which is the exact formula that opposition leaders need. It’s the election cycle, stupid”
“Rudd has already become PM in the minds of most people and it seems like the electorate like him.”
I’m still nervous about the ALP’s track record of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, but the end of the Howard government truly does appear to be in sight. We still need to balance the Senate with non-majors to ensure the proper legislative review, of course, but at least Howard will have to move out of Kirribilli House.
Mark refused to add to the speculation of whether Howard will indeed resign, so I’ll do it. Unless something drastic changes, it won’t matter who the leader of the LibNat coalition is, they will lose to Rudd. The honourable thing for Howard to do for the sake of his party is to suck it up and be the leader who loses this election, so that the party has a chance afterwards to find a leader who’s not tainted immediately as a loser. It will be a measure of just how much he really, really, loathes Peter Costello if Howard does actually resign and hand him the poisoned chalice.