Why we didn’t like Tony Abbott

The Age has report today on the findings that compare Malcolm Turnbull’s surging popularity with with the deposed and discredited Tony Abbott.

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All things considered, hardly a fair comparison
All things considered, hardly a fair comparison

Surveys, mail-out questionnaires and opinion polls are strange beasts. It’s important to remember is that the person who designs the survey dictates the parameters of that particular study.

So, sometimes it is possible to miss point completely by asking the wrong questions or slant the survey in some way.  Reputable survey companies like Fairfax and IPSOS go to great lengths to avoid this but we should always be wary of any survey that produces results so unequivocal as this one.

The other interesting phenomenon is that people filling out these questionnaires or responding to these polls, sometimes fall victim to the halo effect. That is, if they like someone in a general sense they will them a very high grading on a number of specific questions, about which they have not thought about very much. It’s likely that this effect has been at work in the comparison between Turnbull and Abbott.

As far as Prime Ministers go, Tony Abbott was probably not the sharpest knife in the drawer.

Certainly not in the league of Gough Whitlam, Paul Keating or even perhaps Malcolm Turnbull.  And this lack of intellectual sharpness translated into what was almost an aggressive stupidity when it came to policy issues.

The repeated mantra (and other repeated phrases) “Death cult, death cult, Team Australia, Team Australia” was really an insult to the intelligence of the Australian population.

Knighting Prince Philip was an act of political stupidity as was the continued support for the discredited Speaker, Bronwyn Bishop.

And it not until it stops, that you realise how bad it was.

It’s a bit like the parent who has been getting up to a small child two or three times a night for months on end and then finally gets a few nights of unbroken sleep: Once it’s over, you realise how good returning to normal is.

And so it is with the Turnbull/Abbott comparison There is a possibility that some small proportion of Turnbull’s popularity is a result of  how terribly bad Tony Abbott really was.

And a huge advantage for Malcolm Turnbull now is that he is also being compared with the terminally unpopular Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten.

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If he weren’t so rich, Turnbull would probably be buying a Tattslotto ticket.

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