2017 will start badly for Malcolm Turnbull

The latest Newspoll show a slight, but further, deterioration of the political fortunes of Malcolm Turnbull and Coalition.

The analysis reveals Labor has jumped ahead of the coalition in Queensland to hold a lead of 51 per cent to 49 per cent in two-party terms, a five per cent swing from the coalition’s 54-46 per cent share of the vote in the election.

In WA the analysis shows a 3.7 per cent swing against the coalition in two-party terms, narrowing the government’s lead to 51 per cent to Labor’s 49 per cent.

Labor’s strongest vote is in Victoria where it is ahead by 53 to 47 per cent in two-party terms and it’s also ahead in NSW 52 to 48 per cent and in South Australia by 51 to 49 per cent.   Skynews

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 Expect to see more of Malcolm’s “not happy” face in 2017

The Guardian reports: Older voters are turning against the Turnbull government while Labor is enjoying a lift in its standing with men, a Newspoll analysis shows.

The analysis of 8,508 voters in Newspoll surveys taken for the Australian from October to December reveals a seven-percentage-point plunge in the primary vote for the Coalition among voters over 50 since the 2 July election.

Two-thirds of these voters are returning to the Labour Party. The other third is going to the GIMPs.

I have argued that the battle for government will be waged over voters who are located in the middle of the political spectrum, not the extremes, as Pauline Hanson and Corey Bernardi would argue. This poll appears to confirm that trend.

Like the man he replaced, Turnbull has not been ahead in the polls since he was elected. His argument was that Abbott could not lead the Coalition to victory in the 2016 election. Most of the Parliamentary Liberal Party bought that argument and Turnbull took over as Prime Minister.

The irony is that the same argument can now be mounted again, all you need to do is change the names.

However, the Liberals would be ill-advised to change leaders for a number of reasons.

The first is that the next election will being won by changes of voting intention at the centre of the political spectrum (voters over 50 etc) and Turnbull is an excellent leader to appeal to this demographic.

The second is that dissatisfaction with the leader does not appear to have a significant impact on the chances of a party as a whole. This is demonstrated by Labor’s resurgence in the polls while still being led by the deeply unpopular Bill Shorten.

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 Bill Shorten: not much of an option but the strategy of sticking with him appears to be working

 The third is that there is no standout candidate to replace Turnbull.

Tony Abbott is itching for another chance at the top job, emboldened by what is interpreted as a swing to the right in politics, not only in the US and Great Britain, but also in Australia. This is a mistaken notion and would it be disastrous for the Liberal party to base its electoral prospects on it.

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 Tony Abbott is now spent force in Australian politics

But his return to the leadership would be disastrous, not only because he is deeply unpopular with the electorate, but also because his policies are now out of step with the those of the Australian electorate. This is particularly true for issues such as same-sex marriage, reconciliation, coal mining, carbon abatement, clean energy and the Republic.

When you look for potential replacements for Turnbull, you reach the bottom of the barrel pretty quickly.

candidates

The rest of his Cabinet is pretty much unknown. Who has heard of Zed Seselja?

On the question of leadership change, it is very much a case of damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.

Unless Turnbull can haul the Coalition out of the policy inertia that appears to have gripped it in 2016, then the inexorable drift towards the Labor Party and Bill Shorten will continue.

 

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