This was originally published on Incite Politics, but in the roller-coaster ride of Turnbull’s popularity, it’s suddenly relevant again.
Incite is a subscriber blog, so only re-post original articles after a couple of weeks.
When Malcolm Turnbull knifed Tony Abbott in 2015 his justification was that Abbott had lost 30 Newspolls in a row. Turnbull thus, brilliantly, hung an albatross around his own neck.
Turnbull’s honeymoon had the longevity of a celebrity Vegas wedding. The coalition’s poll bounce became a swan dive. Media darling “Malcolm” turned into “Fizza” – and the albatross became a ticking bomb. Turnbull’s enemies – both in and outside the party – gleefully counted the Newspolls. By the end of 2017 Turnbull had racked up 25 negatives.
Fizza couldn’t take a break, no matter how hard he tried, which wasn’t that hard. Labor leader Bill “Shifty” Shorten had free reign to hammer the government over the dual citizenship scandal, while Turnbull barely raised a whimper back.
Even the successful passage of gay marriage legislation, and Labor’s associated naked, hypocritical opportunism failed to translate into poll success.
25 negative polls, and counting. Fizza began to admit “regret” over the 30-poll benchmark.
But, finally, there’s a ray of hope for a hopeless PM. The coalition’s primary vote has finally edged ahead of Labor. Turnbull has surged ahead of Shorten as preferred PM.
Can Fizza sleep easily, now? Hardly. The poll bounce isn’t so much a vote of confidence in Turnbull, as a sign that voters just aren’t prepared to stomach PM Shifty. Call it the Hillary factor.
Shifty is just too much on the nose with voters. The Royal Commission into unions hasn’t been forgotten, and Shorten’s sleazy political manoeuvering, combined with blatant pandering to the far left, is finally catching up with him. Half of voters prefer Labor deputy Tanya Plibersek or frontbencher Anthony Albanese.
This is Turnbull’s biggest danger. If someone like Albanese, who only narrowly lost to Shorten in the original leadership vote, took over the party near to an election, Fizza would almost certainly be toast.
Albo has a reputation – not entirely undeserved – of being a fairly decent bloke, and is probably the closest thing to a traditional Labor man the party can boast. Albo is lefty enough to appeal to “progressives”, but no Jeremy Corbyn. He can also pull off the “yoof appeal” shtick without looking like a complete prat.
All that adds up to a potential Labor leader who, at least in the short term, could probably cruise to victory unless Turnbull and the coalition stop pissing off their own voters, and pull off something remarkable over the next year.