John Howard is finished

Read this poll. Its all over for the Liberals in Australia, and John Howard. End of story.

Although I was reluctant to write of the Liberals previously, due the fact a comeback (like in 2001) isn’t impossible, the new margin is just a it too big this close to the election (which will probably be in November). Howard has governed Australia since 1996, with strong economic preformance. I see three reasons for the poor coalition polling despite Australia’s economic preformance (ranked in order of importance):
1) Kevin Rudd. Has a lot of similarities to John Key, and comes across as a nice, non-threatning guy. For voters who are tired of Howard, presents a fresh alternatives. Ever since he became leader, Labor has been polling descisively higher than the coalition.
2) Howard stayed too long as Prime Minister. This is closely linked with point one above. The experiences of Blair, Clark, Bush, Howard, and other western leaders show that ruling for 18 years like Menzies is not possible today. Voters tire of leaders in their third term. The fact voters flirted with latham for a long time before rejecting him should (in hindsight) have warned Howard of this. Admitedly, last year I failed to relise this, as I supported Howard staying against a leadership bid by Costello. This has really hit home after Rudd became leader. Unfortuantely it is too late now to change leaders, as it would be seen as a sign of panic.
3) WorkChoices. While this measure was hardly draconian, but the initial (pollitically stupid) absence of a no-disadvantage test (ie a rule requiring the new agreement to be no worse than the old one) led to unions convincing many voters that it was a draconian attack on workers rights, and the coalition has never managed to shake this perception of. In hindsight, WorkChoices was (politically) trying to do too much too quickly, if it was to be done at all (the later would be cowardly, politicians have a moral duty to do whats right for the country, even if it at times hurts them in the polls).

A possible forth reason would be the labor strategy of (other than on Workchoices) giving no big policy difference with the coalition, cemeting Howrds legacy (which is why I don’t worry about Rudd becoming PM) but denying any wedge issue for a comeback.

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