FEDERAL politics is entering a very interesting 12 months.For most of the past two years, mediacommentators – and the general public – have assumed it was not a question of who would win the 2013 federal election, but by how much.
Julia Gillard, as leader of a minority government under constant attack from the opposition and conservative media, saw her personalpopularity slide to record lows.
At the same time, opposition leader Tony Abbott was riding high in the polls, though there was always a feeling that his numbers had more to do with the antipathy towards his political rivals than any real warmth towards him.
A key to the government’s sliding popularity was its backflip on the introduction of a carbon tax and its refusal to admit that both the prime minister and Treasurer Wayne Swan hadpromised before the election that a carbon tax simply would not happen.
That gave the opposition the fuel it needed to portray the government as dishonest and apuppet of The Greens, and it was that portrayal that saw the government’s popularity plummet.
Well, all that seems to be changing.
Two polls published yesterday showed the gap between the major parties has now closed, and Julia Gillard has streaked ahead of Tony Abbott as preferred prime minister.
Concerns that the opposition was placing all its election hopes in a single basket – attacking the carbon tax – appear to be coming back to haunt them now.
That’s not to say it is all good news for Ms Gillard, though.
She is still far less popular as Labor leader than former PM Kevin Rudd, and former opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull remains much more popular with the public than Mr Abbott.
The question for both major parties is, how much stock can they put in these polls?
Parties can’t afford to react to every single poll, but there are now real trends showing over the past few months.
Is it too late for a Rudd versus Turnbullelection in 2013? Only time will tell.
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