Is Brendan Nelson the person least likely to ever become Prime Minister of Australia? Today’s Newspoll results seem to indicate that. The most damning thing about Mr Nine Percent’s preferred PM rating is that Australia hasn’t in the last week become a bastion of progressive politics, the two party preferred split is 57-43. What this means is that a third of people who identify themselves as LNP Coalition voters think that Kevin Rudd would be a better PM than the person leading their preferred party. Worse still, the other two thirds of LNP supporters aren’t falling in behind their leader but fracturing further so that the uncommitted figure is more than double the number of people who support Dr Nelson.
There was little doubt that by seizing the mantle of leadership so early after a defeat and by such an unconvincing margin that Brendan Nelson was unlikely to even make it to the next election as leader. This Newspoll only reinforces this view. Alexander Downer has the unenviable record of being the only Liberal Leader to never lead the party to an election, following what was generally accepted to be a calamitous stint in the job, but even he managed better preferred PM figures than Dr Nelson. In fact, right before Downer was rolled in favour of John Howard he had a preferred PM figure of 21%, more than double what the Doctor can muster up today.When Howard took over the leadership from Downer in ’95 the preferred PM gap closed from twenty-six points to five, we can only speculate what difference would be made if Nelson was tipped out but I suspect that even Leadership contender Malcolm Turnbull doesn’t really want to grab the poisoned chalice of opposition leader to find out.