Switch to Rudd would boost chances, but figures are slippery
Returning to Kevin Rudd could forestall an electoral train wreck by adding as much as 11 points to Labor's primary vote, the latest Fairfax Nielsen poll has found.
The poll shows the ALP's first-preference vote languishing at just 29 per cent to the Coalition's 47 per cent, portending a 7 per cent swing against Labor and the loss of nearly half its MPs. Dejected caucus members filing back into the capital will notice that according to the poll, under Mr Rudd's leadership their 29 per cent share could suddenly become 40 and the Coalition's 47 per cent could be pulled back to 42.
That would take the race back to the nil-all draw achieved at the 2010 election after distribution of preferences to be 50-50.
Switching to Kevin Rudd could keep Labor in the election race. Photo: Harrison Saragossi
Some of the recovery would come from Greens voters but most would be from a group disaffected by the present leader: male voters - all age groups.
However, pollster John Stirton reminds readers of hypothetical head-to-head comparisons, such as that between Ms Gillard and Mr Rudd, not to overlook how the change would occur and how resilient the latter's apparent popularity turns out to be.
Mr Rudd is the preferred Labor leader, with 58 per cent to Ms Gillard's 32 per cent - a very significant lead of 26 points.
The question is, how much of that comprises conservative voters who have no intention of voting Labor when the time comes?
The former prime minister's popularity is also likely to be inflated by nostalgia and the simple fact of him not being her.
This is the ''ABG'' answer, where voters opt for ''anyone but Gillard'' without spending time thinking about what happens next. Ms Gillard's loyalists argue that Mr Rudd's support in the electorate is ''a mile wide and an inch deep'', being based more on celebrity than durable political popularity.
Mr Stirton has also described as ''a magical scenario'' the possibility of Mr Rudd acquiring the leadership seamlessly, leading a united party, and of his ''honeymoon'' lasting all the way to polling day.