JOHN HOWARD tried to interfere in Australia's love affair with Kevin Rudd, and we didn't appreciate it.Labor has been ahead of the Government for 11 consecutive months. You wouldn't know that from reading the papers or watching TV, of course. So what's going on?
Howard had hoped that his smears would taint Rudd's image and bring his stratospheric popularity down closer to the muddy ground Howard occupies.
The opposite has happened. Rudd was already the most popular Opposition leader in the 35-year history of the ACNielsen poll, with an approval rating of 65 per cent.
In today's poll he has surmounted his own record by adding another 2 percentage points to his approval.
It is Howard's popularity that has suffered - his approval rating has fallen by 3 percentage points to 46 per cent, and indignant respondents have pushed Howard's disapproval rating up by 5 percentage points to 49.
Club Troppo's Christopher Sheil say the Howard government is now under more pressure than it has ever experienced in its 11-year rule:
If the government maintains its current rate of political hyperventilation, we may well see its senior ministers explode live on television this week.
Grodcorp suggests Howard may be seeking further advice - from his doctor. But the Herald suggests Howard remains a viable leader at 46% popularity, and a Coalition election victory is still not impossible. Given the depths to which Howard has sunk in previous elections - Tampa, etc - one can only imagine what they are brewing up this time around.