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Where did Rudd go wrong?

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Published on: Thursday, September 16, 2010

Now the dust from the campaign trail has settled, where did Rudd go wrong? To discuss the power of the polls, managing director of UMR Research, John Utting joins Peter Switzer on Sky News Business Channel’s SWITZER.

“Our company, UMR Research has the Labor Party as one of our clients,” says Utting. “We’ve had a long history with political and social research over many years and basically the political part has always been a really important part of the work we do.”

Strong beginnings

During his first year as Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd was in what looked like an unassailable lead.

“Kevin started off in a really strong position and, in fact, part of the travails that he was to suffer further on was to do with that popularity,” explains Utting. “He sort of had an Obama kind of effect as well and just as Obama in the US has got into difficulty with the problem of meeting the very high initial expectations, Kevin Rudd sort of found himself in the same groove.”

Credit where credit is due

Given how the Australian economy weathered the GFC – avoiding recession and unemployment plateauing at moderate levels – how does Utting account for Rudd’s drop in popularity?

“That is a paradoxical sort of situation. In a sense, his management of the economy was too successful and what really happened was that the focus was allowed to shift away from what was really a stellar effort of stabilising the economy and preventing recession.

“In an ironical way, if it had done worse or hadn’t been as successful in its stability efforts, there probably would have been more focus on that and more of an appreciation of the efforts of both him, Labor and Wayne Swan had done in actually stabilising the economy,” he says. 

Turning their backs

While there were many issues that influenced Rudd’s drop in popularity, Utting credits the scrapping of the ETS as a major contributor.

“The ETS was probably the signature decision in the way things sort of developed. It brought home to a lot of people the difficulty that was going to happen in terms of having to deal with these issues,” he says.

Inevitably, the polls began to turn away from Rudd’s prime ministership.

“The prime minister was very popular for the first two years and just after that period, what generally happens is modern electorates are very demanding. They do expect delivery on a lot of issues, complex problems,” says Utting.

“Their standards are almost too critical and they expect too much too soon so after about the second year, the difficulties began to develop in terms of difference between what the level of expectation of what could be done and what was actually being able to be achieved.”

Check out Peter Switzer’s SWITZER on Sky News Business Channel, Monday to Thursday from 7pm.

Important information:This content has been prepared without taking account of the objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular individual. It does not constitute formal advice. For this reason, any individual should, before acting, consider the appropriateness of the information, having regard to the individual’s objectives, financial situation and needs and, if necessary, seek appropriate professional advice.

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