Back in the days of John Howard there was a fascinating process at play. Quite often during his reign, the more the Howard haters whinged and wailed about him, the more he rose in the polls.
As many have said, Howard's ordinariness worked strongly in his favour. He was non-threatening to most, even if they weren't great admirers of him. So when the spiteful, infantile Left arced up about every little thing he did, the majority could see this for the massive ongoing tanty that it actually was. These people are waaay OTT, they thought. Howard doesn't deserve this hate.
And this happened so often often that the Left's infantile squawking became a reliable reverse indicator for many. The more his haters expressed their outrage, the more people suspected that Howard was on the right track. And so his support tended to rise with the volume of their Godawful shrieking -- or at least did not fall as a result of it.
Now, for some reason Abbott hasn't benefited from an equivalent process. I think it's due to several factors, the main one being his devout Catholicism. His love of the monarchy turns off a lot of people too as that Prince Philip knighthood train wreck so vividly illustrated.
Then there's his devotion to physical fitness and his love of boxing. He was also an extremely high achiever academically, having been a Rhodes Scholar. Abbott is a far more extreme character in many ways than Howard was.
The former PM was low-key when it came to religion. And while he was physically fit for his age he didn't swim, run and ride all over the joint like a man possessed. Just did some early morning power-walking in his daggy tracksuit. While obviously intelligent, he was not an academic star in his youth. Unlike Abbott, he wasn't a career high flyer before entering politics. Just ran a modest suburban law practice for many years.
So, there's widespread wariness about Abbott. Even though he craves acceptance and admiration from his countrymen and has clearly won it from those volunteer fire fighters and other ordinary Aussies that he spends to much time with, a high proportion of the population just don't quite trust him. He's a bit too full on and intense for their liking.
But now, after many months in the top job, I think this general mistrust is starting to thaw. They are increasingly willing to see him as a decent but flawed bloke who's competent and rational, and has our best interests at heart. He might make a few crazy calls. But when he does he quickly corrects his mistakes. And he has enough humility to listen to criticism and change his behaviour as a result.
That's why I think that from now on he might start to benefit from the insane rage of his infantile enemies in the same way Howard did. For this reason I think he's got a far better shot at retaining his gig as PM than most of the commentariat believe.
What do you reckon? Will the Abbott-haters win? Or will they win it for him?