So Rudd gets the job, 49-39. Once the challenge was on, this was the only politically plausible result – with anything less than a crushing Beazley majority, he would have been a lame duck, and Labor were better off trying to at least kill leadership speculation as an issue, even if there are other risks attached to Rudd as leader.
This morning’s polls showed that among electors Rudd was preferred Labor leader by 36% in the SMH/ACNielsen poll and 43% in a Newspoll reported in The Australian – up 15 percentage points in a week.
The ACNielsen poll also reported Labor leading on the two-party preferred 56-44, regardless of who was leader. I agree with Simon Jackman that this is implausibly high. It will probably go the way of the 9.5% that Beazley was supposedly going to bring to Labor when he became leader in early 2005. But its general direction does suggest that there was no need for Labor to panic and change leader (again).
It will be interesting to see how the Coalition deals with Rudd as leader. Expect Kim Beazley’s comments on the importance of experience to be regularly recycled by the Liberals.