Monday, May 28, 2007

Have we got a game goin' on here?

Oh lawdy--look what the cat done dragged in:

Nikkei News

Whooooee! Somebody open a window!

The support rating of the Cabinet falls 12% in a month, from a decidedly unbelievable 53% to a far more realistic 41%. Down 12 points in a month when NOTHING REALLY BAD HAPPENED.

No particularly egregious verbal gaffes, no embarrassing revelations--well, aside from that minuscule inconvenience over at the Pension Central .

Could it be that the problem is--the Cabinet?

To pour salt in the wound, 49% of those polled "do not value what the Cabinet is doing". Only 33% find the Cabinet's efforts worthwhile.

Now you may say, "OK, but a 41% approval rating is high for a Cabinet, in historical terms."

Sorry, no go on that escape clause. We are are in 6 A.K. (Anno Koizumi) when the prime minister is expected to be a star. After the meetings with Wen and George (Oh, George! Oh, Shinzō!) Abe's star was rising.

When that star now suffers a precipitous decline in altitude--it is news.

We are within 60 days of the House of Councillors election. Unlike in the House of Representatives, where the district representative is, at least outside the central urban districts, bound to his constituents via strong patron-client ties, the House of Councillors district members are elected prefecture-wide. In such a wider geographical and economic area,the mood of the non-aligned voter can be crucial toward determining the final vote tally.

The prime minister and the Cabinet's popularity is therefore watched and fretted over. The huge, unexpected fall in the popularity ratings will sow panic in the ruling coalition. If it worsens, lawmakers may start looking for ways to distance themselves from the Abe Cabinet.

And there is only one more regular cycle of polls left before the election day.

"OK, but this was just one newspaper's poll--and the Nikkei's April approval rating of 53% was a freakish outlier."

Sadly for this line of reasoning, the Mainichi also released the result of its polling this morning:

Courtesy: Mainichi Shimbun
May 28, 2007

Cabinet approval down 11 points since April, from 43% to 32%. Disapproval rating up, from 33% to 44%. Both scores records for the Abe Cabinet. So many floating votes too--22% of the people just cannot bring themselves to care.

The results to the question "Which party do you want to see win in the House of Councillors election?" are even more alarming for the ruling coalition.

Courtesy: Mainichi Shimbun
May 28, 2007

Wowza! From a slim 38% to 36% lead, the LDP hits an air pocket, falling to 33%. By contrast, the heretofore forelorn DPJ wins a little respect by stealing all the LDP's lost affection and a bit more in rising to 42%.

Not all of the gains and losses recorded may be significant. Of those contacted in the April poll, 29% identified themselves as LDP supporters and 16% as DPJ supporters. In this round, only 25% of those polled identified themselves as LDP supporters while 19% called themselves supporters of the DPJ.

Still the jump up for the DPJ in likability is double the support number, while the loss of likability for the LDP closely matches the decline in the number of firm supporters polled.

Looks like we got a game goin' on.

Later - The polling results from this weekend also seem to indicate that--racchi mondai fever to the contrary--there are some things not even archenemy North Korea can get to lift off.

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