Monday, February 23, 2009

Count Me In

How bad are this morning's polls for Prime Minister Asō Tarō?

Let's see, in the Mainichi Shimbun poll his Cabinet is supported by 35% and is opposed by 46% of the voters...who support the Liberal Democratic Party (20% of the respondents in this survey). Among the general populace, Asō received a whopping 11% support (still in double digits, yeah!) while 73% say they do not support him. Even ennui ranks above the PM, with 15% of the voters saying they have no special feeling either way.

The Nihon Keizai Shimbun poll has a more comfortable but still abysmal Cabinet support level at 15%. Unfortunately for the PM and those around him, the Nikkei poll number might be inflated by an insufficiently randomized sample. The number of respondents saying they support the LDP in this poll is 34%, a very high figure and 5 points above the support number for the LDP in the Nikkei poll of a month ago. Given that mistrust of the Cainet shifted 6 points, to a stunning 80% of all respondents, one has to guess the PM and the Cabinet got 1 to 3 points of support they do not deserve.

As Okumura Jun is always pointing out, "Amaterasu on High, both of these dudes suck" is the winner in a head-to-head competition between the Prime Minister and his chief rival, Democratic Party of Japan leader Ozawa Ichirō. A piddling 8% think Asō is the appropriate person to be prime minsiter right now, a fall of 8 points since the last poll taken a little less than a month ago. Some 25% of the respondents think Ozawa should be prime minister--exactly the name number as the previous poll. At the top at 61% is "Neither of these two is appropriate," up from 55% in the January 24-25 poll.

Count me in on that. Ozawa's low-energy repetition of "the-PM-has-lost-the-support-of-the-people-we-need-a-dissolution-of-the-Diet-and-general-election" sort of peaked around the 56th iteration. Since then, each addition repetition of the Ozawa mantra has set my teeth on edge.

I know that seizing power through elections is Ozawa's entire political program. If he could just fake interest in what is going on in the Diet (not that he would know, of course, since he is out on the hustings so much) the charade would make me and seemingly 61% of the voters a lot happier. If you cannot gain even 1 percentage point of support when your chief rival drops 8, then you have what looks like a problem.

Ozawa, if he really wants to topple the ruling coalition, needs to find a way to get the people to like him. Does he not realize that winning by the tiniest of parliamentary seat margins means he would have to try to govern with only the tiniest of parliamentary seat margins?

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