Who cares about the approval ratings jiggling up and down a little with one or the other sneaking 'ahead' by a single point? It's all noise.
The BIG message here for these leaders and their parties is: the electorate hates you both, equally and with a passion. Almost the only folk still supporting either leader and party are the rusted-on faithful. The rest of us want "None of the Above".
This is why we have the hung Parliament, with the balance of power being held by Independents.
The Greens may be a safe bet "to keep the Bastards Honest" in the Senate, to borrow Don Chip's line, but intense disapproval of major parties will not translate into lower-house support for the Greens. They have yet to earn that support from the majority of voters.
There are around 500-days until Gillard has to go to the polls.
Is that enough time for strong independent candidates to declare themselves in all the lower house seats? I've no idea.
It would be so wonderful if Abbott or Gillard lost their seat to an Independent, in much the same way that the electorate of Bennelong "sent a message" when they replaced PM John Howard in 2007 with Maxine McKew. But only for a single term: The ALP got sent another message when she wasn't reelected.
We are in this "Tweedledee, Tweedledum" situation exactly because of all the "sophisticated" tools that political parties have used and refined over the years.
When Dr Gallup invented sampling theory for his PhD thesis and showed it comprehensively worked in the 1948 election of Truman, we embarked on this course towards "identical candidates and parties".
Simple survey techniques have been supplemented with frequent, targeted polls, "focus groups" and enhance with technology.
But the Political Party's analysis and use of this data to create "Perfect Candidates" and "Perfect Policies" has a monumental flaw: it can only tell you what to leave out, or not do, it cannot tell you what to do, what is missing.
A perfect example from my Industry, I.T., is Microsoft versus Apple:
Microsoft has products and a persona perfectly constructed from Opinion Polls and Focus Groups. Apple builds stuff it is passionate about, that springs from a clear well-expressed vision and worldview and is intentionally, not for everyone.
Until 5 years ago, you would've said Microsoft had won hands down. Now Apple is so far ahead on all measures and Microsoft results so poor in absolute and relative terms, that there is simply no contest. The business press has called for the firing of the long-term Microsoft CEO and a set of commentators are now waiting for them to fail.The lesson from MSFT v AAPL?
Pandering to the whims and desires of the masses and attempting to "never offend anyone" yields short-run benefits, but in the long-run guarantees all but the most faithful hate you with a passion. The majority of people will only buy and use your product if they have no other choice. Look at the share price and revenues since the 2007 launch of the iPhone... It had stopped being a contest before then, now the iPhone and iPad have "nailed shut the coffin" on Microsoft's business model.
Apple and Steve Jobs have, since the 1984 launch of the Macintosh, shown that they put Great Design ahead of everything else. Without Jobs in the company to solidly maintain this stance with upper management and the board, the company floundered, almost to the point of extinction.
When Jobs returned with the same core philosophy but now with the skills to profitably implement it, the turn-around of the company has been nothing short of amazing to those who don't understand the rule, and more than comforting to those who do understand this philosophy.
This is the "secret sauce" of Apple and Steve Jobs: Stay true to your deeply-held Beliefs.
Jobs' 2005 Commencement Address for Stanford says more.
You cannot "cut your way to success" in business, nor elsewise achieve greatness through appeasement, placating and being "politically correct" - newspeak for "never offend anyone". Being a reed that blows in the winds of opinion does not buy you friends, influence or respect.
This is why Australian voters don't just dislike, but actively hate, the major parties, their leaders and their policies:
they don't have the guts and gumption to strongly state their message and stick with it.
If you have real, strongly-held beliefs, you will have a whole raft of people disagree with you, but they will admire and respect you for it and given the choice, grudgingly allow you to get on with it.
Voters know too well that the party hacks they vote for locally will, when given the choice between the interests of their own electorate and "the party", consistently not put the interests of their constituents first.
So why vote for someone that won't stand up for you and your interests when it counts???
This is exactly why strong, capable Independents are being increasingly elected.
Voters know that Bob "mad hatter" Katter will fight to the death for them. He might hold a bunch of crazy and unimplementable views, but he is passionate about his electorate and volubly so. Love him or hate him, you have to respect his passion, his work ethic and commitment to his constituents: this is real Public Service, putting others interests ahead of your own.
So this is why my recommendation for the 2013 Federal election is:
Vote  Independent.Because if you don't vote the bastards out, nobody else can.
If you don't have a strong, capable Independent standing in your Electorate?
You still have many avenues to make your views known, though there are few I can write about.
Just be sure when you do share your views and attempt to influence others, that you don't fall foul of the Electoral Act.
You cannot advocate that people don't vote nor that they vote 'informal', especially not that they avoid being on the electoral rolls. We are a Democracy and this entails a duty to care, it relies on your active engagement, not passive acceptance of the Status Quo and wishy-washy 'statements' that waste your vote.
Voting is compulsory in Australia (we're such an apathetic lot and seemingly love to obey authority!) and failing to vote for a good reason attracts a $25 fine. The penalties for advocating others not vote are considerably harsher and more onerous (court appearance, not a fine, possibly criminal offence) than an individual failing to vote.
To be clear: I support everyone casting a vote, this is fundamental to maintaining our Democracy.
IIRC, Somewhere around 4-6% of registered voters don't cast ballots on the day. I've no idea, nor any interest in finding out, if or where the reasons for not participating in the cornerstone of our Democratic process are tabulated.
Update 10-Jun-2012: The Financial Review has estimates that 20% [~3MM] eligible voters "choose not to vote". 2.88MM of 14.09MM people:
- 1.20MM not on the roll,
- 0.95MM don't turn up to vote (and face the fine)
- 0.73MM don't cast a formal vote
To create change, you have to vote.
Think about it and make your vote count in 2013.