Thursday, August 31, 2017

Not-A-Poll: Best Prime Minister Of The Last 45 Years

(Round 1 has closed.  For results see Round 2.)

Round 1

Now and then we see newspaper polls rating the best PMs of the last few decades, or in the case of one Essential poll last week, the best government of the last ten years.  John Howard is a persistent "winner" of the first class of polling, but I've always believed he has an unfair advantage.  He tends to get a very high share of the Liberal vote with other Liberal PMs hardly getting any, while the Labor vote tends to be split up more between Hawke, Keating, Whitlam, Rudd and Gillard.  For that reason it's not clear whether Howard would beat all the Labor PMs on a head-to-head basis, although it looks like he probably would.

I've decided to run a similar Not-A-Poll exercise here in the sidebar just for fun over a period of several months.  The basic rule is that we keep going eliminating one PM at a time (perhaps more) until someone has over 50% at the end of a month.  The more complicated rules are:

* Each round runs for a month, so you can vote in as many rounds as you like and don't have to stick with the same candidate.
* At the end of each round the PM in last place in that round is eliminated, jokes are made at their expense, and voting starts again without that PM.  
* If there is a tie for last place, it is broken using the results of the previous round, then the round before that, or failing that the most recent PM to leave office is excluded.
* If any ex-PM who is still in the contest dies during the voting period, voting will be suspended for a month and then continue. Hopefully all will stay in the most excellent of health throughout.
* If there is a change of Prime Minister during the campaign period, voting will be suspended for a month.  If the new PM has not been PM before, voting on the current round will then restart with that PM added; otherwise, voting on the current round will continue.
* If the contest is still going, there will be no voting in March 2018.  The reason for this will become clear at the time.
* Bulk Exclusion Clause: To streamline the process, multiple candidates will be eliminated from the bottom up at the end of a voting month if the combined transfer of their votes could not have put anybody over 50%, and if it would not have been possible for any of them to win from where they are in a preferential election.

Technical note: If you wish to vote on a mobile, switch to "View web version" at the bottom of an article.

Voting for Round 1 is open in the sidebar on the right and closes Sep 30 at 6:00 AEST.

Largely because this is a convenient time for me to start this nonsense running whereas a few months hence might not be, I've excluded Billy McMahon, although he was still in office for a few months within the "45 Year" window.

Given the usual skew of this site's readership, I think it's highly likely that an ALP PM will win, but which one will it be?

Discussion of the merits of various PMs is welcome in comments but please keep it clean.

Stack Alert!

Sometime on either Monday the 4th or the morning of Tuesday 5th, Tony Abbott jumped from equal last place with two votes out of about 260 to third with 60 votes out of 345.  I do retain a degree of IP data to keep an eye on incidents like this but in this case the stack was outside the time window, meaning that I don't know whether it was one person voting repeatedly (there are ways of doing it) or a spread-the-word stack by 50+ people.  I have now upped the length of time over which IP data is retained to catch future such cases.  As is sometimes the case, Not-A-Poll also serves as a warning about the capriciousness of online opt-in "polling".

If I ever do find clear evidence of multiple voting by the same person in the same round, all such votes cast will be deducted.  I reserve the right to make any adjustments needed for suspected or proven multiple voting.


  1. Very cautious Kevin - " If there is a change of Prime Minister during the campaign period..." However, a frenemy of mine with deep LNP contacts says he was talking to Andrew Wallace (member for Fisher) a week of so back and Andrew said "there is no appetite for change in the party room".

  2. I worked for Gough. He changed the country - for the better - like no other post WW2 political figure. But the governance of the Whitlam Government was a shambles. Gough bares his fair share of responsibility for that.

    KRudd is a micro managing narcissist, but his leadership between January 2008 and the middle of 2009 was the best of any Prime Minister, ever. Listening to Ken Henry on the topic of how KRudd drove the response to the GFC, from 6 months at least before it actually happened makes that abundantly clear. Despite his subsequent missteps and his personality defects KRudd goes close to rating as the best just for that alone.

    Hawke was a great chairman of a great cabinet, but for mine the best Prime Minister was Paul Keating. He combined Whitlam's vision and passion with actual skill in governance. Regrettably he came to office leading an already old government, so probably didn't get the run he deserved (by which I mean think about the consequences if he won the 1996 election - compulsory super would be at least 15%, the national east coast dual highway would have been completed a decade ago, the Telstra network would be Government owned and the roll out of the nbn would have happened without ranker a decade ago, skills training would not have fallen through the floor, the culture and history wars avoided, One Nation would have been drowned at birth, Howard wouldn't have blown the bounty of the mining boom, we would likely be reconciled with our indigenous peoples and a Republic with an independent foreign policy). Alas.

    That said, PJK's legacy in public life, including his 4 years as PM stands as a colossus!

    1. I agree with nearly all of that, "Unknown". But I think Gough's changing the country for the better outweighs his responsibility for the shambles (and his total lack of understanding of economics which you didn't mention). So for me, he was the greatest despite his feet of clay.

    2. Until (and if) you can correct it Kevin, everyone should know that the apparent 1 vote for Fraser is the result of a mis-click by me! Sorry, sorry, sorry!

  3. It's a pity you can't do it like a ballot paper and number the candidates according to preferences. We could of had a 2PP (Preferred PM)
    It was a toss up between Hawke and Keating. Both were good in their own way.

  4. Hawke for me. I loved Keating best, but Hawke's ability to garner public support and administer a very good Government gives him the nod from me. I agree re Whitlam's vision, but his administration was quite poor and that brings him down. For sheer guts, Gillard is right up there. Rudd's defeat of Howard was immense but he could not run a cabinet well enough for my liking. Howard was successful as an administrator, but his philosophy stunk and I put him near the bottom. Turnbull is pretty hopeless and Abbott is just a bozo.

  5. I think you remarked somewhere that the early polling wouldn't necessarily be an indication of how the poll would go overall, Kevin - but I think Gough is so clearly in the lead already that I can predict the winner!

    1. Gough's primary lead over Keating, while still large, has actually been declining steadily since it started - he did extremely well in the first hour or so.

    2. Ah, but when you do the eliminations will the people who voted for Hawke or Gillard switch to Keating, or to Gough?

    3. That will be the question. There is also a certain unpredictability in it all because the visitor mix to the site is partly determined by what articles I write in any given month, and I may from time to time write articles that interest some viewpoints more than others.

  6. FYI - I don't know what happened above but I am the "unknown" contributor above.

    Cheers Andrew


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