Saturday, September 06, 2008

Mr. Fukuda’s Rising Popularity before His Resignation

As an answer to my plea, Ross has sent me a NIKKEI graph-and-table that shows Prime Minster Fukuda’s poll numbers making a steady climb after April except for the precipitous drop after the post-Cabinet reshuffle. (Longtime readers with long memories will remember that this was something that I had predicted for 2008. It came months later than I had expected; I plead extenuating circumstances.) But bump itself was anomalous and very much out of line with other media polls. If you take that unscheduled poll out of the equation, Mr. Fukuda’s numbers were improving up until the very end. Ross believes that this disproves any theory that links Mr. Fukuda’s resignation to deteriorating poll numbers. I agree with this, and I don’t have a better answer than his assessment that “it was the uselessness of pushing ahead in the legislative arena that drove his decision.”

Ross poses a couple of interesting questions here: Why did the media miss this? And why didn’t the Prime Minister’s handlers identify the improvement and play it up? I have no answer to the first question, having missed it myself. As for the second one, an insider close to Junichiro Koizumi expressed strong dissatisfaction with the current Prime Minister’s office. So maybe incompetence? Mr. Fukuda’s aversion to self-promotion—I saw it once, up close, while he was out of office—couldn't have helped either.


MTC said...

Okumura-san -

The newspapers reported the rise(Except for the Sankei. The trough and rise in its polls poll numbers trailed those of the other papers by one to two months). What the papers did not report was the rise representing a significant improvement of Fukuda's political position.

Because they could not.

Because it did not.

He climbed out of April's pit by shoving road tax reform off into the extraordinary session. The road tax demon still lurked there for him, however - as did all the other delayed reforms.

The prime minister’s poll numbers were not climbing. They were floating.

Jun Okumura said...

The issue here is not the monthly ups and downs, which no one denies that the media have been reporting. After all, they’re the ones who are doing the polling. Let me know if anyone reported the summer-long trend and tried to figure out what was going on. I’ll be happy to stand corrected. The other point: His legislative initiatives thwarted, he resigned. Same thing. On that point, Asahi has an interesting, quotation mark-filled post mortem that blames the Prime Minister’s resignation on the breakdown of his relationship with Mr. Ozawa, beginning with the failure of the Grand Coalition talks and culminating in the DPJ’s ultimate rejection of as BOJ governor candidate Toshiro Muto. Of the two people receiving the news first hand from Mr. Fukuda (the three possible primary sources for the report), the report makes LDP Secretary-General Aso look less sympathetic than Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura.

’ll let others decide for themselves if it was a “climb (which gives a direction)” or a “float (which says nothing about the vector)”. Whatever the reasons, it doesn’t look like a statistical fluke to me. In the event, it did not become part of the political narrative, and the Fukuda administration suffered. The argument is that from Mr. Fukuda’s viewpoint, his media team should have done something about it.

Oh, and what part of “holiday” don’t you understand, young man? You must be going native?