This must be heartening to Noda and the DPJ, since it puts the LDP within striking distance, and the pace can quicken dramatically one way or the other when the media turns its full attention to the looming lower house election and the politics and policy choices around it. There’s little chance that he’ll be unseated in the DPJ representative election a month from now, and a reasonably good showing in the September polls, particularly just before the leadership vote, will add a layer of positive coverage for the lead-up to the main event.
Now one swallow does not make a summer, but I think it also helps Noda that the media apparently has decided that Sadakazu Tanigaki, who is also up for reelection next month for the LDP leadership, is a wimp. After all, you only have to outrun the other guy, at least until the third party movements get their act together. If this is the onset of a trend rather than a one-off road bump for the LDP and the September polls show it slipping behind the DPJ, I would bet on the party leadership being tossed, Hail Mary style, to Nobuteru Ishihara or, less likely, Shigeru Ishiba.
That’s it for now. A heavy workload awaits me this week. May not be coming back until Friday, if then.
* I got this idea after Ross Schaap at Eurasia Group pointed out to me years ago the secular rise in Prime Minister Fukuda’s popularity in the latter part of his regime before he unexpectedly passed the baton to Taro Aso. And we know how that turned out.