This Australian weekend has been getting pollsters and pundits salivating. Every political observer loves a good slaughter, and for some time now, Australia’s Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, has been willing to offer himself up for the billing.The Fairfax/Ipsos poll, with an angle distinctly not slanted towards Rupert Murdoch, has proven to be punchy in its dimension – at least if you are a Coalition strategist. Current figures suggest that, should an election be held now (and yes, the operative word here is now), a 9.5 percent swing would eventuate, leading to a loss of 44 seats. The coalition hovers at a stale 44 percent of support, while Labor looks pretty with a collaring 56 percent.It has been a spectacularly bruising time for Coalition politics. The prime minister gravely miscalculated over the expenses scandal surrounding the now ex-speaker of the House, Bronwyn Bishop. “Choppergate”, as it came to be called, assumed plague like proportions, even finding voices of condemnation within the shock jock fraternity. The conservative clan were in revolt. The prime minister had gone too far.Andrew Bolt, normally serenely arm-in-arm with Abbott in his columns, suggested that the behaviour of Bishop was “getting dangerous”. “Bishop wrongly claimed $5000 for a helicopter jaunt on purely party business but [Malcolm] Turnbull claimed just a train fare to the same city on parliamentary business.” The party faithful were getting edgy; talks were held. Eventually, the speaker did step down.Abbott’s own impoverished standing only looks worse when compared to Labour’s Bill Shorten. Abbott’s disapproval rating comes in at a hefty 59 percent. Shorten finds himself in less foreboding territory at 49 percent.This, by any stretch of the imagination, is dire stuff, a solemn battle of negativities. Labor’s option is a faction sponsored machine man who resembles that very target of technocracy that the Australian poet A.D. Hope loathed – “These modern Dives with their talking screen/ Who lick the sores of Lazarus and grow fat.”These are the advertisers, the materialists, the shallow popularisers desperate to stay on message not due to any coherent principle, but because they will do anything to get elected. But political stocks are desperately low, and it takes a certain deficiency in quality to propel Bill Shorten into politically viable territory.