A couple weeks ago I commented on Rudd’s all or nothing approach. In summary my hypothesis is that Rudd is in it for himself, not for the party. He wants to win the election, if he doesn’t then he’s dog tucker straight after. The party and the caucus, however, would really prefer he didn’t win. They don’t want him as PM, they just didn’t want to lose as badly as Julia was taking them towards. This misalignment of expectations looked like it could be very problematic.
However, I think we’re now heading towards a world where Rudd starts to realise he can’t win. The polls haven’t moved enough, and he probably feels like he was pressured into going to the election before he was ready. It’s not clear that he has much left in his kit bag for the remaining 4 weeks of the campaign. The question is what he does in this situation. He’s a tireless worker, we know that, so we wouldn’t expect him to slack off. Perhaps he’ll work super hard and start making mistakes? He is still calling the shots to some extent – the party made him leader, and so long as he announces things publicly they have a hard time contradicting him. The problem is that there’s no fun in announcing stuff that you know you won’t be around to implement and that therefore is pointless.
So what do you do? I think there’s a real chance of some interesting behaviour in the upcoming period, and a real chance of Rudd gambling and losing – doing something so out there/on the edge that it ends up costing votes. There’s also a chance that he starts working out how to create a legacy – to lock in things that he wants done and that the party can’t back away from when he’s gone. Time will tell.