Many of Malcolm Turnbull's traditional supporters have been longing for the 'real' Turnbull of old: the quick-witted, straight-talking, leather jacket-wearing Turnbull.
His once-strong personal stance on social issues like same-sex marriage and climate change has been seemingly diluted this election campaign. Turnbull lost the leadership when he put his neck on line; he regained it by toeing the line.
On Monday night, with less than a fortnight before Australians cast their vote, the PM appeared to get some of that groove back.
The latest Newspoll released on Sunday has the ALP and Coalition neck-and-neck on a two-party-preferred basis at 50 per cent each based on preference flows. Turnbull is still preferred PM over Labor leader Bill Shorten -- 46 per cent to 31 per cent -- however his net satisfaction has deteriorated from - 11 points to -15 points. Shorten's has improved from -19 points to -16 points.
Social policy has been largely ignored before and during the campaign, and the PM has resorted to cookie cutter slogans. Jobs and growth. There's never been a more exciting time to be an Australian. The economy.
Turnbull has repeatedly claimed that he's actually become a better, more consultative leader. He insists that the Liberal Party he represents is more than just one man's opinion -- and that he learned this the hard way.
Turnbull had a big opportunity to make a pitch to voters as a solo guest on the ABC's Q and A program on Monday night. He stood firm at times, and showed his teeth at others.
When Tony Jones interrupted Turnbull discussing economic forecasting, the PM said "of course you do, you've got to defend the Labor Party, Tony".
"I've never heard them explain it quite as well as you. You should do more work for them," Turnbull continued. "You're a very good spokesperson for the ALP."
That was Turnbull, so 'to the script' throughout the campaign, showing some bite.
But not everyone was sold on an important appearance for the PM, saying Turnbull dodged questions, stumbled at times and obfuscated.
Oh please Malcolm!!! Accusing Tony Jones of being a spokesperson for the ALP sounds a lot like the guy you replaced. Be better. #qanda— Georgina Dent (@georgiedent) June 20, 2016
As he was confronted with tough questions on the offshore processing of asylum seekers, climate change and same sex marriage, he reiterated the familiar party stance.
Shorten's campaign has been based on telling Aussies how it is -- vowing to be honest with the Australian people whether they want to hear it or not -- and drawing himself as a direct alternative Prime Minister.
Turnbull's appearance on Monday night, battling a cold and all, was at the very least an attempt at separating himself from the slogans and giving his supporters something of an answer -- even if not's entirely the one they're after.Suggest a correction