At the same time, Merdeka Centre found that more than 50% of Malay voters polled recently felt Bukit Bendera Umno division chief Ahmad Ismail's controversial remarks about the Chinese community were inappropriate.
Juxtaposing these two polls, one can surmise that the moribund state of the UMNO and BN leadership has not impressed Malaysians.
Add to this, the genuine concern over Malaysia's economic management or, the apparent lack of it, and we see the uphill task that faces UMNO and BN.
Do you feel better off today than you did 5 years ago?
When Ronald Reagan challenged Jimmy Carter for the U.S. presidency in 1979, he posed this question in the course of a debate with Carter. It was rhetorical. But, it worked. Reagan won by a handsome margin.
There is a broad parallel that can be drawn between the Carter Administration and the Badawi-Najib Administration. Both are regarded as plodding and unimaginative.
This feeling and perception between and amongst voters is a powerful phenomenon that is difficult to dislodge. And, the truth of the matter is that the average Malaysian feels that he or she is worse off than they were 5 years ago.
In 2003, the Malaysian economy had, by most accounts, recovered to reasonable health. And, when the torch was passed by an authoritarian Dr M to a kinder and gentler Pak Lah, Malaysians felt a relief. That feeling and perception was translated into one of the largest landslide victories in Malaysia's electoral history. The Badawi-Najib Administration's inability to parlay that groundswell of goodwill into genuine political and governmental reforms and, more importantly, economic management, came home to roost in the March 8 general elections.
This record now hangs as the albatross on Najib's neck. Like it or not, he was at all material times the loyal Deputy. He can hardly deny being privy to the decisions made or, unmade.
This is Najib's dilemma. To remove the albatross, Najib has to eventually attack the flip-flop policies and, find a way to distance himself from it. But that is only one aspect.
Second, Najib has to attend to the judicial reforms and police commission reforms. He has to revamp the manner in which the government dishes out contracts and licences and permits; from an opaque structure to a more transparent structure. But, will he do it? Is he capable to that level of leadership? Does he have the spine that was well-hidden during the entire tenure that he was and, still is, Deputy to Pak Lah?
Having galvanised the vociferous support and, having captured the imagination of vast swatches of multiracial Malaysia to the historic outcome in the March 8 general elections, Anwar kept upping the ante with crossover scenarios and deadlines. But there is only so much adrenaline that can be pumped out in the Malaysian organism. And so, we witness a pause, a pause pregnant with possibilities. But, no less a pause. This is a test of true faith for PKR and Pakatan supporters.
Leaving aside the tactical issues in the shadow-play that typifies Malaysian politics, Anwar can still claim to enjoy a high level of goodwill among Malaysians. The Merdeka Centre survey results point to this.
Unlike Najib, who is still grappling with his new Finance portfolio, Anwar can claim that he's been there and, he's done it, as an economic manager. In his numerous speeches, Anwar is obviously very, very clear that the part of his message that was so resonant with voters was on economics. By focusing on harga minyak and calling BN, barang naik, his warnings were proven to be prophetic when the fuel hike took place and, inflation ensued.
But, the route to high office requires crossovers. Then, there's the nuisance of the sodomy trial.
But, at the rate things are moving along, Najib is the odds-on favourite to reach the post of Prime Minister. As with all things Malaysian, nothing is as it seems. Bets must be hedged heavily on Anwar's ascent too. He's got some interesting odds, too.
Back to the question, who makes the better PM? If Malaysians like excitement and significant changes, then Anwar is the man. With Najib, the status quo ante will be the order, it is likely to be more of the same. Under Najib there is likely to be changes, but how deep and profound changes will be is the major question. Najib, being a patrician born with a silver-spoon in his mouth is a political leader who has steered a careful path in the public eye (if you don't count his rah-rah days as an ultra UMNO Youth leader in 1987). Najib is likely to be a gradualist and incrementalist. For quantum leap possibilities you have to dial Anwar's number.