Canberra: A year after the Labor Party removed Kevin Rudd as Australia`s prime minister, his popularity is so high he would be able to reverse the party`s failing fortunes if reinstated, a poll showed on Monday.
Rudd was dumped as leader in a surprise Labor Party coup led by his then deputy Julia Gillard in June 2010 and the party`s standing in opinion polls has plunged ever since.
But a Nielsen poll published in The Sydney Morning Herald reveals that the party`s support would jump to an election-winning position if Rudd was prime minister again.
"The poll is fresh evidence that Labor made a mistake of historic proportions in unseating Rudd for Gillard," political editor Peter Hartcher wrote in a front-page commentary.
As Gillard -- the nation`s first female prime minister -- battles plummeting support blamed on a policy failure on asylum-seekers and a backflip on the introduction of a pollution tax, Rudd is seen as a potential saviour for Labor.
With Rudd reinstalled in the top job, the party would reclaim the lead and overtake the conservative coalition led by Tony Abbott 52 percent to 48 percent, the poll found.
Under Gillard, Labor attracts only 42 percent.
"The poll does not tell us why but we can reasonably suppose the main reason is legitimacy," Hartcher wrote.
"In the eyes of the people, Gillard never had it. Rudd never lost it."
The poll taken over the weekend confirms that the Mandarin-speaking Rudd is overwhelmingly the preferred Labor leader -- 44 percent compared to Gillard`s 19 percent.
The poll of 1,400 voters also found that Gillard`s disapproval rating has risen to 62 percent, making her the country`s most unpopular prime minister since Paul Keating in August 1994.
Rudd, foreign minister in Gillard`s government, is recovering from heart surgery in Canberra.