Being very much at the ''are we there yet?'' end of this year's long and gruelling political journey, it's getting harder to laugh at the more extreme doses of daily advice we get from followers on Twitter.
One reader, for example, informed me yesterday that I was ''Pravda's Communist witch'' because I reported on the latest Herald/Nielsen poll that shows Tony Abbott's approval ratings at record lows despite the Coalition still being in a position to easily win a federal election, and respondents' high rate of disapproval about the way the Opposition Leader handled the AWU allegations against Julia Gillard.
Much more helpfully, many other followers commented on, or raised interesting questions about, the importance of leadership approval ratings to election results.
The Nielsen poll, conducted for Fairfax Media last week, shows that 43 per cent of the electorate intends to give a primary vote to the Coalition, resulting in a 52 per cent two-party preferred vote - enough to comfortably win next year's election.
However, 63 per cent disapprove of how Abbott is doing his job as the Coalition's leader. Abbott's approval rating is 24 per cent, giving him a net approval figure of minus 40.
We know that an opposition leader has never won an election from a position of such unpopularity.
Nielsen's director John Stirton provided the approval figures for each of the opposition leaders who have won government in recent decades, and they show that none has won from a negative net approval rating.
Gough Whitlam's average net approval rating was plus 9 in the lead-up to the 1972 poll, and in the final poll before the election plus 18.
Malcolm Fraser's average was plus 18 and in the final poll plus 17. Bob Hawke's average was plus 31 and in the final pre-election poll plus 37. John Howard's figures were plus 18 and plus 11 and Kevin Rudd's were plus 40 and plus 34.
But we also know the present political situation is highly unusual.
For one thing, it is not usual for there to be such a big difference between the popularity of the opposition leader and the popularity of the party they lead.
When other opposition leaders spiked high disapproval ratings they often didn't last to fight the next election, but their party's primary vote was almost always also trailing.
When Howard was unpopular in early 1987, the Coalition was well behind. He was replaced by Andrew Peacock. When Alexander Downer was very unpopular in late 1994, the Coalition vote was bouncing around, sometimes ahead of Labor and sometimes behind. He was replaced by Howard.
When Simon Crean's unpopularity peaked in early 2003, Labor's primary vote was disastrous. He was replaced by Mark Latham. And when Kim Beazley's unpopularity rose in early 2006, Labor was also trailing. He was replaced by Rudd.
This abnormality in today's situation is good news for Abbott, and while he looks like winning his party room is understandably prepared to overlook any misgivings they might have over his leadership style.
But it is also unusual for the opposition leader and the Prime Minister to both be relatively unpopular at the same time. Given that voting is a choice, the relativities of how voters feel are important.
On these measures, Abbott may have some cause for concern because while the parties end the year with primary and two-party preferred votes very similar to where they began it, the Prime Minister has made up significant ground in her approval ratings over the year while the Opposition leader has lost ground.
Gillard began the year with a net approval rating of minus 15 and ends it with a net rating of minus 4.
Abbott began with minus 13 and has slid back to minus 40.
On the question of preferred prime minister, Gillard began the year with a 2 percentage point lead; was trailing Abbott by 8 percentage points in May, and is now 10 percentage points in front again.
Perhaps because of the way Gillard became Prime Minister; perhaps because of the knife-edge result of the 2010 poll; perhaps because of the broken carbon tax promise; perhaps because of underlying doubts some voters had about Abbott from the outset; perhaps because of the Coalition's clear strategy to trigger an early election: whatever the reason, this parliament has always been a fight to the death over honesty, character and legitimacy, rather than a battle over specific policy ideas.
Both leaders are now calling for an end to hostilities, a return to positives and a disavowal of the ''politics of smear''. But, if you look closely, the character fight has just morphed into an argument about who is responsible for the character fight. It is Potemkin positive, while behind the charade the character wars continue unchanged.
The Coalition responded to the Nielsen poll by saying the results were due to Labor's negative attacks on Abbott's character; Labor by saying it was it was the consequences of the Coalition leader being a ''thug'' and a ''political weakling''. Given that both sides are still framing their basic messages around the illegitimacy of the other, the nature of the political debate is unlikely to change next year, no matter what they say.
It's a pity, because the polling suggests that if one side could unlock themselves from this political death roll, there could be a great deal for them - and us - to gain.
Lenore Taylor is the Herald's chief political correspondent.