March 28 My
bets: Howard in Bennelong
reported that Centrebet had closed its Bennelong books. According to Christian
say itís because the money for "any other candidate" and "McKew"
was flooding in on the back of speculation that the one-time $1.16 favourite,
John Howard, would be scratched from the event.
I must admit to contributing to the flood.
On 13 March, I put $30 on Maxine McKew @ $4.25 and $10
on "any other" @ $14.00. Then, a week later (after what I interpreted
as a strange Prime Ministerial performance on 7:30 Report) I threw another $140
on Maxine @ $4.25 and $60 on "other", which had shrunk to @
As you can see, I've weighted it so that I get about
the same return irrespective of either of the two outcomes (but nothing if
Howard wins Bennelong).
The beauty of this bet is that even if Howard does
contest, there's got to be a 50% chance he loses the seat. It also covers the
alternative of Bennelong going the way of Wills in 1992 after Bob Hawke's
retirement - independent.
And then there are the old
bets. If the PM does step down, it's difficult to see them going with anyone
but Costello, but I do urge the partyroom to consider the Defence Minister.
IR analysis in the Oz
The Australian, never shy with its pet causes,
wins the month's silly analysis award for this
piece on the influence of IR at the NSW election. They've oddly overlayed
federal boundaries on state results in five seats targeted in the anti-Workchoices
campaign to find pro-Labor swings in "only" two federal
Apart from anything else, obviously for something to be an issue it need not
actually produce a swing, just partially negate one the other way.
Workchoices probably didn't "decide" the
election, but those ads with audio of Debnam saying he'd hand IR to the feds
were pretty powerful. The fear of change often is.
March 27 On
Backflips and IR
Like most politicians, John Howard isn't averse to the
odd backflip. Devotees of the ludicrous "conviction politician!"
narrative make virtue of this by explaining that it too is part of his success:
he astounds his foes by flicking the switch from conviction politician to
It comes down to a simple equation. A backflip is worth
performing if (it is calculated) the resultant political downside is outweighed
negatives of staying the course. Backflipping on Iraq would be catastrophic to
the electorate's view of the PM, and so won't happen. But last year's Snowy
Mountains sell-off tipped the other way.
What about Workchoices? Poor old Joe out-of-the-loop
Hockey has categorically ruled out any retreat, which on past experience might
indicate this very thing will be announced within days.
Maybe not that soon, but perhaps we might expect some
sort of back-tracking that, although minor, is presented as more substantial. An
occasion for Howard to say: "Workchoices stays, but I've made this
important concession, I've listed to the community. If employers don't like it,
well, that's tough."
March 26 NSW
As Peter Debnam noted, Saturday's result was the first pro-Coalition swing in
the state since 1988. As graph below, beginning in 1988 and ending last
We can add that, outside of Western Australia, this was the closest
result in any state since 2002, and the worst state Labor
re-election effort since 1993. But it was still a large win, a bit larger than Howard's 2004 re-election.
Overall, the state-wide vote was closer than most expected, but
not the seat count.
The post-mortems are flying out, and they're pretty much identical
to those for all the other Coalition state losses over the last few years: oppositions
must not make themselves the issue, they must release more
policy. Government won't fall into your lap. (How many times must we tell
What else can commentators say? No-one really knows why state Labor governments keep winning at the moment.
The economy is surely a large factor.
The opposition leaders can't all be duds. Maybe Debnam was a dud, but duds win elections
a classic post-hoc analysis; historians can sometimes be like
As Pru Goward intimated this morning on radio, the 'O' (for optional) in front of 'PV" (preferential voting)
keeps her competitive in
Goulburn, because many Labor votes are exhausting. Under CPV
she would have conceded already.
(She didn't really mention Neville Wran, but he
introduced OPV in NSW.)
March 25 NSW
election is over
A two to three percent two party preferred swing to
the Coalition has yielded a net seat or three. So Labor will end up with 52 to
54 seats. The Coalition primary vote improved by 2.5, while Labor's went down
three points and is below 40. Greens up a bit.
with 53 to 47 was
the most accurate of the final polls.
Pru Goward currently a smidgin ahead in
Queanbeyan polling station
Popped across the border yesterday and took pictures
of a polling station, below. Click any picture for larger version, use brower's
back button to return to here.
March 24 Election
day in New South Wales
Newspoll in The
Australian says 56.5 to 43.5.
Primary numbers 42 to 35,
and as usual Newspoll's "she'll be right" preference allocation
favours Labor. Let's interpret it as 55.5 to 44.5.
Imre Salusinszky correctly points to Newspoll's star
turn in Victoria in 1999. But in 2003 in NSW the pollster's final result,
published on election day, gave the Carr government a thumping 60.5
to 39.5; the actual result was 56.2 to 43.8.
Those votes four years ago translated into 55 seats
for Labor out of 93, and a strict reading of the
pendulum today would have (net) seat numbers remaining the same. But swings
are always diverse, and last November Victoria, for example, swung to the
Coalition by about 3.5 percent; as as this Psephos
page shows, individual seats ranged from modest movement to the government to
double digit swings away.
prediction: Labor to win 52 seats
I'm still split, though not down the middle. A small
part of me - about one quarter - thinks the poll numbers are very soft, and
expects it to be quite close, say Labor winning 47 seats out of 93. However, the
more rational three quarters says three recent polls don't lie - this
story, appearing in the most read newspaper in the state, appears to seal it
- and Iemma will end up with, say, 54.
I herewith split the difference in proportion to
strength of feeling, and get (rounded) 52.
There. [Update: looks correct.]
Michael Duffy in SMH
doesn't like compulsory voting. Probably most Australians today only support it
because they have never known anything else, and would be surprised to know how
unusual it is internationally.
Michael repeats a bit of hair-splitting I've heard him
make on his radio show, that not only must we turn up to the polling station, we
must actually register a vote. (I think that's what he's saying, he doesn't
The fact is that, in the real world we live in, we are
allowed to deposit a blank voting paper. But I reckon the law should be changed
to make it clear.
We could also include a "none of the above"
option on the ballot paper. And, my little invention, a couple of lines of
"tell us what you think". (I elaborated on this idea to the JSCEM last
year; I also wrote this
one for the Democratic
And we could move to optional preferential voting, in
all jurisdictions - including below the line in STV upper houses, with no
minimum number of squares to be filled in, ie just voting '1' gets counted. We
currently favour theoretical purity over practicality in our STV, and even first
past the post (multi-member) would be better than the current farrago.
(Michael's public funding argument is also a furphy;
if voting was made voluntary and the turnout halved, legislators could simply
double the number of dollars per vote.)
March 23 New
South Wales election
SMH has 56 to 44,
Galaxy poll in the
Tele says 53 to 47.
Newspoll presumably out tomorrow.
Me in Canberra
Most of the points have appeared here. Reference to Downer's better PM rating
should be 1994, not 1995; the error was mine.
March 21 The
same Newspoll, pt II
Last weekend, Sol Lebovic asked a random 1158
Australians who they would vote for if an election were held then, and they put
Labor ahead by a record number, 22 points. Sadly for the PM, Sol chose this same
bunch of 1158, at the same point in time, to ask a series of questions about the
leaders' personalities. The result, as you would expect: ouch,
for Mr Howard.
The bad luck keeps coming. Tables here.
South Wales seats revisited
In Canberra we get NSW political ads, and I caught two
last night. One was Labor, almost masquerading as Green, advising Green
voters to vote '2' Labor.
The second was Liberal, and it not only didn't
mention the leader, it left the party out too, instead warning 'don't vote Labor'.
While I'm generally as sceptical of "unpopular" opposition
leaders as I am of "brilliant" PMs/Premiers, my penny is finally
dropping that - as everyone else already knows - there is something innately
unappealing about Peter Debnam, or at least the way he behaves in front of
I therefore revise my Labor seat estimate upwards,
to 50 out of 93 ... for now. Final prediction on Saturday.
New political blog
March 20 Newspoll
Australian, tables here.
Newspoll results apparently do the SMS rounds on Monday evenings, and this might
help explain the PM doing an impression of an excitable old codger on 7.30
Report last night (Or maybe his studio earplug was getting feedback.)
Gen Y siding
with Howard, oldies drift to Rudd
According to this
qualitative poll in yesterday's Oz. I'm no expert, but my understanding
is that qualitative polling can't find which groups are leaning towards which
party or politician; it can only determine why.
Maybe the market researcher, Ipsos Mackay, did
quantitative work first. Or maybe their premise was based on a
at the next election
The last time federal Labor got over 50% of the
Queensland two party preferred vote was 50.2 in
1990, which translated into 15 out of 24 seats for them. The state swung to
Labor by about one percent while most of the country went the other way, and
this rare foray into Labor-land (the first since 1961) was largely interpreted
as fallout from state government corruption.
The relevance today is, of course, the Libs' current
problems in that state (which now has 29 electorates) with AFP investigations
and Santoro's share trading. And Rudd's from there.
Queensland will be interesting on election
March 19 NSW: my seat bets
I've wagered a few dollars on NSW seats. Not a greatly
interesting story, but the details are here.
March 18 That
Friday's Galaxy poll continues to be reported as
showing 58 to 42. This
kind of reporting is a worry; if we did have to put a statewide number on it it would be 55
to 45. (See March 16, below)
Debnam's Friday press conference was obviously a gamble.
Having everyone believe he's behind 42 to 58
isn't such a bad thing, especially if he puts in a stoic, cheerful final
in SMH has 53 to 47
a swing of about five percent. However, primary votes 47
to 41, and Greens on 5,
are funny-peculiar in a Labor lead of 6 not increasing after preferences.
With such a large margin, I'm surprised that this is
the sort of seat - housing estates etc - the Libs are hoping to take. Employing
a broad brush (the only type available) I suspect such electorates are currently
incumbent-lovers - at both federal and state levels.]
Below, updated and rough, are the Newspoll graphs I
first posted a month ago, with the two latest surveys
included. As before, the 2pps are my estimates. The last pair of points in first
graph are actual election result.
The 9-11 March 2007 points correspond with 7-10 March
2003 in first graph. Presumably one more Newspoll to come this week - two if
March 16 Galaxy
in NSW says 58
to 42 (a
swing to Libs)
Tele, at first glace suggests a swing to Labor from the last election
(which was 56 to 44).
But it was only held in five seats - Camden, Gosford, Kiama, Londonderry and
Menai - which collectively voted about 59 to 41
in 2003, so if we take it literally it shows a miniscule swing to the Coalition.
Still, with every poll that fails to show substantial
movement to Debnam, the likelihood of me upping yesterday's numbers, some time
next week, increases.
March 15 New
South Wales election prediction
I still reckon it'll be closer than generally
anticipated. Several weeks ago, Malcolm Mackerras
predicted Labor would lose eight seats from its current 55 out of 93.
Malcolm's record has not been flash of late, but I'm
going to go with that for now: Labor to scrape home with 47 seats.
[Equivocation: ok, I suspect I'll be revising my
estimate upwards next week. Want to see the final
week polls; they might just narrow. Not very logical, obviously.]
March 13 Newspoll
in NSW narrower than it looks
Oz, it says 56 to 44,
from primary support of 42 to 37.
Online version doesn't have Greens, but at the 2003 election primary votes of 42.7
to 34.4, went to 56.2 to 43.8
after preferences. So yet again it seems (at state level) Newspoll is
overstating Labor's two party preferred, and we should probably instead
interpret it as 55 to 45 or
even 54 to 46.
(Yesterday morning, Turks
hacked this site, and if you visited you would have seen this [link deleted] and nothing else.
The crazy guys have been extricated now, hopefully never to return.) [Update:
I've taken link down; a
Turkish friend describes them as "anti-Armenian fascists".]
On the radio, wearing my other hat
Last Friday was 150 years since South Australia's first election under
responsible government, and I commemorated it with a five minute talk about some of
the subsequent electoral innovations of that colony under the world's first
chief electoral officer, William
It was on ABC Radio National's 'Perspective' program, and you can listen or
read at the program's website.
With yesterday's Nielsen, and the PM's acknowledgement
of bad polls, consensus has consolidated further that Rudd is a mile ahead.
We saw comparisons with Howard in 1995, with Nielsen's
John Stirton noting that that was the last time an opposition leader was over
50% in the preferred PM stakes.
Nielsen has no online archive, but Newspoll has a
wonderful one, and looking at their opposition leader better PM numbers, none
including Rudd had got higher than high 40s. In fact, champion's ribbon still
belongs to Alexander Downer in 1994 (with 48), followed by Rudd, followed by
Howard, then Hewson (twice) then Rudd, then Downer, then Howard ...
And, as has been noted here, John Hewson was preferred
to Paul Keating as PM throughout his losing 1993 campaign, while Howard was not
during the 1996 one.
In 2004, Mark Latham, in the end, went down mainly
because of fears of what he'd do to the economy. Come election time this year
it'll largely be decided on the economy again. But if Labor wins it won't be
because they were judged the superior economic managers, but that doubts about
their economic credentials were minimised.
It'll be: I'm sick of Howard and his miserable bunch,
they play politics all the time, but at least they know how to run an economy. I
want to vote Labor, but will they make a mess of it? Will Workchoices changes give me a
headache; will unions have too much of
One way to ensure a Coalition win would be for Labor
to unveil a big ticket economic item - like that advocated by Paul Keating to
George Megalogenis a few months ago: huge tax cuts. That would be Latham and
John Hewson rolled into one.
Nielsen says a
March 7 Nicholson
cartoon featuring Paul Keating
Is funny, here.
March 6 Approval
Charles Richardson in today's Crikey kindly refers to a Fin
Review piece of mine from last October. See also accompanying
notes and table.
A six percent lead leap that even seems to convert Mr
Shanahan to two party preferred. As Greens are down to five from seven at
the last election, but Newspoll's notionals don't take such detail into account,
Labor's lead is probably overstated a little.
Here are the tables.
Caught Mr Costello on Lateline
last night, where he seemed to have the goose factor turned up to about
9.5 (out of ten; ie high). Heavy breathing, table-thumping, hammy
over-acting, it was rather disconcerting.
Perhaps all the rave reviews over
last week's parliamentary performance have gone to his head. He is an odd
And to be even-handed, here once again,
for no reason whatsoever, is the signature tune of his opposite number.
March 5 Newspoll
I often go on about the foolishness of reading too much into a single
opinion poll, but ... tomorrow's Newspoll should be interesting. More for the way it's
interpreted than what it says.
||Not Latham but
There've been a few premature (hopeful?) comparisons between Rudd and Latham -
eg Latho's famous "troops back by Xmas".
But that doesn't really work. The doubts the electorate
formed about Latham (while continuing to greatly approve of him) went to what he
would do as Prime Minister, how well he would run the country, whether he would
shake up their quiet life.
But the knowledge that Rudd met with Brian Burke in 2005, even if it was a
little grubby, must be worth very few
votes to the Coalition. The honeymoon had to end sometime.
However, being caught out lying can be very bad for the political health of
an opposition leader. Just ask Lord Downer (1994-5), whose first stumble (from
memory) was being sprung telling porkies about the timing of a Northern
Territory Corroboree. That was much bigger than whatever policy slip-up led
to the lie (again from memory, NT Native Title legislation).
It's difficult to see Rudd losing the election if he's still leader, no
matter what's thrown at him. But if he's caught out in an incontrovertible lie,
he might lose his job before then.
Then if the deranged Gillard backers get their way, Labor can kiss goodbye
to any hope of victory.
I get ahead of myself, of course.
|March 2 Something
in WA water
Conmen are charmers, they can bung on the vulnerability and openness
and convince a person they are their best friend and confidant in the
But a millimetre below the surface they are manipulative
sociopaths with little emotional life, incapable of
empathy or seeing the world other than revolving around themselves.
We'll probably never know why West Australian Labor
politicians are particularly susceptible to such charms.
(Regarding a certain
Queensland one: when your ambition is boundless, maybe by definition you'll talk
March 1 Malcolm,
Maxine and Bennelong
In Crikey today, Malcolm Mackerras predicts
(subcriber only) Maxine McKew will win Bennelong at the next election. He refers
piece by George Megalogenis. Much the same reasoning he gave last
week before the Labor candidate was known.
revamp for Mumble, but not yet
From time to time it is suggested that I put in a comment thread so readers can throw in their tuppence; a couple of kind folk have even
offered to set it up. This won't happen, for a variety of reasons, one of which
is that ... y'know, this site is about me, not you.
And there are plenty of opportunities to vent your psephological spleen at
excellent places like Bryan Palmer,
William the Conqueror, Simon
Jackman (although he posts on many things), Andrew
Leigh (ditto), Upper House and here's
a newie. Apologies to any I've missed.
However, I am aware that Mumble has lots of limitations, and one day, maybe
this year, I will revamp it. In particular, it needs those links to individual
postings, so that people can refer to what Mumble said on such and such a date
... if you know what I mean.
A brave new world one day soon-ish. But no comment threads.
February 28 Rudd's
ripple in yesterday's NSW Newspoll
My understanding is that Newspoll tacks its state voting intentions onto its
federal ones. That is, people are asked who they will vote for federally, what
they think of those issues and personalities etc, then there are questions about their
state political situation.
As about a third of Australian voters live in New South Wales and about a
quarter in Victoria, they are able to release polls for those two states every
two months. South Australia, on the other hand, takes three months to get a
decent sample going. That's how I understand it, anyway.
Does this have a "polluting effect", given two and a half months
of the Rudd-mania? Perhaps a bit, in which case we might expect to see all state
governments riding high in their next Newspolls.
Newspoll preferences pt mxxxiv
In addition, we must always be a little wary of Newspoll preferences. Their
question "to which party will you give your second preference?" came a
cropper federally in 2004, and they no longer use it for national elections, but
they do persist with it at the state level. In addition to pretty consistently
overstating Labor's vote these days, the question is extra dodgy in NSW's
optional preferential system, where about half the minor party/independent
voters' preferences "exhaust" before reaching a major party.
Let us, as we Australians increasingly say, do the "math". The
2003 NSW election saw Labor get 42.7, Coalition 34.4,
Greens 8.2 and others 14.7.
Two party preferred: 56.2 to 43.8.
So a Labor lead of about 8 in primary votes went to about 12 after preferences,
ie Labor benefited net 4 percent from preferences.
Yesterday's Newspoll had 45, 33,
7 and 15, two party
preferred 59 to 41. A
Labor lead of 12 goes to 18 after preferences, so Labor benefits net 6 percent
after preferences. And that's with a slightly depleted Green vote.
Hmm. Probably better to look at Nielsen's 57 to
43. (Nielsen, incidentally, not only asks for full
preferences but their question differentiates between compulsory and optional
preferential. They take their preferences seriously.)
Either way it's a landslide, of course.
February 27 Two
thumping NSW polls
says 57 to 43, Newspoll
59 to 41. Those are
huge leads for Labor, and appear to answer this question with
a big fat 'no'.
Can't find primary votes in either (online) article, but even the dodgiest
preference allocation wouldn't alter this story much.
More on Bennelong
The more I reflect, the more I reckon McKew in Bennelong is a stinker of an
idea for Labor, on so many levels. It lessens the chances of Labor winning the
seat, as Richard Farmer wrote in Crikey yesterday:
high profile opponent probably increases the chances of Howard being returned
whatever happens nationally. Thereís unlikely to be a protest vote against a
man who has led the country for a decade in a successful and popular way when
the voters realize that there is a real chance of him being defeated."
It also sends out the wrong signals nationally. One of the few things
oppositions intrinsically have going for them is that they are modest, stoic,
honest toilers battling the odds etc. Being cock-sure enough to challenge the PM
in his own seat - and put it in lights - negates much of this. It makes it look
personal and tribal and generates sympathy for the PM.
And they're guaranteeing the spotlight on McKew, who would no doubt be
an asset in government but is easy to fit up as elitist, chardonnay sipping etc.
Labor is mishandling Garrett, they trashed Kernot, gave David Hill a dud
seat and (if you believe what you read) knocked back Turnbull and Nelson. They
are crap with high-flyers. Dealing with unionists is so much easier.
February 26 McKew
in Bennelong: big mistake?
hide thick enough to handle what's about to be thrown at her? Would anyone's be?
Tony Abbott's on the phone to someone or other as we speak.
ALP smarties probably figures she'll appeal to ABC-watching
"doctors' wives". But celebrities don't particularly attract
high personal votes in their own electorates; they turn off as many people
as they turn on.
Couldn't they find her a safe seat? Maybe not.
Someone lower profile would have had a better chance of winning
Rule number one: give the
celebrities safe seats. See what the Libs did with Andrew Robb, Malcolm Turnbull
and Brendan Nelson.
Maybe Rudd thinks he's "playing with Howard's
mind", but it's more likely he's found a way to engender public sympathy
for the PM.
[Update: a lively discussion at pollbludger.]
February 25 A
proneness to preening
There have been a few pieces in recent days on the Libs getting traction
with public perceptions of Kevin Rudd being just a tad up himself. Eg Jason Koutsoukis
(This time three years ago Howard briefly - perhaps with
an eye on female voters - tried to tag Latham as "sloppy".)
Would these things make people not vote for a person? Perhaps at the
margins, but it's not like Beazley's "ticker" (actually in 1998, not
2001 as Jason has it) or Latham's P plates, both of which went to doubts about
the Labor leader's ability to run the country.
Still, no-one likes a smart-arse, and it could get in the way of the message
over the next 9 (or whatever) months.
February 24 Galaxy
survey of federal support in Queensland
In the Courier
Mail says 55 to 45.
Probably most important is that while previous published polls - national ones,
one in SA marginals, and this week's Morgan in Bennelong - all had swings to
Labor of about 8 or 9 percent from the 2004 election, this one has 12 percent.
So perhaps Rudd's getting extra traction in his home state.
seats per vote
According to the article, the figures mean Labor "could grab up to 10
seats in Queensland", but if you plot a twelve point swing on the
Queensland portion of the pendulum you get around 16 net seats changing hands. [This
is what the mini-pendulum looked like last time; I haven't made these yet for
Or look at it another way. In 2004, 57 to 43
gave the Coalition 21 Queensland seats to 6 for Labor, plus Bob Katter in
Kennedy. One seat was added in the recent redistribution. 55
to 45 falls a couple of points short of a total
turnaround, so maybe something like 20 seats for Labor to 8 for Coalition would
be a reasonable seat outcome.
Not that such a vote - or anything close to it - can be expected, but even
something substantially more modest might reap rewards. The last time Labor got
over 50 percent 2pp in Queensland was in 1990, when it got 62 percent of seats with just 50.2 percent of the vote.
And the last 2pp Labor Queensland majority before that, in 1961, saw them
win 61 percent of of seats there with a vote of 50.7 percent.
Sixty percent of the current 29 seats is (rounded) 17, an increase of 11
It is possible that Queensland's electoral architecture favours federal Labor - on
the rare occasion they get a decent vote there.
February 23 Rudd's
Yes, Michael Costello still pushes Kim's barrow, but he's correct in the
Oz: the only measure that matters, two party preferred, moved the
government's way in Tuesday's Newspoll. As he says we shouldn't read very much
into a single poll.
the Peter Tucker piece he refers to.)
But one more Newspoll movement like that and Rudd's back to the
Beazley-esque 52 to 48;
another and it's 50 50.
As you know, I put Rudd's chances of winning at about the same as Beazley's
if he were still around (and secure in the position) - about two in three. One
advantage of a "honeymoon" is that people listen, which evidently
makes the PM twitchy. But the same happened three years ago, and eventually all
this kerfuffle will die down and we'll be back to reality.
Perhaps one of Rudd's bigger challenges is to keep his self-regard in check.
You wouldn't want to see too many more lines like "playing with Howard's
February 21 The
gaffe that wasn't
Yesterday morning in Perth, Kevin Rudd called John Howard something like
"a danger to national security", before back-tracking somewhat. Today
it's been wiped away; I can't even find a link to check the wording. [Update:
reader supplies this.]
Imagine if Kim Beazley - or any opposition leader not on a honeymoon - had
done that. It would have become the issue, with recurring questions for a day or
There you see the advantage of replacing leaders with less than a year to
go to the election.
February 20 Howard's
Look at this
graph of net satisfaction from Bryan Palmer's Oz
Politics. It shows the red Labor line leaping skywards after Beazley's
replacement by Rudd.
I continually bag satisfaction/approval, but it probably has more meaning
in a PM than an opposition leader, because it must at least encompass some element of
satisfaction with the way the country is governed.
line hasn't changed much under Rudd; it has dipped a little, but reached lower
points against Beazley.
Perhaps we can say that Rudd's popularity hasn't, so far, dented Howard's
says it's time
In today's Crikey, Malcolm Mackerras predicts "the Liberal Party"
(note the generic term in case Howard cuts and runs) losing both the election
and Bennelong this year.
Unlike some people, I have a lot of respect for Malcolm's predictive
prowess. Yes his recent record has been patchy - eg the 2004 US presidential
election, and generally anticipating too-close state results.
However, as this
APH paper shows, he was at the forefront in Victoria in 1999, and federally
he remains excellent. He was among the few to get 1993
right and then, throughout the next term, consistently predicted Keating would
Anyway, at least he has a go. That's better than keeping schtum
and then, after the election, claiming to have always known what would happen.
in The Australian, tables here.
Steve Lewis leads with not very meaningful preferred PM and approval stuff,
which means that's what everyone else takes from it.
opposition leaders having bets
According to Paul Kelly on
Saturday, John Howard plans to nail Kevin Rudd on his tendency to be all
things to all people. Deja vu: this was precisely how Paul Keating tried
to bell Howard over 1995-6; he never could, people didn't seem to care.
That's what Howard can expect this year. In our less than perfect world,
successful politicians - particularly opposition leaders - do have their cake and eat it.
People know not to take their words literally, don't really expect them to
do precisely what they said they would once they're in power. It doesn't really
have to add up; it's just, you know, the vibe.
February 19 Malcolm
in New South Wales
In The Australian, Prof Mackerras's prognosis
of Labor losing eight seats, which is at the optimistic end of anticipations for
the Coalition. I'm with Malcolm in thinking it'll
... probably be
closer than expected.
See, in his pendulum, the paucity of Labor
See also, of course, the Poll Bludger's magnum
poll in Bennelong
It finds a two party preferred swing to Labor roughly in line with the
recent national surveys - nine percent. Note a sample of only 394 has an error
margin of five percent.
Nothing online at moment; here's the press release.
[Update: now here
I reckon Howard has only a 30% chance of winning the election (if he's still
PM), but about 50%
of winning his seat.
Fifty-fifty are also the odds he'll still be leading his party at the next
See also (first posted last year) Shane
Easson, who thinks Howard's grip on Bennelong is less secure than most do.
Australia is an independent's paradise. It has relatively lots of
them. This is largely due to the voting system. Proportional
representation - which we don't have* - is better for minor parties, but not for
independents. First past the post favours the major parties full stop.
But preferential voting in single member electorates,
which we have, is best for independents - and better than first past the post for minor
parties. The one exception to this is when the parties/voters put the minor
party/independent last, as happened to Pauline Hanson in 1998. She would have
won Blair under first past the post. But that's very rare.
More common is a Phil Cleary, who would not have won
Wills in 1992 (byelection) or 1993 under first past the post, or a Michael
Organ (Green) in Cunningham in 2002. [Update: a reader is pretty sure Cleary
topped the primary vote in 1992, although data not currently on hand.]
[Up-update: another makes it official: Cleary won the 1992 primary vote 33.5 to
Labor's 29.4 and Libs' 27.6.]
Most independents fall into one of two categories.
First is the sitting party member who is kicked out of/spits the dummy and
leaves a major party. See Bob Katter and, before him, Graeme Campbell. Thanks to
incumbency, they often win their first run as an independent on primary votes
(and then feel pleased with themselves, forgetting that if it wasn't for the
dreadful party they wouldn't have held that seat in the first place).
The other sort of independent has achieved the
Herculean task of actually taking a seat from scratch,
and the successful ones generally get through on major party preferences.
Peter Andren, in the latter category, was very unusual in winning the primary
vote in 1996. Tony Windsor was sort of the same, although he came from state
politics, where he had represented the same general area. But his 1991 win in
Tamworth was Andren-esque. [Re Cleary above, it's possibly easier for
independents to get up at by-elections; not sure what the overall evidence is.]
In 2001 Andren became the first federal
independent to win more than 50% of the primary vote. Windsor did the same in
End of a tale with no particular moral. Alan Ramsey in SMH
more on Andren. (I can't see Andren not winning his redrawn seat.)
[Update: Norman Abjorensen sends in this
table, 1946-98, originally compiled by Scott Bennett at APH library. I don't count Hanson in '96 as a non-major candidate; she
was more a hybrid)]
*We don't have PR in the House of
Reps, where government is decided.
February 16 Garrett
Peter Garrett is the shadow environment minister, which has nothing to do
with ANZAS or security. Who cares if he doesn't
like US bases? Mr and Mrs Average probably have mixed feelings on the issue
What unimaginative, linear-thinkers some ALP operators
are. "Mate, keep it one-dimensional." They're still flopping around inside John
Garrett could have said he accepts the party policy, he's mellowed with age,
compromise, the leader and the team and left it at that. Instead they made him
say things no-one believes.
They're trashing his political currency.
Labor is crap at handling Garrett in particular and high profile blow-ins in
Leigh responds to Feb 9 post
13 Garrett in
misgivings appear well-founded. An effective proselytiser is one who
appears to have weighed all the evidence and come to a conclusion, but
everyone knows Garrett's been a believer for decades. While he has great
currency in the electorate, most people probably reckon that, if left to
his own devices in environment, he would be a little on the extreme side.
Note that he was not among the succession of ALP
people to bag Bob Brown's suggestion to phase out coal-mining in one term/by
2010/some time in the future (depending on who you read).
The issue of global warming contains inherent pizzazz,
and someone on the grey side like Bob McMullan might have been better. And
Garrett would be more effective in another portfolio he would have to learn from
scratch - as Turnbull did in environment.
(Still better than Albo, but.)
this is a silly beat-up. Garrett's not defence spokesman, and people don't
expect insipid uniformity of opinion in any party.)
February 12 ACNielsen
Also something called "approval rating". (Of course most of Nielsen's
Rudd is doing a good job; they've been hearing nothing else recently but that he has
Howard "on the run". High approval may actually artificially
inflate voting intentions.)
We Warn the
Czar: Aussie delusions
of national grandeur update
Just heard an ABC journalist breathlessly describe
Howard's criticism of Obama as "big news in America". Funnily, not a
sign of it on US newspapers' online
[Update: A few readers insist the Howard-Obama stoush
is news the in US; some have supplied links such as this
on CNN and others note American television segments shown on our nightly news.
My response: here's an SMH
story about British Airways' baggage charges, perhaps you could find a mention
of it on Bert Newton's show, but it doesn't make it "big news"
However, Howard-Obama has now at least appeared at New
York Times. Click on the "World" link at left, scroll down,
get out the magnifying glass, it's between those two other "big news"
items "6 Dead in Canary Islands Tunnels" and "A Deadline May be
Extended for Claims in Holocaust Case".
Hoorah, they mentioned us!]
[Up-update: ok the NY Post - still run by
Australian Col Allan? - has now used it, here
as a stick to belt Obama. On the other hand, last night on Lateline
Martin Indyk, in Washington, informed Tony Jones that the issue "doesn't
get a lot of attention here."
And on Monday an American told ABC
MILLAR: So how is this debate between John Howard and Barack Obama being played
out over there?
PATRICK LANG: It isn't really. It was mentioned in the press, and that was it. I
don't think Ö actually, Prime Minister Howard is not a major figure in the
Wash your mouth out!
You're right, this is getting silly. No further
correspondence on the issue.]
February 11 NSW
election closer than expected?
Most people expect Iemma to romp home in March. I'm
not so sure. [Update: reader alerts me to a couple of pars two-thirds down this,
which allege poor internal ALP polling. As for Howard lending Debnam a hand, he
might have a conflict of interest.]
For comparison, I've extracted Newspolls from beginning 2002 until
the March 2003 election, and for all of 2006. All two party preferreds are my
estimates from Newspoll primary support*.
As you can see from the first graph below, Labor's vote gradually climbed from a
"low" of 50-50
in May-June 2002, then dramatically shot up up in the campaign in March, before
settling on election day to 56.2 to 43.8
The latest Newspolls (below) only go to
November-December 2006. The 2pp position for Nov-Dec four years ago
was pretty well identical to now, and as noted, in the following three months
Labor's lead leapt. Maybe that's what will happen now.
But there are a couple of differences between the two
time periods. (1) In early 2006 the Coalition was substantially ahead over two surveys, while their
worst in 2002 was that 50-50.
And (2), the last two Newspolls have trended down - a little.
In the leadup to last year's Queensland election, I
pontificated that it might be closer than expected - and was wrong. While
generally preferring to learn from mistakes, I'm going to chance my arm again,
and suggest that this twelve year old government might be in trouble. If so,
future opinion polls will continue closing the gap.
My bets again
So I've thrown a few bucks at Centrebet on the Coalition at
the current $4.00 price. Thanks to a 2005 bet, I'm
still in the fortunate position of winning either way.
In total have wagered $225 on NSW election. If Labor
wins I'll get back $250 and be a little ahead. If Coalition wins I'll get $400
and be substantially ahead. I'm probably only get that $25 profit, but am
less sure of the outcome than most.
The next few opinion polls will probably tell the
story. If Labor's gap grows, Centrebet's Coalition money will shoot upwards, and
that $4.00 will look poor.
We'll know soon.
didn't publish two party preferreds for data in the first graph. For the
second, they got two party preferreds using the system that proved
not-that-great federally in 2004. Mine are allocated using estimates for Green
and 'other' preferences flows, making some allowance for exhausting votes under
optional preferential voting.
February 9 Betting
markets and the genius of punters
Centrebet is paying $1.90 for a Labor win and $1.80
for a Coalition one. These (I think) are shortest Labor odds (ie longest
Coalition ones) since around September/October 2001.
has a lot to answer for. This "the betting public is better at predicting
election results than opinion polls!" shtick has become a standard roll-out
for journos and commentators; SMH today two pieces on or alluding to it.
You know, the punters, who had the Coalition at over
$3.00 in early 2001, but changed their minds when the government took the lead in opinion polls later
in the year. Not too bright in early 2001 (or for most of the 2005 WA campaign),
Or the dills who on New Zealand's election day in
2005 had the Nationals winning? All these positions were based, mainly, on
whatever the polls said at the time.
The punters are sheep who reflect the current received wisdom, which is usually correct, but sometimes wrong.
B-a-a-a-a-h. I'll follow my own judgement, thanks.
||February 7 2007
by name ...
Had the misfortune to catch American political
strategist Dick Morris on 'Lateline' last night. I've never understood why
some Labor types, and Australian journalists, think he has anything to teach
Latham thought him the bees knees and he probably
reciprocated; his brief, facile insights into today's ALP had Boofhead's
fingerprints all over them.
His self-described claim to fame is his
responsibility for Bill Clinton's success, but as far as I know he had nothing
to do with the 1992 campaign - that was the special result, the one that came
out of nowhere to knock off a hitherto popular one term president. As for 1996:
are we to believe that if it weren't for Morris, Bob Dole would have won?
The words "self-promotion"
and "spiv" come to mind. Or am I missing something?
February 6 Newspoll
According to Mr
Shanahan, Labor's "best two-party result ... since March
Lewis notes Rudd's Achilles heel - the dreadful Lemmings
who helped put him there.
Anticipated by Laurie
Oakes in The Bulletin in December:
comes to the leadership courtesy - at least in part - of the embittered lemmings
of the Crean-Latham period who did much of the dirty work of destabilising
Beazley for him. He is in debt, in other words, to some of the most dedicated
narks and nasties in the caucus."
February 5 Western
Glenn Milne in the Oz
has a "senior
Labor figure intimately involved in campaign planning" conceding that
"there's just as much at stake in South Australia [at the next federal
election] as there is in western Sydney". This is meant to indicate how
important SA is.
There should be no contest: more, much more, is at stake
in SA than western Sydney, where only two seats are worth watching - Parramatta and
Lindsay. Labor wants to hold one and hopes to take the other. That's the lot, despite
the unshakable sentimental attachment to the area in electoral narratives.
Of the rest of western Sydney, Labor holds the vast
majority (a dozen or so seats), Greenway's been redistributed into oblivion and the
Libs' grip on the millionaire's playgrounds of Macarthur and Hughes (which is
more south than west anyway) is insurmountable.
Meanwhile, as Glenn notes, there are lots in play in SA -
seven in fact if you count the two Labor marginals.
February 4 New
South Wales poll - iffy preferences?
Taverner Poll in Sun-Herald
says 54 to 46 in
NSW. At the 2003 election it was 56 to 44.
From the primary votes, those 2pps look a little odd.
Taverner has primaries of 39 to 38,
a substantial change from 42.5 to 34.6
in 2003. Three and a half percent, give or take, has gone from Labor to the
Coalition, and the same number, 23 percent, will vote for someone else.
If you just apply that 3.5 to the two party
preferreds (aka distributing the 23 as they went in 2003), you get 52.5 to 47.5
- much more encouraging for the Coalition.
Don't know how Mr Mitchell-Taverner does his
preferences, but hopefully he remembers that under optional preferential voting
about half of them will probably "exhaust", including Green ones.
[Update: I popped him an email, but he hasn't responded.]
(Note: with sample of 626 perhaps they too should
earn a semi-Mickey (re below). Maybe we'll make 600 the cut-off.)
31 'Tiser poll
good for Rudd in Kingston
This one gets a half-Mickey, for a sample size of only 592. It shows
Labor ahead in the Adelaide seat of Kingston 56
We could be finicky and note that this is a
smaller swing to the ALP - six percent off the 2004 result - than that
shown in last
week's Newspoll - eight percent nationwide.