Possums Pollytics

Politics, elections and piffle plinking

Capitulation

Posted by Possum Comitatus on September 7, 2007

Thanks to the good people over at Crikey, the internal Liberal polling and analysis that the Murdoch tabloids were banging on about a few months back has been released to all. It’s a pity the journos didn’t seem to understand a word of it when it was delivered into their hot little hands, but now we can have a squiz at “Oz Track 33” the Cosby-Textor document and do what they couldn’t…. like, er…. actually understand it.

This document fills in the missing links to our regular polling analysis. We already know where the swings are happening, but this gives us the ‘why’ – it tells us the demographic composition of the swings and the issues that are driving voter change.

And it’s bleak for the Coalition – so bleak that…. Well, we’ll get to that shortly.

This is going to be a long post that will set out a number of issues and slowly draw the threads together at the end for a startling conclusion, so you might want to go and get yourself a cuppa first.

Crosby Textor uses a pretty standard analysis technique for estimating the why’s and wherefores of voter movements and the issues that drive it (which disappointed me a little, but I digress). It’s pretty much the same methodology that every market research group worth its salt uses on brand warfare and product positioning.

The way it works is that you run varying types of regressions where a persons vote is the dependant variable and various issues are independent variables. This gives you an estimate of how much a given issue influences a persons vote. The higher the value of the coefficient on the issue, the greater that issue influences the vote.

You then spread those issues out into a spectrum (by using either more regressions or qualitative analysis) that tells you which issue each party has more ownership of.

So what you end up with is a 2 dimensional graph with the ALP on the left and the Coalition on the right. The further away horizontally each issue is from the centre, the greater the ownership of that issue is for the party that has it on their side of the graph. The higher the value of the issue on the vertical axis, the more influence that issue has on driving the vote.

So to start with, let’s have a look at how the issues were playing out under the last days of Beazley (just click on the thumbnail – and ignore the little dotted boxes and arrows, – that’s just the Crosby Textor commentary for the Coalition).

beazley1.jpg

The big squares represent issues that have a statistically significant effect on vote movement (high confidence) while the little boxes represent issues that have a marginal statistical effect on vote movement (low confidence).What each party wants is to have as many of the big box issues as they can to be as far in their top corner as possible – for that means they completely own the issue, and it’s a significant vote driver.

Under Beazley, the policy issues owned by the Coalition that had a fair level of significant influence on the vote were Defence & Security, Keeping Prices Down and National Infrastructure.

But it was the non-policy issues that gave the Coalition its vote with Preferred PM, Win Expectations, Deserve to Win, Doing What’s Right, Important Issues and Right Direction being their big significant vote drivers. The intertial effect was playing out.

The ALP in contrast had only Industrial Relations, Being In Touch and Education as significant vote drivers that they owned. Of the 15 high confidence issues, the Coalition had 11 of them as their own, while the ALP had only 4.

The Rudd came along, and this is what happened with these issues:

rudd.jpg

Which is quite profound. Look at all of those issues moving from being Liberal strengths to ALP strengths – absolutely amazing.

The end result of this movement became this:

rudd2.jpg

Of the 17 issues of significant influence on the vote, Rudd owned 11 of them.

 

But it was the way that these issues changed in their significance which was also important. Preferred PM became a larger vote driver for Rudd than it was for Howard – reflecting a momentum effect which is continuing to this day. Rudd was also cashing in on Important Issues, Future Plan, Deserve to Win, Win Expectations and Doing What’s Right, again reflecting a positive reaction to not only his leadership, but his approach and political outlook.

 

Meanwhile the influence of the issues that the Coalition retained ownership of reduced dramatically while simultaneously the strength of their ownership on those issues nearly halved.

 

The few remaining issues that both favoured the Coalition and which were considered significant vote drivers are what Howard has been talking about ever since, with the addition of the economy (which was only marginally significant in its influence to drive the vote)

 

But mind you, Howard isn’t talking about these things because it’s some grand strategic plan – far far from it. He’s talking about them simply because that is all he has left to talk about that has a hope in hell of resonating.

 

If Howard started to speak about issues that are on the ALP side of the graph, because Howard has basically lost the public, all he would be doing is promoting strengths of the ALP, and as a result those issues would be more likely than not to move further into the ALP camp and increase the ALP vote.

 

This is what happened with the 2007 Budget. The government talked about education and infrastructure and up went the ALP vote, the ALP ownership of education and infrastructure became stronger (and its influence increased) as did the ALP ownership and significance of Important Issues. Meanwhile Preferred PM shot up to a coefficient of 0.45 in importance and remained on the ALP side. (There’s another of these graphs about the budget in the document which show this movement).Likewise at the Federal Council meeting of the Liberal Party, the talk about the environment at the Council only had the effect of increasing the ALPs ownership of environmental issues and their significance, as well as the ALP vote.

 

The problem Howard had, and I argue has to an even larger extent today, is that he cannot reclaim issues the ALP now holds as any mention of them simply reinforces into peoples minds that the ALP are better than the government on those issues. The public has made up their mind.

 

So we have a small group of issues Howard has left to talk about as his only means to campaign on in the election.

- Interest Rates

- Defence and Security

- Lower Taxes

- Strong Leadership

- Strong Team.

 

This is Howards only campaign issue envelope.

Now keep that in your thought orbit, because we’re going off on a tangent before we come back to it.

The last 2 elections were noticeable in terms of voter movement by a large, prolonged, taxpayer funded adversing blitz starting 6 months before the election itself, combined with government initiatives on these advertising issues that had the effect of clawing back government support.

01govad1.jpg04govad1.jpg

This, not the campaign, was how Howard won the last 2 elections. It was the 2 quarters leading up to the election that gave a large enough boost to the Coalitions primary vote that allowed them to cruise into victory. Any extra vote they received in the campaign itself was nothing but a cherry on top, such as what occurred in the 2004 election.

In 2007, the same three card trick has been played, but its effect was completely different.

07govad1.jpg

 

The reason its different this time is a consequence of what we were talking about earlier – the issues involved that are being advertised (Workchoices etc) aren’t Howards issues, they’re Rudds. When Howard talks about them, they simply reinforce existing voter views that are detrimental to the Coalitions electoral prospects. That’s been reflected in the polls.

This means that Howard has to win an election, in the campaign itself, with only a very small amount of issues that he can use.

But let’s look at how these issues are playing out today rather than June.

Interest Rates are no longer a big Howard issue in terms of being a vote driver – the interest rate rises have demonstrated this clearly. When rates went up, so did the ALPs vote – as our earlier regression analysis of a few weeks ago suggested they would.

Strong Leadership is getting whittled away by both the Costello leadership speculation and the continued abysmal polling, while Rudd on the other hand is going out of his way to pinch this issue off Howard and shift it into being an ALP strength.

Howard simply cannot win an election when he only has a few issues he can talk about, and where most of those issues in his envelope are competitive and up for grabs. The ALP can try and grab these issues without necessarily reinforcing them for Howard because Rudd has the momentum and the broad issue support to protect him. Howard on the other hand can only work with what he has because to chase most of the ALP issues is to risk pushing them further into the ALP fold, and losing further vote share.

Howard knows this, must know this – I think he clearly knows this.

Which gets us on to the electoral contest that is happening now.

The ALP has increased the number of seats they believe are now winnable for them, and are actively pursuing seats with over a 10% margin. They believe they already have most of the marginals in the bag and are growing in confidence about non-marginal seats across the country.

As a result, the ALP have expanded their seat front to reflect this growing confidence. They are reallocating their resources into new seats that were, only 6 months ago, not on the radar in their wildest dreams. But most importantly, they are cashed up like no other party has ever been cashed up to fight an election. Money is flowing into the coffers of the ALP from both the union movement and private fundraising – and they have barely started to spend it.

The use of taxpayer funded advertising by the government, as we’ve seen, has failed to deliver votes – but that advertising is probably the greatest electoral benefit of incumbency, especially with the current government. The weight for political advertising now has to be taken by the Coalitions own funds in the campaign, rather than taxpayer funds in the lead up to it as the latter has failed to move votes. But the Coalition is finding it difficult to raise campaign funds. Donors are drying up in Qld, NSW, Vic and SA, and the donors that are left are providing less funds than usual, or are providing equal amounts to both the Coalition and the ALP. The stench of electoral death is in the air and the Coalition campaign kitty is reflecting it.

But on the strategic and tactical front, the Coalition are doing the opposite to the ALP – they aren’t expanding seats to attack, they are expanding the number of seats to defend.

Ministerial briefs to support marginal seat campaigning have apparently stopped being made for ALP held seats, the Coalition has expanded the number of seats they now call marginal to 40 (and that’s frankly an understatement) including seats that are held by 10% margins. But most importantly, the Coalition doesn’t have much of a campaign kitty compared to the ALP.

The Coalition is running a firewall strategy, but a firewall strategy that is ten points deep and without having a financial capability to defend a wall of seats that thick.

Firewall strategies fail nearly everywhere they are used by a government to defend incumbency – but they have succeeded when the aim is not win the election, but to simply save the party an enormous defeat.

Clearly there is a firewall strategy in place, but equally clearly, it is just too many points and seats deep for the finances available to run it effectively.

Howard has conceded the election, but he hasn’t told his backbenchers, he hasn’t told his marginal seat holders and the only question left to answer is which seats the Liberal leadership has actually decided to sacrifice and which ones will be properly funded in the firewall.

All this twaddle about the election being a circuit breaker is simply for Coalition internal consumption. The Liberal leadership knows they’ve lost, they’ve conceded the election (which is why they are running a firewall strategy) but they’re in the unenviable position of not being able to tell their own marginal seat holders simply to prevent a riot breaking out and turning a defeat into a political execution.

BTW – a new Morgan is out today: ALP 60/40 on TPP and 49/34.5 on primaries

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111 Responses to “Capitulation”

  1. [...] Possum Comitatus has a commentary on the data from “Oz Track 33″, the not-so-secret Liberal party [...]

  2. Roger said

    Possum

    Thanks. Lot of work here obviously. I’m now wondering whether Wilson Tuckey (O’Connor on the extreme (pun intended) end of the pendulum may be the last Lib standing. Imagine. Who’d he fight with without his own side in the crosshairs. Seriously, and given the relatively small Morgan sample, I assume as some do that the 60/40 TPP means something between 57/63 given usual stat. variance. And, if so, is there a statistical pattern which says it’d be closer to 57, rather than 63 ? THAT’d be interesting…

  3. jasmine_Anadyr said

    Thanks possum. Lovely work.

  4. Tomasso said

    Hi Poss, Clean work. This basically says JWH has no buttons left to push. Buying votes in marginals and push polling (or a pseudo version that means micro-targeting -issues and demographics – in margins) can only work when it’s concentrated, and the gap is too big for that.

    So what are the boys going to do? Play ad hominem (the ALP team)? Run a few stunts in desperation? Wait for an ALP stumble and go for it. None of these could bridge the current gap.

    I can’t think of anything. The Howard brand is defunct. The coalition brand has been for a long while without the stunts and “good” tactical exploitation of issues by “the president”.

    So the remaining question is whether he’ll stand aside.

    Tomasso.

  5. Just Me said

    This post, plus your comment yesterday over at PollBludger about a landslide, has made my week. Thanks.

  6. Lindsay voter said

    Bravo! Great analysis.

  7. The Doctor said

    It looks like the only thing they can use is “experience”. If that is case then they have lost already!

  8. Julian Watson said

    Possum,

    Very sobering stuff (for ALP & Liberal Party sorts alike). The question that must also be going through the mind of some in the higher echelons of the Liberal Party is “How will we survive to fight on into the immediate future?”.

    Considering the tidal wave that seems to be about to break, there may not be much left of the Liberal Party – out of Government in every state, Territory and soon to be Nationally (?).

    I recall hearing that if Howard is defeated at the poll, the next highest (public ally) elected leader of the Liberal Party will be the Lord Mayor of Brisbane, Campbell Newman.

    THAT’s sobering.

  9. Don Wigan said

    You’ve convinced me, Possum. Great work. I really didn’t think I could go on getting this much more good news. My cup runneth over.

    On a superstitious note, I am reminded of John Button’s fluctuating fortunes following Geelong in the AFL finals (they’re a big chance this year, BTW). He said he’d learnt to cope with disappointment; the only concern was whether he could handle success.

    So I’m still holding off gloating, but… each day seems to bring more good news.

  10. Fagin said

    Great analysis as always Possum C.

    Could someone please forward this superb analysis to the Coalition backbenchers/frontbenchers who are on margins of 12% or under? I’d love to sit back and watch heads explode from the ensuing mutiny.

  11. cs said

    Yep, good work Poss.

  12. Slim said

    Brilliant work once again Possum.

  13. Stentor said

    Possum: I rather think you’ve put the pox on Howard’s rabbits in the hat here. I like the logic of his options being to either highlight Rudd’s strong suits, or play his own somewhat discredited ‘strong’ suits. I shall refer to you as myxomatosis henceforth, if you don’t mind

  14. ShowsOn said

    If Howard really thinks he has lost before calling the poll, surely he will do something radical. Like proposing to remove one of the tax scales. Cutting 2% off the GST. Something completely dramatic to polarise the electorate.

    I mean, if he thinks he is going to lose, what does he have to lose?

  15. Lomandra said

    Colour me boggled. I’ve downloaded the Crosby-Textor stuff, but I doubt I’d ever be able to distil it as you have, Possum.

    Thank you.

  16. Econocrat said

    Thanks Possum – although I have an econometrics/regression modelling background, I’ve no experience with this marketing type analysis and was struggling to make sense of it – your article has made it crystal clear, and pleasurably so!

  17. Enemy Combatant said

    You Da Man, Possum. Always got the good gear.

  18. Stig said

    Nice work as always.

    If your analysis above holds, expect to see a couple of things in the near future – a massive outbreak of self-interest amongst Liberal candidates, as discipline collapses in the rush for the life-boats; and something breathtakingly outrageous from Howard, as he attempts to convert his remaining political capital into a final shot at some long-standing political enemy. Possum was right about the popcorn, and it won’t spoil my appetite for the main course.

    Howard’s not going to go down quietly. Without politics, he’ll just be some other angry old man swearing at the cricket on Foxtel. There’s just nothing else there, unlike any other ex-PM I can think of.

  19. lurker said

    A tip for SA – water is a REALLY big issue here at the moment with the Murray running dry and very unpopular water restrictions. Reckon there’s enough money in the govt kitty to promise a desal plant for Adelaide? (or at least a weasel promise of part funding) Cos I reckon that would save at least 3 marginal Lib seats here. So even though environment is an “ALP issue” I think this would swing it back big time. Turnbull has already been making noises about it.

    Though of course then there’s the problem of the other states shouting “I want one too!”

  20. Rx said

    My only concern is that the Coalition will read and make use of the valuable information you have laid out, Possum. We should do NOTHING to help them!

  21. Matt said

    Great work as always Possum :)

    My question (for you or other posters) is this: What was it that moved these issues into the Rudd/ALP column and if they can move once, why can’t they move back again?

    For example Rudd clearly moved ‘Future Plans’ from the Lib to the ALP side of the ledger. You say if Howard campaigned on this he’d just he highlighting an ALP strength, but what’s to say it couldn’t be moved back to the Lib side with a good enough campaign?

  22. Greeensborough Growler said

    The only problem with all this analysis is that it really describes what has already happened. In June 2006 you could not have predicted the changes that have occurred because of the switch to Rudd. Possum’s excellent analysis tells us a lot about what has happened and what it means.

    The thing is, that the Libs could change leader, Rudd could get a better offer as a Chinese interpreter or the New Zealander’s might invade.

    What is clear is that things happen in polls when things happen. What makes anyone confident that something that has not happened will not happen that will change the whole paradigm.

    I cannot understand the incompetence of the members of the Liberal political class that have allowed this to happen.

  23. oyster said

    thanks for the enlightenment in regards to the government advertising blitz months before the election
    howard must be spewing why it has’nt worked this time
    great work

  24. [...] shows us just why the Liberal Party knows it is going to lose. And why all that taxpayer funded advertising just [...]

  25. Crikey Whitey said

    #
    Comment by lurker

    ‘A tip for SA – water is a REALLY big issue here at the moment’

    Reckon there’s enough money to promise a desal plant for Adelaide? reckon that would save at least 3 marginal Lib seats here. So though environment is an “ALP issue” think this would swing it back big time’. (abridged)

    Well,lurker. Sure is a really big issue. I have pondered long and hard on Mike Rann’s total lack of action in the water matter, an issue which is not too far from inciting riot.

    Can only conclude that he and Kevin have stitched up a deal,to be announced during the campaign.

    If I am wrong, Mike Rann will be staring it in the face, next State election. Chris Pyne is busy putting the State Lib Opposition back together. He will have ample time in the future to develop this project.

    Surely no one in Labor could be so foolish as to allow the Lib Feds to run on this?

  26. steve said

    Matt

    Regarding “Future Plans” see the ACTU funded survey series that shows more than 60% now believe that JWH has is “past his useby date” and “has little further to offer”.

    It is difficult to turn this one around in a naximum period of 12 weeks before December.

    The knives are out, see Albrechtson’s article in the Autralian on what Howard should do. This does not get published unless htere is a push to impement it.

    It is hard to have “Future Plans” when they want to spill your blood.

    Theregoes any momentum from APEC – watching Putin’s face when the leadership question was posed to Howard was good TV.

  27. lurker said

    Crikey Whitey, I have wondered about that. I noticed that the committee on the desal plant is due to report sometime around the election, so it’s possible that there may be planning in the works. Also I think Rann is consulting a lot with Rudd.

    For the record, I’m against a desal plant unless it (1) is powered by renewables eg wave energy and (2) the wastewater is treated so that the salinity matches that of seawater eg by producing seasalt. Otherwise it would be environmentally damaging, especially in the Gulf. In any case it’s likely water and electricity bills will skyrocket. Recycled water would be a better option but no polly will touch it. I’ve lived overseas so I’ve already drunk it!

  28. barney said

    Interesting what you say about defending safe seats. We have had a major media issue locally about funding for a PET scanner (it’s a cancer detection unit) for our local hospital. It requires an additional $1.5million per year. The pressure has been on Bob Baldwin (Paterson) for over a week to come good with the money. Given the relatively small amount, and given the supposed marginal target strategy adopted by the rodent one would have thought this would’ve been a gimme. But here we are a week later still waiting. Now it may just be a bureaucratic logjam but given the need to respond quickly to these kinds of issues one would have thought this would have been dealt with immediately. The only conclusion I can draw is that they have written Paterson off and are devoting resources to “safer” seats.

  29. Leopold said

    My response is either:

    1) Voters are weird, possibly psychotic, and clearly irresponsible in charge of the country.

    2) Crosby-Textor ain’t much use.

    I lean towards the second, honestly. Don’t think they’ve had much to do with any of Howard’s wins.

    The PM should definitely walk the plank though. In one bound the government would shake off more monkeys than you can poke a stick at.

  30. MorningDude said

    Eden-Monaro down my way is being heavily targetted, especially by the Libs. For many decades now it and Macarthur have been won by who ever won government. Rudd is running a grass roots stick by his man campaign asking the constituents to get his ex-military Labor candidate Mike Kelly across the line (makes a lie of Nelson’s statement of military only voting Liberal). So far in just the last few months, Howard through Gary Nairn has promised:

    1. A $25 million dollar dam to water-proof Eden-Moanaro, which has been environmentally assessed as disastrous if it goes ahead.

    2. A $10 million dollar water pipeline (also potentially environmentally damaging).

    3. Saving a timber mill that was closing down because the work was being moved to one in Canberra. The saving of the Eden-Monaro mill will cause hardship and job losses to the Canberra one, which of course is not marginal.

    4. The reissuing of a swag of fishing licences bought out under the Federal government’s marine parks deal to save the Southern fishing industry. I guess the fishing industry will now eventually collapse as the area is fished out.

    5. $11.5 million for an environment program for sustainable agriculture.

    6. $2 million for a regional doctors consultancy as part of undermining the State government’s spending on the Greater Southern Health Service. The government’s shonky broadband is tied into this as well. As an aside that broadband is already a failure.

    …and there are probably more I’ve missed in the local rags and plethora of Liberal …errr I mean government information ads Gary Nairn has been running.

    Someone might know what Howard is doing in Macarthur, the only other seat that has always gone to government in modern times?

  31. Bennelong Resident said

    Maxine and the ALP have gone pretty quiet here in the People’s Republic of Bennelong. I guess they know they’ve got it sewn up. I wonder if Maxine will start campaigning in other electorates ? Like Mike Bailey’s challenge to Joe Hockey next door in North Sydney.

    It’s going to be ‘king huge on election night.

  32. Neil Cammack said

    I heard one of the commentariat arguing that Howard would claw back 3-4% during the election campaign. Why? Because that’s what happened in 2004.

    Well, duh. That was then, this is now. My best guess is that the 2004 clawback was due to more and more voters visualising the admittedly unnerving possibility of Latham running the show and taking fright.

    This may well be another example of the perils of predicting the future by extrapolating from the past.

  33. From “the twilight world of the blogs”

    … a delightful phrase from Christopher Pearson’s contribution to the Government Gazette today, where the punditariat are at sixes and sevens, with Shanahan and Pearson insisting Howard should not stand down, responding to the earlier calls …

  34. SC in Fiji said

    I actually left Australia vowing never to return until JWH and his extremists were rightfully out of office.
    Oh to once again proudly walk the streets of Sydney knowing that we are are rid of this soul destroying monster.
    Bring on the election and the humiliation, I miss my family.
    To Kevin, I can guarantee you that the entire South Pacific is preying and drinking Kava to get you home. Keep it tight, stay on policy and destroy this evil!

  35. swio said

    Thank you Possum. That’s the best election post I’ve read this year. I had no idea about the marketing charts you described above. Its great to have a windown into how the election strategist think and what they think about.

  36. George W said

    So…I’m thinking: This is not so good for the Government. Right?

    And gee, I really liked the Austrian Prime Minister too. He’s waaaay cool, for a Kraut.

    What?

    Oh. Sorry…for an Aussie.

    Y’all be nice to Uncle Sam now.

  37. Ho Hum said

    #18 Stig:
    “Howard’s not going to go down quietly. Without politics, he’ll just be some other angry old man swearing at the cricket on Foxtel. There’s just nothing else there, unlike any other ex-PM I can think of.”

    In Wollstonecraft …. with Janette.

    And everyone with a severe dose of dilligaf.

    A very long way from Kirribilli ….

  38. BaztheSpaz said

    You’re analysis does seem sound Possum, as far as my second year stats experience can tell. The key is what weight to give each independent variable, like ‘preferred PM’? Plenty of weight is clearly the answer for the average punter. Even more than Bludge Choices, it seems.

    I reckon the bounce for Labor is in ‘better economic manager’ – once that beachhead was taken, even by a few percentage points, I think the Rodent was all but gone.
    Until that point, the polls could just be passed off as a ‘second honeymoon’ for Rudd, in part due to lack of post-budget ‘bounce’ and the latest interest rate rise. But the Libs weren’t really offering anything new, just money into big pots to pay super for public servants – and how will that excite the average punter? Maybe some bureaucrats in Canberra, but who else?

    And the Little Sir Echo strategy by Rudd, especially with parts of the IR backdown on right of entry and the very gradual phasing out of AWA’s, has led to feeble characters like Andrews complaining because the Opposition agrees with them!! The Reverse Wedge – sheer genius. If it’s Rudd’s idea alone he could rule forever! If it’s his minders, then Paul Keating has seriously underestimated them and so have I!
    But then JPK thinks he’s JFK, only JPK didn’t take a real bullet, just a very big peoples’ ‘baseball bat’.
    Who would have thought that “Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition” would ever be a winning strategy, but blow me down it sure looks to be working.
    Rudd knows he has to play to the innate conservatism of the Oz people – Howard got caught pursuing his lifelong quest to destroy the trade union movement. A victim of his own Senate ‘success’ in Queensland – how ironic that Queensland has produced his nemesis in Rudd.
    But then The Rodent forgot the real golden rule – KISS – Keep it simple stupid! Bludge Choices is anything but simple, no matter which side of the ideological divide you are on.
    It’s sheer complexity could be used to frighten the shit out of the average punter and quite a few non-Labour lawyers, including the ‘sub-contractor’ and consultant class, who are the real ‘Howard battlers’ and incidentally the ‘forgotten people’ Ming the Merciless knew he had to govern for – the Rodent just treats these people as ‘rusted on’, which they never were – and Dr Emerson ( also from Queensland) is a very intelligent character to have hosing down small business opposition. He has the ‘bastard’ look, but with the brains to be a good Treasurer.
    Too bad he’s not Shadow Treasurer, but that’s factional politics in Queensland. Swan is dead set a weak link on Labor’s Front bench. Emerson as Minister for Public Infrastructure would be good – could he make Industry Policy work?

    If you saw Rudd in the news grab on ABC tonight, you’d swear blind Rudd’s minders had the Crosby-Textor analysis, or something very much like it, at about the same time it was produced for the Libs i.e. in June. There’s always been suspicion of a ‘mole’ in the Libs camp,as Rudd always seemed to have the drop on them.
    But then the ALP has ‘Polifile’ or some program like it, which very tightly targets punters according to age, income and who knows how many other variables. The local ALP State politician in my area used it to good effect to turn his marginal seat into a much safer seat.

    And with 21 full-time organisers in marginal seats stirring the anti-Bludge Choices pot, is it any wonder the Government has taken a battering in marginal seats especially.
    Very clever for Rudd to say ‘leave the PM alone’ for the weekend so as not to spoil APEC! Rudd may be scared that a new face, like Kewpie Doll Bishop might get to be PM and give him a run for his money!

    More of “Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition” – if one was being charitable you’d almost call it statesmanlike, if you didn’t know better!

    Rudd will do well to keep most of his frontbench out of the limelight, except for Gillard v. Hockey – she just demolished him on the 7-30 report on Workchoices. Not so sure about Swan v. Costello.
    I think the great ‘unwashed’ are so relieved they’ve actually got a half-way credible alternative to vote for,that it’s no wonder they are flocking to Rudd in droves. They never loved Howard, but he lined their pockets, made them feel ‘secure’ and put them to sleep like a clever jockey in a stayers race – when that security blanket wore thin, as interest rates rose and Bludge Choices threatened take-home pay, so did Howard’s grip on his ‘battlers’ falter big time. The hip-pocket nerve strikes again Right Honourable Rodent ( that’s the abbreviation for tonight – RHR)
    So it looks like only the second PM ever will lose his own seat – and on the same issue, industrial relations ( arbitration) that Stanley Melbourne Bruce perished on. Who says history can’t repeat itself? Was it Jackie Gleeson who said in the Honeymooners – ‘how sweet it is’. Yes I am pushing 50, how could you tell?

  39. riccardo said

    Possums 1 – Rats and Rabbits 0

  40. [...] Excellent analysis of why the Liberal party is up proverbial creek with no paddle anywhere in sight- oh the joy, the joy… how wonderful that HoWARd is going to lose and lose so badly!  If Maxine manages to kick him out of his seat as well, I will be the happiest person in Australia on election night. [...]

  41. Crikey Whitey said

    Lurker.
    Advertiser headlined desalination Rann plan Saturday, I noticed. Quick flicked through it in the shop. Have not bought a Murdoch paper since Tampa. Vow until and unless. But maybe, something might move on the waterfront.

  42. Imacca said

    Interesting about the desal in SA. Would make sense for Rudd to have some things like that up his sleeve. I dont think people will listen if Howard tries the fist full of dollars approach during the campaign, and he has to be really careful of the RBA’s reaction given that a rate rise is tipped for Nov 6th.

    Personally, i am looking forward to JWH making his concession speech. I hope the little man squirms all through it as that will be the political highlight of the year. Would love to be able to see Paul Keatings face as Howard is making it.

    If Howard ducks out somehow and resigns, well his surname is only a C away from an apt description.

  43. swio said

    “As a result, the ALP have expanded their seat front to reflect this growing confidence. They are reallocating their resources into new seats that were, only 6 months ago, not on the radar in their wildest dreams. But most importantly, they are cashed up like no other party has ever been cashed up to fight an election. Money is flowing into the coffers of the ALP from both the union movement and private fundraising – and they have barely started to spend it.”

    Could you please expand on this point. I completely understand that the more likely Labor are to win the election the easier fundraising will be as people will want to get in the good books of the likely next government. But I’m just wondering where you are sourcing this from. Is it insider information or public sources or both? I would be extremely interested in how the funding of the major parties is working at the moment.

  44. [...] to resign has long since passed. Now we have something of a tragedy to play out if the polls and the political market research proves correct. The tragedy is not just about Howard. How could anyone be so blind? In truth, self [...]

  45. canberra boy said

    Possum thanks for this post. Like you, I was pretty staggered to read the Crosby-Textor analysis. When you combine it with the polling, and particularly your analyses of the Newspoll quarterly data, I think what it shows is that the coalition had more or less lost the election when Rudd became ALP leader. The Crosby-Textor regressions show that there is almost nowhere for Howard to go, and we can now see even more clearly what he was trying to achieve by picking fights, or attempting to, in relation to the Indigenous children-in-danger ‘emergency’, Qld council amalgamations and the Tassie hospital intervention.

    I think the most interesting question now is the election date. My bet is still on later rather than earlier. I don’t believe Howard gives a rat’s’ proverbial about the Liberal Party once he’s gone. He (and possibly even more importantly, Hyacinth) is concerned about John Howard and his place in history.

    If he calls the election now, he’s the leader who suffered a devastating rejection at the polls – possibly the biggest ever. If he waits, he’s still the leader who suffered a devastating defeat – unless a miracle occurs. I’m not sure what the miracle would look like – possibly a terrorist event in Australia, although I’m no longer even sure that would necessarily favour Howard the way that the rolling snowball effect is working in Rudd’s favour. But for Howard, while there’s life there’s hope – a slim hope that a miracle will occur between now and December. I don’t see him going now – either resigning from office or to the polls.

    The pressure will be intense, from the party as well as the media/opposition. But nobody is going to challenge Howard’s leadership, because they would have no hope at the election either.

  46. Richard Bowman said

    Thanks for the great commentary Possum. But has nobody told the muppets at The Australian? I can only remember this wonderful climate on two previous occasions – Dec 1972 and March 1983. The Men Of Yesterday look like again becoming indeed that. In the words of Gough…”The Age shall not query them, nor their peers condemn”…

    Go forward!!

  47. Angas said

    Great explanation…with my now heightened sensitivity I heard 3 Liberal Ministers use the term “Right Direction” today. Alexander Downer tossed it in 3 times in the one interview!

  48. johng said

    Fascinating analysis. Interesting to crossreference with Rudd’s babushka doll analogy he gave Hartcher in 2005 and which Hartcher discussed in the quarterly essay 25. Rudd said ‘The outer shell of the babushka doll is national security. ….Peel that layer off. Next, people want confidence that the economy will be well managed and that you can provide them with the basics of life – a job and an income’. ‘Our experience of the last decades is that the community has had reservations about (the ALP and) the last two outer shells’. Rudd has worked hard to neutralise these two issues which have traditionally been Coalition strengths, and I think he’s largely succeeded. And his strength on Important Issues, Deserve to Win, and Preferred Prime Minister has helped drain the national security/economy strengths. So the Textor analysis repeated now would be even worse for Howard.
    One thing puzzles me. People have stopped listening to Howard. But why did they start listening to Rudd. And why did they stop listening to Beazley? He was saying many similar things to Rudd but it wasn’t penetrating.

  49. Crikey Whitey said

    Poss. Elsewhere read that SA Rann Labor Govt has employed Crosby Textor. I cannot be sure whether this is fact or other? Any insights?

  50. Crikey Whitey said

    Angus 47
    ‘Right direction’ is I think a poll question, probably Morgan. It seems so ephemeral as to be meaningless. But, maybe, to some.

  51. canberra boy said

    Crikey Whitey, there are two connections between Crosby Textor & the Rann Govt. The mining tycoon Robert Champion de Crespigny is a director of Crosby Textor and also chaired the SA Economic Development Board and served on a State Cabinet committee (!!) until March last year. And the firm was employed by the SA Government-owned Port Adelaide Maritime Corporation to lobby the national government over the destroyer construction contract, which SA won, and according to Crikey has been kept on for “strategic market research on commercial and government activities that may impact on the Corporation in delivering its objectives”.

    Australia ‘going in the right direction’ was one of the attributes, with a weak influence on voting intention, which Crosby-Textor’s leaked polling analysis showed was still a positive for the Coalition after Rudd became Labor leader. Given that Gary Morgan decided to make this his test of how soft the Labor vote is, we also know from recent Morgan polls that a very high proportion of voters continue to think the country is going in the right direction. Presumably that’s why ministers are parroting the line, hoping it will deliver them the election! Nothing else is going to!

  52. Crikey Whitey said

    Thanks, canberra boy. I was aware of de Crespigny role in Rann Govt, but certainly not the other connections you have outlined. I do know of other interlocks which struck me as interesting and self interested. Don’t wish to post on same, as learned this in a more personal way. I heard an ABC radio bit about an hour ago, MattnDave raising the topic, has Mike Rann lost his political antenna, Their am agenda, I presume.

    Not sure myself that Rann actually had antennae, he did luck in after all and has maintained his position by questionable means and what I would call a right wing approach. Whilst I am Labor never Liberal, I decamped to the Greens on his first election go, handing out how to vote cards on behalf of Greens. Had pleasant, reasoned converse with small L Liberals at that post. The old days type, early settlement heritage. A la Downer. We disapproved of similar things. The Family First people frowned at us. Fraternising.

    I am not alone among my Labor friends of uneasy feelings about Mike Rann.

  53. carbonsink said

    Possum: Congratulations on this post being the lead story in today’s Crikey.

  54. Fagin said

    Well done over at Crikey Possum. I hope Ironbar has a squiz at it: that time bomb in his head keeps ticking. Tick,tick,tick…

  55. canberra boy said

    Yes, congratulations Possum on receiving some recognition for excellent work. Best analysis on Crikey for ages!

  56. [...] [Update: Crikey has removed the article following legal requests. As of 6pm it’s still online at Possums Pollytics.] [...]

  57. jasmine_Anadyr said

    Hey possum have you got the legal ‘take down your analysis’ threats yet?

  58. Enemy Combatant said

    Yep, Crikey’s pulled it after “discussions” with Cros-Tex lawyers.

    You really hit ‘em in the bread-basket with “Capitulation”, Possum. Salue!

  59. Mate said

    Mate, You really pissed em off this time :-)

    I’ve got cold beers and bail money ready. :-)

  60. Peter McCrossin said

    A tour de force, poss. This is psephology at its very best.

  61. Chris Lloyd said

    Poss,

    Could you give me a few more technical details on how the plots are produced? Are they a kind of bi-plot? (I am a statistician so feel free to speak jargon – or you could email me directly).

    Are the raw data on which these plots are produced available or are the plots you posted scans from the stolen (sorry.”leaked) document? I am a bit unclear what the data would look like if I had them – for each voter you have a preferred aprty and then a list of issues rated by importance, yes?

  62. Andrew B. said

    First time visitor to your site, looks pretty well thought through and explained, thanks for that. This little black duck won’t be in mourning for long if all the predictions come good. My only question is what is the firewall strategy that you’re talking about, not heard of that before.

    Should say thanks to Crikey for putting up a redirect too.

    Keep up the good work.

    Cheers

  63. Great Work Possum,

    I downloaded the data from Crikey’s website but I hadn’t spent any time analyzing it yet. I have been wondering why Howard and Downer are starting to sound like the former Iraqi Information Minister. It’s all an act, which makes you wonder why they are grimly hanging on. Go to the polls, take the hit before the rout becomes a massacre. Oh, it’s already a massacre…

  64. Stig said

    Perhaps the Cros-Tex lawyers have heard about how effective censorship can be. Possum clearly has them on some sort of retainer arrangement, and they are now giving him and his work free publicity.

    Love your work – both Possum and Cros-Tex.

  65. Danny Yee said

    A fascinating analysis, thanks!

    Let me know if you need any mirroring done. I haven’t added anything to http://danny.oz.au/freedom/cases/ for ages, and I even have a domain http://unauthorised.org/ I originally registered with this kind of thing in mind.

  66. MikeFitz said

    Thanks Possum. This made me smile.

    I don’t know but I reckon Bennelong is in the firewall.

  67. Simon said

    It’d be good if the report found its way to a site like that. I know it’s out there now either way, but easier access is even better.

  68. Simon said

    Abbot is now being interviewed about this very analysys, he’s denying that they aren’t trying to win. Actually he seems pretty clueless about the whole thing. I wonder how much traction this can gain.

  69. Tony Jones actually used the “firewall” part of this analysis (although without citing it) and asked Abbott specifically if that was the strategy. Abbott claims to have no idea about it, hasn’t seen the surveys, but they’re in it to win. He’s another one I’d pick for crying or losing it on election eve if they actually lose.

  70. king corio said

    great work Possum.

    For those wondering what will be Textor’s campaign card, I’ll have a stab. The key campaign message will be something like: “Rudd is alright but look who’s behind him”

    The last fed campaign had blanket advertising on interest rates. Textor’s fear campaign played off the perceived short-comings of Latham as PM (inexperienced, loopy) & Labor in government (can’t manage the economy). But the climate for the conclusion on interest rates was created in the months leading into the campaign – not during the campaign itself.

    Textor’s basic approach was:
    1. create a climate for a perception to take hold.
    2. wait until the campaign proper to go direct to the voters i.e. when they’ve begun tuning into politics &
    3. strike quickly, with surprise & with blanket coverage in order to feed the suspicion & to dampen any chance for rebuttal.

    the same approach is being rolled-out today:
    1. creating the climate – labor is controlled by the unions, the unions can’t wait to get into government, most of labor’s shadow cabinet are ex-union bosses, if you turn back the clock on IR then you’ll cripple the country’s economy, a Garrett-led recession, Rudd is captive to the Labor Premiers, imagine Labor coast-to-coast.

    2. the campaign proper – “Labor is captive to the special interests, only the Liberals will do what’s right for the national interest”.

    3. the blanket TV ads will leave Rudd out of it by blasting everyone else in the shadow cabinet eg Gillard is too close to the unions; Garrett at heart remains a radical Greenie; the ex-union bosses stack the shadow cabinet; if labor win they’ve have too many favours to repay to worry about what’s best for the national interest. The conclusion ‘if you can’t trust Labor, you can’t elect Labor’. There will be no time for character references & presentation of peoples CVs from Labor.

    all this time Textor/Crosby/Howard are priming the electoral climate because people don’t tune into politics until the last two weeks and a large proportion of voters don’t make up their mind until they step into the booth. Hence the retort from Howard about waiting for the campaign to focus the public’s political anntenae. Does this mean Howard can win? Probably not BUT its going to be the dirtiest, most negative ad campaign from the Tories ever. And you only have to look to the republicans in the US to see how far it might go.

    Crosby/Textor’s machine in the last UK elections was impressive. And assuming they learnt their lessons two years ago that machine will be finely-tuned for this campaign. Bring on the campaign.

  71. aj said

    With all the righteous attention given to your article, maybe we should rename it “The Firewall Brief” in the same vein of “The Pelican Brief”..just without the car bombs and assassins.

    Good work by the way a very good & easy read.

    I’m PO at Howard spending so much on advertising. Just imagine what he could have built/fixed/improved with all that money over the last 11yrs.

  72. Crikey Whitey said

    So Howard is staying the course with two parliamentary weeks. Would this be buying time in order to develop some policies ‘for the future’ in line with his reference on the 7.30 Report. The family War Cabinet in on the act?

  73. Enemy Combatant said

    Yes, anthony baxter, Jones also made reference to this part of Possum’s analysis:
    “Of the 17 issues of significant influence on the vote, Rudd owned 11 of them.”

    Censored from Crikey, referenced by Lateline, lauded and linked, by and to Oz blogdom’s best; and only around the traps since May 2007.
    That’s one hell of a debut, P.C.

  74. Well done, Possum.

    For a while, your analysis of the polls has been borne out by the continuing data. Whilst others have drawn neat ‘trendlines’ that fail to predict anything, you have informed us about unpronounceables like heteroskedasticity that actually explain the data meaningfully. Thanx for that.

    Good to see you get your moment in the sun. More power to you!

  75. Possum Comitatus said

    Thanks all – I’m playing with recreational fishing models this morning (dont ask), but I’ll get back to you hopefully later today.

  76. carbonsink said

    Possum you are a legend. Could this be the blog post that brings down a Prime Minister?

  77. wally100 said

    This was just excellent, concise well thought out and brilliantly put together. Hard to argue against your findings too. I’m adding this to my favourites

  78. Mate said

    Maybe it will, something very weird is going on in Canberra.Right now everybodys denying everthing but I’m sure I’ve smelt this smell before.

    The possum that ROARED!

  79. EconoMan said

    As from everyone else, props to PC on the recognition. I guess Tony can’t quite cite a blog as his source of questions just yet. But Teh MSM is losing the battle.

    I have a question about the 2-dimensional graphs: What does it mean to be negative on the y-axis?

    I get that higher means more important to voters / more influence on voting. But does negative actually mean the issue is negatively correlated with voting? I really doubt it, because it doesn’t fit with the issues, or the movements in graph 2. And what does ownership mean then (i.e. is owning a negative issue good or bad?)

    If it justs mean low importance, why rescale it from small positive to negative? (Is it just that people like cross graphs rather than upside down Ts?)

  80. gusface said

    Poss

    your seat chart has finally reached my prediction of Feb 07

    well done oh great possum

  81. Brett from Richmond Victoria said

    Let’s get this right. Advertising is just another form of media. Like any ad, it just gets tired the umpteenth time it’s shown. We are so over it.

    For all the analysis, at the end of the day the people of Australia have finally and simply gotten tired of John. He is boring (was always boring actually) but a damned good politician. But not the best politician – the really good ones know when to go (onya Beattie).

    But you can only use the same formula for so long – “reading the public spirit” (heart, thought, whatever) and being able to effectively use it to produce the right spin at the right time to attract the majority of interest. But have you noticed of the last three or so years – detecting the underlying feel within the electorate and the rate of change of the feeling has seen it moving more quickly, which has been too quick for Johnnie to build up the necessary steam. He has become obviously re-active rather than appearing to ride the mood of the public.

    Let’s be fair; so was Beazley. Except he was dumped and in came a new face, young, fresh, with modern thinking, relevant comment, and an offspring from Johnnie’s generation rather than one of the gang.
    And bright, educated, and able to continually learn and adjust.

    It has been the stark differences between Kevin and John in who they are, and not what they propose, that has swayed popular vote and shifted the public focus.

    Kevin is not temporary, or re-hashed. He is fresh and modern.

    Latham, bless his sweet f**&ing heart, was only ever
    going to last a short time until his fuse blew. Thank goodness it wasn’t as Primeminster – we might be looking at the start of another 10 year liberal plan, rather than the end of one.

    And dear Kim, he should have been Paul’s successor (oh my saviour, how I miss you so!) but his time was passed before he got the chance. Got stale.

    So let’s rejoice and let’s praise that we have someone who actually connects with the masses (not swings with the tide). And watch how the Liberals drown in their own pity towards what will surely be the greatest federal landlside in modern political history.

    I have had the same bottle of champagne on ice for 11 years – I am really thirsty!

  82. Richard in Sydney said

    A great piece – thank you for putting it together.

    One question though – the focus on the upcoming election seems still to be on who will be the next Prime Minister (this posting indicates clearly that Rudd is a shoe-in). If the Libs go for a loss containment strategy, will we start seeing a massive push to shore up Liberal senators and let the House of Reps fall? In this way, the Libs may lose the battle but may win the war (by retaining the balance of power in the Upper House.

  83. Doug said

    The Senate is hard to shore up. Your best way of doing it is by fighting hard in the lower house and making sure all your booths are covered even in safe ALP seats.

  84. canberra boy said

    Re #83 – this is why Howard can’t call an election without candidates ready to stand in 9 Labor seats in NSW: there’d be a danger that they wouldn’t get anyone to hand out how-to-votes for the Senate. It’s about 20% of the seats for the State!

  85. [...] Pollytics’ analysis of the Crosby Textor report Every political junkie should read Possum Pollytics’ post on the Crosby Textor [...]

  86. Sacha said

    Fantastic post, possum.

  87. wilful said

    The key bit of information that remains to be filled in is what would happen to the Senate make-up form 1 July next year? Of course that gets much harder to analyse with the minor parties and all the preference deals.

  88. [...] party polling was leaked a couple of days ago, and there is some very interesting analysis on Possum Comitatus of the hurdles now in front of Howard. Especially interesting is the analysis of how the two [...]

  89. Berowra Bloke said

    G’day Possum! This is an excellent blog! You’d recognise me as that Kevin Rudd For PM bloke from the other place.
    Latest Reuters poll average: Labor 58, Coalition 42.
    And these idiots think retaining the rodent as leader will take them to victory? LMFAO

  90. phil said

    Downer on 7.30 Report: “the right direction” (several times); “John Howard has massive energy”; “John Howard is the right answer for Australia’s future”; “the public feel that Australia is heading in the right direction.”

    Well done oh good and faithful servant.

  91. [...] the way, read Possum Comitatus on what the polling and the Crosby Textor survey means. He makes it almost easy to understand, with [...]

  92. Bushfire Bill said

    Wonderful recognition, Possum. Congrats.

    One of the really difficult things about analysing polls (or any other imprecise data) is finding the datum point, the anchor – [x,y] = [0,0] – from which you can make all other measurements.

    By delving into the dark heart of the figures freely available to all (but only understandable by a few) you have delivered a great service to us huddled masses out here in The Mob (and your other secret, less willing to be identified readers).

    “The are lies, damn lies, and then there is Possum.

    Good for you!

  93. Brett from Richmond Victoria said

    Alas the senate – whatever will we do?

    The balance of the senate (being a half-senate election) will mean this half needs to swing substantially everywhere to ensure that either Labour wins outright or that independents get a good showing.
    Unlikely this time around.

    There are those who are Greens supporters, but are being weakened in the far south. The Democrats are a spent force. And “Please Explain” won’t require an explanation.

    It is highly likely people will make a strong conscious vote for change; this will mean either a reduction in the Independents to favour Labour, or a mad swing away from Liberals, (the safe bet for uncertain voters).

    Whichever way it goes, it is not going to result in a Labour Majority. We are set for another three years of greasing up to the marginalised minorities who with a new government will be cautious not to promote too much change too quickly.
    (Remember Gough? And Jeff Kennett? The voters might not, but the independents do!)

    Best case – Libs lose their unquestionable control of the Senate – good enough for me. Kevin’s a nice guy but he still needs to earn his racing stripes.

  94. L. Duce said

    Possum devours man of steel!Your analysis is a thing of rare beauty,thank you for all your top of the class work.

  95. [...] how bad things are for the government was made clear at Possum Pollytics with a frankly devastating analysis of some leaked Crosby-Textor polling. So bad are things that [...]

  96. paradiseenough said

    More than a bit interesting. Possum, “Crosby Textor uses a pretty standard analysis technique…(which disappointed me a little, but I digress” Care to digress further? I am not a statistician, but this generation of lots of independent constructs and then very heavy reworking of them to form the foundation (in this case) of the running of our country smells very bad indeed. I find it hard to believe that the variables in the diagrams are adequately independent of each other or internally stable (let alone valid) which are the basic requirements of ordinary factor analysis or other suchlike systems. A fundamental principle is that in order to generate meaningful arrays of constructs/variables you need a correspondingly huge amount of (sound) data to work. Otherwise you’re just wanking (or worse). How big were C-T’s focus groups and how representative? How could I get to be on one? If so I suspect that a good rant could change the direction of the nation for months to come. What sort of power is that?

    Re the firewall thing. This logic suggests that if their research tell them that the swing is on (say it’s 10%) and that it’s greater than the amount that targetted campaigning can pull back any given seat (say $X gives 5%) there’s not only no point in spending money on marginal labour seats. They may as well kiss goodbye the most marginal 15 or so coalition seats (because they can’t win them) and spend all their dough on trying to protect the one’s from there up to the 10% level in the hope they can hold them and just fall over the line. This is cloud cuckoo land, but given how they’ve all been behaving nothing would surprise me. (Perhaps they won’t sacrifice Bennelong and Wentworth, though I wonder if a couple of the backroom boys wouldn’t mind…)

  97. Possum Comitatus said

    Thank you all for the kind words – I’m glad you’ve enjoyed it.

    On the questions about the real gritty end of methodology of the CT analysis – I’d rather not get into it for a couple of reasons.

    Firstly – it’s their intellectual property that they make a living out of, and even if I reckon I’ve seen better, its not good form to spill the beans on it in any great detail.

    Secondly, this has already gotten a bit too litigious for its own good when it was over at Crikey and I’d rather not throw kero on the fire.

    That said – EconoMan asked about the negative coefficients, the negative scale is just an adjustment mechanism where zero represents (or would if I did it) some level of statistical significance, so I assume that’s what they are doing there. ‘Ownership’ is just a simple version of describing what the “party positioning” of each issue means – its literally a pretty close fit to each other, technically they’re a little different but not in any way that actually changes the fundamental meaning of what is observed in the graphs.

    On what moved these issues into the Rudd column, the answer has to be that Rudd wasn’t Beazley, Latham or Crean. Howard owned these issues when those guys were around simply because the voters judged that the ALP leadership wasn’t a viable alternative that they would be willing to support. Howard reigned as a consequence of a powerful lack of alternatives.

    When that bubble burst, the voters seemed to go “thank Christ for that, someone I can vote for…. at last!” and hence the massive, instantaneous adjustment on most issues.

    I’m a contrarian here with most people – I don’t believe that the support that the ALP has at the moment is inflated, nor do I believe Rudd inflated it by a single percent. There has been no honeymoon.

    I think the support the ALP has now is its natural level – the level it would have enjoyed for years had the ALP placed someone electable as opposition leader. Workchoices has just added to the size of the already underlying shift that had been going on for yonks but was hidden by poor ALP leadership.

    It’s the Coalition vote that has been inflated since the day after the 2001 election. Rudd just allowed the natural equilibrium to return – and it shocked everyone because the MSM narrative was that Howard was widely supported in the community, when the reality was that Howard has never been strongly supported in the community in his 30+ year political history. Howards Prime Ministership, to me, is best explained as an 11 year stopgap measure whose longevity was always a function of the quality (or rather lack of it) of the ALP leadership. Now that the ALP has woken up to itself, Howards out.

    Danny Yee – thank you very much for the offer. Everything seems fine at the moment, but if it gets hairy or if during the election campaign I find myself talking about other sensitive matters that get hairy, I may well take you up on the offer if that’s ok?

    Paradiseenough – I agree, firewall strategies are cloud cuckoo land and you have to be extremely desperate to think that it’s a viable strategy. I’d imagine staring down a 56/44 to 57/43 TPP vote deficit where voters have hardened up, soft voters are 5% or less for each party, undecided vote levels are low and strong, unmoveable preference flows from the minors are favouring the opposition by 7 to 3…. Well that might just push you into thinking that such a strategy has something to it.

  98. Brendan of Wollongong said

    Poss Com, love your keen analysis & cogent followup. I think you are bang on the money about return to equilibrium and Howard being a stopgap because of lack of a suitable alternative PM. Howard survived not because he is the most liked, but was perceived to be the least risky choice at the critical junctures. That risk perception seems to have evaporated in the minds of a public majority, courtesy of Rudd’s dogged efforts and Labor’s reinvigoration contrasting with Howard’s procrastination/obfuscation on issues close to the public heart and the Coalition behaving more and more like a condescending, arrogant old boys club that has run out of puff.

  99. Possum Comitatus said

    Howard doesnt get it though, he’s running around the place (like his party) looking confused because he mistook the plaudits from his groupies as being a real explanation for his success.I cant imagine that being told that you’re success was actually reliant on a powerful lack of alternatives rather than the public loving you as the father of the nation would go down real well when he’s been believing the former for years.

  100. Stig said

    Possum re: #99. This really summarises as your trouble really starting when you begin believing your own bullshit… Reality does have a way of catching up with self delusion.

    Re: #97. I’m with you on the Coalition vote inflation since 2001. Our previous discussion about a hiatus in voting intention from September 11 2001 through to when Rudd took on the Labor leadership still looks solid. I think the War on Terror effect has washed through, this acted in combination with the ALP leadership quality effect you’re describing.

    Anyway, well done on all this. The Crikey cross-post has increased your notoriety again, and w’re all looking forwards to contributions to the election campaign! I reckon you’ll have a few more 100-comment posts very soon…

  101. Possum Comitatus said

    Hi Stig,

    The 100 comment posts are a bit weird.I never really set out to make the blog a full blown discussion site (which probably reflects my hopelessness in responding to comments!).Then again, I never set out to make the blog a blog! It just all sort of happened accidentally.But the comments are certainly welcome, often providing takes on issues that I’ve completely missed or that sailed over my furry head.The Name That Issue comments are a case in point – the comments in that thread have been excellent, picking up on things that I completely missed, but after having them pointed out suddenly become *_really obvious_*.

    Even if I’m a bit slow and useless in answering them all, the comments are extremely appreciated in working out what’s actually going on – and for that I thank everyone.

  102. [...] Possum Pollytics claims the Coalition now considers seats held by a 10% margin to marginal. Here’s what a 10% swing looks [...]

  103. Liberals cut and run

    The Liberal Party has decided not to contest the Queensland state seat of Brisbane central, left vacant by the retirement of Peter Beattie. The by-election is on October 13. This decision has been taken against the wishes of the embattled Liberal leade…

  104. [...] Essential reading for anyone wishing to comprehend what is shaping up to be the mother of all Australian electoral defeats, and why last minute swapping of the deck chairs or pork-barreling will do little or nothing to save the Coalition’s bacon. This entry was written by slim and posted on September 7, 2007 at 6:24 pm and filed under Federal Election 2007, Politics. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL. « Election morning-after op-ed revisionism Just gimme some truth… » [...]

  105. [...] funded advertising has been very useful for John Howard, as the post over at Possum Pollytics I commented on earlier shows. I would like to reiterate the very strong case that given how close [...]

  106. [...] healthiest and best-educated nation he possibly can, because they are “Labor issues”? Possum Comitatus used the Crosby-Textor data to illustrate the way that issues can “belong” to one party [...]

  107. [...] Howard and the Lying Liberals have no real other message to push that doesn’t bite them in the bum, the one they are trying to push on us is that Labor is trade-union dominated.  (They never [...]

  108. [...] Go on. It’ll make you feel better about the future of the nation etc. Like this:LikeBe the first to like this post. [...]

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