Running to Stand Still
Posted by Possum Comitatus on September 12, 2007
Lounging around at The Poll Bludger last night, a net entity by the name of Scorpio pointed out a fascinating little quote from Lord Downer that he’d found on the Bolters site (speaking of which, what kind of red cordial binge has the Bolter been on lately?)
It comes from a Sky News transcript of an 11 September interview:
“PRESENTER: So Minister just finally, what’s your message to your colleagues – should they stop the speculation, the consideration of ‘what if John Howard went? Should they now all lock in behind the Prime Minister?
MR DOWNER: Look I don’t think you should be harsh on people thinking about all of our options during a time when they are concerned that our polling is not going as well as, the public polling, is not going as well as they might hope. But on the other hand, I think at the end of the day, they really see John Howard as the best option for the country and the best option for the Liberal Party.”
So Dolly seems to let the cat out of the bag that their own polling is as dismal, if not worse than the current annihilation that Newspoll, Galaxy, Morgan and ACN are all pointing to.
Which gets us back to the Crosby Textor Oz Track 33.
Nothing much seems to have changed between May/June and September in terms of the vote. But what surprised me about the data for June was the low measure of soft voters for each party. At June, CT estimated the soft primary vote of each party as being equal at 5%, with the ALP on a primary of 47% , the Coalition on 35%, the minors on 15% with the undecideds on a lowly 3%.
When this transfers over to 2 party preferred, the figures end up as ALP 58%, Coalition 40% with undecideds on 2%. One third of the undecideds only seemed to be undecided over which minor party to vote for, not where they’ll deliver their second preference.
If those undecideds break 50/50, that’s an 11.74% TPP swing to the ALP, giving them an extra 58 seats on the uniform national pendulum (available on the right under ‘swings for seats’), and delivering them a total of 119 seats in a house of 150. The Victorian seat of Casey would be the last to fall, just ahead of Abbots seat of Warringah with such a uniform swing.
But you know, don’t panic or anything.
So what do they do?
They panic, and in the most destructive way they possibly could – not just undermining their own issue strengths in the process, but launching a full scale assault against them. It’s not as if these guys have a big bag of strengths to begin with mind you, certainly not enough to start destroying them with indulgent little-coups-that-couldn’t.
Recalling the issue analysis in CT, issues were placed on a 2 dimensional graph where the party ownership of the issue is measured on the horizontal axis and the magnitude of the influence of that issue on the vote is measured by the vertical axis. Big squares have highly significant influence (meaning a lot of voters treat it as being influential) and little squares have marginally significant influence (meaning many, but not most voters treat the issue as being influential), lets review the Rudd graph (just click on the image to blow it up).
The Coalition public statements lately, be they interviews, speeches, articles or even policy announcements can nearly all be mapped perfectly to these CT documents. It’s become little more than political finger painting. A sort of politicking-by-numbers of the most transparent kind.
To give an example, “Heading in the right direction” is the latest cliché de jour.
The Right/Wrong direction issue is one of the few that they have strong ownership of. As can be seen in the graph, it’s up around the 43 mark for the Coalition in their positioning. The problem they have though is that it is a low confidence issue of minimal influence on the vote. Their goal is to bang on about it hoping to lift the issue in the public mind, elevate its significance and turn it into a high confidence issue.
Similarly, the “Strong Team” issue has been a popular favourite for Coalition members to wax lyrical about over recent weeks– contrasting their own frontbench with that of the ALPs. As the Coalition already have positioning on the issue, it’s easy for them to repeat it constantly, push it into the public mind and attempt to elevate its influence on the vote. Likewise, “Strong Leadership” has been another.
But over the last few days, the leadership fiasco has been a direct assault on their major attempts to elevate these two issues favourably. This gets us back to the whole “don’t panic” thing. The last 2 days of leadership activity have undermined their last 3 months of issue management, while further bolstering Win Expectations for the ALP and adding to the ALP momentum.
And for what benefit?
None at all.
These guys are running to stand still.
Over the last few months, the issues that the Coalition had good positioning on have been eroded. Interest rate rises would have diminished to some extent their lead on the Interest Rate issue (or at least its significance and positioning), Rudds APEC activity would have pushed the international issues more favourably toward the ALP, and the leadership fiasco would have shunted their Strong Team and Strong Leadership issues.
I’m starting to believe that because the strategy is failing, it will be junked.It will be junked because keeping it will lead to oblivion.
Doing more of the same just means receiving more of the same kinds of polling. The Coalition vote cannot get much lower anyway, the strategy has failed them all the way down to the bottom few percent of their electoral support level.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see a complete strategy reversal.
Look for big tax cuts, a few Workchoices backflips, a billion dollar health system injection and something large on education. The public seems to have shifted and the Coalition was caught with its pants down. Minimising their losses by focusing on their existing strong points is failing dismally through both Rudds actions and a large dose of self inflicted wounds.
A strategy reversal might minimise some of the ALPs leadership on issues like health, education and IR for a small chunk of ex-coalition voters while pushing ALP ownership of the issues for continuing ALP voters out further, while big tax cuts would play to their own strengths and might perhaps lure some of that same ex-coalition voting group back.It might be the best opportunity they have to grab a small chunk of their deserted voter base back to minimise their loss.
Back flips might make them look desperate, but it might also stop them looking pathetic, and it’s probably the only realistic chance they have to stop a complete bloodbath on Election Day. Rolling up into a little ball playing firewall strategies while dumping dirt on their opponents is just asking to be kicked.So if we see over the next few weeks stuff like this emerging, we’ll have a fair idea what it’s about.
That said, the next Newspoll and Galaxy will be interesting.
On something completely out of left field and not related to politics, I was perusing my website logs the other day and was looking through the google search terms that directed traffic to the site when I found this doozy:
You know, each to their own and everything, but that’s pretty niche 🙂