Possums Pollytics

Politics, elections and piffle plinking

We’re off.

Posted by Possum Comitatus on October 14, 2007

Yes, it’s true – it really has been called.Six weeks of bliss for the pollyjunkies, 6 weeks of inconvenience and predatory baby kissing for everyone else.

The timing couldn’t have been worse – with the Sun Herald/Taverner poll showing a creaming in NSW and Melbourne today, Galaxy out tomorrow apparently not looking too crash hot either, followed by Newspoll Tuesday.

If Newspoll is the same or worse than last fortnights result, that will make it three bad polls for the Coalition on the first three days of the campaign.

That would kill any Claytons momentum that Howard might have reckoned he’d generated from the reconciliation backflip. But worse than that, the overall message from the first three days of the campaign that most politically disengaged voter’s will see will be “Howard on a Hiding to Nothing”.

Considering the widespread negative views on Workchoices in the community (which the Taverner poll today touches on), Howard must be praying that the punters reaction to that initial message isn’t “Good, he deserves it”.

There’s also a longer term problem with three bad polls starting off the campaign in that it will also define to a large extent the prism though which the media narrative forms. The problem with these types of narratives is that they generate their own inertia – once formed, you need a fairly sizeable exogenous shock to change it. Being seen as an underdog is one thing, but when you are seen as so far behind, every Coalition attempt to generate that exogenous shock that’s needed to change the narrative and generate momentum risks being looked upon as desperation. That desperation then flows through to reinforce the original narrative that you are heading for a creaming.

This is exactly what happened to Latham in the final half of the 2004 campaign. The more things he did to grab attention, like sign 15ft cardboard pledges to try and break the narrative, the more desperate he looked, which reinforced the fact that he was getting creamed.

Crosby/Textor are right in the way they place importance on the power of “Win expectations” (or rather the way their survey respondents place that focus on ‘Win Expectations’). When politicians describe themselves as the underdog in an election, its not because they actually believe that being an underdog is important – far, far from it. The reason they say it is simply to dampen any perceptions of arrogance. Arrogance kills, but punters like winners. That’s the fine line of political balance that political parties have to walk. You won’t find a political leader in the country that wouldn’t want to be heading into an election with a majority of the electorate thinking they will win.

On Another Matter.
Starting from Monday, I’ll be blogging over at Crikey as well as here over the election, so things will work a little differently over the campaign. The posts that go up at Crikey on their Election 07 site will appear here as the headline and the first few lines of the post. There will be a link that you can click on that will take you through to the Crikey blog where you can then read and interact with that article (fear not, it’s in the free part) .So while you’re hanging out at Crikey, click around and enjoy the fruits of political chaos on offer.

After a few days or so, the full text of that Crikey article will then be re-published here under its original heading. The plan is to have two to three posts a day being the norm for the campaign.

As always, your commentary will be important both here and at Crikey, the info and insights (not to mention the cracking one liners) you lot bring to the table in the comments section make this blog, and provide unlimited ammo for further articles.

As an aside, did anyone watch Insiders this morning? The whole commentary read like an overview of the last weeks worth of content at here and Pollbludger. Yet again, the bloggers and our community of participants are leading the analysis. If they want us to write their scripts for them, they only have to ask politely.

And let’s face it, we’re much better looking than the jouno’s 😉


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83 Responses to “We’re off.”

  1. Evan said

    After what seems like an eon, we’ve finally got a date. Now praise the Lord and pass the ammunition.

  2. paradiseenough said

    “And let’s face it, we’re much better looking than the jouno’s” (sic). Assuming that the piccy of you holding the “Polls, polls, polls” rag at the top of the blog is a true and accurate representation you remind me a little of Pru Goward.

  3. Yes Possum,

    The similarities with your (and Poll Bludgers) comments on the ABC’s ‘Insiders’ program this morning was not lost on me.

    Well done

  4. I wouldn’t be counting chickens on the Newspoll just yet Possum. If the relationship to the Morgan F 2 F (flakey as it is) holds up we could be looking at 55 or 54.

  5. Leopold said

    Your evidence for the ‘win expectations’ assertion?

    ‘Cause I disagree 110%.

  6. Possum Comitatus said

    Leo, the OzTrack 33 regressions and advice is a good starting point.

    Oi Paradise!

    Sadly, you seem to be right.

  7. gusface said


    how dare you show statistics that show dear leader in a bad light

    shame on you for using FACTS

  8. Andrew B. said

    G’day Possum

    Just my personal perception, but I think the PM has so poisoned the publics trust in him that it will take the Labor party to really self-destruct for him to win from here. That I’d suggest is the outcome of a couple of issues’ though probably not solely. One is his steamrolling in of his IR laws without public consultation. The other is his handling of the Liberal’s power in the senate which has served to undermine public confidence. I think the public is seeing through Mr Howard’s use of language to create a publicly palatable discourse, i.e. his assertion on the back of the last election that he would handle his power in the senate with care. I’d suggest that many people looking at his actions in that regard would consider that assertion more spin than reality. What do they say, actions speak louder than words?

    That’s my take on it, what do you think.

    Cheers Andrew

  9. Leopold said

    I haven’t looked it over in detail, but it wouldn’t surprise me if there was a strong correlation between voting intention and win expectations which would show up in a regression. Same for ‘Better PM’.

    Proof of causality is what I’m asking for.

    And that Crosby-Textor believe something doesn’t make it so. I don’t think they have much to do with the PM’s past electoral success.

  10. Mark said

    Hi Possum,

    Thought your Oct 12th post was right on the money. Just as a thought. What about starting a “wedge-watch”? Could be useful in shortcircuiting the inevitable wedge politics from JWH. Maybe could throw in “dog whistles” too. You-know like footy stats.

  11. Don Wigan said

    Another thing possibly stopping announcement momentum. Tonight is a Kath and Kim episode featuring Warney!

    The end of political discussion for the night.

  12. KC said

    Congrats on Crikey Poss,

    Looks forward to future posts and comments, be interesting to see the final result.

    I suspect many have been waiting for a decent alternative since 98, which is why a 57-58 result will not surprise. This means a swing of only 6-7% on 98.

  13. otiose said

    so the rodent is finally on the treadmill – may he spin his wheels as fast as his tired little legs can generate and may he make as much forward momentum

  14. The Doctor said

    With any luck, we’ll rattus infidelus exterminated. Oops, that sounds like I’m a Dalek!

  15. El Nino said

    Geez, going on the performances of the respective media moshes today, it is hard to see that this election is not K-RUD’s to loose. Not that press conferences win/lose elections in themselves, but it is a pointer to the state of morale in the respective camps. If K-RUD’s disappearing man routine (think capital punishment) this week was good, what about Hockey and Costello? The only one’s standing up at the moment are extremists like Andrews and Abbot. J-HO put in a solid performance, perhaps showing the ‘experience’ that he will plug as a theme, but behind the spin there was a pretty forlorn looking character up there. I thought the US presidential touch of the flags was quite ironic, given the current state of the Bush presidency. Talking of backgrounds, it was equally ironic that K-RUD’s conference was washed in Liberal Party blue. Not a splash of red anywhere. On my daily commute I have noticed a billboard on Ipswich Road that shows a picture of Howard against Liberal Party blue and the quote: “Working families have never been better off”. Nice touch, ALP ad people!

  16. Hampden said

    The SMH had an interesting graphic on their main website page …
    it had a picture of both Howard and Costello alongside a picture of Rudd.
    Just the expression and angle of Costello’s look, and the way they have positioned Howard to the side and partially cutoff made me laugh…
    SMH – Howard,Costello v Rudd

    … well it was there for a little while ….
    Someone must a made a quick phonecall …
    It’s now been replaced with this:
    Howard v Rudd

    So much for the “TEAM” 😛

  17. David S said

    I’m looking forward to the next 6 weeks but I wondered if some comedic comparisons might relieve the tedium for those who are not. Taking the cue from the cartoons of Kevin Rudd as Tintin, can we see Julia Gillard as Ginger Meggs and Lindsay Tanner as Lurch? On the other side, Abbott and Costello are obvious – and both of them are about as unfunny as the original duo. Downer is Foghorn Leghorn, belligerent and loud. Howard is often compared with Mr Magoo but I prefer to see him as Charlie Chaplin – funny walks, wearing a puzzled look as the world passes him by, and silent for years.

  18. otiose said

    goss around canberra is that the rodent has instructed his security detail to walk further behind him during his walkies – apparently he doesn’t want the pictures to highlight the age differential any more than is absolutely necessary

  19. canberra boy said

    The Sun-Herald Taverner poll shows a 59-41 2pp result from a respectable sample of 979 across NSW & Victoria only. You can only conclude ‘business as usual’ – the result is 0.2% higher for Labor than the average of every Nielsen and Newspoll poll taken between April and September. Extrapolate the state relativities from six months of Nielsen & Newspoll and the Taverner poll equates to a fraction less than 57% for Labor on a national basis.

  20. Enemy Combatant said

    “As an aside, did anyone watch Insiders this morning?(YES) The whole commentary read like an overview of the last weeks worth of content at here and Pollbludger.(DID IT EVER!) Yet again, the bloggers and our community of participants are leading the analysis.”

    Yes Mr. Possum, there are some great Oz pseph/politics sites, but your abovementioned two are where the action is. Daily high-quality info, opinion and craic. A few months ago a commenter at LP told a joke about Rat Features carking it and being ushered around heaven and hell by Mephistopheles who was offering him AccomodationChoices going forward quite a long way. The following Saturday the same joke appeared almost verbatim in Alan Ramsay’s SMH column.
    Likewise, brilliant strokes of analysis, tactical and strategic political thinking, and even turns of phrase are absorbed from quality blogs by the MSM hacks as an absent-minded collectors might gather knick-knacks, only to be recycled soon after (without acknowledgement) as pearls of their own brilliant minds. Personally, I don’t care as long as the good stuff gets disseminated. That Johnny Appleseed was one helluva guy. Uncensored information flow catalysizes democratic exchange. It becomes that degree-of-difficulty harder for the rubes to be perpetually finessed. That’s why places like China and Singapore have State controlled cyber sphincters tighter than fishes’ areseholes.

    Election 07 will be noted as the time when the cream of the Oz blogosphere rose to the surface in National Affairs and became Players. The archives of the best sites contain a motza of Ph.D., broadsheet op-ed, penny-dreadful and airport novel fodder. For cot-case politics tragics it’s been an exhilarating ride so far.

    On the best days I feel like I’m gonna get Raptured on the spot. All the best things about a Victorian coffee shop, a Sunday arvo at the Sydney Domain, a cheerful chatty pub, vibrant tutorial, sizzling salon, and a cosy campfire; all available at theatres of the mind that are open all hours.
    And one gets to keep one’s eye on Citizen Rupert without having to fork out a zac for one of his rags. It’s a thrill that goes way beyond the material.

  21. janice said

    So, we’re finally in real election campaign mode. I remain confident Labor is going to win but I’ve come to the conclusion that the win is going to be greater because of the deep unease and the determination of the moderates in the liberal party to get rid of this extreme rightwing element.

    Howard has found himself in such a desperate position because his internal polling has told him he’s got as much problems coming from his own liberal voters as he does with Labor and their supporters. I do not think his attempt at appeasing the moderates with his ‘reconciliation’ idea will do him any good because there are still all the other issues (Haneef, Hicks, the pacific solution, workchoices) which are preying on the moderates’ consciences.

    I don’t think Howard would have become quite as numb with desperation if he was just dealing with a swing back to labor of the voters he conned last election. He’s cocky enough to think he could sneak over the line. However, he is s**t scared in the realisation that he’s lost the support of the moderates in his own party and they want his head on a plate, not non-core promises.

  22. Kirribilli Removals said

    Thank “blank blank @#$ #$^%@& !”, (insert your own favourite string of expletives!), we have a date! At last Howard gets to meet his makers (ie us) and we get to exact the revenge of the pencil. Not only is Howard walking under the shadow of deathly polls, he’s utterly failed to justify not resigning last year and allowing Costello some time to appear in focus behind the Cheshire smirk. So what’s he got to offer, apart from more of the same? A military takeover of the public hospitals? Why stop there? Take over the States perhaps, declare himself Kim-il John, the father of the nation?

    But is 6 weeks of the viliest vitriol ever unleashed on Her Majesty’s Opposition going to do the trick? Are all those people who’ve consistently put their hands up for Rudd going to be turned? Can Howard hope to ‘swift boat’ Rudd and scrape back into power? Can a tired and arrogant bunch of politicians get a makeover that won’t look utterly phoney to a cynical electorate?

    Our van is standing by, and awaits the call.

  23. jayne said

    Poss, have been really enjoying your site for some time now. Even getting excited about what new info you are going to be posting only to see you going over to crikey .Sorry Poss can’t follow you over unless your on the free part.Too expensive for me. Three days ,even though your usually way ahead, is still three day .Three day old news is usually not very relevant .I’m a bit disheartened.Anyway enough about me.Even in my disappointment I can see you deserve greater recognition of your analysis.

  24. dave said

    Sky News “seem” to be taking a much “fair” approach today.

    Helen Coonan gave a shocker of an interview and looked like a rabbit stuck in a spotlight. Terrible performance by her. Makes you wonder about her so called expertise as a lawyer, QC ? Would not want her arguing a case for me.

    Bit later Andrew Robb was putting the expected boot into Rudd about union bosses etc singing the praises of team Howard and was asked how he could praise dear leader so strongly when a couple of weeks ago wanted Howard to step down before the election. It completely floored Robb gave him nowhere to go.

  25. Possum Comitatus said

    Fear not Jayne!

    What drives blogging content and interaction is the openness of it all. I wouldn’t participate in any closed blog for it defeats the whole purpose.My blog over at Crikey is in the free part for that very reason.

    So we’ll be able to do the same as we do here, but just over there as well, opening up a new audience to mesh with our own little community here.

    So heads up, no disappointment necessary. 🙂

    Dave – the best thing the Libs could do is find a cupboard to lock Coonan in for the next 6 weeks.She’s an abysmal media performer which sort of matches well with her demonstrated ministerial ability.


    Dont get too raptured, we still need you here for your comedy grenades.

  26. El Nino said

    A random sample of 1 in my safe Liberal SEQ seat: the pre-retiree employee guy behind the counter of my corner store.

    He is *very* angry about how long the campaigning is going on: “Like every other bloody month this year” was his comment.

    I wonder how many cash in hand informal work conditions have been affected outside the official figures due to Workchoices?

  27. El Nino said

    Possum: “What drives blogging content and interaction is the openness of it all… My blog over at Crikey is in the free part for that very reason.” *sigh of relief*. I was thinking up phantom email addresses to get my 3*2 weeks free subscription. One for the blogosphere!

  28. BaztheSpaz said

    If Nielsen and Newspoll go anywhere near 59/41 2PP and other polls hover anywhere near that mark in the first few weeks of the campaign, both Mighty Mal in Wentworth and the Rodent will struggle to hold their seats, even if they limit the swing in their seats to half the State average. ALP’s 2PP of 49 in NSW last time was a low-water mark of sorts.

    The Crosby-Textor leaked polling from June ( removed from Crikey by order of C-T’s lawyers!) confirmed it’s the Leaders that will carry the day and Kevvie is sailing along in front.
    The Rodent does not seem to be as far on the nose as Keating was, but I think his lame-duck status ( the future ‘handover’ to Costello) will cause more focus to go on Captain Smirk. That will just about win it for Labor. Costello has the mark of ‘loser’ on him and Australians like to back ‘winners’.
    Now the masses feel like ‘losers’ through SerfChoices, higher interest rates ( another one in November?) and petrol prices, they will rebel. With the Rodent Govt getting the blame for the equine flu as well, they must be goners.
    The Rodent has even resurrected the Spartacist League via APEC – at least half a dozen of them at APEC!
    If the Sparts can get a spurt, there must be hope for the Chippocrats yet, though it sounds like a dream they can coat-tail on Xenophon in SA – what a name for a politician eh? Please explain? Pauline should send flowers, just like the Mafia!

  29. El Nino said

    From a polling point of view, the polls become a little less interesting form here to polling day. As we know (thanks to Possum) polls can jump around from week to week by at least 3-4%. Added to this polls can have their own in-built bias (e.g. Morgan). One thing is for sure: we will see ‘noise’ in the polls over the next six weeks. How that noise is accounted for will be akin to skill of the water diviner, unless we get +3% movement in more than one poll over a 2-poll period. The only thing we have to go on is the immediate past, but thrown into that is the unknowable future. Make of this what you will.

  30. Jayne said

    Thanks Possum.

  31. SirEggo said


    “Galaxy out tomorrow apparently not looking too crash hot either”

    Where have you heard this? Have you heard any numbers? Is it likely to be leaked?

    Love your blog…

  32. Swing Lowe said


    If Tuesday’s Newspoll shows a 55/45 or 54/46 result, would the government be justified in saying that they have the “momentum” coming into the election, notwithstanding today’s Taverner poll and tomorrow’s Galaxy poll?

    Also, where would you expect the poll numbers to narrow to if “The Narrowing” actually occurs? 54/46 or is that still within the margin of error?

  33. One Eye said

    I agree with your comment regarding the first three polls affecting the media prism. I think what happened to the Liberal Party in the last Queensland State election is likely to repeat. Once they tripped up on the first day of the campaign (in regards to the leadership question) it was all downhill from there as every journalist treated them as a joke and a novelty. All the wrong type of publicity. They couldn’t get a word through and became largely irrelevant. Anyway, looking forward to your comments over the next six weeks. It is going to be fun. Here’s hoping for some colour…

  34. Possum Comitatus said

    El Nino, you’re right.And this gets into what Swing Lowe is asking about.Our long run pattern of polls for the campaign has already been set.Over the next 6 weeks, small movements in the polls will be indistinguishable from normal sampling noise.So we are going into the campaign with something like a 56-57 long run average TPP vote for the ALP.So that really means that any Newspoll results between, say, 53.5 and 59.5 are likewise what would be expected if the true polling value is actually 56.5.

    Any poll that shows a Coalition TPP of 45 or better will be said by the Coalition and its spruikers to represent momentum.That’s just part of the spin.

    If The Narrowing occurs, we should start to see repeated poll values of the Coalition getting greater.So instead of moving between the 39-45 range they are currently in, they should start to push the 47 and 48 range over the next 6 weeks, not once or twice, but repeatedly.Since we will be getting a poll every second or third day, we’ll be able to keep track of it.But still, that said, we wont be statistically sure that the polls are narrowing, even with those results.

    As for how the figures play out, every election since 1993 has followed the longer term polling trend (as long as it’s modeled properly) that was in existence before the campaign started.That’s not to say that this election is somehow deterministically bound by the same rules, just that history is against Howard moving the polls.

    SirEggo, sorry, I dont have the numbers, just what someone told me on the comments here from a person in a position to know, as well as an email from someone that said the same thing and they’ve been right before about Galaxy.

    Somewhere else on the intertubes (sorry can’t remember where) I think it was Aristotle that said something about Galaxy showing a possible 10 seat loss in QLD for the Coalition and Briggs was floating around on possibly the Seven News? saying the Libs had a 10% chance of victory.At the moment, that’s all I can tell you.

  35. El Nino said

    “the Liberal Party in the last Queensland State election is likely to repeat. Once they tripped up on the first day of the campaign”. But they were an opposition, not a government. I agree with your sentiment but not your analogy. Polls will affect media sentiment whether it be 1, 3 or 33. I think the telling analogy from the last two Qld state elections is that if the punters have made up their mind before the election is called their is little that anyone can do to turn that sentiment around.

  36. Possum Comitatus said

    El Nino, there does seem to have been a lot of inertia in voter sentiment lately.Once people have made up their minds, its difficult to get them to change their opinions.We’ve seen that played out in the State and Federal arenas for the last 15 years or so pretty consistently.

  37. Possum Comitatus said

    One Eye, it’s amazing how important the first few days seem to be to set the general feel for what follows.With 4 and 6 week campaigns you wouldn’t think its the case, but bad campaigns (or at least badly perceived campaigns) seem to be bad campaigns from day 1.

  38. Stig said

    OK, off we go… Possum, we’ve talked briefly before about Howard casting around for a circuit-breaker, or as you’ve put it now, a shock to break the prevailing narrative. So, what the hell has Howard got, or is he banking on? If I was being cynical, I’d be thinking that there’s an extremist proto-terrorist group somewhere in Australia that is going to shoot to sudden prominence in about a months time, as an ongoing police investigation becomes a major news story. But that would never happen here, of course.

    Congratulations on the Crikey gig too. I expect this blog to take off big time in the coming weeks, in much the same way as Chris Sheil’s Back Pages did at the last election. That was a real blast then, this time may be even more fun because there shouldn’t be a crash at the end of the rollercoaster ride. The nominal theme at Back Pages was styled around Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail – this blog has a different feel, what with the giant mutant bunnies, insane stats, intense derision of some MSM superstars, and punk chick music. It’s all good though.

    Possum, if you choose to branch out musically, try Tentative (System of a Down/Hypnotise). It describes Howard’s situation pretty finely right now…

  39. Stig said

    Oh, and if the next few days set the campaign tone, don’t forget Kim Beasley senior’s funeral – lots of talk about Labor values and human decency.

  40. Martin said

    Galaxy polled 4 Qld marginals last week, so don’t necessarily expect to see a national TPP figure…apparently the polling included some negative qualitative polling for the Coalition. i understand the surveyed seats are showing 51/49 Labor/Lib…will be very interested to read your analysis, Possum

  41. Fargo61 said

    Reconciliation momentum?

    What group or groups are likely to (a)like the idea, and (b)think that he is genuine, and (c)have been intending to vote against him, and (d)are now so impressed that their voting intention will change back? Because, I believe that to make an impact, all 4 considerations need to be satisfied.

    I also think that there is a certain demographic of voters who would have probably voted for Hawke, but whom hated Keating and have been voting for Howard ever since. Workchoices has probably been enough to turn many of them back. The ‘symbolic’ reconciliation announcement will in my opinion just help to harden their resolve to now dump Howard. This should manifest itself in seats like Blair here in Qld.

  42. Swing Lowe said


    Have you heard anything from your sources about how many debates between JWH and Rudd are going to happen? Is there just going to be the 1 on Sky News next week or will there be one hosted by a free to air station?

    And will there be any debates between the other members of the Government/Opposition? I read in the Sun Herald today that there will be a debate this week on Sky News between Joe Hockey and Mike Bailey, but I didn’t hear anything about this on Sky today…

  43. William said

    Following Stig’s musical suggestion, Labor could do worse than model the Howard/Costello team with an old song from the 1964 musical Mary Poppins: ‘A Spoon Full of Sugar Helps the Medicine Go Down’.

  44. El Nino said

    The value-add is the run on the bank that happened in ‘Mary Poppins’ . My kids love that movie!

  45. Possum Comitatus said

    Thanks Martin.

    Stig – I have no idea what Howard can use as a circuit breaker.Reading between the lines of his speech today (and this is me breaking out the electron microscope to read between the lines), something like banning traditional law across the country looks to be on the cards, probably using the foreign affairs power via human rights treaties to get around the States where necessary. It will be one of those duel message things, where its sold to the regions as making everyone equal and sold to the leafy Lib heartland as increasing the human rights standards of indigenous Australians.

    More welfare pork for low income working households, probably including Childcare funding and possibly even a tax free threshold adjustment(or tax credit equivalent). More anti-terrorist dog whistles and more hospital funding arrangements.There will also be tax cuts – its one of the few issues the coalition is well positioned on according to the CT research, and that has a fairly decent influence on the vote.

    But even with all that, unless the wedges work, nothing will probably change the narrative much in that lot.

    Fargo, I agree, the reconciliation thing was just wrong, wrong, wrong politically.The message has already been derailed in the regions in Qld with Hanson stepping into the fray, and the wet Lib voters in the safe heartland seats it was also aimed that can see right through it.I agree with you on Blair.

    Swing – I have heard absolutely nothing about the debates except what we’ve all seen on SkyNooz.

  46. Mate said

    Howard got this up fast…his youtube vid – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_WzZ7vpBc44

  47. Stig said

    Yea Poss, I hope he does try all of those things. They’ve been wildly successful for him all year! If he’s just got more of the same, only in bigger buckets, then he is already doomed. I agree there’s nothing to jolt a narrative there – that policy vacuum is really becoming a problem for him. The simultaneous fragility of battlers and wets on the Lib voting roster means he has very little room to move on policy. Kind of means that events are the only thing that will save him now, and meanwhile to keep frantically shovelling the pork.

    William – not bad… Meanwhile, Eddie Perfect’s theme song for Kevin 07 on Sideshow last night was a pearler.

  48. Kirribilli Shredders said

    Kirriblli Removals;

    Do you have any spare vans i look like getting a windfall round 25/11 and may need some transport?

  49. Snarky Platypus said

    “i understand the surveyed seats are showing 51/49 Labor/Lib”

    Any hints about which marginals? Given the current state of play in Queensland, there’s a wide range of seats that could be classified as ‘marginal’. Hopefully, it’s not the obvious suspects (i.e Bonner, Moreton, Blair, Herbert)

  50. Possum Comitatus said

    Mate -That’s a great Duckman clip! Now you’ve pointed it out, those eyebrows do look awfully familiar 🙂

    Stig – some lessons seem to be harder to learn than others.I suppose that’s what happens when you flail around desperately searching for traction.

  51. PJay said

    Poss. You lied. Promised to leave a space. After. The. Full. Stops. You been advising JWH? Non-core full stops.Humbug.Schmitd.

    JWH says he can’t sense the punters after him with baseball bats. They don’t have time – too busy working. Poll question: “Is the country heading in the right direction?”. Punter: “Yes”. They don’t ask “Why?”. Consider: “Because, very soon, I get to vote. That’s the right direction”.

    I note that our better halves (Ozzie girls) have turned on JWH. Numbers are bad. You have to give our darling woman credit. They don’t need to say. They do. WARNING: Don’t step between a mum and her child. Hell hath no fury and all that. I have heard many a tale from mums totally pissed at JWH for wrecking their children’s work stability and ripping off their conditions. Left them totally exposed. Mums don’t carry baseball bats. Rolling pins do as much damage though. And for those who don’t have a desire to express a career in the kitchen, they are bright enough to know the pencil is mightier than any WorkChoice sword.

    It’ll be an interesting six weeks. Full. Stops. And. Spaces. PLEASE!

  52. Possum Comitatus said

    Mea Culpa Pjay – guilty as charged!

    I will repent and try to do better.

    Mums and their daughters would have to be causing havoc in some places, especially where the daughters have just started the whole family-of-their-own treadmill with rugrats. There’s a pretty large bulk of 1.5 job households with kids in quite marginal seats. With the 0.5 job normally going to the female in the family in industries where AWAs are growing fastest (hospitality, retail etc), and you combine that with the childcare availability issues (which Mum normally has to shoulder as a last resort where possible) and housing affordability – I could see why Mums aint chuffed.

    In the 2006 census data, there were quite a number of seats that had fairly large amounts of people undertaking unpaid childcare. That might be worth exploring a bit further in this context.


    (And look! There were spaces! :mrgreen: )

  53. pondie84 said

    51/49 for the ALP isn’t that crash hot. They’d be hoping to get much higher figures in the polling for marginal seats at this point in the campaign.

  54. Samuel K said

    Any theories as to why the betting markets are drifting back to the Coalition lately? Is it anything more meaningful than punters being attracted by fairly long odds for an incumbent govt? I thought markets were meant to be relatively efficient and have priced in any bounce from calling the election…

    Also I heard Downer today making comparisons between the Irish election in May and ours because a government that was behind in the polls came back to win…. I thought I’d look into it and it turns out the opposition parties were never that much better off than on par with the govt in the polls, and while the incumbent ended up winning, their majority was reduced. It’s hardly a meaningful comparison with here – our polls have been completely lopsided all year. What do you think possum?

  55. Martin said

    for Blair, read Longman…what would a 5.6 % swing in Qld give Labor, Possum?

    i know Rudd has been talking about the mother of all scare campaigns, but gee whiz I reckon he’s going to wheel out the mother of all pork barrels in these sorts of electorates – and run a monumental scare campaign of his own in Queensland based on nuclear power stations.

    that’s why i reckon he will pick up a swag of marginals in Qld

  56. pondie84 said

    5.6% is well below what would be required for the ALP to make signficant gains in Queensland.

    Here’s hoping though.

  57. Possum Comitatus said

    Martin, a 5.6% uniform swing in QLD would deliver 2 seats to the ALP, Bonner and Moreton with Blair being retained by the Libs by 0.1%. The seats come rolling in between 5.7 and 8% as a uniform swing.

    In Qld, ALP and Lib internal polling has large non-uniform swings happening with big ones in places like Ryan, Leichhardt and McPherson for instance , but relatively smaller ones in other seats.

    I think Qld will deliver more than 6 seats to the ALP. How many more is hard to tell but could be a further 6 if the campaign and a bit of luck runs the ALP way.

    Samuel – I have no idea about the betting markets except to say that their participants seem to be politically schizophrenic and rather naive in most cases if you look at the silly things like the Brian Burke issue that made them run in a direction counter to public opinion. I personally see little value in them in Australia as an effective prediction market. I made a post about McPherson a while ago and moved the price from 12 and 14 dollars down to 5 and 6 in a matter of hours – I think that says it all really.

    On Downer -I think he’s been smoking crack. The Irish polls were nothing like what we’ve experienced over the last 10 months.

  58. Evan said

    Dunno where people are getting this 51/49 split from. The Taverner poll had it at 59/41 2pp, Labor’s way. An 18 point lead, not 2.

    I don’t think there’s been a poll in the last 12 months with Labor on a 2pp of 51%. Most have had it at 55-57%, with some topping 60.

    So where the hell does this 51% pondie & co refer to come from? Liberal spin HQ? John Howard’s Christmas wish-list?

  59. pondie84 said

    Evan, I’m taking the 51/49 from Martin’s post. This is of 4 marginal qld seats, supposedly Bonner, Moreton, Longman and Herbert.

    We’ll see in a bit whether Martin’s post is accurate, although I’m willing to say it will be. It’s not a particularly great result for the ALP. This isn’t spin.

  60. Martin said

    Latest Newpoll TPP is 56/44 Labor/Liberal…

  61. Possum Comitatus said

    Martin, you are a veritable poll machine tonight!

  62. Possum Comitatus said

    56-44 is more business as usual – if its true that the Libs internal tracking has picked up a potential gain of 1-2 points for the Coalition over the last 6 weeks or so, that makes the most recent Newspoll results reflecting that potential with a new long run mean settling in at 55-56.That’s consistent with what has been coming out of the ALP lately too.

    Interesting – many thanks again Martin, oh Bringer Of The Polls.

  63. Martin said

    do my best Possum…apparently “up to 75 per cent” of the Newspoll was conducted before the election was called, so perhaps we’ll have to wait a while to see whether the much-vaunted “narrowing” effect kicks in

  64. sondeo said

    On Downer -I think he’s been smoking crack. The Irish polls were nothing like what we’ve experienced over the last 10 months.

    Possum,it’s only the first day of the election campaign and already you have us rolling in the aisles with laughter.Sensational.!

  65. disenfranchised Gippslander said

    do my best Possum…apparently “up to 75 per cent” of the Newspoll was conducted before the election was called.

    Gee that’s good. 25% of the poll obtained, counted, collated normalised etc in about 10 hours. As I recall in “The West Wing” it took the deaf lady pollster about 48 hours to get her results together.

  66. canberra boy said

    Newspoll details here – hat tip to James J at PollBludger.

  67. Burgey said


    The sample size for the 4 marginals was approximately 800 over the four seats.
    Was wondering about your thougths ont eh sample size – big enough for an reasonably accurate measure? If so, I’d have thought Labor would be disappointed with this result at the moment.

  68. canberra boy said

    Burgey (#67) – not a bad poll size for four seats – with a 51-49 2pp result it should have an error margin just under 3.5%.

  69. Martin said

    i’m not questioning the Galaxy poll, but bear in mind voters in the surveyed marginals did record favourable opinions of Rudd.

    it still represents a good swing and, Qlders being as parochial as they are, they will no doubt respond well to Kev as he ratchets up his ham “I’m just a Eumundi boy” antics throughout the campaign

    throw in some marginal pork barrelling and a massive nuclear reactor fear campaign and Labor can pick up more then 2 seats in Qld

  70. canberra boy said

    Possum, I’m very glad that your Crikey! contributions will be on the open part of their site – disappointed though that we have to wait to read you here.

    I am a little philosophically indisposed to contributing intellectual content (in the form of comments) to advance the wealth of Crikey!’s owners, so I will struggle with that issue for a while and see whether I can resist – perhaps by commenting here on the stubs of your articles! I trust that you will be adequately remunerated under the AWA that you have imposed on them.

  71. otiose said

    opportunity – sadly rhetoric – ppl (voters) seem unable ….. – i will leave it there – i’m gonna take the night off if the polls are ruddlike – this liddle c@nt is poison

  72. canberra boy said

    Ha Ha Ha – Galaxy poll shows Rudd in trouble at home is an ideal start to Rudd’s Queensland campaign, appearing to show him as the underdog.

    The 1994 2pp results (adjusted for redistribution) showed Labor with 42.34% in Longman, 43.8% in Herbert, 45.83% in Moreton and 49.49% in Bonner. The Galaxy poll gives a combined 51% to Labor in these four seats, which they (or the C-M) point out is a 5.6% overall improvement on 1994. Either Galaxy or Clinton Porteus then goes off the rails by assuming that this is an even swing in all four seats, saying that

    An exclusive Courier-Mail/Galaxy poll of voters in four marginal seats has Labor on track to win just two seats in the Sunshine State – although it is within striking distance of a host of others.

    But what if there are uneven swings – higher in ‘safer’ electorates as suggested by Possum’s recent Newspoll analysis? It is not inconceivable that Labor could be scoring above 50% in all four of the seats Galaxy polled, and in fact be on track to win them all. Not to mention a handful of safe seats with higher margins.

    And what about the 3.5% error margin involved in this poll? Seems to me the Galaxy poll is not necessarily inconsistent with the statewide swing of 9% and safe seat swing of 12% that Possum deduced from Newspoll. But then again, it may be the harbinger of Rudd’s impending doom. We’ll see in due course.

  73. canberra boy said

    Sorry – my last two paras above are not part of the quote from the paper. Too late to be using html!

  74. The C-M report on the Galaxy poll is here:


    Two problems identified by commenters at Poll Bludger’s joint:

    1. The sample size is very small and the margin of error would be 7% for each individual seat.

    2. Galaxy appear to have transferred the whole FF vote back to the Coalition for the 2PP.

    It’s way out of wack with everything else we know about Queensland – the aggregate Newspoll and where the parties are putting campaign cash and where Howard has and hasn’t been. Labor’s internal polling shows them streets ahead in the marginals. From everything I’m reading and hearing, it has to be wrong.

    It’s probably a methodologically flawed poll, but may be written into the “media narrative” as “Queensland deserts Rudd” or “poll bounce in Qld”. But then, a touch of the underdog might be good for Kevin07.

  75. Tony Murnane said

    As a virgin blogger, gotta say, love the site. Can I draw your attention to a sleeping issue. Ref Australian Constitution Part 52 Section 26 which outlines power of the Commonwealth “to make laws for the people of any race” Howard wants to hold referendum to change Constitution. By definition what does Section 26 make all of us? Howard might open a can of worms. Is that what he wants, a distraction, the Race Card?

    Deep North

  76. Mark said

    Deep North,

    Howard wants to include a preamble (The exisiting one is actually an act of the British Parliament)which says something like aboriginal people were here prior to 1788, they were very nice and he wished he had got know them better.

  77. stevet said


    I notice the Murdoch journos have applied all the spin they can muster on the Galaxy Poll this morning. I would think that 51-49 up against the last election result of 58-42 would be more than enough for Labor. Wouldn’t it translate roughly into an 8 seat gain for the ALP? I think the government has a lot to be worried about.

  78. thedjselectionometer said

    Yeah possum, was disappointed with Insiders on copying everything written here and at Pollbludger.

    Mark and Deep North- the feeling I’m getting from the people in the Liberal Party on the reasons behind the *backflip* on reconciliation is that Howard is trying to be seen as a leader. Howard: “Love me or loathe me…” comments seem to be striking a chord with those “rednecks” (and, to be honest, educated liberal party hacks) in my electorate – in conversations with them they think that Howard is leading according to what the people want.

    And the reconciliation gig won’t hurt Howard north of Gympie in Queensland – it’s not getting a huge amount of airtime and people seem a bit over it. Many are seeing it as “just a refurendum” and don’t really care.

    Possum: is this new scientist article accurate? Is this where you go between elections??



  79. Geoff Lambert said

    In a classically lovely didactic Oz piece this morning, Malcolm makes the startling revelation that he has constructed electoral pendula for every election since Federation (“for my own amusement”). If these are really constructed on the basis of all the redistributions that have occurred, it is a prodigious piece of work. Even if not, they would be collectors items and Malcolm should put them all on a T-shirt (like Mambo’s famous red-back spider T-shirt) and market them as the uniform for the National Tally Room. Psephological Groupies would kill for one.

    Malcolm’s piece is part of a big psephological bonus in this morning’s papers (Oz, SMH). For the first time ever, I think, we have TWO electoral pendulums published on the same day and in near-identical manner, enabling easy comparisons. One is Malcolm’s, the other is Antony’s. They make interesting comparative reading:
    Antony leaves out the IND seats, Malcolm includes one on either side for “balance”.
    There are a few differences in the TPPs even for seats where there has been no redistribution.
    Some redistributed seats show somewhat larger differences (at least 0.5%, possibly bigger sometimes).

    That there are differences is not surprising, given the degree of guesswork involved in shuffling voters between electorates. In addition, notional TPPs suffer from several other possible well-known sources of error including voters dying, new voters enrolling, voters migrating and voters’ previous TPP preferences being influenced by the local context (i.e. their preferences would have been different had they been in their new electorate last time). These could all add up to several percentage points difference between the “notional” previous and the actual previous TPP on election eve- and that would make a big difference to how swings would translate into seats. These effects tend to be smaller (relatively and even absolutely) in elections with large swings….. for swings where the seat change is fewer than about 10, the pendulum’s main claim to fame of predicting the NETT seat change is not at all well supported…. but out beyond the range of about a dozen seats, it has a practically perfect record.

    Antony has a very good piece in which he cuts through the recent verbiage about whether Howard can pull off a miracle and essentially concludes that he can’t- and spells out why, drawing on electoral history. It’s very well done- well, of course I would say that wouldn’t I?..I agree with it all.

    On the question of gap narrowing- which Antony reckons history is equivocal in its lessons, an analysis of pre-election and election campaign trends in ALP TPP and gap since 1946 shows that on average the ALP has gained in the pre-election period, but slipped back in the campaign, but both these figures are quite variable and in neither case are there significant difference from “steady as she goes”. Gap analysis shows something similar… the gap widens pre-election and narrows during the election, but again in neither case significantly. But there are extremes in which the ALP has haemorrhaged 1% per week or the gap has closed 1½% per week. Those numbers would be JUST able to put the ALP in a losable position, with nearly 50.4% of the TPP (likely range 48-53%). Such a miracle has only happened once since 1946. IF this election behaves like the 25-election average, and allowing for the fact that the polls en masse have tended to overestimate the ALP TPP by about 0.6%, the TPP on 24-Nov would be somewhere near the centre of the range 54%-59%.


  80. Alex McDonnel said

    56/44 Newspoll – two big problems for Howard. The polls usually don’t narrow by more than 2% during campaigns, all stated margins for Labor to win Liberal seats should be reduced by 2% to allow for ‘scary’Latham factor. The hearse awaits.

  81. seajay said

    I heard some commentators on RN this morning, I think Cosby and Sol Lebowitz (forgive spelling),
    saying that Work Choices would be a neutral issue. Now Cosby would say that but none of them could have teenage children if they really believe what they said. Myself, being a parent of three late teenage children, all working part-time in crummy jobs, I know what my kids and all their friends and workmates think about Work Choices – they passionately hate it and can’t wait to use the first ever vote to dump Howard. I feel that it is Work Choices that has been the cause of the unprecedented, enormous and unmoving swing to labor. There might be some fiddly movement about the edges in coming weeks in the polls but for those who have experienced Work Choices first hand it is poison and nothing will change their minds.

  82. deep north said

    thedjselectionometer. “just a referendum” and don’t really care.” Couldn’t agree more and that’s the worry, that if we really did have a referendum it would be stuffed up like we did in 1966. With the very best of intentions an amazing 99%+ voted to delete the words “Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islanders” and left the words (the power) “to make laws for the people of any race” So we have a racist Constitution. Given the chance that’s the real issue to be addressed. I submit you can’t have good racism, its too bloody dangerous.

    In places North of Gympie the cricket bats are out and waiting. Expect much bigger swings than the national average and once again it will be a huge protest vote from forgotten people.

    Deep North

  83. paradiseenough said

    “Poss, you said above “The posts that go up at Crikey on their Election 07 site… (fear not, it’s in the free part)” Doesn’t seem to be working that way: http://www.crikey.com.au/Election-2007/20071015-One-Day-Three-Polls.html Have they promised you something they won’t deliver? You can’t trust these large media corporations, you know.

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