Possums Pollytics

Politics, elections and piffle plinking

Strategy Spotting in The Debate

Posted by Possum Comitatus on October 21, 2007

With the debate on tonight, there are a few things we should all be looking out for.

The first is the answer to the big question:

For the ALP it will be the question of “why voters should change government?”

“New Leadership” and “plan for the future” is the simple message the ALP seems to have adopted to answer that question, so it will be surprising if they change from that line of attack in the debate.

For the Coalition, the question will be “Why stay with the incumbent?

With the long, broad momentum being in the ALP court, it’s more important for the Coalition to answer this question well.

The Coalition has been all over the shop over the last few months on this, so we should all keep an eye out for what short, simple but sharp message they use to answer that fundamental question.

Next up is the small handful of issues that each party wants to fill the mindspace of the electorate.

You’ll be able to identify these issues, as nearly every answer to a given question will be bridged back to them. If the question is “What is the biggest challenge for Australia?” – the answers will be bridged back to union dominance, plan for the future, economic management, education revolution etc.

So keep an eye out for those – that will tell us the template of the campaign for the next few weeks.

Another thing that I think will be interesting is how each side angles for the “values voter”. I personally think that Howard is in trouble with this group, so it will be interesting to see if Howard and Rudd deliberately chase these voters in the debate.

Each side will have some identified set of issues to use as a window for the pursuit of these voters that’s been derived from focus group research, so keep an eye out for each side framing an issue in such a way that it appeals to peoples personal moral and social codes and beliefs, often their prejudices.

Examples of this from the past are when immigration gets framed as “we decide who comes to this country and the circumstances in which they come”, and the new citizenship test was another example of this. It’s a political appeal to what people already believe about a given issue, so it positions the issue (frames it) for the party in that context.

Also keep an eye out for Howard deliberately attacking ALP strengths. A little while back we were discussing how the Liberal Party strategy of playing to their old strengths appeared to be failing and how they desperately needed a new one to become competitive.

If the new strategy is to tackle the ALP on its strengths, it should be recognisable tonight. We all know such a strategy carries an enormous risk, as previous attempts by the Libs to play in the ALPs issue sandpit (the Budget and the Federal Liberal Council meeting for example) ended up reducing their vote according to OzTrack 33. As the Libs highlighted issues the ALP were well positioned on, it simply reinforced the ALP dominance of these issues and moved the vote toward them.

But such a counterintuitive strategy of attacking the oppositions strengths has been deployed with some success in the US by the Republicans. The basic idea is, if you destroy your opponent on the issues they are strong at, the only thing left for them are their weaknesses.

Something else that might be worth noting is how much Rudd tries to make the campaign about Howard. If Howard has been identified as a weakness, I wonder if Rudd will try to exploit it in a debate, or whether he’ll leave that to advertising and his front bench members?

On something entirely different – do you get the feeling that the Coalition is going to make private school fees and all sorts of other things tax deductible as a way to neutralise the ALP offerings?

This could easily become the tax deductibility election.

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64 Responses to “Strategy Spotting in The Debate”

  1. Bingo said

    I think the Rodent will strongly push the ‘me too” line as a reason for no change i.e. Rudd’s just copying us) Rudd should be reminding voters at every opportunity of the key differences on environmental, social and especially IR policy as his launching pad for the new vision.

    What’s your reading of the WA marginals Poss?

  2. phil said

    Thanks for the great analysis but doesn’t it really show up how superficial the whole shebang really is? Tactics over content and power for power’s sake and hang the consequences.

    “’twas ever thus”, as me dear old mum used to say.

  3. George said

    With respects to tax deductible school fees, it all depends. What percentage of the 48% Labor primary is rusted on and what percentage (if any) would swing to the Libs over such an announcement? I think this follows what I’ve been thinking for a while: most voters are looking to vote Howard out on a whole range of issues this time around (including seeing anything he does with cynicism), and any vote-buying exercise he undertakes (because each of these exercices seems so specific to a particular group of the electorate) just causes a very small shift or net neutral movement in the overall polls.

    BTW, did you happen to see the Westpoll – sample sizes, wait-for-it, 400… mmm, can anyone say “throw-the-dice-polling”?

  4. Paul C said

    Could only stand to watch a couple of minutes of the treasurer this morning, be he did hint at some form of government contribution/tax break for education, noting that the Labor tax plan doesn’t provide anything for uniforms, school contributions and one or two other things. He really looked like he was desperate to spill the beans but knew he wasn’t allowed.

  5. Possum Comitatus said

    Bingo – on the WA marginals, it’s hard to tell.

    I rate the Westpolls only slightly higher than I rate an online SMH poll. Looking at their results over the last few years, it looks like they either do a pure random sample (which makes the whole thing nonsense because it is far from being actually representative) or they use a really weak weighting system. Their poll results are out by way too much compared to the actual election results, and looking at the large volatility in their polling results this year, I dont see that anything has changed.


    Superficial doesn’t even quite do it justice. There’s something kind of deranged about the best place for policy debate, in practice, being at any time other than the election!

  6. Possum Comitatus said

    George, if the government launches the tax deductibility for school fees policy(which I agree with Paul C, Costello looked like he was struggling not to spill the beans), it might be for a similar purpose to their “union domination” ads. That’s more about keeping their own voters from deserting (particularly the small business community), a typical shoring up of the base more than it is an attempt to actually gain votes.

    The Oztrack 33 research actually showed that the “role of unions” was a well positioned issue on the ALP side, and actually had as much influence on the ALP vote (at the time 57% TPP) as “low interest rates” did for the Coalition, and more than “the economy” did for the Coalition.

  7. George said

    Yeah, agree with you Poss, it will most likely just confirm the vote for those already looking to place a tick against the Libs on election day.

    Labor should come out with a tax deductibility for housing loans.

    On the “role of Unions” – this is interesting – you’re saying the research shows it’s a positive for Labor? (correct me if i’ve read that incorrectly). Why the heck would the Libs harp on about Union influence then?

  8. Possum Comitatus said

    It’s a positive for the ALP in terms both the issue itself being what Crosby Textor call a “high confidence issue” meaning that it is something that people identify significantly as an important issue, and it also has a fairly high influence on why people vote for the ALP.

    The libs harping on about it seems to be a part of rallying their base, and trying to peel a few demographics back from the ALP (like the small business vote and the oldies).

    It would be brave to make housing loans tax deductible without dealing with negative gearing and capital gains, as the decrease in costs for a house would, over a short period of time, end up getting built into the price of housing. So what you save in debt costs via tax deductions, you lose in terms of house prices increasing to build in that effective subsidy.

    That tends to happen with housing – the first home buyers grant was a good example, the price of housing simply increased to match the value of the grant.

  9. John V K said

    The funny thing is that Labor has set the running all year on the future with the coalition not seeing it. I cannot believe that with 11 months of poor poll results they weren’t watching the other sides strategy and attempting to counter it.

    For the coalition it’s all been headline king hit stuff but so f@@@ing weak and narrow, it only has one way of looking at it. A stunt and always a desparate stunt, that the MSM has taken great pride in shredding with a one line message that rips it, to piece (the words if and why). Personally I think they bludged thinking they were owed. Their manner all year was demeaning and insulting

    Labor has played Libs on the past with Labor the future which they had to, but it was like watching, Novice and Master chess.

    Labor has too play tonight to it’s vision, BBand and the e stuff will be there but they have to keep Howard’s battlers hooked. As for the tax stuff Rudd needs a couple of alternatives. But at the end of the day the Private school issue involves some very hard players in the religions because they run the private schools.

    Rudd has to be the nice guy, Howard can’t play that card, because that will be false, his is the tuff guy thing, punters will see straight thru it.

    But where Rudd can hit Howard and hard, is the past, there is no defence for some of the stuff they’ve done. Anyway I hope Rudd’s had a decent rest.

  10. Martin said

    as someone that spent 12 months last year working for WA’s daily organ, I think Labor would be foolish if they were counting on any gains out West. not saying it won’t happen, just that they shouldn’t bank on it.

    Sandgropers are beyond parochial: most of them have a separatist bent, even if they don’t recognise it themselves. i got the impression the majority of sandgropers were truly gobsmacked when Kimbo got rolled by Kevvy last year. it seemed even those with no intention of voting for anyone but the rodent took the internal ALP coup as a slur against the honour of the entire State.

    the Coalition has some A-grade, off-the-shelf union bogey men they can draw on to instill fear in wavering voters. Joe McDonald and “Heavy Kevvy” Reynolds are A-grade celebrities over there, straight out of central casting – and a free kick for the Liberal ad men.

    on the plus side for Labor: I think the property market in certain parts of suburban Perth has gone off the ball quite a bit, meaning there are a good number of highly-geared homewoners on the back foot from rising interest rates, and quite possibly on the lash for someone to blame. anyone for a windswept block of sand with a hastily erected McMansion out Waneroo way?

  11. George said

    Agree on housing Poss, but this is all about votes not about solid policy 😉 Everything changes after an election I guess (core, non-core, etc). Negative gearing? No one would ever have the guts to touch that one, although Keating flirted with it.

    Well, thanks for my Poss-fill for the morning – I think I’ll head down to Coffee Darling for a couple of lates and take the family to Williamstown for some nice fish’n’chips. Of course I wont be out too long (even though it’s a great day)… can’t…. help myself… Jim… need… to… get… back…. to…. Poss’s blog….

  12. Kit said

    There are two important things to note:

    1. The coalition wants to show that their economic management is delivering dividends so they will spend a lot of $ over the campaign to prove that point

    2. The tax cuts have already negated the ‘spending will put pressure on rates’ counter attack. As interest rates will probably rise anyway, there are reason not to spend spend spend.

    These factors, coupled with the massive surplus, will make it hard for the ALP to keep the momentum through the campaign. Therefore, despite being a bad economic decision from a bad government the Libs could very well buy their way out of trouble.

  13. imacca said

    Will be interesting to see if one or both sides us the debate to announce something major. Tax cuts seem to have canceled each other out, with the ALP slightly ahead on the vision / having a plan past tax cuts thing.

    If its something big about health from the Rattus Crew they are in trouble since their previously announced policy of local boards is already being ridiculed on a couple of levels (1; Lots of new bureaucrats 2; the amateur nature of those bureaucrats) that will tie directly to cost and competency issues.

    If its some kind of mortgage tax deductibility from either side then it really has to be targeted so that its not going straight into investors pockets and re-heating the housing markets. I think it would have to be limited to owner occupiers.

    But, underlying all this, with the already announced tax cuts from both sides, just how much of our money do they have left in the kitty for this election?? $30 billion or so is a truckload, but it is from forward estimates and spread out over a few years. Are both sides actually spending money from the next 2 election campaigns now??

  14. John V K said

    If I was Rudd

    If he can get it in the following piece of history would be devastating, strategically.

    We will not abolish awards, we will not force people off awards, we will not have foreigners control Telstra, we will not destroy forests” and “We will not have a GST, we will not introduce new taxes or increase existing ones, And above all, we will not break promises”.

    The incumbent has many great advantages but the newcomer has the past as an ally.

    (taken from Ramsay in the SMH).

  15. Leopold said

    Based on Costello’s comments about families and education expenses this morning I think the government might do something much cleverer than offer tax deductibility: rather, add a supplement – call it an Education Costs Supplement perhaps – to FTB ‘A’, whereby parents get up to $500 (pick a random figure) a year in cash to help with education expenditures (if they so choose, based on the Coalition’s mantra of individual choice). Maybe $250 each for the first two children and $100 for each of the ones after that? Could be anything when they’ve got $20 billion in the kitty.

    You get the money BEFORE you spend it, rather than a year later – and it’s more money. That’d be REALLY clever politics.

  16. Verity said

    The debate on values is the one that is likely to shift votes.

    The tax rebates for school fees could be used but as an alternative to an education policy it isn’t helpful. If there were education tax rebates then this would mean that the parents with the least resources would get nothing whilst the richest would get education that was subsidised. It would shore up the vote for Howard perhaps but is unlikely to convince the rest of the population.

    Rudd could attack the economic credentials of the government by highlighting the amounts spent on government advertising and other areas of waste as well as the huge debt that people are now carrying and the large foreign debt. He may also talk about the costs of failing to invest in climate change strategies, and failing to train more doctors, nurses and allied health professionals whilst selling places to overseas students ( a different kind of take on the we will decide who comes to our country and the circumstances etc).

  17. S said

    The answer Labor can give to anything the Libs do education/tax refund wise is simply to move the debate on to the next thing with a health announcement or a environment announcement and paint the Lib’s response as catch up.

    That would be especially damaging demonstration of desperation on the part of the libs if it followed some pro labor opinion polls / debate outcomes.

    I think this has been said by smarter folk than me, but I’ve only just realize that the true danger of opinion polls is that they shape the light in which debate is had and the media coverage occurs.

    Finally, tax refunds for private schools? They would have to be capped at a certain value, otherwise some multi-millionaire with 3 girls at Scots ($16K per annum I think) would be ridiculously better off. I’m all for private education and choice, but that would just be stupidly indulgent.

  18. sondeo said

    [quote]On something entirely different – do you get the feeling that the Coalition is going to make private school fees and all sorts of other things tax deductible as a way to neutralise the ALP offerings?[/quote]

    Thats not to say that the ALP can’t do the same.The tax rebate for education expenses was a good idea but I feel the ALP need to expand it a lot more.I’d like to see a reduction in the HECS fees.

  19. […] a walk down memory lane, noting the lack of correspondence between debate and election results. Possum Comitatus discusses some of the issues to watch for tonight – not only in terms of the debate, but as […]

  20. Bushfire Bill said

    I’ve given up hoping that Rudd will do something sensible that shows Labor actually has a spine in this campaign. So my hopes are not high at all that we will get anything other than spin-doctored platitudes from him tonight.

    Therefore anything more than that will be a bonus.

    Sometimes in a race you have to fix your eyes on the finish line, quit the complicated manoeuvres, give up on the shadow boxing and just bloddy-well go for it. It’s only then that we see who’s following who.

  21. Stephen said

    With regards to private school rebates/tax deductions, I can’t see it happening. Firstly, I think it would cause too much of a shift in the system. I don’t know if either the public system or the private system would be able to cope with the sudden change in enrollments. If it did happen, it would have to be introduced very gradually.

    Secondly, such a policy would effectively mean an increase of funding (in the billions) to private schools. This would be sure to raise the ire of public school parents who are watching their kids schools crumble around them due to a lack of funds.

  22. El Nino said

    Latest from Portlandbet and Centrebet on Pollbludger.


  23. El Nino said

    This equates to a TTP to ALP 51.5/48.5 or a 4.2% uniform swing.

  24. Paul C said

    On the subject of betting, you can’t just look at who is favoured in how many seats, even assuming the odds truly reflect the actual probabilities. For example, Labor could have a 99% chance of winning 70 of the seats and the coalition a 60% chance in each of the other 80. They might be favourites in any one of those 80, but the most likely outcome is they will only win 48 of them.

    Something else Costello said today was that nobody will get the Labor education deduction for 2 years. Now I’m not interested enough to have read the minutiae of the policy but it struck me at the time that I bet he calculated that as being after you lodged your tax return, which hinted at some mechanism to get the coalition goodies earlier.

    Negative gearing and other tax deductions – always more effective when your marginal tax rate is higher. Tax deductibility is less attractive to a lot of people now than rebates. I would suspect fewer people are investing in property now, which is a good thing for stopping housing prices rising. (yeah, I am a chartered accountant, not a gorilla or a possum).

  25. Paul C said

    One other thing – if the coalition offers something on private school fees, I think it will win them votes, as evidence I cite the trouble Latham had with his so-called hit list. People ideologically in favour of public education are almost all going to vote against Howard anyway. A few people will think – this isn’t fairr, my kids are in public schools, and I don’t get any of this, but I don’t know that will change their votes. But the biggest group it would change are those on middle incomes, not very political, sending the kids to a private or religious school, who see the $ being handed to them. Good politics, questionable policy.

  26. Beach Ball said

    After 85 minutes of blah, blah, blah B1 & B2 (the B being for Beige) will be asked to make a 90 second closing statement – ah the qualitatative approach we enjoy from the MSM!!!!

    Rudd may go for something like this “At this debate in early 1996 Mr Howard said he wanted to make Australians more comfortable and relaxed. Ever since Mr Howard has asserted that Australians have never had it so good. So Australians have to ask why do they have to work 3 jobs to pay their mortgage, more people are deafaulting on their mortgages and individual debt levels have never been higher than at any other time in our history.

    The reality is Australians are doing it tough, and their Prime Minister can’t see the wood from the trees. It is time to move Australia from a rose coloured view of the 1960’s and into the 21st century.”

  27. El Nino said

    Paul C @ 24 – point taken. I have had another look. This is a seat count by party in from where the diffrence in proability is < 20% (Centrebet only)

    ALP 1
    Lib/Nat 1

    ALP 0
    Lib/Nat 4

    ALP 0
    Lib/Nat 5

    ALP 1
    Lib/Nat 1

    ALP 0
    Lib/Nat 1

    ALP 1
    Lib/Nat 0

    This points to more uncertainty on the Lib/Nat side of the ledger, especially in Qld and Vic. Nothing we didn’t already know. There does seem to be pretty firm betting on ALP taking a clean sweep in TAS, though.

  28. El Nino said

    Typos! Should read a count by party leading betting where prob < 20%.

  29. Lionel said

    If the rodent is going to counter the education rebate of Labor’s, then they will do so with more money, more inclusions, and be upfront with the payment. That’s they way they work.

    What Rudd and his Labor strategists have to do is pre-empt the rodent’s comebacks and get in first. With theeducation rebate policy for example, they should have said it’s a rebate because we’re not into buying votes or bribing parents, but doing something practical to help bring about the education revolution.

    Whatever they do from now on though, they must lead the campaigning. It appears that the public are listening to whoever gets in first, with the other party seen as the follower. With labors tendency to adopt many of the rodent’s existing policies, they have a real opportunity to sell the ‘fresh face for the future’ ONLY if they lead from here on in.

    As Bushfire Bill says (20) sometimes you’ve just got to go for it.

    The public have shown through numerous polls over many months that they want to listen and are prepared to back Rudd for the future if he can deliver on the ideals he has expressed, so why not just go out there and give it to them. Get off the backfoot and start attacking with the positives – that’s what the people are crying out for.

    But they’re only willing to go so far – if you don’t start throwing a few punches, they’ll wander off into the background shaking their heads wondering why they ever thought you were worth a punt in the first place. And a last minute knockout won’t be enough to get them to the gate for the next fight.

    Anyone think Rudd can get away with the debate tonight without announcing something new? I bet the rodent has plans

  30. Lionel said

    Rudd announces booost to childcare rebate – up to 50% and increased to $7500 per annum/child

  31. Grumps said

    Big ask Possum to guess their strategy in one of the quietest starts to the election.

    The lack of adds this week suggest this is a startegy in itself, allowing the liberals to seperate themselves from the perception of the continuation of tax payer funded advertising. Seperating the issue you have pointed out of he negative attitude to the workchoice propoganda/electionering/minimal information distribution. Allowing clear air before being struck with a blizzard of Crosby ‘T’ focussed adds

    From the labor side this has allowed maximum attention to be placed on the liberals. Maybe an attempt to shorten the campaign and the boredeem factor of those who would find this internet extremely boring. (Sorry Possum) Advertisements for both sides to start in earnest from mid week 5

    From Labor expect Kev ’07’ to show passion. I imagine he will break the mould for this 90 minute extravaganza. Also expect annoucements on Infrastructure spending designed to assist in the issue of housing affordibilty.

    The Rodent will start slow but reach fevour pitch towards the end of the debate. I accept wisdom he is not a good debater but this 90 minutes needs to give a show of vitality and energy.

    Rodent Handouts (Aimed at the heartland of Liberals (not conservatives)), Agree pork for private schools, further pork on rebates for medical insurance, more aged facilities retirment homes and the like, possibly same sort of facility for the young invalids (this group will get some traction in the election and something on Broadband.

    Expect ratio of spend to be $2 liberal dollars to $1 labor (Fiscal Conservative Kevvie) I think this may hurt Kev.

    On another note some really good and thoughtful posts this week from you. Don’t leave us Poss.

  32. CL de Footscray said

    Now, does this (the $1.5 b increase in the child care rebate)constitute an extension of the education angle? Is it enough to have the punters thinking the ALPs back on the front foot? And when do we start thinking about climate change? Will the rat announce that he’s proposing an aspirational ratification of Kyoto for long term strategic purposes? Or is that the sort of stuff you need to keep in the ‘frig until week 4 or so, when people start paying attention? Re: the debate tonight – Milne in the Sunday Terror has the line (from leaked ALP focus groups!) that Howard looks weak and pathetic by not having more debates. He also thinks the ALP has been clever with the way the pinched the tax cuts but embroidered them with education. Has he become RM’s token lefty or what? Even more alarming, Bolt was almost reasonable this morning on the ABC. Maybe they’re just playing both sides of the street, and this week will be the Ruddster’s turn to look Presidential and determined, like the plucky Aussie battler he aspires to be (emulating the rodent’s magnificent portrayl of that individual, of course). Does the debate set the MSM tone for the week, or does it have any real direct affect on the voters? Will it be the most unwatched program on the TV tonight?

  33. Muskiemp said

    We may not have an interest rate rise in November, as the USA is close to a recession and may actually lower interest rates, which will effect our economy and interest rates, being they (Aus. Interest) are very high compared to the rest of the World.

  34. CL de Footscray said

    Muskiemp – you may be right, the US markets had a big drop on Friday so the Aus markets shld follow suit tomorrow. On the other hand, our interest rates are to a certain extent a function of our large (and getting larger) foreign debt. Last time I looked it was somewhere north of $600 bill or so. Unless that starts declining (and I believe the Treasury forecasts Capt Smirk wheeled out on Monday don’t suggest any change in the direction of foreign debt anytine soon) the RBA needs to sit on the debt binging, which is why they’d pump up rates – unless of course there’s a full blown US crash in the real economy (as opposed to the stock exchange) and massive reduction in US demand which flows through to demand for Chinese products which means they stop buying the rocks on which our current prosperity appears to rest. But if the inflation figure is a bit feral then the market guys seem to be saying there’sll be a hike. What do you think Possum? You’re of the economically literate possum genus, aren’t you (as well as being a psephological genius, of course)?

  35. John V K said

    Odds in the market are about 46%, on an interest rate increase. It’s that tight.
    Howard and co are arse firing liquid bricks on that outcome, thats why even though they released the tax policy they were on sure ground because of the delay factor, The RBA can’t make a decision on a lot of numbers not present yet.

    But they have been warned, he will if necessary do it and by he, he means the board will back him if his numbers are right. So thats why the pork is small and in drips and drabs. Thats why Labor just keep tickling the interest rate message keeping their powder dry. Also why Labor could follow suit on the breaks because it’s a no lose, no brainer for them. They dont get the flak.

    The RBA message when he took over, was no ifs or buts, he will move on numbers and forecasts at anytime.

  36. Geoffrey de Boothby said

    I would think the liberals would raise the issue of labor increasing the GST by 20 or 40 percent. What are the requirements to allow an increase of GST?

    Would Kevin Rudd give some sort of commitment to not increase GST in his first term of office?

    Have the Greens made any compact like the democrqtes did about not blocking supply?

    The Senate becomes a big player in this sort of issue in the next year or so.

  37. pondie84 said

    Geoffrey, Kevin Rudd has repeatedly said that the GST will be raised “over [his] dead body”.

    I don’t think you can get anything more than that.

  38. imacca said

    Interesting comment on the GST. I have already heard some stuff about that in the context of ALP in all states and territories scare. I think they will run that at a low level through out the campaign just to reinforce their current rusted on vote and have as a talking point.

    Problem for them is that they have to call Rudd an outright liar (which people will be uncertain of) when he denies it. The same people though, know JWH, so when he claims things like “Never Ever SerfChoices II”, most people wont believe him.

  39. DrShrink said

    Just a quibble Possum – Howard is an old hand at seeking to attack his opponents strengths as a core election strategy. If anything those in the US could and have learnt from him.

    In 2004 the best example was the ‘strengthening Medicare’ policy and new safety net. Howard knew the polls have shown a significant increase in support for healthcare spending since 2001, and knew that it was one of the big strengths of Labor. Thus he promoted Tony Abbott to the portfolio (back when he was still boy wonder) and spent up big.

    It is indicative of his confusion at this election that he has been unable to try a similar strategy, such as with Education or Infrastructure.

    As for the debate, one feature that seems to have gone un-noticed is that Howard having made the Great Hall at Parliament into a new Presidential podium, (his justification for invading Iraq was given there, along with others such as the Australia day addresses), has now invited Rudd to share the spotlight. Its a tremendous opportunity for Rudd to look Prime Ministerial. Howard should have kept it mundane and low key, instead rudd is in a large, elegant room on equal position with the PM.

  40. Samuel K said

    Rudd won easily – but does it matter?

  41. Rod Hagen said

    Well, what can one say but “what a whomping!”

    It is hard to imagine that anyone, regardless of their party affiliation, could have much doubt about which of the two men would be a better Prime Minister for Australia at least when it comes to debating ability.

    Howard looked like an old man with tired ideas, and not too much real faith even in them. It was almost as if he has already given up. Don’t know what the Channel 9 worm said, but it was by far the most crushing defeat in one of these debates that I have yet seen (and I’ve watched them all).

  42. Lomandra said

    Well, for what it’s worth…. Rudd slaughtered Howard. 🙂

  43. Doug said

    The issue is not so much who won or lost but that Rudd looked assured, conversational and unruffled. If the choice we have at the moment to exercise political authority is between the two men on display tonight then it is quite clear that Rudd is as capable as Howard. Rudd was relaxed and conversational all the way.

    Howard in his opening discussion tried to calim the legacy of the last 10 to 20 years as though he could claim credit for it. He also referred at one stage as 15% of the private se tor work force as being Union officials – at least that is what I thought I heard. Nearly cracked up

  44. Neil Cammack said

    The Worm’s verdict – 65% Rudd, 29% Howard. The inverterbrate (the one on the screen, that is) dozed off for much of the time Howard was speaking, and during its intermittent moments of consciousness didn’t often get out of the below-50% red zone. It was noticeable that when he started talking about Costello and his “team” it executed a crash dive that would have done credit to a U-boat. No contest.

  45. Mike Cusack said

    Howard looked like he was having some unsettling problem with his false teeth, and he was badly distracted by it.

    Maybe his dental assistance policy of 1996 has come back to bite him!

  46. Kirribilli Removals said

    “Hello Hyacinth, yes we can do a move next month. What’s that? You told hubby he can go and live in Canberra with that floozy if he flunks the election! Yes, we saw him on the telly tonight, oh, so that’s why he looked like he was on the verge of tears! OK, got that, you’re taking the wine cellar and the new curtains. You’ll miss the harbour, but look on the bright side, that treasurer whatz’izname, the big grinner, at least you won’t have to invite him to dinner.

    OK, see you next month…nah, Kev’s not a patch on your old hubby…see ya”

  47. TMP said

    Well it is over and JH keeps on proving that he is the past. Tonight instead of showing plans for the future continued to say to the audience ‘look to the past, that is where I and my ‘team’ are’. Whereas KR talked up the future and where his party would take the audience, he was all let’s plan for tomorrow, let’s do what we can to meet the future as educated, wealthy, healthy, caring and one country. Quite a contrast between an aging, unimaginative PM leading what appears to be a fairly bland and uninspiring party and a young fairly bland opposition with what appears to be ideals, ideas and future leanings.

    Why the Liberals saw fit to enter into this election with JH as their leader astonishes me.

  48. Burgey said

    On Possum’s point in the initial post, the poison dwarf noted the fact that Howard banged (bizarrely) on about education in his closing remakrs indicated Labor’s tax plan re. the education rebate is cutting through.

    Only good point he made frankly.

    If there’s a Newspoll tomorrow, won’t it be ont he Oz website by 11 pm tonight?

  49. Martin said

    no Newspoll, but a “Rudd outpoints feisty PM” headline…

  50. Burgey said

    Thanks Martin.

    Five gets you 10 the GG doesn’t mention the worm-pulling exercise by the libs at the debate in its print version tomorrow.

  51. Verity said

    Whilst Howard looked under pressure there were moments when he did better according to the worm – when he discussed education in his closing speech. Did anyone else wonder if botox was being used to plump the cheeks along with a sun bed to darken the tan?

  52. DrShrink said

    I thought Rudd failed to put away howard a few times, he also stumbled on Climate Change the first time it came up, being at a loss for words and obviously avoiding the question of how the 60% reduction target is to be achieved.
    Yet its a measure of his popularity that even when Rudd ummed and ahhed for about 5 seconds at the start of one question the worm still skyrocketed up for him!

    Howard was at his best on terrorism, displaying a passion and eloquence that Rudd never got near. But Rudd’s key lines worked almost every single time. I think the weakness of the worm is that it rewards what has been heard before, rather than immediate response to what is occurring.

  53. The Libs didn’t pull the broadcast from Nein, it was the National Press Club. They organised the live feed.

  54. Rod Hagen said

    It is interesting to take a look at the on-line “quick poll” results on the various News Limited newspaper websites.

    Contrary to just about all comment, the worm, and polls from other media outlets, each of the “quick polls’ has Howard as the “victor” by a substantial margin. Strangely, though , on this occasion there is no constraint at all on multiple voting on News Limited Polls. Usually, with the News Limited online polls, a cookie is set to make it a little trickier for people to vote more than once. On this occasion, however, you can simply head to the polls as often as you like and vote as many times as you wish. This, of course, makes automated voting using a ‘script” extremely easy to do. Judging by the number of votes received (20,000 “votes” cast by 7.30AM this morning in the Courier mail poll, compared to around 5000 in the identical Melbourne Herald Sun poll, for example) it looks as if someone’s computer has had a busy night!



  55. Rattus nonveritas said

    //The Libs didn’t pull the broadcast from Nein, it was the National Press Club. They organised the live feed.//

    You idiot Stephen (53). Glen Milne IS the Liberal Party and IS the National Press Club VP.

  56. Rod said

    Further to my last post, “The Australian” have now removed the link to the “quick poll” from their front page and replaced it with a “regular” , single vote only, poll of the same type they usually use. The Herald Sun, however, are still running the original, easily corrupted, version. Haven’t checked the other News Ltd papers.

    The results on the new Australian poll are VERY different from those on the earlier “quick poll”.



  57. Chatswood Statsman said

    All the party pros will now be analysing the meaning of the worm. As soon as Rudd started speaked the worm immediately ticked up. He often had sustained periods maxed out. On the other hand, Howard often started out sort of ok, then as the drone persisted, the worm descended into the red and stayed there.

    I think the punters have got sick of JWH’s voice whereas they still find Kev interesting.

    In the washup on Sky, Alan “Body Language” Pease said that “if you’d just arrived from the US and saw the debate, you would assume Rudd was the Prime Minister and Howard the challenger’.

    Rudd should keep demanding more debates

  58. dylwah said

    hey Poss, i was ammused by the worms negative response to H’s refferences to his team, esp as he kept on telling us that they were there with him. all those refferences just reminded me that the smirkmeister missed the debate with lathem, apparently he watched idol with his kids.


  59. Juz said

    check out a media coach’s analysis of the debate for ABC Online: http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2007/10/22/2065508.htm

    I agree entirely – at one point Howard was so out of it I became concerned for his health (anyone else see that twitching episode in response to one journo question?)

    I think Rudd should consider running stronger on the James Hardie thing to counter the union bashing, and his second question to Howard could have been more effective, but otherwise he owned Howard totally. Compare their closing statements, and try telling me that was Howard’s scripted conclusion!

  60. John V K said

    Three Casulaties after last night.

    The PM’s leadership, debating skills were not good.
    Peter Costellos managed to do in 2 seconds what Labors pr mob would have spent millions trying to do, to get that effect.

    The liberal democracy values diminish thru worm killing.

    Talk about self inflicted wounds. Imagine Labor will be pretty chuffed at all of the outcomes.

    A very bad hair day in the aftermath.

  61. Doug said

    juz – On the issue of Howard’s health there is currently an extended and thoughtful discussion, beyond partisan politics over on the Poll bludger

  62. Jon UK said

    I’ve just seen the Newspoll sample size – a healthy 1700!

    ( … compared with last week’s Westpolls of 400 … )

    Possum, how does that affect (reduce?) the possibility of this poll being an ‘outlier’? Or is it better just to see all these polls within a framework of ‘volatility’?

  63. […] initial nervousness and occasional waffling, while many bloggers also commented on Howard’s apparent discomfort with his dentures and occasional nervous […]

  64. Admirable Poker

    Strategy Spotting in The Debate

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