Possums Pollytics

Politics, elections and piffle plinking

Archive for November, 2007

More on The Narrowing

Posted by Possum Comitatus on November 30, 2007


We know that there was a slight narrowing in the last week of the campaign via the published polls and we’ve also heard that the same phenomenon was occurring in the internal tracking polls from both sides – at least until the bogans of Lindsay were unleashed

A good question is what was occurring that was driving people back towards the Coalition at the end of the campaign?

The Coalition set piece campaigning was pretty dismal, and was hardly eyeball grabbing stuff – let alone inspirational. So do you think it was the advertising campaign? If so, what message do you think would have resonated in that last week to drag a few points back for the Coalition?

Also interesting was that once again the small “L” liberal vote in seats like North Sydney threatened to move to Labor but come Election Day it never eventuated. These really are the folks that seem to tell the pollsters one thing and then do another thing at the ballot box.

In terms of the State breakdowns of the published polls, Qld seemed to be the only state where the vote was pretty stable at the long term level the polls were suggesting.

I’d be interested in your thoughts.


Posted in Voting behaviour | 128 Comments »

Oh Yes, we’re all sorry now

Posted by Possum Comitatus on November 28, 2007

One of the inevitable consequences of an electoral drubbing is the miraculous discovery of a special type of remorse that only the prism of hindsight can apparently deliver.

Turnbull is sorry the Coalition didn’t say sorry, Hockey is sorry that Workchoices went too deep, Nelson is sorry that his government didn’t use the phrase “human and social objectives” as often as he believes they ought to have, half the front bench are sorry that Costello was a political eunuch for the past 12 months and the entire Liberal Party is sorry that Jackie Kelly ever got married.

Not to be outdone, Russel Broadbent seems to be sorry that he didn’t join the Greens, Nick Minchin is just sorry they lost and the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry is particularly sorry that they now have to say that they didn’t really agree with Howard over Workchoices after all – lest they be completely sidelined in a Rudd government as their Queensland counterpart has been under Beattie for years.

Meanwhile Heather Ridout is not sorry at all to say a big “I told you so” to the leaders of other business lobbies over their campaigning for Workchoices.

On the other side of the fence, the Labor Party looks a bit sorry that Tony Abbott probably won’t win tomorrow’s Liberal leadership ballot.

And I’m sorry that I didn’t get back to all the comments on the last post 😉

You may have noticed that there’s a new button up toward the top left of the site marked “comments help” which is a handy little tutorial put together by the ever helpful Aspirational Aspirationalist on how to embed links, bold words and do a great many other things in the comments section for those interested.

Also, a very big thank you to all the readers, the commenters, those that sent me email and fellow bloggers for their kind words – and a bigger thank you for all your participation over the last days, weeks and months.

When the election result is finalised we’ll be able to announce the winner of the election tipping competition and start to do some spiffy things with the results themselves.

In the meantime, the ever insightful Alister Drysdale has an interesting analysis of the final days of polling in the campaign over at Business Spectator – it’s a very very interesting read.

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Posted in general politics | 146 Comments »

Facing up to Howards legacy

Posted by Possum Comitatus on November 26, 2007

It’s a tough choice for the top job of the Chief Eater of the shit sandwich, and that’s exactly what being the first Opposition leader of a routed government is all about.

For the next 3 years, as every misdemeanour or gross political felony that the previous government committed is thrown back in their face, when every dirty little policy secret or suppressed statistic is released into a hungry news cycle, the next leader has to sit there and go “Mmmmm Hmmm – tastes like chicken“.

It doesn’t matter what opposition leaders say for the first term – no one listens to them anyway. The only reason people know that opposition leaders exist in their first stint out of government is because they just happen to be the poor Shmo’s that become the target of a new government’s political retribution.

Now honestly – who can see Malcolm Turnbull sitting there sucking that up?

Brand Turnbull would be forever tainted if he gets the job now – it is truly surprising that he wants it at all, and Turnbull hasn’t exactly demonstrated the deft hand of political nuance lately. But so saying, I wouldn’t be the first possum to grossly underestimate the power of Mal Turbull’s ego. He might not have been around to participate in the events of the past that will inevitably produce grief for the future for the Coalition, but when the details of those events re-emerge as ammunition for a Rudd government’s partisan avengement, odium sticks – vicariously if need be.

However, the role of the next leader of the Liberal Party will not only be to chow down on that foul smelling sanger, but to stop the party from turning into a perpetually unelectable, sectarian rabble – leading by example, holding back the ideologically narrow forces of the religious right, opening up the party as the broad church it once was and maintaining at least some semblance of modernity and moderation. In this requirement, Turnbull is more suited than any other contender.

On the other hand we have the Tony Abbott – a man well practiced in dining on the odd faecal focaccia of late. He could not only take whatever the ALP serves up, but ask for more without blinking – the quirks of a Jesuit background rising to the fore. Yet Abbott is almost uniquely unsuitable for not only confronting, but overcoming the forces of ultra-conservatism that threaten the long term electoral viability of the Coalition. In many respects, his actions and history are part of the very problem.

The Liberal Party faces a tough choice for the top job, for the two main contenders each have only half of what the party requires in its next leader. If they choose Abbott, they at least have the option of electing The Google Assassin Andrew Robb as deputy and letting him undertake the role of the internal policeman; he knows the party inside out and knows where the bodies are buried – but no deputy leader can be the public face of a Rudd government’s sustained opprobrium that will have evidence to spare.

That is the leader’s privilege and the leaders alone. If they choose Malcolm Turnbull and he is not up to that job, will the Liberals destroy their best long term candidate to lead them out of the wilderness, simply as a result of expediency and a powerful lack of alternatives?

The other great problem with the leadership of the Liberal Party can be summed up with some tacky West Wing wisdom; “A leader without followers is just a man taking a walk“. If Abbott or Turnbull capture the leadership, will anyone actually follow them?

The consequences of Howards reign over the Liberal Party are only now starting to be revealed as the protective shield of government has been stripped away, exposing a cancerous organisation bereft of direction, devoid of true leadership, and completely incapable of withstanding the rigours of opposition and political life without the levers of power to protect them.

This is Howards true legacy, the legacy for which he will be remembered for a very long time.

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Posted in leadership | Tagged: , , , , | 167 Comments »

The Fallout – Open Thread

Posted by Possum Comitatus on November 26, 2007

As the title says, also folks, any chance you could give me your feedback on the new format?

Something you might find of interest is The Narrowing. With the 4 pollster average seeming to be the most accurate polling estimate, here’s what it looked like over the campaign:



For those that wanted it in some perspective:


Posted in Uncategorized | 153 Comments »

Vale Matty Price

Posted by Possum Comitatus on November 25, 2007

Our thoughts go out to his family and friends.

A true genius of the pen, with an incredible ability for metaphor and micky taking.

A life snatched away far too early.

Posted in Uncategorized | 50 Comments »

Costello to the Liberal Party – Up Yours.

Posted by Possum Comitatus on November 25, 2007

As Howard stated last night, he accepts full responsibility for the electoral drubbing.

Today, Costello guarantees that it will indeed be John Howard that accepts responsibility for the electoral fallout, as well as those members of the Liberal Party that voted to keep Howard as leader. In fact, the only person that won’t be having anything to do with the aftermath of this particular train wreck will be Peter Costello himself.

By announcing his retirement to the backbench today and declining any further leadership position within the Opposition, Costello understands well the full gravitas of his decision. The party chose Howard against his advice, Howard lost just as Costello told him he would, now the party that didn’t listen to him can clean up the damn mess themselves.

Pete’s taking his bat and ball and going home and flicking the bird at the party that refused to listen to him.

So now the leadership contest for the most undesirable position in politics begins – and it is the undesirability of the Opposition leadership, the poison that accompanies the position that guarantees the fight will be bitter.  When the spoils of defeat are so small, the battle will always be fierce.

This leads to the question of which sad old face of a defeated regime will become the first lamb sent to the slaughter. This leader of the Opposition will become the public face of a party that is about to receive the full force of ALP political retribution.

Downer will very likely be forced to resign in disgrace over AWB, Andrews will be persecuted for his negligence, Hockey will be slapped around when the government releases the true statistics of Workchoices and Abbott will be taken to task over a anything he’s touched in the last 6 years. Whoever accepts the mantle of Leader of the Opposition for the first term of the Rudd government is going to be smashed to smithereens.

Posted in leadership | 199 Comments »


Posted by Possum Comitatus on November 24, 2007


Posted in Uncategorized | 211 Comments »

It’s on!

Posted by Possum Comitatus on November 24, 2007

Sky exit poll

53/47 in 31 Coalition marginal seats – 54/46 nationally

Posted in Uncategorized | 140 Comments »


Posted by Possum Comitatus on November 24, 2007

The day has finally arrived. After months of campaigning that felt like years, after the 100 odd pieces of polling analysed, the rumours, the research, the tips and the leaks – in 12 hours time Australia will have a new Prime Minister.

The question will be the size of the majority, and we’ll get a good idea of that soon enough. The marginals will count, but the big nasty surprise in store will be what Crosby Textor calls “LNP 5-10%” – Coalition seats held on a 5-10% margin.

These have been problematic for the Coalition all year as we’ve seen with the Oztrack polling, and while the average size of the swing to the ALP in these seats has reduced over the last few months, the swing is still large enough to cut out a significant parliamentary majority.

The marginal seats will deliver most of the numbers needed to form an ALP government, and there will be marginals that buck the swing – but these semi marginals are where the action is and where the size of the majority will be defined.

A rather copious quantity of horsefluff has been written over the last week about The Narrowing, yet far from the marginals tightening for the Coalition, the late swing apparently is to the ALP, particularly in NSW, and particularly in the seats that are on the fringe of the marginal classification. This is why the two leaders didn’t waste their time in the last week of the campaign in those marginal seats – their fate was effectively decided weeks and months ago.

It’s why Rudd was out fox hunting in seats with up to double digit margins, and why Howard was following. Rudd was campaigning not just for this election, but for the next.

The West is still good for the Coalition, in terms of only one or two seats being likely to fall – maybe even zero in net terms, yet this election wont be going down to the wire, we wont be staying up all night waiting for the Sandgropers to decide the nations fate. That will be decided early, and the West will just be a curiosity to the final outcome.

So go and do your part for our democracy – man the booths, assist the booth workers or simply just exercise your franchise. This day is our day, your day, the day where that little piece of paper and its accompanying little pencil make all of us equal.

Posted in Uncategorized | 294 Comments »

Polling angst and therapy thread – Open Edition

Posted by Possum Comitatus on November 23, 2007

OK folks – you lot seem to have more angst than a bunch of emo kids at country pub.

So jump on the polling couch, let it all out – you can even talk about your mum!

Will the polls narrow, will Howard sneak back in, is it really a landslide after all or just a good old fashioned electoral thumping?

Is it a Galaxy election, a Newspoll election, a Morgan election or does the ACN represent the electoral mood?

Newspoll out shortly.


Headline Newspoll figure 52-48 to ALP

Movement in WA and Qld, sample 2614

Now we have those figures, we can produce two new charts.Firstly, the 4 pollster average over November.


Secondly, a smoothed chart of all phone polls over the campaign period.



A shift from 55 to 52 in a week means 680 000 people have changed their minds in a few days.

I wonder if the primary votes are 45/42 to the ALP with minors on 13 and the Greens on 7 or 8?

The problem when Newspoll gets the number 13 for the minors is that they end up distributing preferences 53.8% rather than 61.x% (which is their 2004 prefs distribution target) to the ALP regardless of the size of the Greens vote. As a result, rounding issues compound realistic preference flows from the Greens to give an underestimate of the ALP TPP vote. That happened when Newspoll had the ALP at 53 a few weeks ago, before the rate rise and I said watch it bounce back next poll – which it did. That’s a house issue Newspoll has – they’re allergic to the number 13 in the minor party vote total.

It smells a bit like that and it would make the Newspoll series consistent with it’s history. If it is, I’ll explain tomorrow what that actually means as a real TPP vote level for the ALP.


Mr Mumbles hears that the primaries are 44/43 to the Coalition with 7 Greens and 6 others.

7+6 = the dreaded 13.

But this time they’ve actually overcooked the prefs by giving the ALP 8 rather than the 7 they’ve used previously (the 7 prefs is the usual undercooked ALP distribution for the dreaded number 13)

However – Over at PB, it was said that Martin ‘O of Newspoll on Brisbane local radio with Madonna King today stated that Newspoll upped the sample proportions for regional areas.

Can anyone confirm?

If so – that makes a lot more sense. Brave move by Martin if that’s what they did! (though I’m sure he weighted it properly)

Posted in Uncategorized | 263 Comments »

Heading in the Right Direction

Posted by Possum Comitatus on November 23, 2007

You might have noticed how over the last few days, Howard has really flicked the switch to the “heading in the right direction” slogan as his weapon of choice. This in itself says a fair bit about the problems the Coalition have had over the campaign. To get the gist of it,  if we go back to the Crosby Textor OzTrack 33 document and look at the issue positioning chart (here it’s NSW because it has the Right/Wrong direction issue clearly marked):


If you look in the top right quadrant, you can see the “Right/Wrong Direction” issue sitting there. It’s a little box, representing a low confidence issue, or an issue that influences the vote, but is only a moderately weak issue in terms of how it resonated with the electorate as a key vote driver in the recent polling. (this document comes from June mind you).

Howard, by resorting to this “Right/Wrong Direction” issue is essentially abandoning the field when it comes to selling himself and his party to gain votes. It’s aimed squarely at saving the remaining votes he has in the more unsophisticated end of the electorate.

Likewise, to be using this issue without having any momentum behind him suggests that it is one of the few issues in that positioning chart that the Coalition still enjoys on their side of regression outcomes that has any resonance with the electorate at all.  It suggests nearly all of the policy issues have been lost to the ALP, it suggests most of the meta-issues likewise have been lost to the ALP – and this is the issue that’s left.

The irony here is that it’s still probably a low confidence interval – and Howard seems to be just going through the motions trying to talk it up, hoping that it bites and becomes a high confidence issue. If it bites, it might stop a few voters from changing.

It basically says, “I’ve lost”.

Posted in strategy | 55 Comments »

Staring into the abyss – who snaps first?

Posted by Possum Comitatus on November 23, 2007

The last day of the campaign, the last chance for politicians to lose it.

The consistent polling for nine months seems to have created an air of inevitable defeat among Coalition troops. There’s been no tantrums, and no brainsnaps of the type that one usually get’s glimpes of when sitting members realise that their time is up.

The closest so far was Alexander Downer on Sky this morning, but he’s always got that temperamental nature about him.

So if you spot a good political brainsnap today – be sure to let us know.

Posted in Uncategorized | 15 Comments »