Crimes Against Psephology the sequel – Christopher Pearson, historical revisionist
Posted by Possum Comitatus on December 2, 2007
Over at The Oz, Christopher Pearson rewrites some history and says:
“Months ago I argued that the Coalition government could win with 49 per cent of the two-party vote and was violently attacked for my pains in left-wing blogs. By the end of the campaign the conventional wisdom had put the bar lower, at 48 per cent or a touch under. In the event, at week’s end The Australian reported the outgoing government as having won 47 per cent of the vote.”
I don’t know if he was violently attacked by left wing blogs, I don’t know if one can actually be violently attacked by a blog at all; it’s got a bit of a whiff of the drama queens about it.
But this blog certainly nicked him for his gross misunderstanding of the very basics of electoral reality. It had nothing to do with his claim of the government being able to win with 49% of the vote, that’s an argument that far smarter people than Christopher Pearson have made, and an argument with which I totally concurred.
No, the reason he was nicked, violently or otherwise, was simply because he was talking out of his arse.
Apart from the problem of Pearson not knowing what a swing is, and his strange fantasies about State based TPP majorities, the key reason he was clobbered was for this nonsense where he wrote:
“If the Coalition were to wage a dogged campaign concentrating on holding its marginal seats, it could win by maintaining its present primary vote if it also managed to cut Labor’s two-party preferred margin to about two points, as in 1998 when Labor led with 51 points to the Coalition’s 49 and still lost.“
At the time the Coalition primary vote was 39 and the ALP 48.5.
If the results ended up as Pearson speculated, with a Coalition primary on 39 and the ALP getting a primary of 46.5, the end result would have been a 100+ seat ALP parliament with a TPP of over 55%! [bit of a misread there] If the TPP results ended up as Pearson speculated, that reduction in the ALP TPP vote would have had to have moved to the minor parties, with the combined minors vote preferencing the Coalition to the value of about 10 points. Just where that was going to come from was never mentioned – it would never have been the Greens, Family First received next to nothing and the rest of the minors put together didnt amount to a hill of beans.
There were a large number of reasons why his so called analysis was complete twaddle, the main one being that the result of the 1998 election was built upon a large minor party vote coming from the right (One Nation) and delivering preferences back to the Coalition. It was One Nation that allowed the Coalition primary vote to be low and still win an election. With no strong minor party vote from the right, there is no strong preference flow back to the Coalition to make up for that low primary in TPP terms – that’s why the 1998 experience could not be repeated in 2007, and why the Coalition needed a higher primary vote than the ALP to even think about winning.
The beauty of the intertubes is that this type of thing can be easily and instantly recalled (and in Pearsons case, dismissed). Pearson’s original article can be found HERE and the demolition of it can be found HERE. That demolition contains a fairly large amount of info including how many seats One Nation preferences delivered and why Pearson was, and still appears to be, a complete dill.
This bloke seems like he will be a very busy boy over the next few years; trying to rewrite the history of the Howard governments defeat would be a fairly time consuming endeavor in itself, but trying to rewrite the history of his own journalistic output to boot…… well, there’s only 24 hours in a day Christopher.