Possums Pollytics

Politics, elections and piffle plinking

Why Labor Won

Posted by Possum Comitatus on December 4, 2007

Just when we thought it was safe to open up The Oz on a Tuesday, the first Newspoll of the New Order is released.

First up, the fun stuff.

Unfortunately there wasn’t any voting intention question, which is a bit of a pity as these first post-election voting polls are always good for a bit of a laugh, but we do have a question on “Which of the following do you think would be best to lead the Liberal Party“.


Aquaman (so called via the comment of David R – Turnbull is a little bit green, a little bit blue and one would add a little bit wet to boot) defeated Uncommitted as preferred leader and was nearly twice as popular as the Doormat-in-Chief, Spanky Nelson.

The canonical couplet of Abbott and Bishop rounded out the ‘top’ contenders.

Do you get the feeling that Nelson is in for a long, hard slog?

A more interesting question that actually gets to the point of the post, was on whether people voted for a party or against a party as their primary motivation in the election.


This goes to the very heart of the cliché that ‘Oppositions don’t win elections, governments lose them’. Clearly in this election, that cliché has marginal relevance.

This result suggests that the electorate voted for Labor on the basis of merit rather than against the Coalition because they were fed up with them. Yet this Newspoll isn’t some weird survey result thrown up in isolation; if we remember back to the internal Liberal Party Crosby Textor research and look at the issue positioning overall, and which specific issues were driving the vote of the major parties, Labor was winning vote share on the issues that mattered to the electorate.

This is further reinforced if we look at the Newspoll question also published today on which issues the electorate believed were important in terms of deciding their vote.


Just as that Crosby Textor research showed back in June, the dominant issues in driving the vote were nearly all Labor issues.

So we have a majority of respondents saying they voted for Labor rather than against the Coalition, the major issues that were driving the vote were nearly all owned by Labor at the end of the election campaign, and that ownership was not a new phenomenon, but something which occurred way back in December 2006 after Rudd gained the ALP leadership – it was consistent over nearly a 12 month period.

This is important because it gives us the empirical data we need to determine the observable reality of why the Howard government was defeated – and this observable reality is running completely contrary to an awful lot of political commentary out there at the moment.

The government didn’t lose the election, their failed campaign strategy didn’t result in an ALP government by accident, the electorate didn’t say “it’s time to give the other side a go“.

However, nor was it a rejection of the Howard government either. The dislike of the Howard government didn’t drive the election result – far from it.

The election was won by Labor on the merit of the arguments and political positions Labor produced. It was a vote FOR a party, but more importantly a vote FOR the policy positions and stated directions that the ALP had produced. It was a vote for change, substantially on the basis of the issues.

This is a complete empirical slap in the face to those in the commentariat that have been rabbiting on with superficial twaddle over Rudds “Me-Tooism”. That was always a shallow, vacuous substitute for what was actually occurring in the campaign.

Far from simply copying the Howard government as some nonsensical small target strategy, Rudd embarked on a process of agreeing with Howard on those issues that could lose him net votes were he not to do so, and disagreed with Howard on those issues where to do so would win him net votes. This strategy effectively neutralised and/or minimised any remaining Coalition strengths, and highlighted the differences between Labor and the Coalition on all of the issues that were actually driving the vote – it crystalised out the differences that would deliver for the ALP.

And deliver it did – the strategy that so confused most of the commentariat delivered government for the ALP, and it delivered government on the basis of issue dominance.

There were a couple of Journo’s out there that got a little shirty about this article in Crikey that I wrote during the campaign, an article that effectively said exactly what I’ve said here.

Well the data is in – suck it up fellas :mrgreen:

Moving right along from that small moment of self-indulgence, there was also an amusing little piece in The Oz today – another addition to the growing family of “Oh yes, we’re all sorry now”.

In a piece headlined “APOLOGY TO GEORGE NEWHOUSE“, The Oz states:

Apology to George Newhouse

On Saturday morning November 24, 2007, I (Caroline Overington) had an encounter with the Labor candidate for Wentworth, Mr George Newhouse, in circumstances that I sincerely regret. I hope that Mr Newhouse and I can put this incident behind us and I wish him all the best.

The Australian regrets any embarrassment Mr Newhouse has endured and also wishes him well.

I hope that The Australian also regrets the embarrassment Overington caused to their not insubstantial brand.

That’s what inevitably happens when journalists confuse their roles and attempt to become a player in the political process rather than the intermediary between political events and the publics’ interest in them.

While this whole fiasco was a disgrace from its deplorable start to its pathetic finish, what hasn’t received enough attention is the thuggish behaviour that Overington carried on with, to a small political blogger who had the audacity to poke fun at her stupidity.

There were plenty of things said about Overingtons behaviour on the big political blogs that can easily defend themselves and wouldn’t be intimidated by that kind of bullying windbaggery – but none of them to my knowledge heard a whimper out of her. For whatever reason – she chose to pick on the small guy.

Thankfully the small guy wasn’t taking any of that crap.

This is also a good lesson out there for political bloggers generally – only converse with people that have grievances or people that you don’t necessarily trust, via email. When people know that there will be a record of their correspondence, they are more likely to keep it in their pants.

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55 Responses to “Why Labor Won”

  1. kwoff.com said

    Why Labor Won « Possums Pollytics

    Just when we thought it was safe to open up The Oz on a Tuesday, the first Newspoll of the New Order is released.

    First up, the fun stuff.

    Unfortunately there wasn’t any voting intention question, which is a bit of a pity as these first post-electi…

  2. The Bearded One said

    Mr. Uncommitted is doing rather well, particularly in the 18-34 group.

  3. josh lyman said

    Thanks Poss, once again a rare bit of clear analysis.

    The list of ‘influencing issues’ is interesting – is that the full list or just the ‘top 11’ ? There’s a few issues (war, democratic accountability) that aren’t in there, just wondering if they rated low or Newspoll didn’t even offer them up.

  4. josh lyman said

    Also interesting are the Labor-voting figures on Nelson and Bishop, compared to Coalition voters. the latter could be rallying around the new leader – in which case, why is Bishop last on that list? Imagine being less popular than People Skills!

  5. Possum Comitatus said

    Josh – on whether other issues rated low or weren’t included, I have no idea but I would imagine it would have been a bit of both.

  6. HarryH said


    i stated weeks before the election that Rupert and his voice, News Ltd, and its offshoot Newspoll were positioning itself to shelter “Workchoices” from blame for the Coalitions defeat.

    Their modus operandi for the final weeks up to, and now in the weeks after, was to protect the concept of “workchoices”.

    I got carried away, like many others, and thought Leafy Wet Libs were going to turn, for various reasons, but they clearly didn’t.

    It is my firm belief, as an outsider lookin on, that Workchoices delivered victory to Labor (along with a little Qld parochialism).

    It is also my belief that the apolitical,rabidly pro business Murdoch press, are determined to shield the truth on this issue.

    As soon as business got the necessary “workchoices lite” concessions from Rudd mid year i knew endorsement was an open option for the Murdoch stable, and that played out.

    All their work since,and continuing, is to try to blame everything other than the working class saying to the bosses and business “get your hand out of my f*ckin pocket”

  7. Andos the Great said

    Hey Possum,

    I am a bit confused about the “Issues” question. They ask whether a specific issue was “very important, fairly important, or not important” and then use these answers to produce a “percentage support” for each issue.

    I assume that answers of very or fairly important equate to ‘support’ for that issue, but why not just ask a binary question, ie “Would you say the following issue was important or not important…” , rather than having two levels of ‘importance’ for each issue?

    Any insights into this question structure?

  8. Possum Comitatus said

    Andos, by asking the questions where there are two positive options and one negative option, it captures a larger number of positive responses than would occur by simply asking whether a given issue is important or not. It allows for more people to answer positively, but weakly and strongly positively.

    The question structure also looks as if it were designed to be able to highlight any issue that people felt unusually strongly about – yet if the results ended up such that there wasnt any particular issue where that occurred, the questions are left looking a little naked like they are at the moment.

  9. Tad said

    [Oops. Sorry for lack of breaks!]

    [ No probs – no one would ever know 😉 …Poss ]

    Hi Possum

    First belated thanks for making the run-up to the election so satisfying. As lots of people I know now tell me “I always knew Rudd would win” when they spent the last 12 months waiting for Howard’s rabbit to crush Labor, I can feel smugly self-satisfied about my confidence in the landslide result having been much more than theirs!!

    But I wanted to take small issue with today’s post. I totally agree this was overwhelmingly a vote for change. But while I agree that “me-tooism” is not an accurate description of Rudd’s MO, any careful examination of the ALP’s policies reveals only a small number of differences of substance from that of the Coalition.

    I think that what people have voted on is their expectation of bigger change than Labor is actually willing to deliver. This has been boosted by the effect of the Your Rights At Work campaign, which has also heightened expectations of change.

    Yet the ALP has spent decades moving from some sort of class-based Laborist politics (however poorly implemented when in power) to a kind of technocratic denial of ideology. The fact that Linday Tanner, he of the left, is the minister for “business deregulation” (!) is a telling marker of this process. I think the Labor leaders are wholeheartedly committed to neoliberal ideology but hide this beneath the guise that there is “no more ideology” and no more left-right divide. The contradiction in this is that, more than in a long time, they have had to rely on the organised trade union movement to help them back into office.

    So I reckon this was an election that reflected a giant shift to the left among a whole section of working class voters on an explicitly class basis. I think that’s why Labor voters feel they’ve voted for more than Rudd intends to deliver.

    As a Greens activist in Sydney, I can tell you that the Greens voters we lost back to the ALP did so because there was a renewed enthusiasm for real change, and they saw the ALP as a surer bet to get that than voting for a minor party (worries over “wasted votes” and confusion over how preferences work didn’t help us either). The remarkable thing is that the Greens vote held up nationally and rose in the Senate–a better result than I expected.

    For those of us on the Left, if we don’t get this clear we’ll either fall into crudely attacking Rudd for just being “me-too” or believing that he’ll deliver much more than he wants to.

    Sorry for the long post, but I think this stuff has been missing from much of the analysis around the place.

  10. Cat said

    Josh wrote: Also interesting are the Labor-voting figures on Nelson and Bishop, compared to Coalition voters. the latter could be rallying around the new leader – in which case, why is Bishop last on that list? Imagine being less popular than People Skills!

    Name recognition Josh. If they had said “the vacuous blonde chic” instead more people would have had a clue. Half probably thought they were referring to Bronwyn in which case the descriptor might have been “cryogenically frozen blonde chic”.

  11. The Finnigans said

    Poss, the Overingtons behaviour was just another “Chaser type prank”.

  12. happy chap from Griffith said

    No time to read the analysis in detail, but can I just say:

    As if we needed anymore evidence that bruiser was a fruit cake! Good onya Poss for including this. I can’t believe she thinks she can run around bullying people.

  13. Kevin B. said

    … and well done to Gam for fighting over his $43.71 !! Best bit of this whole fiasco!!

  14. David Richards said

    CO is off her chump, guv’.

    Honestly.. does the Oz recruit from the nearest loony bin?

  15. HarryH said

    i have only seen Caroline Overington once. It was on Skynews Agenda about a month ago. In all seriousness, i was a bit taken aback by what i saw. My honest impression was that she had either had a few too many red cordials or else she was slightly unhinged.

    I understand that she was a respected journalist including a Walkley for her AWB efforts.

    In light of her performance on Agenda that day i followed a few of her blogs over at the deluded Oz. I continued to get the feeling she was a bit unhinged. I remember her replies to an FOI article she wrote. Her replies were bizarre.

    Then this Caro,Malcolm,Dani,George thing erupted and i wasn’t really surprised.

    I think Overington may need some help by a few good friends.

    just my opinion.

  16. Tobias said

    Overington’s apology was as pathetic as the rest of her behaviour during the campaign. She “regrets” the “circumstances” in which the “encounter” happened, but at no point does she acknowledge any personal responsibility for her own behaviour. There is no apology for what she did, only a regret that she ran into Newhouse. It seems she’s learned the art of non-apologetic expressions of regret from JWH.

  17. CK said

    Sadly, she’s crossed the line from a respected journalist with a substantial and well-deserved reputation, to a potential feature in New Idea.

    She has, after all, won a couple of Walkely’s. So, no mean feat.

    The GG should put her back on some hard news and feature rounds so she can get her shit together and stop making Bad Career Decisions.

  18. Ron Brown said


    I completely disagree with your view that Labor won rather than the Government lost the Election

    The LCP lost the election because THEIR work choices policy was rejected by voters and to a lesser extent because their lack of signing Kyoto signaled THEIR climate policy shallowness was rejected by the voters.

    The “swing” was already there in November WHEN Beasley was Leader

    Voters subsequent reasons for why they voted a particular way is like asking how much tax you pay…the voter is going to give a Pollster the “respectable” generally accepted reason like hospitals & education

  19. Ron Brown said


    I believe Rudd leadership qualities locked in the ‘swing’ , added the Queenslander factor to increase the Q’ld swing and cleverly negated economic issues from being a negative

  20. Ron Brown said

    HOWARD’s NON DECISIONS that would have won the 2007 Election !!

    1/ never introduced work choices
    2/ signed Kyoto & glorified it & climate change
    3/ held election late October before interest rate rise

    I suggest the Election result would be a Howard win ????

  21. Stig said

    Thanks for the Overington heavying link – I haven’t laughed that much since election night!

  22. Tom said


    Howard would always have introduced WC.

    With the coal industry making cabinet submissions & briefings he would never have signed Kyoto

    3 by itself would not have saved him IMHO

  23. Geoffrey said

    A psephoillogical question – i looked thru the Boothby results today and noticed that there was about 3% informal and then I noted that another 15% did not vote at all – If this is correct then has anyone done the analysis to see how the results compare at all with polls?
    With over 15% not voting then how do any of the polls come near to the truth + or – 7%. I’m no stats person but interested in seeing how and where people vote.

  24. Ron Brown said

    Tom ,

    i agree with you

    i was simply saying Howard’s 3 decisions above caused his loss
    9against a clever opponent who highlighted these 3 Howard errors

  25. Crikey Whitey said

    Geoffrey at 23.

    I am in Boothby. As with you, no stats person, professionally I assume you mean, but that ‘not voted at all’ looks very high to me. Polls, and truth of, aside. Though Boothby could be considered ‘aberrant’ in the scheme of things.

    More on Possum’s topic, later.

  26. Possum Comitatus said

    Ron, Workchoices was definitely important – and Newspoll stuffed these figures a bit by separating Workchoices from IR as an issue choice, so the combined Workchoices and IR issue would be right up there with the health and education (although its simply not a matter of adding workchoices and IR together!)

    Another thing to keep in your thought orbit here is that these Newspoll figures, while being a rear view mirror look at the election, arent the only piece of evidence of what was going on.In fact, they’re only the final piece of evidence. Normally I dont trust these surveys-after-the-fact results in a lot of political polling because they get polluted in a large number of questions with the bias problems of hindsight of the respondents.

    However, the Crosby Textor research from Oztrack33- a far more sophisticated piece of research altogether than a simple Newspoll on issue influence, basically said exactly the same thing; Workchoices while fundamentally important and probably being the breakthrough issue for the ALP, wasnt the only issue for the overwhelming majority of ALP voters.

    The best way to explain is probably to consider what would have happened if the ALP ran solely on Workchoices.

    DO you think they would have won the election?

    Probably not (I’d say definitely not). While Workchoices “broke through”, it was the other policy issues of education, health, the environment, infrastructure etc that supported that breakthough, that was the cavalry to the workchoices assault (so to speak), and without which the power of workchoices as a vote mover would have been seriously diminished.

    When you combine them all together, you get almost a force multiplier effect which is what Gartrell seemed to be talking about today at the National Press Club when he was talking about how Labor owned “the future” as an issue.

    That “future” was all these non-Workchoices policy positions combined with the age of the government, and when that ran off the back of the Workchoices issue and Labors promise to abolish it (albeit just the parts ordinary people found most distasteful) – Howard was left pushing shit up a steep hill.

    So if we assume that Workchoices/IR was right up there with health and education – we can say that all 3 of those issues were running Labors way, and 2 out of those three issues were won by Labor through clear policy differentiation. Voters were buying 2 out of the three top issues from Labor, and selling 1 out of the top three issues from the Coalition…. so to speak.

  27. smokey said

    HA HA HA! Two hits and Overington goes bananas! I wonder if she was the one Googling? Might have tried it the 2nd time to make sure?

    Yep, Labor won this hands down, and in a year not 6 weeks. The writing was on the wall when Howard clubbed us with IR. It wasn’t just Rudd, it was the entire shadow ministry that put paid to the notion of any intelligence in the Howard gov once and for all. They each beat their counterparts easily in debates, and articulated off their own bat the thinking of most Australians. The gov now has a depth of talent rarely seen.

  28. Possum Comitatus said

    Geoffrey, that is the great polling conundrum!

    Why polls end up being more accurate than the raw voting numbers would suggest is a bit of a mystery.

    The most likely explanation is that those people that didnt vote had the same rough proportions in terms of their political views that the broader population that actually voted had. So when the pollsters surveyed those non-voting (yet enrolled) folks, their views as a sub population are pretty representative of the broader population and hence it all comes out in the wash, delivering a poll result about as accurate as it would be if that sub-population were removed from the survey.

  29. […] politics are in some part about clever manipulation, although it is interesting to read that Possum discounts the theory of “me-tooism” arguing that Labor positioned itself those things […]

  30. Mike said

    Convincingly argued, Poss, and I couldn’t agree more about the ‘superficial twaddle over Rudds “Me-Tooism”’. This take on things frustrates me no end, as those employing it directly and deliberately ignore points of difference when they use the term, focusing only on specific contexts in which policies are similar (or identical). The same writers will even report on issues where there is a difference in other pieces. Highly irritating.

    While I’m willing to believe that it’s an attempt from the commentators to describe the general state of ALP policy, even this excuse is problematic as (a) it’s not, as you demonstrated, how the state of ALP policy was perceived in the electorate, and (b) I don’t see the value (or validity) in trying to establish a term to describe a net policy position when policies must cover such a wide range of varied issues.

    It’d be interested to read the minds of the Australian public and see how much of the small narrowing was due to the phrase. It’s a very convenient, thumbnail justification for not swinging from Liberal to the ALP, which requires extremely little analysis and plays into existing cynicism and stereotypes of politicians being the same as and as bad as each other.

  31. barney said

    Mr Uncommitted.

    A few years ago when a hapless touring cricket team was a lot out for not very many Jim maxwell or Tim Lane (not sure which)commented that Extras was second top score. They then said that this XAVIER TRAS must be an all right batsman. Since then Xavier has entered the lexicon. Maybe Mr Uncommitted might do the same.
    Re Ms Overington.
    There is a story about a British Cabinet Minister who had a very fussy assistant (SMITH) who was always worried about protocol and the trivia of office. One day the assistant came rushing into the office complaining that a protocol had been breached and there would be hell to pay. The Minister told him not to worry and that he’d take care of it. The assistant began to leave and just before he closed the door the Minister called out to him:
    “Smith always remember rule number 6.”
    Smith opened the door and replied:
    “Rule number 6. Yes sir. Rule Number 6.”
    The assistant closed the door then reopened it saying:
    “Rule number 6 sir. What is rule number 6?”
    The Minister responded:
    “Rule number 6 Smith is DON’T TAKE YOURSELF TOO SERIOUSLY”
    Smith closed the door. 2 seconds later he opened the door and said:
    “What are the other rules sir?”
    The Minister smiled and said:
    “There are no other rules Smith”

  32. Rx said

    I believe there was a strong element of the baseball bat. I suspect (though couldn’t prove) that many people had been nursing resentment against the Howard government for some time, and were just “waiting” for a deciding factor to tip them into acting on their feelings at the ballot box. I believe that factor was WorkChoices, the bridge too far, that finally unmasked the sinister face of the Coalition. The broken trust represented by WCs will be hard for the Liberals to win back, they will have permanently lost some voters out of WCs (myself being one of them.)

    On a side note, Possum, good to see you still blogging regularly though the election has been run and won. Keep up the good work, thanks for the insights and comments from your posters.

  33. Don Wigan said

    I think your summary is excellent, Possum, and consistent with how you analysed it prior to voting. I agree with the general point that you and Gartrell make: that Labor positioned and differentiated itself very well on the issues on which it was strong. “Me Too” positioning was overstated when it was pretty clear that the main objective of it where it existed was to prevent Howard either wedging or playing to fear and loathing.

    However, Ron Brown also has a point. Governments do lose elections. Work Choices might not have been THE issue (although YR@W grassroots also played a part) but it was a turning point. It was a betrayal of trust, getting a guernsey only at all because of the opportunity provided by the Senate majority fluke.

    Malcolm MacKerras of all people summed it up pretty well some time ago when he said it’d cost Howard government just as bank nationalisation attempts had cost Chifley.

    From that time people stopped suspending disbelief in Howard’s assertions. Everything he said or did was viewed for the political angle where it was noticed at all. People stopped listening, just as they’d done earlier with Crean and Beazley. Once trust is lost it cannot be regained.

  34. Ron Brown said

    Possum says

    The best way to explain is probably to consider what would have happened if the ALP ran solely on Workchoices.

    DO you think they would have won the election?Probably not (I’d say definitely not). While Workchoices “broke through”, it was the other policy issues of education, health, the environment, infrastructure etc that supported that breakthough, that was the cavalry to the workchoices assault (so to speak), and without which the power of workchoices as a vote mover would have been seriously diminished.

    Ron says
    I agree in part. The other Labor owned issues gave ‘the flesh’ & reasons POSITIVELY to vote for Labor without which Labor would not have won.

    But I think workchoices was the critical ‘trojan horse’ with climate change the ‘minny trojan horse’.

    Without these trojan 2 horses I feel Labor would have lost the election (despite Newspoll’s Labor owned other issues)

    Therefore I feel because the Government itself created the 2 trojan horses , the Government itself lost the Election ??

    I thought the fundamental cause of the loss was that ‘the Government lost the Election because the Government itself made the mistake of creating workchoices and workchoices became the CRUCIAL ‘trojan horse’ to defeat the Government

    I also thought the Government lost the election on a ‘minny trojan horse’ climate change as this subject proved the Government was out of touch with the 21srt Century vs. young 21st Century ‘Kyoto’ & ‘laptop’ Rudd

  35. 2 tanners said

    I think Don Wigan (33) has rather put his finger on it. So many lies surfaced over the years, but people still kept coming back. Hip pocket nerve, dog whistle, call it what you will. But Work Choices represented an essential breach of trust.

    The GG, or as the blog that Overington bullied now calls it, the OO (Opposition Orifice) and others made much of Labor’s me-tooism. They ignored it when Howard tried to me-too Labor on education, on Aborigines and on climate change (in APEC). But so did voters, because they didn’t believe him anymore.

    The MSM commentariat (both sides) wondered at his lack of traction on any issue, but if you explain it as lack of belief then two apparently opposed ideas can coexist – Labor won because it owned the issues, but the Liberals lost Government, rather than labor winning it. The Libs lost the trust, then the issues, then the vote in that order.

    My 2.2 cents (GST included).

  36. Enemy Combatant said

    The Story of O. Caroline is a cautionary tale about a wannabe opinionator cruelly struck down in her prime by a particularly debilitating bout of Relevance Deprivation Syndrome. Had she been better supported by her employer, Sweet Caroline could have reasonably expected to scale the dizzying stenographic heights of her Seppo motor-mouthed mentor, Ann Coulter, “The Shillette Who Knows No Shame”.


    Caroline wants to be a Player so bad it hurts. Not just for her, for those who have no option but to watch. People like us; compulsive and professional media monitors. Everybody knows that there are few spectacles less edifying than a Try-Hard who perpetually fucks up. Tragically for Caroline, the Oz’s apology has “Caroline was one of our most punctual and trustworthy employees” written all over it.
    Latest Newspoll figures indicate that for Dr. Sanstud Libleader V.C., it’s just a temporary thing.
    He ain’t nuthin’ but a locum tenens. And a short-order one at that!

  37. Ronin said

    It’s the nature of a 2 party system that elections are won and lost in the marginals. Looking at the entire population is a red herring.

    There is a base level of support for each party which will not change regardless of policy. Those are the ‘true believers’. Elections are fought in the narrow band in between. The issue of whether the Liberal lost or Labor won should be settled by looking at those who switched their votes between 2004 and 2007. What caused the swing if it’s not Work Choice and rising interest rate?

    As to ‘Health and Medicare’ being the top of the list. I have followed the election pretty closely but I cannot recall anything substantial policy forwarded by either party – beyond Tony ‘People Skill’ Abbott’s disaster. In fact, there was a total mess at the state level in NSW which paints Labor in a very poor light. If that was the decider, the Labor vote should be going negative.

  38. Matt Andrews said

    Some interesting aspects to the issues questions (which I found somewhat confusing arithmetically – are they adding all the “very important” and “fairly important” together at equal value to get these percentages? In which case, are they regarding “very important” as statistically the same as “fairly important”? Seems pretty weird to me)…

    * On every issue, other than IR, the male “important” total is lower than the female total. Does this mean that males generally care less about issues? Are less engaged in politics at all? That they tend to vote more on the basis of personalities? Or family tradition? Or issues not listed here?

    * Taking this further, I summed the totals for each demographic group to arrive at an overall “care about issues” score. As a percentage of the grand total (i.e. of the average):

    Male 91%
    Female 108%

    18-39 97%
    35-49 94%
    50+ 107%

    Labor 111%
    Coalition 94%

    That is to say, overall concern about these issues, as far as voting intention goes, among males was only 84% of the level of concern among females. Over-50s cared a lot more about them than younger groups; and Labor voters cared about these issues about 118% as much as Coalition voters.

    Can we say these kind of figures reflect some kind of overall indication of political engagement?

  39. Ron Brown said

    Ronin , I agree.

    Labor could have produced ANY policy on hospitals & education and it would not have changed a vote.

    An opposition has to produce A POLICY on hospitals & education offering an improvement & being responsible but there a few votes if any in it

    Newspoll would have us believe the reverse

    I think Newspoll does not dare to speak the word ‘workchoices’
    just like the Liberals

  40. josh lyman said

    some good points here – maybe the questions should have been limited to the swingers? Also a more accurate picture might have emerged if people were not prompted with potential answers – I agree with Ronin that it’s hard to see how health was the no.1 issue in people’s minds after that campaign.

  41. Cat said

    Ronin marginals were not all that counted in this election. I submit Mal Brough plus FNQ as examples.

  42. Ron Brown said

    Matt Andrews Says:
    December 5, 2007 at 11:50 am
    Can we say these kind of figures reflect some kind of overall indication of political engagement?

    or you could regard the Newspoll as nonsense as I do

  43. Ron Brown said

    The blogers here could have saved Sol at Newspoll doing the poll

    We could have told him why the election was lost !

    1/ By November 2006 with Beasley as Leader, an election changing
    block of voters had ALREADY decided Howard NEEDED to go

    due MAINLY to the ACTU ads & on ground experience/word of mouth
    plus secondary Climate & trust in Howard finally cum. broke

    2/ ‘young 21st century ‘Kyoto’ & ‘laptop Rudd then became leader
    a/ locked up this election changing block of voters
    b/ added the ‘queenslander’ parochial factor of more votes
    to guarantee a win
    c/ re-inforced voters EXISTING decision to vote FOR Rudd
    by cleverly presenting A POLICY on education & hospitals
    that looked fresh

  44. Bushfire Bill said

    Does anyone remember how Howard claimed to be more of “a Queenslander” than Rudd was, a few months back?


  45. […] (and how) Labor won Filed under: federal election ’07 — kimberella @ 2:03 pm Possum has written a great post dissecting the latest Newspoll (yep, they still do those…) which […]

  46. 2 tanners said

    When was the last Caroline Overington column to which responses were accepted? Come to that, when was her last column? Come to that, was it her LAST column?

    Shame, really. As others commented, her AWB work was good. I do wonder if she had some private tragedy which by virtue of her public profile has made her, and her reputation, so much more vulnerable to several acts of poor judgement over a short period. It’s very possible she has screwed up her life for years to come, and will not recove from this.

    Imagine instead she was Ms Caroline Nobody. The emails wouldn’t have come to light and she wouldn’t have been able to offer front pages to Ecuyer, or wouldn’t have been taken seriously. The blogger she threatened would have said “WTF??” and left it at that, and the election Saturday story would have been “Anonymous voter slaps Newhouse”.

    Perhaps it’s time to give her the psychiatric benefit of the doubt and offer sympathy, rather than condemnation. She may need it, whether or not she deserves it.

  47. David Richards said

    Ich bin ein Bananabender? No – I must have missed that BB @ .

  48. myriad said

    Great work as always possum. A big thank you for your insightful and entertaining commentariat through the neverending ‘election campaign we had to have’.

    I agree with your analysis, and on workchoices would put it this way. Up until the Rat introduced WC, the public simply wasn’t listening to Labor. It wasn’t just Beazley’s leadership, the MSM and the public in general had embraced the successful Coalition assertion that the ALP were irrelevant and useless.

    Then Workchoices revealed a whole new side to Howard, and gave the ALP something to talk about on their home turf – and by doing so it opened the door for the public to start listening again on a whole raft of issues that had previously been core -education, health etc. I’d also argue that once you start being scared about the job you’ll have and the pay you’ll get, you start paying a lot more attention to other key issues like the health care you’re getting and the education and opportunities your kids get.

    WC produced a snowballing effect in Labor’s favour; and at the right time Labor found a leader who could actually lead and talk to people clearly.

    Finally, I’d say that if you sit back and look, the wheels were slowly coming off the Howard machine for the last couple of years, with major not minor issues like the abuse of the Senate majority, the sheer accumulation of lies, the AWB scandal (people hated the incompetence and lying more than the bribing I think) – everything started to accumulate.

    k, now I’m waffling. I pretty much agree with you – my central point is that WC finally gave the ALP an issue and a voice back, and the electorate started paying attention again. It didn’t win the election for the ALP alone, it provided the launching platform.

  49. Fleetmac said

    I think Nelson is a dead man walking. I give it a year before Malcolm T topples him. Nelson is a light weight and I think he will struggle up against Rudd in Parliament.

  50. John Ryan said

    Yes, never under estimate Malcolm T’s ego. Like John H*ward before him, the Liberal Party is just a mere vehicle for him to become Prime Minister. He needed a new vehicle after he crashed the Republican car. The ARM was simply a vehicle for him to become President in a eventual Australia republic.

    Thanks to his efforts, the republic is now about as popular as stepping in dog sh-t. This leaves the Prime Ministership as the next best job to satisfy his unshakeable urge for power.

    I’m no republican, so I thank him for his ARM efforts. And I will thank him even more when he crashes the Liberal Party car at an upcoming election!

  51. peterc said

    I noted in the figures in todays Newspoll that a slightly greater percent of ALP voters decided their vote in the last 6 months before the election than did LNP voters. Which would indicate a slight swing to the ALP in the last 6 months.

    But 6 months out the polls were showing mid to high 50’s for ALP and they will end up with about 52.5. Which would mean a significantly larger proportion of LNP than ALP voters deciding their vote in the last 6 months.

    It doesn’t add up unless there was a huge shift in preferences to the LNP in that period. So I think it just doesn’t add up and this poll is wrong or all the 55 plus polls were wrong!

  52. Don Wigan said

    One further addition to the ‘Governments Lose’ theory:

    The Government virtually went into election mode from the beginning of the calendar year. It was obsessed by the polls, but Howard’s ways of changing them seemed limited to Karl Rove-Swiftboat type of discrediting of Rudd, and later bringing up all the old wedge issues.

    The first not only failed dismally, but might even have backfired to the point of raising Rudd’s profile. The wedging was so transparent that polled people saw through the motives. This obsessive behaviour contributed to a lot of the government mythology unravelling.

    Howard looked far from invincible. Costello, instead of looking like a star waiting in the wings, looked more like a sook. His economic and political credentials disappeared. The rest, where visible, were even worse. One wondered if the government had the death wish. Of course, it didn’t have, but it couldn’t escape Howard’s political fears in the way it acted.

    There ought to have been a better chance if the government had concentrated on governing, and planning for the future. But it was incapable of doing that.

    Even so, Rudd and his team had to be credible, and tightly focused, to be accepted as an ‘unknown’.

    So a bit of both, I’d think.

  53. Ron Brown said

    Don , you say from the start of the year Howard was obsessed with the polls and how to change them by attacking Rudd & then trying wedge issues.

    Frankly , I believe the Coalition so firmly BELIEVED in their phylosophy of workchoices , that they refused to believe it was fundamentally faulty

    This caused the Government to pull wedge issues out of the hat thinking one of them somehow would turn the Polls

    The Governments non acceptance of the workchoices vote losing effect , not only meant Howard was chasing non productive alleyways to win back votes , but allowed Rudd to add ‘flesh’ to the ALP vote choice in policys like Education revolution , hospitals responsibility & to re-affirm Kyoto

  54. Richard Green said

    I see the 8 percent of support for Abbot amongst Men and the 8 percent amongst women averages out to 9 percent. Who knew that his support amongst the transgendered was so high, the penchant for Catholic clergy to wear gowns notwithstanding.

  55. GS said

    So was it CO that was sighted on yr election night chatroom as “Sweet Caroline”? If it wasn’t then it was someone who’d swallowed La Overington’s ‘ditzy and breathless stream of nothingness riff’ style guide whole and complete.

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