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The really bad news for Abbott from the opinion polls – influencing that odd assortment of Senators

July 4th, 2014

3-07-2014 aust

The Owl’s federal election indicator is lagging well behind the opinion polls when it comes to assessing the future prospects of the Abbott government (although it is moving in Labor’s direction) but then the indicator is trying to measure something quite different to the pollsters. The polls are trying to tell us what people think now while the markets the indicator is based on are looking forward to what will happen on a future election day. They are two quite different things. As I have written many times on this site I prefer to take the guidance of the money.

But with new Senators about to take their places in the red chamber it is opportune to repeat something I wrote back in May.

What opinion pollsters say two and a half years out from an election is normally of no interest at all to me. Just ignore them is invariably my advice. Today, though, I am breaking those habits of a political lifetime. The unanimous verdict of all the major pollsters suggesting that Tony Abbott and his government are on the nose does strike me as relevant.

Not because the figures suggest the Liberal-National coalition will lose the next election. Far from it. I’ll stick with the predictive power of the Owl’s federal election indicator which puts Labor well behind. The importance of the polls is the influence they will have on that maverick collection of Senators who will become the real power brokers of politics after 1 July and on the Labor and Greens majority from now until then.

A strong suggestion that voters do not like a government – and the polls are giving just that now – encourages an opposition to stick the boot in because of a belief that will help their own prospects of re-election. Ultimately it might do no such thing but in the meantime it sure does make governing harder.

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