NEWS AND VIEWS
Friday, November 09, 2007
The Owl's Election Indicator : Coalition 29% Labor 71% GO TO OTHER DAILY EMAILS - indexed by date
Possible But Not Probable
The graph below of the Reuters Poll Trend for the last three elections shows the extent of the task before the Government in the last two weeks of this campaign. At the moment the performance of the Coalition (shown by the green line) as measured by the trend of the three major polls – Newspoll, AC Neilsen and Morgan – is just a tick over 45% of the two party preferred vote. At this stage in 2007 (the purple line) the figure was just under 49% and in 2001 (the blue line) above 52.5%.
At first glance the necessary improvement seems an impossible task but, as they say, looks can be deceiving. To retain office the Government does not need to reach the magic 50% mark. Given a reasonably even distribution of votes a figure of 48.7% would be enough. The gain needed this time is thus almost exactly the same as actually achieved in the last two weeks of the 2004 campaign – shown in the graph by the red lines.
This time there are some significant differences. For a start, Kevin Rudd is not Mark Latham. The comparative new boy is holding his nerve well and, while he might have a cold, he has not been struck down by a debilitating illness. More importantly there is the reversal of fortunes on interest rates. In 2004 John Howard got away with his bald claim that a Coalition Government would keep interest rates lower than a Labor Government. The sixth interest rate rise in three years coming less than three weeks before polling day makes that claim less credible this time.
The Morgan phone poll released this morning, taken after the Reserve Bank announcement and not included in the Reuters trend line, showed a drop of 1.5 points to 44% in support for the Government rather than the needed increase.REUTERS POLL TREND OVER THE LAST YEAR
In short, a Coalition victory, while still possible, is not probable. For my part I will be taking the price of $1.39 currently available about Labor and will leave the $3.40 for the Coalition to other more adventurous souls.
Respectable Men (and Editors) in Suits Replace Babies and Golden Oldies
There was a dash of seriousness about the election campaign yesterday as respectable men in suits replaced babies and senior citizens as the backdrop for political gallivanting. For Prime Minister John Howard it was a speech delivered to the familiar faces of the Institute of Public Affairs in Melbourne to demonstrate that economic management is a serious business for responsible people. Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd was less public with his important event of the day being a chat with the assembled editors of the Murdoch press at a private gathering in Canberra .
If those editors think this political campaign is the big story gripping the nation then their papers failed to show it this morning. Crimes of one kind or another dominate the front pages as good news sense prevailed. There surely is nothing more boring than two political leaders pretending to be responsible about controlling inflation while in truth they are plotting spending sprees that guarantee the opposite. Why waste newsprint on meaningless words when there is corrupt copper to pillory or social workers to be found guilty of child neglect?
The only light relief the television could find in the events of the day was the sight of a Prime Minister squirming to avoid having said being sorry seen as an admission of responsibility. Kevin Rudd, naturally enough, was trying to portray Mr Howard's linguistic gymnastics as the act of a heartless maladministrator.
That is what happens in election campaigns when there are only two parties - product differentiation is difficult as both position themselves alongside each other in the middle of the political spectrum. The very smallest slip-ups are magnified as each side tries to convince voters that, to use the example of Harold Hotelling's law, that their identical ice cream is actually not the same as the one being sold next door.
Yesterday Labor did marginally better at this salesman's game as measured by The Daily Verdict.
Interest Reaches a New Low Point
Surely the only way for interest in this election to go from here is up! This morning's Reality Check shows the lowest reading since the campaign started - just four election stories out of the 50 in the top five most read lists of the 10 internet news sites we survey! On eight of those sites politics did not make it at all as the trend towards declining interest continues apace.The only event that has really caught the interest of readers so far was the debate. Since then it's been down, down, down.