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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

Federal Election: its close « Previous | |Next »
July 24, 2004

In contrast to the optimism shown here my judgement remains the same. The election is close. The ALP is just ahead on two party preferred votes, the race is probably tightening, the trend in the primary vote moving back to the Coalition, and Latham is being worn down by the Coalition's relentless pressure.

Though it is hard to be interested in the drip drip drip of the political tap, it is interesting to see the ALP continually move to the right under pressure. If the ALP succeeds in regaining power, it will be a very conservative Labor Government. It will work with the Coalition in the Senate to pass legislation whilst denouncing the Australian Greens as undemocratic and holding the nation to ransom.

Both Howard and Latham were campaigning in Queensland this week selling their wares. The Coalition removed fees from Kakadu National Park, and the Flood Report into the intelligence on Iraq was released. That said that Australia went to war on the basis of intelligence that was "thin, ambiguous and incomplete" and that there was an "intelligence failure" on weapons of mass destruction. Also announced was a package to upgrade security at Australia's ports. For its part the ALP announced a women's policy, an afterhours Medicare policy and a dairy policy.

Whilst many were being hairy chested on terrorism others were doing vaudeville:


It is more memorable image than the religious one.

What we do not know is the polling in the marginal seats, apart from the unreliable polling in the state newspapers. The Advertiser poll in SA showed the ALP ahead in Adelaide, the Libs ahead in Hindmarsh but struggling in Makin. I would say that it is tighter than that now. The ALP is probably ahead in Hindmarsh.

In todays Australian Financial Review Lenore Taylor says that it is the marginal seats of Queensland and NSW where the ALP must dismantle Howard's lead. What do we know about the marginals in Queensland and NSW? Taylor says the Courier-Mail poll shows a big swing to the ALP in Dickson, a small swing to the Coalition in Longman with Hinkler too close to call.

And NSW? Taylor says that a recent McNair Ingenuity Research Poll (with a very small sample) showed the Coalition well ahead in Paterson but trailing the ALP in Eden Monaro, Dobell and Parramatta.

Has the ALP picked up the 8 seats needed? Sure thing say the ALP spinners. If it had been otherwise, Howard would have called an election by now.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 9:31 AM | | Comments (8)


In contrast to the optimism shown here

Not so much optimism, I suggest, as refusing to swallow whole the truckload of media spin based on shifts in the satisfaction and preferred pm numbers. The 2pp is somewhere between knife-edge and an ALP win, which isn't bad at this stage of the game.

I agree about all the spin re the preferred pm. The comments are largely beatups if not nonsense. Their pervasiveness is a sad reflection on the Canberra Press Gallery, who know better.

Maybe we are seeing a return of the 1996 election when The Canberra Press Galley reckoned Keating would hang on.

You write:
"The 2pp is somewhere between knife-edge and an ALP win, which isn't bad at this stage of the game."

The key word is 'somewhere. Little attempt is being made to explore 'somewhere' by the pollsters and both the major parties are not making their results known.

Which marginal seats in what states would they be, given the eight required for the ALP to win?

For instance: you actually know what is happening in the marginal seats of NSW, apart from being somwhere between knife edge and 2% two party preferred.

....what is the trend in the marginal NSW seats? Will the ALP lose any of its own marginals?

The key is 'somewhere' and the direction of movement in the different marginals.

The marginal evidence out there is pretty scatty, but also pretty cheery. Last week Nielsen reported unbelievable news from NSW (state-wide), suggesting Latham had overturned the Coalition's 2pp 51/49 lead in the state last month to grab an eight point 54/46 ALP margin. NSW has seven Coalition seats in reach with less than a three point swing.

State breakdowns of national polls incorporate large margins of error. Yet the Nielsen numbers sort of correlate with Newspoll's June marginal only) survey, which had the ALP ahead on the 2pp 52/48.

Still, this is not enough to say we know what's happening, although obviously it was bad news for the Coalition a couple of weeks ago when the Aug 7 deadline came up.

I'm told that Dougie Cameron will announce some results of marginal polling on Meet the Press tomorrow, trumpeted as results that will 'shock' both major parties. Could be worth a look.

Given the premise the election will be tight, the independent-held seats such as "Green Cunningham", which might be expected a ALP gain, become important. But the contest in this seat, and others held by Independents, comes down to a contest between the local member and at least one other major party candidate. I assume in this seat that the Liberals will direct their preferences to the siting member, Michael Organ. I doubt whether Howard will campaign in Cunningham, but Latham will have to.

So how marginal ALP seats are expected to change hands in Queensland and NSW?

Or is it all one way? From Coalition to ALP?

For instance, is Cunningham expected to go to the ALP? Or will it remain Green with Coalition preferences?

Far from having any expertise, I just live here.I would imagine there is likely to be an exchange of seats across the country. Others will know more. As to Cunningham, Michael Organ was elected as the first Green in a by-election, in which the ALP faced a number of issues, not least independent Labor candidates. You can see the 2002 by election results here . The outcome was decided on preferences. In two party elections, the Liberals usually have got at most a third of the votes, and consider the seat a dead loss. Results in the State Electorates at the last election, suggest it should be a walk in for the ALP. Michael Organ, in my opinion, is not politically savvy and charismatic to the extent that Peter Andren is in Calare. I have already suggested to Andrew Wilkie by email, he should drop by. At least in this seat, the presidential election will by pass us (I hope).

What a pity.

What electorates such as Cunningham need is a good local member with strong local roots who can stir the pot and bring some benefits.

The old Labor seats with big majorities are usually badly treated. They are taken for granted by the ALP machine and little money flows into them.

I would have thought that Michael Organ would have had strong local support---are the Greens starting to take over the local councils there?

In the Sydney Morning Herald Louise Dodson makes two points. She says:

"After recent electorate boundary changes, Labor will have to win 12 seats to form government, requiring a uniform swing of 2.2 per cent."

The point is that:

"Confidential Liberal Party polling has revealed a small boost in support for the Federal Government and is being considered by the Prime Minister, John Howard, as he decides when to call the election.

The Government has been polling well in marginal seats in NSW and has improved in Victoria and South Australia...In Queensland, the Liberals' polling in marginal seats put Labor ahead, but its support was said to be "soft" and could swing back to the Coalition.

"The worm is turning; we could be within striking distance," a Liberal insider said."

It is unclear what 'polling well' in marginal seats in NSW means. Same for 'has improved Victoria and South Australia'.Just how far are they behind?