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

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September 29, 2007

It's hard to imagine what this year must have been like for people living in marginal electorates. And it can only get worse.

Last night on Lateline Ian Kortlang and Michael Costello agreed that the million dollar a day government adformation campaign is a wast of money. Unless the point is to annoy people, in which case it's working a treat. For those of us living outside magical marginal land it's bad enough, but it must be hellish for the folk in swinging seats.

What the rest of us think should happen has largely been established by successive polls, but the ones who don't think anything yet, and may in fact never get around to thinking about their vote, will eventually decide who will be doing the deciding for the next little while. For politicians these people have targets painted on their foreheads.

If media coverage is any indication these people can't answer the door or the phone, walk down the street, drop the kids at school or go shopping without having some pollster quizzing them or some political message shoved down their throats.

Michael Costello figures Howard should put off calling the election while there's still hope that some major event happens along to rescue him. Ian Kortlang thinks it should be called soon on the basis of the circuit breaker theory.

I imagine the swingers in the marginals would probably agree with Kortlang, if not for the same reasons.

| Posted by Lyn at 4:52 PM | | Comments (14)


I think the swinging voter only makes up a small part of the undecided vote. The much large parcel are actually the "Leaping Numbats"
Its quite amusing that this group will get the winner over the line and make that team Right.


Who are the leaping numbats?

The leaping numbats are the dumb people. They live in trees and leap from one to the other searching for that sweet fruit that the parties place there for them. Eventually they all end up in the one tree and break into a crazed copulating frenzy and shake the party that has the wrong or not enough fruit left. Then to loud monkey like screeches he is banished from the woods.

Instead of "dumb people" (genetics) I prefer to talk in terms of a culture of low aspirations shared not just by students, but in many cases by their parents and teachers.This effectively helps to narrow the circle of opportunity that is closed by economic and power relations.

Aspirations are rooted in class, and the low expectations of the working class are reinforced by our socially selective school system. Many young people do not have access to real educational opportunities to become bankers, lawyers and doctors, and become articulate and confident.

Yes I agree Gary.
Perhaps it started at the High school level when teachers began a teach the ones that want to learn policy. Concentrate on them and if the kid at the back doesn't want to learn don't waste your time on him.
But still, we are fortunate that we have a system that allows mature age entry into uni courses.


That's what the research tells us, which is part of why I find the Gold Coast so fascinating. We don't have bankers, lawyers and doctors of the urban type. Our bankers live next door to our manual labourers and their kids go to the same schools.

This place has no sociological understanding of itself at all and is about as politically bland as Stepford.

Schoolies and Indy are the great levellers where the articulate and confident stand shoulder to shoulder with the leaping numbats to ogle meter maids and rescue spewing teenagers.

And the heat, of course. The body is everything here. There's no point being articulate and confident if you've got cellulite or man boobs.

it may be the case that the swinging voter only makes up a small part of the undecided vote. But swinging voters don't necessarily decide seats in marginal electorates.

Thus those Sydney households most vulnerable to higher petrol prices and housing interest rates, which are concentrated in a large arc running through the city's greater western region, will make it harder for the Liberal Party to retain the marginal seats of Lindsay and Macquarie.

The Sydney Morning Herald says that a study from Griffith University's urban research program by Dr Jago Dodson and Dr Neil Sipe, found that the Liberal Party's hold on safer seats like Hughes and Macarthur in the south-west may be jeopardised by the high levels of exposure of households in these areas to higher costs.

The suburbs with the greatest vulnerability were Rouse Hill, Glenmore Park, Erskine Park, Horningsea Park, Narellan and Harrington Park.


They're also areas that are new enough not to have the level of services older areas have, but old enough to expect those services by now. They were Latham's ladder of opportunity people who also responded well to whistles over migrants and refugees.

Apparently, some political pundits are saying that 20% of the voters are "soft" Labor because they say the country is going in the right direction.

Is that your swinging voter?


There's been a fair bit of discussion about that and it seems reasonable to assume that some people think the country's heading in the right direction because the polls are saying it's going in the Labor direction.

One of the things I'm really enjoying about this election is the trouble everyone's having trying to explain what's happening. So many of our myths are being busted.

I wonder how those pundits explain why this 'soft Labor' vote has stayed that way all year? To the extent that polls are predictive, the steady erosion of coalition support over the past three elections suggests that the Liberal vote is actually the soft one.

Who knows?

and the pundits are saying that both sides of politics are equally wedded to the view that an ever-rising material standard of living is the overriding demand that Australians make of their political leaders. And that both sides see the voter - particularly the swinging voter - as self-centred, is motivated by the hip pocket and is seeks to satisfy their desires through consumption.

Its also a case of the political mood changing. People are earning good money but they are paying a big price for the increased wealth in terms of the stress on their family and personal relationships. So wellbeing decreases.

Two points. Over at Possum Pollytics Comitatus has a look at the governments advertising campaigns in the lead up to the last two elections. He found that the primary vote of the Coalition made large recoveries in the period of the taxpayer funded advertising blitz. These advertising campaigns assisted the government greatly in setting their final pre-campaign period support level from which to launch into the campaign itself.

Comitatus also talks about Howard's electoral strategy.He says:

So Howard tries just one more advertising campaign, one more porkbarrel, one more angle of attack identified by focus group analysis to try and claw back a couple of points. A few points toward him closes the gap between the two parties and generates much needed momentum, allowing him to call the election - but that momentum never arrives. The slight hint of polling movement fails to materialise into a vote shift. The polls return to their long run behaviour of Coalition annihilation.

Comitatus says that the Coalition's plan seems to be to make one group move toward the government before the campaign, allowing the government to actually call the campaign itself; and then peel another group from Labor during the campaign.


Possum must be driving the people at the GG nuts.

The strategies that have served Howard so well in the past are just not happening this time, and the predictions of the talking heads are turning out to be either mythologies or wishful thinking.

There were some interesting observations in that first link about exogenous factors which gave Howard momentum he didn't actually earn. Some of them add weight to the notion that Howard's successive wins owe more to good luck than good management. Apart from the GST election, I can't think of one where he's legitimately won a mandate for policy.