Idle speculation: 61-39 edition

Via Lateline (which will not be broadcast for another two hours in the Poll Bludger’s remote western outpost), Blair in comments informs us that Newspoll has jumped on the 61-39 bandwagon set in train by ACNielsen and Morgan. An appropriate note on which to open another exciting new instalment of Idle Speculation.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.

214 comments on “Idle speculation: 61-39 edition”

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  1. This is the Federal Labor Party: of course they can stuff up the election!
    Don’t forget 2001 and 2004!
    These poll numbers scare me: surely Rudd can’t be doing this well?

  2. Ah, can you imagine if they actually won 61-39?

    Crikey was saying that, in that case, only Nelson and Bishop would survive, out of the cabinet ministers.

  3. The Howard government has become a joke. This is more likely to be fatal than being called evil by the usual suspects.

    If Christopher Pearson reflects the continuing Liberal line with his statement, ”The idea of Rudd as a hostage to Burke, rather than merely his dupe, will begin to trouble more of those who already feel he hasn’t been completely truthful’ (“The overdrawn account”, The Weekend Australian, March 17, 2007), then the government is gone. It has to re-engage on serious issues.

    For the full entertaining article, go to:

  4. Only one way to go from here: down. There is a core LNP vote in Australia that would continue to vote LNP (or at least preference it ahead of Labor) if Howard marched in gold spandex at Mardi Gras, and Vaile became an Aboriginal land rights campaigner. 39% 2PP must be getting pretty close to that point.

    If Labor supporters were offered a guaranteed 53:47 on election day, they’d be mad not to take it in a trice. In the same way that Sydney Swans supporters were perfectly happy to take a 2 goal win over Port in the 2003 qualifying final, even though they were 7 goals up at half-time.

  5. “This is the Federal Labor Party: of course they can stuff up the election!
    Don’t forget 2001 and 2004!”

    This is NOT 2001 or 2004. The game has fundamentally changed.

  6. Huge leads can disappear – witness Hewson’s lead before the ’93 election (I’m not saying that this election will be similar, just that big changes in how people might vote can occur.)

  7. the howard government is starting to drown under the weight of the the incumbant ministers thinking howard will win the election for them. If the ministers do not engage the electorate and the policies of their portfolios – instead of being fired for incompetent money for the boys attitudes Rudd will win , regardless of Julia,s incompetence

  8. Remind us how far ahead Hewson was at the equivalent point in the 1993 cycle, Sasha. In fact perhaps someone can remind us whether an opposition has ever been this far ahead at this point (e minus 7 months) in the cycle.

  9. After looking in comparison…

    This is unprecandented. This is past honeymoon stats now. Rudd will really have to stuff this up to lose it from here.

  10. Don’t think anyone ever has.

    Latham peaked at about 54/46 on trend and distributing preferences sensibly. Beazley about 58/42 in 2001, maybe 55/45 in 1998. Howard probably 57/43 in 1995, Hewson peaked at about 58/42. Rudd appears to be ahead of all of them, but it is worth noting only one of the 5 opposition leaders, all of whom held strong leads, went on to win.

    It is fascinating the way 1992, 1995, 1998, 2001, 2004 and (maybe?) 2007 have seen the opposition peak in February/March and decline in April/May. Seems like some kind of underlying psychological thing. Any ideas as to why?

  11. opposition peak in February/March and decline in April/May. Seems like some kind of underlying psychological thing. Any ideas as to why?

    Because they stop being happy when the cold weather comes and get busy with work and their anxieties heap in on them and they start worrying about interest rates …. ??

  12. A fortnight ago, I took Newspoll’s 57-43 result as evidence of a very healthy, but static, Labor vote.

    With the benefit of hindsight, it’s clear that it was instead the beginning of an upward trend.

    Amazing really. As if Labor’s February polling numbers weren’t impressive enough.

  13. How far can a Government fall?

    Calm down! This is not (YET) the biggest drop the Howard Government has experienced. The biggest was in 1997-1998, bottoming out not long after One Nation’s 11-seats at the Qld election of 1998.

    And now for something not quite so different….the names have not been altered to protect the guilty parties.

    How far can a Minister fall? As featured in the Flying Circus TV Show – Episode 12

    (A girl in bra and pants goes over to television and switches it on.)
    Voice Over: … whilst Mary, Roger’s half-sister, settles down to watch television…

    (On the screen comes the start of a Party Political Broadcast, complete with caption: ‘A PARTY POLITICAL BROADCAST ON BEHALF OF THE WOOD PARTY’)

    Voice Over: There now follows a Party Political Broadcast on behalf of the Wood Party.
    (Cut to a traditional grey-suited man at desk looking straight into camera. Superimposed caption: ‘THE RT. HON. LAMBERT WARBECK’)

    Minister: Good evening. We in the Wood Party feel very strongly that the present weak drafting of the Local Government Bill leaves a lot to be desired, and we intend to fight.
    (He thumps on the desk and he falls through the floor. As he falls he emits a long scream, fading away slowly. Another man comes and looks down into the pit.)

    Man: Hello Helllllllllloooooooooo! (to camera) Er I, I’m afraid the minister’s fallen through the Earth’s crust. Er… excuse me a moment. (goes and looks at Pit) Helloooo.

    Minister: (unseen, a long way down) Helloooooo.

    Man:. Are you all fight minister?

    Minister: I appear to have landed on this kind of ledge thing.

    Man: Shall we lower down one of the BBC ropes?

    Minister: If you’d be so kind.

    Man: What length of BBC rope will we be likely to need?

    Minister: I should use the longest BBC rope. That would be a good idea I would imagine.

    Man: Okey doke chief. Er, Tex get the longest BBC rope, and bring it here pronto.

    Minister: (still a long way down) In the meantime, since I am on all channels, perhaps I’d better carry on with this broadcast by shouting about our housing plans from down here as best I can. Could someone throw me down a script. (man drops the script down and Tex appears with enormous cod of rope) The script would appear to have landed on a different ledge somewhat out of my grasp, don’t you know.
    Man: Er, well perhaps when the rope reaches you minister you could kind of swing over to the ledge and grab it.
    Minister: Good idea.
    (Cut to minister swinging on rope. Caption on screen: ‘THE RT. HON. LAMBERT WARBECK’)

    Minister: Well I’m going to carry on, if I can read the script. He swings over to a ledge opposite with a script on it. As he gets near he peers and starts reading.

    Minister: Good evening. We in the Wood Party (he swings away and then back) feel very strongly about (swings away and back) the present weak drafting of the Local Government Bill and no, no – it’s no good, it’s not working.., I think I’ll have to try and make a grab for it. Ah. There we are. (He swings over and grabs the script with one hand; he tries to turn to camera and continues) Good evening. We in the Wood Party feel very strongly about the present (he makes a vigourous gesture and in so doing lets go of rope and slips so that he is now hanging upside down) ugh, ugh. Oh dear. Hello!

    Man: (out of vision) Hello.
    Minister: Look, look, I must look a bit of a chump hanging upside down like this.

    Man: (out of vision) Don’t worry minister. (cut to man looking off-camera) I think love if we turn the picture upside down we should help the minister, then.

    Cut to minister. The picture is now the other way up. The minister now appears to be the might way up)
    Minister: Oh good. Look, er, I’m sorry about this, but there seem to be a few gremlins about… I think I’d better start from the beginning. Er, good evening, we in the Wood Party feel very strongly about, oh … (he drops script) Bloody heck. Oh, oh dear, er terribly sorry about this, about saying bloody heck on all channels, but, er…
    Man: (out of vision) There’s another script on the way down minister.
    Minister: Oh good, good. Well … er… er… um… Good evening. Er … well… er… how are you? Er… Oh yes look, I don’t want you to think of the Wood Party as a load of old men that like hanging around on ropes only I … er … oh … oh.

    (Meanwhile a man, the right way up, has been lowered down to the minister. As the picture is reversed, he appears to be moving straight up towards him. The minister sees him.)
    Minister: Ah. Thank you. (taking script; the man on the rope starts to climb back up) Good evening, we in the Wood Party feel very strongly about the present weak drafting… (man falls past with a scream) Look. I think we’d better call it a day.

    (Cut to two men at a desk in a discussion set.)
    First Robert: Is this the furthest distance that a minister has fallen? Robert.
    (Cut to Robert.)
    Second Robert: Well surprisingly not. The Canadian Minister for External Affairs fell nearly seven miles during a Liberal Conference in Ottawa about six years ago, and then quite recently the Kenyan Minister for Agric. and Fish fell nearly twelve miles during a Nairobi debate in Parliament, although this hasn’t been ratified yet.
    First Robert: Er, how far did the Filipino cabinet fall last March?
    Second Robert: Er, well they fell nearly thirty-nine miles but it’s not really so remarkable as that was due to their combined weight, of course. Robert.
    First Robert: Thank you, Robert. Well now what’s your reaction to all this, Robert?

    (Cut to third Robert who is staring intently into camera. He is wearing a fright wig and has a left eyebrow four inches above his right one.)
    Third Robert: Well, well Robert the main thing is that it’s terribly exciting. You see the minister is quite dearly lodged between rocks we know terribly little of. Terribly little. Of course the main thing is we’re getting colour pictures of an extraordinarily high quality. The important thing is, the really exciting thing is the minister will (as he gets more excited he starts to emit smoke) be bringing back samples of the Earth’s core which will give us a tremendous, really tremendous, tremendous, tremendous clue about the origins of the Earth and what God himself is made of. (he bursts into fire and someone has to throw a buckets of water over him) Oh, oh I needed that.

    (Cut back to first Robert.)
    First Robert: Thank you Robert. Well that seems to be about all we have time for tonight. Unless anyone has anything else to say. Has anyone anything else to say?
    (Various ‘noes’ plus one ‘bloody fairy’ and more noes, from a very rapid montage of all the possible characters in this week’s show saying ‘no’. The last one we come to is the Spectrum presenter. He says more than no.)
    Presenter: What do we mean by no, what do we mean by yes, what do we mean by no, no, no. Tonight Spectrum looks at the whole question of what is no.

    (The sixteen-ton weight falls on him.)

  14. I’ll happily take a 53-47 Labor win, which would guarantee Rudd a decent sized majority.
    If the Newspoll result was ever reflected in an actual election, the Labor Party would win my seat of Berowra for the first time ever – it ain’t gonna happen, too many rusted on Libs round here.

  15. The quicker a door swings open the quicker it shuts. The only way the polls can go from here is back to Howard bit by bit . I believe the ALP will win but it will be closer than what the polls indicate.

  16. We have still yet to see policy. This is more about either sending a message to the government of dissatisfaction and a curiosity/liking of Rudd’s demeanor. Around 8 months to go, Howard is of course in trouble, but it’s a terribly long time in politics.

  17. Stewart,

    I’ve seen policy. Kevin Rudd has already announced that Labor will rip up Work Choices for Employers, abolish those disgracefully unAustralian AWAs, bring back collective bargaining, set up a plain-English national curriculum in co-operation with the states, maintain private school funding, fund shared facilities for state and private schools and invest in research on green fuel alternatives for cars. The “Labor has no policies” line is just as ineffective as the Burkegate and Farmgate attacks.

  18. Good point Chris I move “The Mr Rudd just re-annouce those policies (plus or minus a few feel good motherhood policies about how nice and loving a Father to the Nation he’ll be) until people stop talking about no policy.

    Not to much detail Mr Rudd.

  19. We’re talking about DETAILED policy Chris, not just rhetoric and politics. They have yet to provide detailed information of their alternative industrial relations system, and how those ‘unaustralian’ AWA’s will be replaced with productive agreements.

    Rhetoric, such as the ‘Education Devolution’ is one thing, however substance is another.

  20. One thing that has thus far been left unsaid in the commentary is what must be happening to the lib caucus internally. There has been some comment on the newer members wondering what it was like in previous elections, but I wonder about those members who’s own careers would be progressed by a change of government?

    Would there be some members of caucus ever-ever-so-slightly wondering what jobs would be up for grabs in the medium-term if Howard went down this year? Look at Chris Pyne. He’s waited far longer than anyone expected for a ministerial gig – had the coalition been wiped out last time (and he survived), he would have progressed higher in the long-term than he is now.

    Just some food for thought.

  21. Chris,

    But until Rudd actually tells us what his alternative IR system is, it isn’t really much help to someone trying to make an informed decision, is it? Most of the other things you mention are either a copy of existing government policy or fairly minor commitments.

    Now, I don’t know that Rudd needs policy to win. But it is a fair statement to say that, as of now, there isn’t a lot out there.

  22. I am sure MEDICARE GOLD is working on the policy. I assume the ALP will try and wing it without putting out policies given the current poll lead but you have to assume the rodent will try and corner them into detailing policy.

  23. PLEASE let’s hear no more about “policy”. Only people like us want policy, and we all know already who we are going to vote for. Elections are NOT about policy. They are about (a) do people think the present government is doing a good / bad job? (b) do people think that they personally will be better off / worse off under the alternative? (c) which of Mr A and Mr B do they prefer as PM?

  24. Well, not entirely true Adam… I’m waiting on Labor policy to make up my mind.

    But you are right – to the voters who matter, the ‘vibe’ (as Mumble says) is far more important than policy detail. And Rudd’s vibe seems to be going down well, for reasons that, I must confess, mystify me.

  25. It is simple and it is how Howard first won … just like them but a tiny bit newer, nicer and safer … that is the policy.

  26. Chris said

    I’ve seen policy. Kevin Rudd has already announced that Labor will rip up Work Choices for Employers, abolish those disgracefully unAustralian AWAs, bring back collective bargaining, set up a plain-English national curriculum in co-operation with the states, maintain private school funding, fund shared facilities for state and private schools and invest in research on green fuel alternatives for cars. The “Labor has no policies” line is just as ineffective as the Burkegate and Farmgate attacks.

    I doubt if Rudd will attack work choices to that extent as he is moving more and more to keep up the Capitalist system at the expense of the workers. The funding of private schools will promote the Bourgeois to have an exclusively better education and promotes class distinction To think i pay for my children at a state school, I pay for the same in my taxes and i pay for THE RICH through taxes to have schools for their toffy kids. That seem fair to me

  27. Rudd is more Blair (the 1997 version!) than Latham … he’s a much smaller target. Practically every night he’s on the news making some announcement or other, where as Howard is nowhere to be seen. This is the problem for the Liberals, they are being out-sold brandwise.
    Nothing lasts forever, and this government is currently on life-support…

  28. Bill Weller you goose, your taxes barely fund your own draining of the system, not the education of others. In fact those private school families would pay alot more tax than you and use far less than you.

    Take your Leninist diatribe back to Pyongyang.

  29. George George George….

    I know nothing about Bill’s personal finances and don’t want to, but your proposition is:

    ‘that those private school families would pay a lot more tax than you and use far less than you’

    This seems to be assuming both a fair tax system and that private school families are wealthy. Neither proposition seems to have much support in fact. But please if as a tax professional my understanding of the income tax / indirect tax systems is insufficient please provide the evidence for your interesting proposition.

  30. The Bourgeois who pay higher taxes and especially the top 5 percent actually do not produce anything being leeches of society holding the wealth while people in my electorate cannot afford healthy food , private education , private health etc. The history of the Libs shows them to be by descent Land owners and Industry owners, so to them watching the workers eek out a living has been going on for century’s. The sad thing with the ALP is that they becoming union bosses also watch the worker suffer. They both ride on the back of the worker. We see here in SA the ALP government one year in from last election and theres talk of budget blowouts etc. I don’t have to be a University graduate to know the worker, pensioner, student and unemployed will wear the brunt of budget cuts. It wont effect the private school club at all say maybe a few workers who sacrifice everything for their kids to go private. But then again private school is a privilege not a right, the same as University. And before anyone says it…… No people are not better off, credit cards and easy loans just make us think we are. And the must have latest model of everything or the wishing of it (consumerism in this throw away society benefits whom?) makes sure we never do reach prosperity.

  31. I actually thought Medicare Gold was a good idea .. and it was presented to Gillard by a Catholic group as an impressive initiative to free up public hospital beds .. it wasn’t actually her idea

  32. This is getting way off topic here but

    Yes Sacha i have. The bourgeois are the non producing top 5% richest in society. The, what people call ‘middle class’ or ‘petty bourgeois’ promote and support the agenda of the 5%. Do you ever think it strange that we produce enough food to feed the world yet we don’t? You can’t say that people in areas in Australia can’t know poverty because it’s worse somewhere else. It’s like pain. My wife has fought cancer most of her life and I have broken many bones. My pain was real to me yet my wifes was worse but we can only judge the pain on our circumstances. I don’t think that the idea thats promoted which is ‘people should be happy with their lot because it’s better than being in Africa’, etc should be a way governments and oppositions justify there decisions that affect the poor in society. It’s all a conditioning and desensitizing process to keep marginalizing the marginalized…

  33. Ok, I haven’t commented on the several ‘idle speculation’ threads as I’ve thought they were all too hypothetical and far out to be of much real use but I have to comment on the public v private education thing that’s cropped up.
    1. Many (that means not all but a significant number) of families accessing private education are not wealthy by any measure,
    2. Historically (and typically) state governments carry the bulk of the funding burden for public schools and the federal government (obviously together with users) the bulk of private.
    3. Under our tax system people on comparable taxable incomes pay comparable taxes on a federal level, income plays only an indirect role in payment of State taxes (putting aside things collected by the Feds and directed to the States – eg GST, fuel excise etc),
    4. So users of the two schooling systems are treated no differently for tax purposes,
    5. The users of both systems are subsidised by the tax system – although to different degrees,
    6. The users of the private school system are entitled to public schooling places, and pay for the place through their taxes – but do not take up that place.
    7. The users of the private system instead use a private space and susbside their choice through direct payments.
    8. This means the public place they could have used (and have paid for) is available to some other child.
    9. The users of public schools (of which I am one) are entitled to the public school place, pay for it through their taxes – and use that space.
    10. It would appear as though private schooling users are effectively subsidising the public system by paying (as does everyone paying taxes but without public schooled children) for places that they are not using.
    I am not sure that this argument is correct but I’ve heard lots of private schooled families use it.
    Can anyone tell me how it is wrong?

  34. Hi Adam. Just to put everyones mind at ease i am not a communist. Having studied this ideology have come to the conclusion that it is a form of state capitalism and no friend of the worker or the environment. I come from an ALP background not the CPA. I just see through my wifes studies and my personal ones the link between Governments, Capitalism and the destruction of the environment and promotion of poverty. Until profits at all cost is replaced by production for the benefit of the environment and its inhabitants, then things like Global warming and poverty will not be changed

  35. The problems i have with the private schools are
    1. promotes elitism except in Catholic Schools
    2. Puts those who can least afford it but want to give their kids the best into huge debt. except in Catholic Schools as their fees are reasonable
    3. promotes religion
    4. If people want private schools then why should the government help fund
    them while it cant look after its own state schools.
    5. promotes inequality as single parents, unemployed, disabled cannot even dream of private school.

    The solution would be the proper care of state schools as they are in a total mess and let the churches ( who are never short of a quid) fund their own schools

  36. Sasha the CEOs, Board members, high fliers, multinationals bosses all ride on the back of the 95% and contribute nothing but a system of inequality and rape of the environment

  37. Oh bill – what’s your world economic system that will alleviate poverty and hunger? And what will ensure that it works? And what incentives are you going to build into it to ensure that it does indeed work?

  38. How did we get so far off the topic? oh yes i dared to say that Rudd wont rip up work choices. What ever happens at least we should see the end of Howard

  39. Bill – I think you need to work on your terminology. the bourgeoisie are the MIDDLE class (as opposed to the aristocracy and/or ruling class) – lawyers, senior management etc – while the petty bourgeosie are the lower middle class (small business, police, teachers etc). If you insist on using dated expressions, you should at least get them right. It only undermines your otherwise laudable sentiments.

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