Good ol’ Yankee know-how

Sky News is broadcasting four “Voters Verdict” programs each night until Friday at 9.30pm EST. These feature American blow-in Frank Luntz and a 24-member focus group divided evenly between Labor-leaning and Coalition-leaning undecided voters. These voters will participate in “instant audience response dial sessions” that will measure their reactions to statements made by the two leaders. As you may have guessed, the instant audience response dial procedure is better known in this part of the world as “the worm”. Luntz was in the news yesterday after describing the Prime Minister as “a world leader for invective”, which suggests he is taking his time to acclimatise to Australia’s political culture. A preview program which aired last night can be viewed at The Australian site.

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.

435 comments on “Good ol’ Yankee know-how”

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  1. “However, I do watch internet porn – that’s my one big sin”

    Lord D:

    OK then. You’re accepted back to the real men of Melbourne club.

  2. Cedric, dont know how you can claim Howard ‘demolished’ latham in the 2004 debate. i observed it as a slight win for Latham but can see how others could rate it a draw or perhaps slight win for Howard. But ‘demolished?’, that came on election night, not the debate.

  3. Simon Howson – that may be true, IF you believe opinion polls …..

    Asanque – amusing, but irrelevant.

    Lord D – as I said before, I am just telling it how it is. I do not concede that Howard will be defeated, on the contrary, he will win – by between one and three seats (and that’s all it takes ….)

    So says Cerdic Conan.

  4. nath – I watched the 2004 debate, and every time Latham came out with vague, feel-good motherhood statements (remind you of someone …) Howard nailed him, as Latham had nothing substantial, no detail, to back up what he was saying. Howard on the other hand, had a solid record of achievement and concrete policies to point to. He demolished Latham. So says Cerdic Conan.

  5. And by the way, Lord D – I am not a hard core Lib. For example, if I was British and had lived in Britain over the past decade I would have voted for Tony Blair. I support whoever can deliver actual outcomes, and provide strong leadership. I don’t necessarily support any particular political party. So says Cerdic Conan.

  6. Not that it matters.

    [‘The debate was followed (only on the Nine Network) by an analysis of the leaders’ performance by the “worm”. The worm works by analysing the approval or disapproval of a select group of undecided voters to each statement that a leader makes. Throughout the debate, according to the worm, Latham performed strongly and Howard performed poorly. A final poll of the focus group found that 67% of the focus group believed that Latham won the debate and that 33% of the focus group believed that Howard won. Major media outlets generally agreed that Latham had won the debate, although they pointed out that with no further debates scheduled and nearly four weeks of the campaign remaining, Latham’s gain in the momentum from the debate was unlikely to be decisive.’]

  7. Let me give you an example of strong leadership – the Man of Steel’s Northern Territory intervention to stamp out child abuse in inidgenous communities. Definitely the moral challenge of our time. Dudd says he supports it (he talks the talk), but does anyone believe he would have actually DONE it if he were PM (walking the walk). That’s the difference. So says Cerdic Conan.

  8. [Simon Howson – that may be true, IF you believe opinion polls …..]

    I believe them when 30 in a row say basically the same thing.

  9. Asanque – you have just evidenced my point nicely – the ‘Worm’ awarded the debate to Latham by a two thirds majority. And how seriously did the ordinary punters take that?

  10. Comical Cerdic: By that logic, Howard should try to lose his next TV debate with Rudd, as losing the TV debate is a pre-requisite to winning the election 😛

  11. ” Howard will fall over the line, just as Menzies did ”

    Those who depend on history to repeat itself will be disappointed.

    There’s some big differences between now and 1961. Labor won just as many seats back then as Menzies but Menzies was only saved because the seats in the NT and ACT didn’t have full voting rights. Today it’s a different story. Also today there is no equivalent of the DLP to save Howard this time around.

  12. Of course all analysis of the 2004 election remains incomplete without considering ‘the handshake’ and its consequences. How many votes did that lose?

  13. Significant problems for the Government closer to the election day will be:

    1. WorkChoices Part 2 the unknown
    2. People would understand that Howard would take a win as a mandate to do whatever he wanted – they no longer trust him that much to do what is right for the people
    3. People understand Howard’s evangelical stance on a nuclear industry means he will push ahead regardless

    Actually i dont rate Downer or Abbott that high – they have shown their potty mouths and attitude revealing they are at heart juvenile and spiteful. Hardly leadership stuff.

  14. [Simon Howson – there was once a man named Jeff Kennett who believed in opinion polls …..]

    Yeah, but you’re forgetting that he was arrogant, and out of touch,, kind of like… HOWARD.

  15. Onan

    Kennett didn’t see it coming, the media – except one report in The Age – didn’t see it coming, the polls didn’t see it … and the punters dumped Kennett spectacularly. They will do the same to Howard. I’ve bored people silly with that theory for years.

    Re debate Howard vs Rudd. It would be short. There’s a limit to the number of times you can say “union bosses …”

  16. I thought there wasn’t a ‘debate’ in 2004. Wasn’t it just an interview session with a selected media panel?

  17. Got to disagree Derek:”the punters dumped Kennett spectacularly”

    As that report in the Age suggested it would come about through a rural backlash which is not going to happen this year. the 1999 Victorian election was remarkable for the city population (generally) supporting kennett and the rural population voting him out. unbeleivable!

    1999 was all about rural lib voters destroying the government.

  18. In find it very funny that Costello has attacked a polling firm for bias because it produced some poll results that he doesn’t agree with:,25197,22327547-11949,00.html

    It was the Ipsos poll that shows the ALP now marginally considered better economic managers. Costello has had a go at the entire company because one of its managers is a FORMER ALP member. Even though the questions were requested by Meet the Press.

    Doesn’t Costello have an economy to run, politburo style? He obviously knows the government is about to get belted because he is participating in irrelevances.

  19. ” Menzies fell over the line because of Jim Killen and Communist Party prefs ”

    Actually that’s a bit of a myth. Though Communist Party prefs helped they weren’t enough on their own to get Killen over the line.

    Here’s an interesting article on 1961 win by Killen if anyone is interested:

  20. Fair enough Nath, but there is a backlash, nonetheless. It’s coming perhaps not from the bush, rather the cities. But I wonder about the bush, too … they have long memories out there and bear grudges.

  21. People here are wrong when they say that no polls predicted Kennett would lose in 1999. The Morgan F2F poll, which was published monthly in the Bulletin at the time, kept saying it would be very close, like 50-50; this was actually a long run for about 6 months. On election day, Newspoll had the Libs only ahead 51-49, and ACN had them ahead 54-46.

    There were consequences for me in having the Morgan F2F poll be right for this election, as I believed it in the lead-up to the 2001 Fed election. On the weekend before the election, this poll had Labor in front 54.5-45.5, and it was absolutely devastating for me when Labor lost. I was in a state of shock for the next month, before that shock turned to anger, then to absolute hate for Howard and the Australian people.

  22. “People here are wrong when they say that no polls predicted Kennett would lose”

    Actually you are right Lord D but as I remember no-one paid attention to the polls as Kennett was all over the media acting like Emperor Napeleon at the gates of Moscow.

  23. Cerdic,
    if this election is truly analagous to 1961 then the Coalition will lose, because in 1961 Menzies had the advantage of the rural malapportioning – 10 % less population required for ‘rural’ electorates.

  24. “Can anything like that save Howard now?”

    Hard to see anything that can. There not a single poll that’s moving in the right direction fast enough. Not even one.

  25. I’m interested in whether the length of the ‘campaign’ has impacted these polls at all. Will we still see a drift towards to govt at the beginning of the official campaign? Or has that ‘phenomenon’ been abandoned with the seemingly year long campaign that has been waged?

  26. Shame about banning Cerdic. He seemed to be able to confidently predict the future.

    [Asanque – I’m just telling it like it is. There is a vague, restless mood for change, but no real reason to turf the government out, just like in 1961. The result will be the same – history repeats itself. Howard will fall over the line, just as Menzies did.]

    A man with such impeccable insight into the future could be very useful indeed for Saturday’s lotto numbers.

    Howard’s greatest gift to the nation will be a TAX and a SLAVE Labour law. Throw in a few big LIES and an illegal WAR and his legacy can only be crowned by getting kicked out of office as sitting PM and bringing about the dark ages for the Libs. History will be no friend of Howard’s.

  27. “Shame about banning Cerdic.”

    I’m sure Cerdic will reappear in another guise with a new name and IP address. Guys like him can’t resist.

  28. I’m so thrilled: Cerdic Conan is back! Woohoo!
    Cerdic: if I recall, a few weeks ago you were bravely predicting a Coalition majority of 20…..revised your prediction recently, I notice LOL
    Lord D: Not even in my wildest dreams can I envisage Rudd winning 100 seats! Very over optimistic, in my opinion. If he gets to 80 seats, that’ll be a damn fine result.
    Beer, wine and internet porn: love it all!

  29. Load D: writes [absolute hate for Howard and the Australian people].

    Bit harsh. I think your consolation prize is going to be the destruction of the liberal party; which is really a bit if a worry.

  30. Let’s write his history. I’ll kick it off … OK William?


    John W. Howard was Prime Minister of Australia from X to X. His common nickname was The Rodent, a tag bestowed upon him by a member of his own party, Senator George Brandis. He was renowned for being loose with the truth. Howard invented the term “non-core” promise to Australian politics. His comments on Asian immigration … haunted him for all of his political life.

    … during the final phase of his tenure as Prime Minister, it was widely believed that …

    … his close association with American President George W. Bush led to Australian troops deployed in Iraq …

    Enough, this is probably silly. But think 10-20 years hence.


    John Howard introduced a code of ministerial conduct, unfortunately too many of his ministers were unable to abide by it. By the end of his term ministers rarely faced censure for incompetence only being sacked for political gains.

  32. William why is Cedric booted when people like Derek add little intelligent debate he’s simply Howard bashing…#94

    Dont worry Howard Hater you’ll still have me to point and laugh at if Rudd wins…

    PM should call election now, says Rudd

    I think we’ll be hearing alot more of this from Mr Rudd…i dont know if it will be a negative for him looking arrogant because of the polls at the moment or whether it will be a negative on Howard for putting off the election…

    I think if Rudd wants a debate on IR then there should be a debate on the economy…i think this is Rudd just trying to score a political point i dont think Howard will risk such an adventure…

    Howard may not debate Rudd at all…this would hurt Mr Rudd more i believe because Howard could say he’s a man no substance follows everything i say except on IR when the Unions dictate it so whats the point debating him giving him a forum putting him side by side Howard to show off the age difference ect…but this could also backfire on Howard if people think he’s arrogant aswell…but nevertheless this tactic did work for Bob Hawke…so perhaps Howard may say no debate Mr Rudd..

  33. Paul K Says:
    August 29th, 2007 at 12:42 pm
    “However, I do watch internet porn – that’s my one big sin”

    Lord D:

    OK then. You’re accepted back to the real men of Melbourne club.

    Sorry fella’s, you are not accepted as Aussie men yet! Have you been to a strip club when you were drunk……


  34. One example of this was the Geoff Prosser affair. Prosser was the Minister for Small Business, but in fact was the owner of a major supermarket. The question of conflict of interest confounded the Liberal Party …

  35. A Prime Minister/Premier can only refuse to debate a weak Opposition Leader who cannot force them to do one. If John Howard refused to have some sort of debate with Rudd the papers would eat him alive for being afraid of Kevin Rudd.

    Didn’t Bob Carr often refuse to debates?

  36. Paul K: Agree about the protocol of name-calling. If one’s argument needs it you’re not confident enough, so good call.

    Kina: I agree with your comments about Downer and Abbott insofar as they do not currently have the level of leadership required to take the helm. Some have argued that this was Labor’s problem after Keating, love him or hate him a strong leader nonetheless.

    Downer freely admits he was a disaster as leader, but I must admit, he really has grown into a statesman-like figure in our foreign affairs internationally. He was awkward and naive when first appointed to Foreign Affairs but now, to be frank, no one, not even Rudd, has the knowledge, relationships and wisdom to fill those shoes now. If we take the Australian Political Party blinkers off, he is very well regarded internationally, to the point where White House insiders are confident that it matters not if Howard goes to Washington after APEC, since Downer is well capable of dealing with everything at the table.

    Abbott certainly is great in parliament (as was Keating), though true leadership is shown outside the “green room” and he just doesn’t have the support in the party at present. He was be awesome to watch serving it up to a Rudd PM. We’d get some good government (and opposition!) then!

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