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. Tony

    16 seats is alot to win, but not unreasonable. Hawke and Howard went 20+ seats when they won and left the Opposition to flounder for a decade in the two most recent changes of Government and State Government victories have been pretty substantial too.

    The pattern suggests 16 seats is very gettable (for want of a less tragic concept) in today’s election form guide.

    Night all


  2. With respect to some in this thread I think this is very different from Franklin. Then Hawke needed Franklin to mobilise the younger vote that was uninspired with the man himself, something he used green issues to do thereafter. This time they have that covered with climate change, Garrett is under no pressure to react to this. The problem here is for the government’s soft heartland in the cities. Labor is tactically right on this, it is a government problem not a Labor problem like it was in 1983.

    Btw when Greens threaten Labor I do think they are throwing around political muscle they don’t have. They are much more dependant on Labor that they like to admit these days. If Labor claws back its green agenda, it will harm, not help, the Greens.

  3. I’m sorry if I came across as name dropping or whatever, that wasn’t the intent. I was trying to say that although I like the ideas and banter that gets thrown around here, I think the predictions of a ALP win based on the “feelings” or polls are not valid (I wish they were)

    I mention my family induced “contacts” only to show that the ppl who are telling me that it’s going to be deadly close are serious ppl. It doesn’t mean anybody’s thoughts or opinion here are less valid. All points are valid but obviously if you’re in the “game” then you know a lot and don’t let “others” know what you know..

    I have NFI who will win, I just know that major ppl DO NOT believe this is going be anything but a lineball election. The polls as such suggest a wipe out. Everything we know suggest this is true so of course we should go with the info we have, I’m just saying that here’s another bit of info (I hope their wrong)…

    The ppl who live and die for this are not anywhere near as sure

  4. Hi ChrisD, no problem with the name-dropping, I actually like it, I am just not sure that those in the middle of this are in touch with what has been going on this time. It is interesting for example to see how Dennis Shanahan, whose government contacts are excellent, has been led astray by them so much this year. The Australian editorial attacking the blogs for not having these contacts (which some of them actually do!) has to answer for the fact it has called this year so poorly so far.

  5. Munz you are right, Howard would prefer to get every last day out of it but the fact is that the public would punish him unmercifully for annoying them over Christman and New Years with an election campaign.

  6. Wow, this board is rocking tonight!
    Lots of stimulating discussion!
    I think the election will be called for late October or early November.
    It’d be better for everyone if Gunns pulls out, and that pulp mill is never built – both major parties would heave a sigh of relief.
    I agree with Glen that most of Rudd’s shadow ministry is quite invisible and ineffectual. What have we heard lately from Stephen Smith, Nicola Roxon, Garrett, Craig Emerson etc? Nothing. It’s Rudd, Gillard and Swan carrying the can. Still too many hacks that need to be replaced by Bill Shorten, Combet, Bob Debus, Maxine McKew(if she wins).

  7. The closer you are to something the worse the perspective. People’s analysis close to the action may suffer from lack of wide vision.

  8. Yes this board is rocking! … and I need some sleep.

    I must concur with the Shrike here about the Greens. Bob Brown came across on lateline tonight like a little bloke who is holding a birthday party but no one wants to come!

    Then to act as though Labor would really miss out without their help, to be honest, just sounded pretty hollow. Some facts:

    1. Labor is healthy in the polls, I’m not convinced it needs heaps of HTV Green help to get over the line
    2. Greens voters vote how they damn-well please, so HTVs are less useful than almost any other party.. therefore preferences give little.
    3. Family First is apparently giving out numbers like a deli to talk turkey and are well-positioned between the major parties. FFP could well (and have done in the past) deliver HOR seats to either party in many marginals.
    4. Given point 3. I haven’t seen Steve Fielding getting all Bolshi about what they’ll do if they don’t get preferences.
    5. With the Dems on a de-fibrillator, the Greens are somewhat strong, if lonely out on the Left fringe now, so I don’t see the bullets in the magazine that Bob Brown is barking about.
    6. It seems pretty clear that FFP will be a damn sight easier to deal with for both parties in a tight senate than the Greens. FFP is tight on amendments but more committed to getting stuff through modified than the Greens. With them you could get a slow trickle of legislation.

    Why doesn’t Bob save printing all his HTV cards and keep the trees in the ground instead?

  9. Even if Howard loses his CV will still be better than…Fraser, Hawke and Keating…

    Howard 1996-2007 or
    Howard 1996-2008 – I’m sure he’d prefer this one…

    I think if Labor is going to win they are going to have to convince people they have a ‘team’ that can run the country…if all we see is Rudd…we hardly see Swan or Gillard anymore then people will be wary of electing the ALP if it appears that they can’t automatically take over running the nation…

    I think this is a line of attack Howard can use to point out the inexperience, invisibility of Rudd’s ‘team’ compared to his…after all we’ve heard alot from Mal Brough, Tony Abbot, Joe Hockey, Helen Coonan i think we need to hear more Labor policy from the shadow ministers…i know Australian politics is getting more Presidential as illustrated by Michael Danby’s Melbourne Ports News Pamphlet being enclosed in an envelope with Kevin Rudd’s name plastered in Big Black Letters on it…but still politics is never a one man band…Howard wouldnt have been Prime Minister for 11 years had he not had a strong ministerial team to help him stay in power for this long.

    Labor’s shadow ministers have gone missing in action

    Nicola Roxon…(did she say anything when Rudd announced his take over plan/2b injection into health)…she really does struggle against Tony Abbot for obvious reasons.

    Julia Gillard…invisible for months only just popped her head up for Mark II of Labor’s IR policy

    Wayne Swan…almost invisible not a peep from him on economic issues for a considerable period where has he got to?

    Simon Crean…he’s the shadow minister for trade havent heard him speak for many months…

    Lindsey Tanner…he’s gone off the planet not heard anything from him in a long long time…

    Peter Garrett…hardly a peep out of him on the pulp mill but somehow finds his way to join Roxon and Rudd’s visit to a hospital…maybe Garrett should focus on environmental issues first.

    Anthony Albanese…not one word from him on the progression of the Murray Darling Water Plan or any Labor alternative proposals..

    Joel Fitzgibbon…has he made more than 2 media conferences since he became shadow for defence…another invisible and forgettable shadow minister…

    Robert McClelland…the shadow foreign minister and the one to take over from Downer who’s had 11 years in the job…Robert has gone missing in action since he said to a visiting Chinese delegation that Alexander Downer is a liar and a fraud…for good reason he’s made himself invisible

    What does all this demonstrate?
    That Labor are a one man band…there is virtually nothing backing Rudd up…Rudd ill admit is popular with the electorate but his invisible front bench leaves much to be desired and will most certainly be a handicap for his chances of winning the election…no wonder Rudd gave them all a pep talk they’ve all gone MIA.

  10. Kina

    True and I hope your right.

    But if both sides think its going to be close (remember that I’m talking about comments off the record here)…

    For both sides to be wrong,

    Then it wont be a shitfight to the end

    Unfortunatly, I think it will be

    I’m pretty sure these guys are good at politics,,

  11. Glen,

    All you ever do is repeat the same old arguments over and over and over again. Give it a break. No one is paying attention. Why do you think that arguments that have failed over and over are suddenly going to start making sense to people? All you are doing is repeating the same arguments on every Liberal Party supporter web site.

  12. [Even if Howard loses his CV will still be better than…Fraser, Hawke and Keating…

    Howard 1996-2007]

    It’s not how long you are P.M. that counts, it’s what you do with it.

    If Howard waits to 2008 the Liberals will lose by 50 seats.

    According to The Oz, Turbull has buggered up the extension process. He had to gazette it, and inform Gunns by yesterday, but he didn’t do it. Look out, Gunns could take the Feds to court over this:,25197,22331385-601,00.html

  13. Paul k i could argue what you are arguing that all you ever say is what the ALP says now that would be a simple explanation…the fact is that you think any differing opinion cannot be of someones own beliefs is shameful, you actually insult me paul k by continually saying my views are from none other from Liberal HQ now for gods sake when you support Kevin Rudd or the ALP do i say that about you???

    My last post was not related to any other post ive made paul just so you know that…im just putting forward my opinions i dont expect to ‘win’ any votes on here most people are rusted on anyway…but you can at least respect my own opinions instead of fobbing them off as propaganda that is no way to win a debate i suggest that your standard line that its from HQ is just an attempt to avoid countering my beliefs…

  14. Speaking of Howards CV. Imagine if he had lost 1998, which he could have. A half-decent advertising campaign from the ALP would have helped. That campaign was atrocious. Remember the buzzing GST fly? The 1993 commercials were much more effective in attacking the GST, why didn’t they just recycle those.

    Howard’s record would have been: Prime Minister, 1996-1998. A nuff nuff.

  15. @309 Generic O sez “2. Greens voters vote how they damn-well please, so HTVs are less useful than almost any other party.. therefore preferences give little.”

    Do you make this s**t up as you go along?

    For example: at the NSW State Election in March the Greens did not allocate preferences on the HTV ie. the suggestion was to vote 1 only. About 60% of the 5% who voted Green stuck to this. This seems to be fairly disciplined.

    It seems to me that reading through the comments tonight that the supporters of A(nother) L(iberal) P(arty) are suffering from incipient hubris. Having seen off the Conans here they now thurn their vitriol onto the Greens. Votes for the very talented and committed Green candidates and the preference flow may prove crucial in the main objective which is as some of youse need to be reminded is to get rid of this hateful government. In any event I cannot see how playing ducks and drakes with ALP Senate preferences as occurred last time out see the election of Fielding whose votes in his time in the Senate have not been helpful to the Social Democratic agenda which I presume the Greens and the ALP share.

    Howard may well have another Tampa, Twin Towers or whatever with which to scare the electorate in to staying with his “safe pair of hands”.

    The 1969 election result (which ifor those younger than me was the subject of Don’s Party should be kept firmly in mind in the next few weeks. That result made me and others who were impatient for an end to two decades of Toryism as sick as a parrot and I well remember the horrors of the WA figures coming in very early on December 3rd 1972 too.

    Think on lads.

  16. For example: at the NSW State Election in March the Greens did not allocate preferences on the HTV ie. the suggestion was to vote 1 only. About 60% of the 5% who voted Green stuck to this

    This referred to the Blacktown electorate

  17. Someone was asking about evidence for Bush’s rantings about Iran last night, believe it was post #260? Bush made a speech in Nevada to a group of war veterans en route to Australia for the APEC summit. I saw clips of his speech on Sky News. At least in the televised clips, he was very strongly suggesting that Iran keep their hands off of the internal Iraqui situation.


  18. Albert Ross (319),

    The Senate possibilities, with numbers, have been presented many times. It is impossible for Labor to win control of the Senate. It is close to impossible for the Greens to win the balance of power there. It is even extremely unlikely that the coalition will lose its blocking majority there. Consequently, the Senate result is of no importance to Labor. Its task is to win government, and if recommending Senate preferences to Family First will win it FF preferences in marginal seats, it will make a deal – and so it should.

    The Greens need to wait for the almost inevitable double dissolution election with the 7.7 per cent quota to gain the balance of power. If their preferencing strategy stops Labor winning, it will also stop a double dissolution and thus stop them getting the balance of power. If they want to do that, my only request is that they not complain afterwards.

  19. Howard 1996-2007 or
    Howard 1996-2008 – I’m sure he’d prefer this one…

    He might, but the odds are that the footnotes on the resume might look like this:


    * Lost the election 100-48
    # Lost the election 105-43

    He might also lose his own seat if he pushes it too far, but potentially save it if he times it right.

    I personally think he’s got Buckley’s either way, but the speculation is fun 🙂

  20. Simon (317) – thanks for the link. I normally don’t bother with the Oz editorial because it’s always pro-govt, but this is quite striking. It basically trashes Howard’s entire legacy. I think they’ve turned for sure now.

    There’ll be the isolated diehards who continue on regardless, but I think the worm has turned in this paper.

  21. Glen re:

    “he’s been instrumental in bringing relations with Indonesia extremely close…he’s firmly supported the East Timorese Independence”

    You don’t see something inherently self contradictory in those two statements?

    The Indonesians are really “close” on the issue of West Irian refugees?

    Do you think inviting Indonesia to bomb us comes straight out of a text book on International Relations 101? (Keep in mind Downer was trying to justify us bombing terrorists in Indonesia without the consent of the Indonesian government, an act of war if ever there was one)

    Does peddling revisionist history (that Curtin was an appeaser) to university college students not give you some measure of the man’s status as an intellectual pygmy?

  22. Rob 260

    Link to article about Bush and the religous right,

    Family First says the Greens holding the balance of power is scary, what is more scary and frighteneing is the type of groups that make up Family First, such as the “Catch the Fire” ministry with their strong ties to the religous right in America.

    So impressive was Bush’s powerful religious rhetoric that he soon came to be recognized as the new leader of the Christian Right in America. On the day before Christmas, 2001, the Washington Post reported that “Pat Robertson’s resignation this month as President of the Christian Coalition confirmed the ascendance of a new leader of the religious right in America: George W. Bush.

    Glorious Appearing, End of Days: LaHaye and The Council for National Policy

    In the last two decades, Tim LaHaye has emerged as not only the theological brains behind the best-selling Left Behind series, but also as one of the most influential figures in the American Christian Right.

  23. Arbie

    You know I love you mate but this is “bogey man” stuff, it really is. FFP is anything but scary and a growing primary vote in every election since 2003 suggests that it is resonating far beyond churched people. Not a lot of people are using the “religious right” tag with them anymore, it just doesn’t stick. Their policies and voting patterns have led most respected commentators, including, I believe, William Bowe and Bryan Palmer to consider them broadly Centre-Right and certainly left of Libs. So they are socially conservative, Greens and Dems are socially progressive. That is equally scary to many (which is why the Greens are not a major party nor are they on the rise). Horses for courses mate… but there’s no evil under the bed!!

    I don’t mind living next to Christians… live and let live I say. Aren’t we supposed to be tolerant?

  24. Simon (317), that’s a remarkable editorial in the Australian. Are you sure it’s not a hoax?

    I found myself agreeing with almost all of it. I was particularly intrigued by the bagging of the Mersey Hospital policy, and the failure to tell the people in advance abut WorkChoices (a policy which the Oz actually likes). It virtually endorses Labor’s argument that Howard has wasted the fruits of the mining boom.

    I absolutely agree that the Oz is gearing up for a turnaround to back to Rudd, and that probably means that Murdoch has spoken. Rupert likes a winner, and if he sees the tide turning he’ll ride the wave. The comment in the editorial about the media ownership laws was very interesting….may have come straight from the Murdoch bukner.

  25. simon, thanks for the links to the Oz. With yesterday’s editorial and now this one, they are definately turning…Especially like : “after 11 years in office, the Howard Government’s achievements leave a lot to be desired” and “there is little to indicate that Mr Howard and the Treasurer have used their time in office to set the country up for the decades ahead”

    quite transparantly they say at the end “this should not be seen as an endorsement of Labor” and their Bored of comfort title isnt a bit of cop out. But still pleasing to see…

    Waiting for Rupert’s endorsement now.

    Wonder what Glen’s spin will be – i’m sure we dont have to wait long!!

  26. I don’t have much of a problem with Family First. We know where they stand on social issues, they’re open the negotiation with the major parties, and they do represent a genuine slice of the population.

    I reckon Rudd’s policies on WorkChoices, and Rudd’s personal religious conservatism, will get a lot of FF preference flows to Labor. Of particular interest is Rudd’s promise to introduce family impact statements on legislation. That’s a top priority for FF, and I would think they feel let down that Howard hasn’t introduced these statements, despite giving hints before the last election that he wasn’t opposed to the idea.

    Though I’m not an FF supporter, do have a family and don’t think family impact statements would be a bad thing (though they’re really a bit of a gimmick).

    If Labor can get a good chunk of FF preferences from one direction, and the majority of Greens preferences from the other, how can Howard survive?

  27. Albert Ross

    No, on the contrary Albert, I do not make up stuff as I go along. Those that know me on this site will confirm this. You sound like a Greens supporter and your view is fairly common, ie: that preferences actually matter a lot with the Greens when, in fact, the Greens are generally alone in believing this.
    Some references, to keep you busy:

    “Overall, how-to-vote cards tend to work for the major parties. Voters for minor candidates are not necessarily so easy to predict. All parties know that it is important to have polling booths staffed on election day so that every voter receives a copy of the how-to-vote card.”

    According to data reported by Lisa Crago on Crikey:

    “A study of 16 years of electoral survey data overwhelmingly shows that
    Australian Green voters DO NOT follow the how to vote cards for the House of
    Reps 76% of the time. Even more interesting is that 79% of those same voters
    preferenced the ALP anyway. In contrast, Family First Party voters follow
    their HTV cards 46% of the time. The only place this differs is in the Upper
    house where most would rather place a “1″ in the party box than fill out the
    often gigantic number of boxes. Political parties like the Greens like to
    ignore these studies and pressure the ALP on policy; and the ALP falls for
    it every time. ”

    Now these stats do vary from election to election and even from seat to seat, but it is low-brow to suggest that I am making stuff (faeces or otherwise) up, simply because you don’t like it.

    It seems to be more and more the case that the Greens are somewhat alone. Good on them for sticking to their principles but politics is a game and you can’t just say “we’re not playing the preference game” on one hand and hope to be a major player on the other. Either get off the high horse or shut up about not getting preferences.

    I am no Labor hack, but they are right (and smart) to shore up all the support they need (and none that they don’t) to get into power and aligning with the Greens (as last election shows patently) is a POOR strategy. Like it or not, Greens voters will give Labor a boost, preference or not. Who needs to deal???

  28. Yes, it seems that Mr Murdoch is about to desert the sinking ship SS Howard Government. If the Ruddster has the News Ltd tabloids and the Aus in his pocket, a huge psychological blow to the Rodent.

  29. Hater

    See also editorial in Melbourne’s normally rabid Herald-Sun. The tone has certainly changed. Something’s afoot …

  30. I think if Labor is going to win they are going to have to convince people they have a ‘team’ that can run the country…if all we see is Rudd…we hardly see Swan or Gillard anymore then people will be wary of electing the ALP if it appears that they can’t automatically take over running the nation…

    Glen, this might sound good to you, but there is simply no evidence for it. It’s been pointed out to you many times before that this has never been a factor in any election previously.

    If you think this is true please list even one Federal election where you think that “strength of the team” had a decisive impact on the result.

    It certainly wasn’t a factor in 1996. Downer for one was buried about 3 kilometres underground away from the media. Other than Costello riding his debt truck, it was just Howard, Howard, Howard.

    after all we’ve heard alot from Mal Brough, Tony Abbot, Joe Hockey, Helen Coonan

    And I hope we keep hearing a lot more all the way to the election. Should lock it in at about 60-40 🙂

  31. The closer you are to something the worse the perspective. People’s analysis close to the action may suffer from lack of wide vision.

    Players have to think, and certainly have to make people around them think that they are just behind in the game because thats the position to inspire you to work hardest.

    After all, every leader in every election is always the underdog…

  32. I note that some of you are happy to believe that Family First are the warm, fuzzy, cuddly type of conservatives. Personally I’m not convinced. I am sure they have good intentions but my problem with religious based parties is that they alway start out as Meek and Mild Jesus of the New Testament when they are trying to get power but once they’ve got it they transform into the Vengeful, Punishing God of the Old Testament. My particular concern with FF is the way they avoid embarassing questions and are give very vague answers to questions on contraversial issues. Maybe I’ve just got a suspicious mind but I do wonder what it is they are trying to hide.

  33. The problem Mr. Howard has got now is that it _is time for an election_! The story of the day will be increasingly – ‘will he go to Yarralumla – no he didn’t go to Yarralumla – when will he go to Yarralumla’. It’ll be hard for him to get any positive or negative message or theme with this as the dominant issue. The longer he waits to declare – the more time he’ll be wasting for a possible, though improbable, comeback. Shortly after APEC with a longish campaign.

  34. From the The OZ just in

    “THE High Court today overturned changes to federal government legislation made last year which bars prison inmates from voting.

    However, the court upheld earlier legislation which stipulated any prisoners serving a jail term of three years or longer could not vote.

    Reasons behind the decision will be released later.”

    Looks like prisoners with jail terms under 3 years WILL be able to vote after all.

  35. #331 – I think I’ve said this around here before, but a great illustration of the effect (or lack thereof) of Green HTV cards was in the 2002 Victorian election, where I was working in a seat where the Greens ran a split ticket in the Lower House and preferenced Labor in the Upper. The result – Labor actually got fewer Green preferences in the Upper House than the Lower in that seat (76% to 72%).

  36. Centrebet updated now $1.50 ALP, $2.60 LNP. This is becoming quite significant now. There must be no new money for the government even at these quite good odds.

  37. The result – Labor actually got fewer Green preferences in the Upper House than the Lower in that seat (76% to 72%).

    IANAS – is this a satistically significant difference?

    Was the way in which preferences had to be allocated by the voter different for each house?

  38. Malcolm Turnbull will make his decision before election day and obviously there is a reason for his timing.
    Bob Brown gave credit where it was due this morning and sounded quite enthusiastic.
    There’s an awful lot of communication happening between Malcolm Turnbull personally and interested parties.
    Malcolm will be able to swing vital Green preferences to him in his electorate. He has six weeks to talk to people and he already is talking.
    This issue is much much bigger than many Labor supporters understand.
    As Geoffrey Cousins said, many people are talking about this around the dinner table – the proverbial “doctors’ wives” – but are not speaking out publicly.
    It takes a huge issue to get 25,000 individuals to actually take the trouble to put together a submission, even if only a one page letter.
    Malcolm is attempting to set himself up as the next PM.
    He may do just that. His departmental people already regard him as PM in waiting not just a mere minister.
    It is no use repeating the shibboleth that Greens voters always give 75% of their preferences to Labor.
    Many Greens voters are not hard left, though a number are. Very many are middle class middle income people who care deeply about environmental, as opposed to social, issues. Some Greens voters are multi-millionaires and I know some of these.
    Kevin Rudd and Peter Garrett are about to be outflanked on green issues.
    Expect some huge announcements on sustainable energy funding as well.
    The election may turn out to be more interesting than some expect.

  39. also on election timing it has just been pointed out to me that the Rugby (union) World Cup final is on October 20. Probably makes it unlikely that the election will be on that date.

    Isn’t there also a PM’s XI Cricket match on in November? Might want to have the election out of the way by then?

    On the Malcolm Turnbull taking six weeks. If he really does take six weeks to make his decision – and he can make a decision then (ie the government is not in Caretaker mode) – it will be the middle of October – hence the election would run to very late November or early December. He can’t make a unilateral announcement once the election is announced, although the Liberal Party can announce a policy to be implemented after the election.

  40. Thats an amazing editorial in the Oz, thanks for bringing that to our attention Simon. Pretty much backs up every economic arguement made on this blog by those on the ALP side (at least since I’ve been coming here). It’s Labors economy – always has been, here’s hoping Kev keeps up the good work when he gets it back.

  41. I think the Australian editorial is quite remarkable, especially taken in the context of their historical editorials. I think this is the first sign of the Australian deserting what is surely a sinking ship … Has a whiff of the Sun circa 1997 in the UK.

  42. yeah i was expecting ‘RUDD WILL RUIN AUSTRALIA’

    and ‘UNIONS TO TAKE CONTROL’ type headlines and stories.

    well well well.

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