The past fortnight has seen much talk emerge from the Coalition camp of encouraging internal polling in sensitive seats. Tony Barrass of The Australian today reports that a Crosby-Textor poll conducted a fortnight ago had the Liberals on track to retain their 10 seats in Western Australia while also gaining another of the remaining five, Cowan. On Saturday, The Australian reported a jump in the party’s support in the crucial seat of Bass. This was apparently putting Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull under pressure to approve Gunns’ proposed Tamar pulp mill, regardless of the damage this would cause to his own position in Wentworth. The senior Liberal source behind the story reckoned that Turnbull’s seat was not in trouble.
And yet, on the other hand, we also have reports the Liberals have begged Jackie Kelly, Warren Entsch, Kay Elson, Geoff Prosser, Trish Draper and Barry Wakelin to abandon their plans to retire, to improve the party’s chances of retaining their seats of Lindsay, Leichhardt, Forde, Forrest, Makin and Grey. Remarkably, Phillip Coorey of the Sydney Morning Herald reported yesterday that Liberal polling showed Grey, held by a margin of 13.8 per cent, would be lost unless Wakelin stayed on. It was further reported he had briefly agreed to do so before changing his mind again, with his nominated successor Rowan Ramsey urged to smooth the path by stepping aside.
On the other side of the fence, Paige Taylor of The Australian talks of Labor polling which shows it set to double its margin in Brand, the outer southern Perth seat being vacated by former leader Kim Beazley.
Labor MP Gavan O’Connor, who lost preselection in his seat of Corio to ACTU assistant secretary Richard Marles, raised eyebrows by declining to farewell parliament during last week’s presumed valedictory speech. Mark Davis of the Sydney Morning Herald speaks of a frisson of anxiety in Kevin Rudd’s office at the thought of O’Connor standing against Marles as an independent.
A huge round of applause for Luke Miller and his revamped Cassandra Senate election calculator, which allows us to set quotas and input our own preference tickets. This means it can be used to play out any hypothetical scenario not only for both half and full Senate elections, but also for all mainland state upper houses.
I abandoned the practice of fisking newspaper commentary on opinion polls early in the history of this site, because it seemed too much like shooting fish in a barrel. Give thanks that Possum Comitatus harbours no such qualms.