Phoney war dispatches: endless wait edition

• 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.

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.

382 comments on “Phoney war dispatches: endless wait edition”

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  1. Dolly is on Lateline blaming all the poor countries of the world for not cutting pollution while the rich should be free to pollute at will.

  2. Yep the poor countries are polluting but with rich countries foreign investment within their countries…
    Saw Bush today on the box stating his usual mantra can’t reduce Gases because it will hurt the economy… eventually George unless you act their will be no economy…

  3. Can’t they find another guest for Lateline? Downer is on every frigging week: UGH! Familiarity breeds contempt.
    Why not interview Robert McClelland occasionally?
    Who else has seen the anti WorkChoice ads from the Nurses Federation? The most effective advertising yet!

  4. For people who have taken more notice of Dolly, does he um and er all the time? He so doesn’t give an air of confidence in what he says, only in his attempt at a joke about the ALP party meetings accepting socialism (he must have had that joke planned for years as it sounded well rehearsed)

  5. I voted in the GG online poll about union influence over Labor, but can’t see the results. Anyone know why?

    I dont think Tim [Dunlop] gets the testicular credit he deserves for doing what he’s doing.The office politics would be a hard job.
    Possum Comitatus 263

    Agree completely with that. Dunlop deserves a lot more credit than some are giving him. He is by far the most independent and gutsy voice at the Oz branch of News Corp. (Incidentally, he loves the gig, regards it as a dream job, even with its problems and pressures.)

    The Piping Shrike 297
    What about Mike Steketee?

  6. Hugo at 300

    “does that mean I was right?”

    Sure does. A straight line trend as longevity doesn’t fit well because there was the Howard honeymoon and the 2001 resurgence.But the cubic longevity trend accounts for those and that second graph(the one with the wavy black line) tracks the governments primary vote really well.It explains 45% of the movement in the government primary vote, but explains about 70% of the movement in the government primary vote once sampling variability and general polling noise is accounted for (which I can’t actually graph to show you, its a bit more complicated)

  7. [Dolly is such yawn material. He needs to be in high heels and fish nets to spark up this interview.]

    What on earth is he going on about when comparing voting on climate change to an ALP branch meeting?

    Responses like that show how frustratied he is knowing that his time as a minister is coming to an end.

  8. See, I’m all for having Dolly appear as often as possible. It’s just unfortunate that a) hardly anyone watches lateline and b) it removes the chance for an interesting interview.
    His sour lemon-sucking visage must cost the coalition a fraction of a point every time it appears on TV.

  9. you will need to have your cookies on I think – then clear them – in firefox. I dont think it works in iexplore because it is a partially java script appn and I dont think it clears when you reload the page. Anyway firefox works.

  10. # 317
    See your point about votes.. But i would much prefer to listen to a meaningful interview such as John Pilger, Robert Fisk or Talet Ali.. These people actually told you something of interest and provided a meaningful discussion.. Actually where have they gone? A year ago they were on once a week now…
    Feel sorry for Tony Jones, every week he has to research questions concerning his co-host and to think you get paid for this.. to think you have to get out of bed for this…

  11. red wombat Says:
    September 25th, 2007 at 11:08 pm
    Dolly looking more and more like Herman Munster every week

    And take a close look when Howard is interviewed, sitting and hunched up a little and front on.

    If he’s not morphing into Bob Santamaria, I’m not here.

    Look out for it and you will see what I mean.

  12. Will @ 310: Yes, Dolly’s always like that in any type of longer-form interview. He’s pretty terrible.
    Nuts in K @ 298: Thinking about it more, I suspect the question that they ask of “when did you make up your mind” is probably just an uninformative question. I could easily see plenty of people having a mindset of “well, unless something happens, I’m voting X”. They’d register in the polls as “voting for X” but technically they’ve not actually made up their mind, even if they stick with X, short of a 2nd coming of Latham or similar level event.

    The only way to get something accurate would be to track a whole pile of individuals across the course of a year or more up to an election. There’s a vast number of privacy concerns there, of course. This actually reminds me of the excellent Stephen Bury novel “Interface”, that any politics junkie/psephologist should seek out. (Bury is the pen name for the authors Neal Stephenson and George Jewsbury)

  13. Just Me (311): Steketee is reasonably balanced but never find him especially insightful (or interesting to be honest). Thought his link between Chifley’s bank nationalisation and Howard’s Workchoices was barmy. This is hardly a government that is going down because it is too radical (more like bankrupt and empty). By the way, I thought the best piece of proper political journalism I have read all year was Hartcher’s piece on how Howard voiced his worries to the Cabinet a few weeks ago setting off the leadership drama. A real scoop and a real important insight to the dynamics of that whole period, I thought.

  14. Thanks Possum – It’s always good to have stats that back up my arguments, even if I don’t understand them!

    I have to confess that my reading was more of an intuitive one. I do believe that WorkChoices was the catalyst issue, the issue that broke the bond between the electorate and Howard. I’ve heard a lot over the last year or so that he’d “gone too far” with IR, a widespread anxiety that has been expertly harnessed by the union movement and (less so and belatedly) by Labor. It makes sense really – swing voters are usually pretty apolitical and one of the most effective ways to get people like that engaged is to threaten their livelihoods. Right or wrongly (though I think the former), people can’t see how they win anything out of WorkChoices.

    The Howard longevity issue partly springs from that I feel. Suddenly people were looking differently at Howard, and just about every issue (climate change, Hicks, interest rates, smears) has seen the bounce of the ball go against the government.

    But there is always the risk with a long-serving leader that they suddenly look, well, old. It’s actually a pretty fine line between “wise and experienced” and “old and out-of-touch”, and Howard has crossed it. To use a TV phrase, he’s jumped the shark, and people are a bit over him.

  15. [By the way, I thought the best piece of proper political journalism I have read all year was Hartcher’s piece on how Howard voiced his worries to the Cabinet a few weeks ago setting off the leadership drama. A real scoop and a real important insight to the dynamics of that whole period, I thought.]

    I agree, he revealed that if there was a leadership challenge, Howard would’ve at best got two votes from the cabinet, Abbott and Ruddock.

  16. ShowsOn: I agree and it showed that there wasn’t a leadership challenge but a leadership collapse of confidence, a very different thing. I think that is where the journos have been very slow this year picking it up except in odd bits. They seriously think the government is running an ordinary campaign to win.

  17. My god! Have not read any posts. Mick Keelty, the new terrorism! And Alexander pretends on Lateline he knows nothing of this! As if. What is to be done with Keelty, mouthpiece, servile, ugly? I am ill.

    Knew earlier in the day about the Keelty carry on. Did not Kim Beazley suggest some two or so years ago that drowning islanders may need our help?

    I am disgusted!

  18. Thanks for suggestions, folks.

    Will (315)
    Just Me: are you on a Mac using Safari? If so, use Firefox. I had the same problem.

    Yes, I am on a Mac using Safari. I must get an alternative browser for these occasional hiccups. (The price one pays for being in a minority, on the other hand, I don’t suffer from malware, ever.)

    Scorpio (319): The link works, and I can vote, but the results don’t appear on the page.

    Piping Shrike (323): I agree Steketee isn’t the most exciting journo, but he is consistent and fair, which isn’t exactly the norm for a News Corp journo.

    And Hartcher does do some good work, but is a bit too fickle for my taste.

  19. anthony baxter Says:
    (Having said that – the above mentioned television is jaw-droppingly brilliant TV, so long as you’ve a taste for cringe-comedy)

    I was totally gobsmacked during that show. I didn’t think we had people as deranged as that in this country.

    It would have been hard for any moderator to keep control of a debate like that because the element of surprise was sprung so suddenly and so devastatingly, that it was hard to believe it was actually panning out like it was.

    Classic live television. You don’t see enough of it. The Insight program a couple of weeks ago on Bennalong was good viewing also.

  20. Sorry Adam – I keep forgetting that most people understandably have no f’n idea what I’m talking about with that stuff.

    a cubic longevity trend is just a time trend+a time trend squared + a time trend cubed

    It gives you a shape like an S that is rotated 90 degrees anti-clockwise and where the curvy bits are fitted best to the data.Throw in the workchoices variable and you get a big change when workchoices was introduced in Parliament and continuing through to today.

  21. Possum, no-one has ever been able teach me anything connected with mathematics, so don’t think you’re going to succeed now. I hate to think what might have become of me had the calculator not been invented. I need one to count my feet.

  22. Scorpio (319): The link works, and I can vote, but the results don’t appear on the page.

    Just Me, don’t you worry about that! (Old Queenslander)

    Just you keep on voting and we will check the results for you.

    None – 45%
    Some – 28%
    Considerable – 11%
    All Encompassing – 15%

  23. I am Catholic by upbringing. I assume a person of the name Mick Keelty is. I am not a believer, but old habits of morality are embedded. Which I do not betray. How could he? I am going off line, this I cannot bear.

  24. Possum: Yes, everything about it just makes for classic television. I tried showing it to some buddies at work – they couldn’t cope once the beanie-guy came on. You need to really enjoy the comedy of pain to get through the whole thing.
    Scorpio: Do you have a link to anything about that show? I must have missed it.

  25. With all the bagging we have been giving the Journalistic endevours at the GG, they come up with this little gem.

    Unions fought for us, now fight for them, says ex-PM

    FORMER prime minister Bob Hawke yesterday urged Labor to fight back and “demolish” the lies about unions being peddled by the Coalition, describing the attacks as one of the worst misrepresentations in Australian political history.

    Mr Hawke said the Government, backed by employers, had consistently painted unionists as “thugs” and the trade union movement as “an evil influence” and that the tactic should not go unchallenged. But he stopped short of accusing Labor of being frightened to promote its union links.

    “The wages and conditions that have established the standard and quality of life which you take for granted, that did not occur by accident.

    “It did not occur as a result of the beneficent attitude of the employers. (Those conditions) were fought for and obtained by the trade unions of this country.”,25197,22476835-5013404,00.html

    The rest of the Article is in the same vein and a contrast to the typical Government spin. Well done Amanda.

  26. I can just see The Australian writing a anti-unio scare piece to tie in with the govts electioneering and the latest issue with the TWU. Seems the GG might want to do another one of its anti-union campaigns like earlier in the year.

    Their on-line survery so far.

    How much influence do you think unions would have over a Labor government?
    All encompassing..15,25197,22073824-5013404,00.html

  27. Scorpio: Do you have a link to anything about that show? I must have missed it.

    anthony baxter @ 340, sorry mate, there are, but just at the moment I am not sure where to direct you.

    Bit past my bed time I think. Will try and find links for you and catch up with the late posts tomorrow.

  28. I like this data: June 2007

    Almost 84 per cent of Labor voters said they believed Mr Rudd would become the next prime minister, while 56 per cent
    of coalition supporters thought Mr Howard would retain his position.

  29. I’ve just revised my opinion on tomorrow’s Oz story.
    New headline: “Labor in Online Vote-Rigging Scandal”
    Lede: “OPPOSITION LEADER Kevin Rudd was dealt a new blow last night as evidence emerged of an orchestrated campaign by Labor supporters to rig online polls in favor of his party.
    “This comes just a few days after one mainstream poll indicated a shift back to the Government following a series of stumbles by Rudd and allegations of a sex-smear campaign against a prominent Federal minister.”

    (This stuff just writes itself, believe me…)

  30. Scorpio (337)
    Just Me, don’t you worry about that! (Old Queenslander)

    LOL. I know just who you refer to, one side of my family comes from hard national party voting south Queensland.

    Just you keep on voting and we will check the results for you.

    You won’t lie to me about those results now, will you? I mean, after all that trouble I am going to in voting early and often, the least I can expect is honest reporting.

  31. Online vote rigging scandal? Is that even possible?

    A group that run certain well known sporting ground that had a contract to host one final a week in a major sporting competition in this country once had an online poll asking whether it was fair that finals should be at this venue even when the team that earned the right to host them was from another city. I think it ran for a few days.

    Either way, a couple of hours before the poll closed, the voting was very much in favour of the teams getting to host the finals in their home city ahead of the contracted game at this well known sporting venue, with a pretty high number of votes. Amazingly, in the last couple of hours, a massive number of votes came in, which completely changed the result around (not evened it up, completely changed it – ie 70-30 became 20-80).

    Rigging an online poll scandalous? It’s old news that one.

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