Yakety yak

Prior to the leaders debate at the 2004 election, I went to the trouble of unearthing poll results on the previous debates going back to 1984. The Hawke versus Peacock debate of that year was the first, as it was previously a well established item of conventional wisdom that debates had little to offer an incumbent. However, Bob Hawke could hardly refuse in 1984 as Labor had run television ads during the 1983 campaign mocking Malcolm Fraser for his refusal to play ball. The record since makes clear that Fraser’s reticence had been well founded, as incumbents have only managed two wins from nine starts. In fewer than half of the nine cases did the winner of a debate go on to win the election.

1984, November 26: Peacock 50, Hawke 37 (Spectrum poll).

1987: Once bitten, Bob Hawke chickens out, leaving John Howard’s supposed debating shortcomings unexposed for another decade.

1990, February 25: Hawke 46, Peacock 36 (Newspoll).

1993, February 14: Hewson 45, Keating 31 (Newspoll).

1993, March 7: Keating 44, Hewson 38 (Newspoll).

1996, February 11: Howard 50, Keating 36 (Newspoll).

1996, February 25: Howard 54, Keating 36 (Newspoll).

1998, September 13: No poll located, but reports of the worm suggest Beazley narrowly defeated Howard.

2001, October 14: Beazley 55, Howard 35 (Newspoll).

2004, September 13: Two-thirds of Nine’s studio audience gave it to Latham over Howard.

It should be noted that Channel Nine clearly botched the job of assembling an audience of undecided voters at the 2004 debate, as the behaviour of the worm made clear. Particular notice was taken of a green-haired young gentleman in the audience who looked like nobody’s idea of a person who was considering a vote for Howard. Nonetheless, the overwhelming weight of published opinion, including my own, was that Latham had indeed put in the more confident performance.

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.

400 comments on “Yakety yak”

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  1. Personally I think these latest polls are probably about right. I always had trouble believing the vote for Labor was in the record breaking area the polls were suggesting. I still think Labor will win, but not by the huge landslide some seem to think it has to have. The only real question is are these latest polls part of an unstoppable momentum back to the government or will the numbers soon begin to steady. I think they’ll bounce around a little but stay in the vicinity of a comfortable win for Labor. I predict Labor to pick up at least 20 or 25 seats giving it a comfortable 5 to 10 seat majority.

  2. 133
    Megan Says:
    October 21st, 2007 at 1:00 pm
    Glen, better earwax than blood on your hands. I will never forgive Howard for the Iraq war.

    Nor will I, Megan. And I won’t forgive Bush either and I get to vote against both responsible parties. That is one aspect of dual citizenship between these particular countries that I will thoroughly enjoy ;-). It will be nice to be in on the winning side for a change, I haven’t had that since Bill Clinton in 1996 .

  3. I got a really good insight on Liberal Party “internal polling’ strategy about an hour ago, first hand from my local Lib candidate.

    It costs them $6,000 to do a poll in each electorate. Therefore it doesn’t take much imagination to realise that financially it is impossible to do regular polling in all 150 seats. I think the most important top 4 or 5 are polled at the most.

    Whatever polling is done is not released to individual candidates. WTF.

    Labor is doing regular polling in every seat that they feel they are a chance in.

    The Liberals are depending on “media” phone polls and on-line polls. This should give them a really good idea how they are going! I personally got one poll in my electorate to over 80% 2PP in favour of the Labor candidate and in my postcode to 100%.

    Wow, the Lib supporters and Party machine would have a great idea of where they are from that. I would suggest that the Mainstream Polling Company’s would have to be their best source of where they stand and that wouldn’t currently provide a lot of confidence.

    Tonight’s debate is definitely going to be much more important for the Libs, hence the extraordinary measures to ensure it is stacked as much as possible in their favour. I hope it all backfires and Rudd wipes the floor with Howard tonight.

  4. They had a coin toss to decide who goes 1st. Loughnara called heads, and heads it was, so Rudd goes 1st.

    Probably a 2 headed coin sent over form New York by Rupert. 🙂

  5. I agree Misty.
    Rudd needs to win. When your headline is “Leadership” it’s pretty important you are the best.

    Still, any odds on if more people watch this than Oz Idol or Kath’n’Kim repeats?

    The important thing is to win, not because it will inlfuence the people who watch it (most of whom will be tragics like us who have already decided) but because of what will be the headline tomorrow.

    “Howard slips” or “Rudd stumbles” will be catastophic.

  6. 264
    yeti Says:
    October 21st, 2007 at 4:31 pm
    I don’t have access to a television. Is there anywhere on the internet I’ll be able to watch the debate?


    The Age (www.theage.com.au) has live streaming from 7:30pm :):):)

  7. I’d like to think the blatant lies in the Lib ads will force Labor into some basic electoral reform. I don’t necessarily mean truth-in-political advertising laws a la a prohibition on misleading/deceptive content (though similar laws haven’t led to meltdown in SA or NT, and business advertising is less unethical than before the trade practices law came in).

    But there clearly is a need for a mechanism for the removal of factually inaccurate ads, now that the media has ditched self-regulation of them.

  8. There must be a lot at stake this election.

    I just saw an election add on Win TV for the Libs authorized by the National Farmers Federation “Union”.

  9. Kevin Rudd should not aim for any kind of knock-out punch. He should be respectful towards Howard. He should appear reassuring. Better to be boring than to try so hard he comes across as a prat.
    Most swinging voters with little interest in politics will tune in for a few minutes at the beginning – perhaps flick across during the ads on Kath & Kim. What they need to see is the steady hand of a reasonably dull politician who appears to be on top of the facts, with the occasional dose of fresh ideas – along the lines of the laptop toolbox of the 21st century thing.

  10. This might be Howard’s “rabbit in the hat”. A huge spending spree in election adds by the Business Unions and Farmers Unions.

    Howard will want to be good tonight to justify the expense.

  11. The NFF have 3 pretty dud ads, a weird won on climate change, a telecommunications one and a workchoices one.

    Climate change will work for the ALP as will WorkChoices, the telecommmunications one is all about the $2 billion bush slush fund, that Labor are using to fund fibre to the node in the bush.

    Yawn. 8)

  12. Re Mt Squiggle and I’M SPARTACUS.

    My son told me a very funny story about one of Kirk Douglas’s sons doing some standup comedy in a club. He was being heckled mercilessly and finally, frustrated he burst out with:
    Don’t you know who I am? I am Kirk Douglas’s son?
    Immediately a person in the audience jumped up and yelled out:
    No I am Kirk Douglas’s son.
    Followed by another and another and…..

  13. The flat line for J-HO is the biggest damnation (fromthe Cahnnel 9 audience at least). It shows that they are not listening to him.

  14. The Senator just briefed us,
    he was very happy with David Spears and Chris Uhlmann’s objectivity and the structure of the debate. Overall a draw.

  15. HI matt at 339

    I guess this comes down to whether the narrowing was driven by the announcemnt of the election or the roll out of the tax cut.

    My sense was that the tax cuts were a pfizzer – and the narrowing was due to the election being called

  16. And while I’m at it

    I didn’t recoginse 3/5ths of the “jouranilsts” on the panel tonight?

    Who the hell are those people?

    I mean to say, I’m hardly hiding under a rock here, and I’ve never heard of them!!!

  17. Possum Comitatus Says:
    October 21st, 2007 at 6:26 pm
    Mr Squiggle,

    You are a revolting slave?

    Each to their own I suppose

    My response,

    I just try to keep my nose clean and maintain a balanced view at all times

    (which can be difficult when your nose is as big as mine, basically I keep falling fowards, and people guess my identity that way)

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