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Federal Government

EASY BEATS: Press Gallery thinks 2010 federal election battle is over before it’s fought

paulineandfriends We initially thought Sydney Morning Herald’s Peter Hartcher analysis today made sense. Essentially he argued that a reassuring, even boring, Kevin Rudd was channeling the popular aspects of former PM John Howard’s reign and was therefore likely to trump the risk-embracing aggression of Tony Abbott.

Australians like to find their excitement in sport, not in government. The electorate is a risk-averse creature, most reluctant to change national governments. Until the last election, we’d only done it four times since World War II.

The Labor campaign was designed to present the voter with the option of riskless change. It was in the policy offerings. It was why Rudd abandoned a lot of the reformist zeal of traditional Labor…

If Rudd was Howard Lite in 2007, he is even closer to being the real thing in 2010.

paterhartcher And yet we bounced Hartcher’s view off a seasoned political practitioner who has been centrally involved in more election victories than Hartcher has observed and his counter view is certainly food for thought:

Like most analysis of history this Hartcher one is fundamentally flawed for a number of reasons.

Fact 1: The event that turned the 2004 federal election into a disaster for Labor was Latham’s forest policy. It pole-axed Labor’s primary vote in the last week of the election campaign but is never mentioned by any of the latte sipping commentators because it fundamentally disturbs their world view.

Fact 2: Howard was a serious chance of winning in 2007 right up until the last week of the election campaign. Internal polling up until that time showed that Labor could have just fallen short of victory. The event that fundamentally changed this was the blow up in Lindsay over those leaflets. After that Labor gained approximately 5 POINTS in 2PP terms literally overnight. In my view Labor’s election campaign in 2007 was a failure as it lost 3 to 4 points of 2PP lead during the election campaign.

Fact 3: Reassurance for a leader is essential, without question, but it doesn ‘t eliminate the choices that already exist. People will judge pollies by what they DO because they fundamentally believe that ALL pollies are liars, so reassurance has its limits.

Fact 4: Most journalists are obsessed by personality. Who’s up. Who’s down. Etc. They believe that personality is ALL that matters to voters. It doesn’t. As a result it means that many journalists’ analysis of history is almost certainly going to be flawed.

Rudd is favourite to win and should be, but the next election will be a referendum on the CPRS and population. Both territory that is good for the Coalition.

Finally, the Coalition organisationally is far more competent that many of Labor know-alls are prepared to admit. The fact that Howard probably would have got re-elected but for Lindsay is proof of this.

SUNDAY UPDATE: VEXNEWS guest senior political insider responds to ‘Eastern Patriot’ who wrote in the comments section below:

the biggest factor in Labor’s win in 2007 was Work Choices. your political practitioner is wrong when he blames the Lindsay leaflets on Howard’s End. “Fact 2″ is a fallacy: the die was already cast – the Howard Battlers didn’t give two hoots about the racist dirty tricks, they had already turned against the Libs. And as long as Labor keeps the HB’s (30-55, double income with kids, a big mortgage in the ‘burbs, think pollies are polished turds) they’ll retain power. eastern patriot

Eastern  Patriot is correct in saying that Workchoices was the biggest factor in CONSOLIDATING Labor’s primary vote. However, consolidating Labor’s vote is not the same as winning an election.

Brian Loughnane himself has said that Workchoices as the single biggest reason why Howard lost, however he was also emphatic that the Liberals could have had a narrow 1998 style win and the data reinforces this.

For example, internal polling in Bennelong had Howard ahead up until Lindsay leaflet episode and then everything went pearshaped.

One of the principal reasons that the campaign was a bad one for Labor was that every time there was an interest rate rise in 2007 Howard’s vote went up. So the election campaign was predominantly a debate in an economic frame that helped Howard. This substantially took the edge of Workchoices.

Finally there is the election result. Labor got 52.7% vs Coalition 47.3% and a majority of eight seats. Hardly, the landslide victory that Nielson and Newspoll were predicting. In 1998 Coalition 48.5% vs Labor 51.5% and a majority of six seats to Howard. The fact is that right up until Lindsay a repeat of 1998 was a real possibility and the only event which occurred in the last week to change the game was Lindsay leaflet saga.

Discussion

Comments are disallowed for this post.

  1. First!

    Posted by basmato | January 30, 2010, 16:48
  2. I agree with the analysis of Hartcher’s piece.
    Rudd is favourite, and has the advantages incumbency affords, but he does not have Howard’s standing by any means, and 2-3 more interest rate rises, a fractious Union movement, faltering States hospital management, an ETS going abolutely nowhere, business starting to realise that Gillard’s Industrial Relations changes are undermining productivity, continuing boat people risking their lives, and sometimes the lives of those sent to assist them, and this will be a closer election than Labor is willing to concede.
    Abbott will provide a formidable one on one opponent for the Prime Minister.
    I think he is a better communicator.

    Posted by Mitchell Observer | January 30, 2010, 16:56
  3. Sorry John!

    Posted by James Fox and Kate Schouten | January 30, 2010, 17:22
  4. Actually I think the Howard government made 5 fatal mistakes of 2007.
    1. Feb 2007 – Howard implying that Barrack Obama is the favoured US president for Al Qaeda.
    2. Mid 2007 – Tinkering with Workchoices, thereby admitting it being a mistake.
    3. Mohammed Hanif – they were hoping beyond hope that there was something more than a tenuous link with terrorism.
    4. Starting an election campaign during the football finals – the AFL and NRL grand finals were swamped with government funded advertising about Workchoices.
    5. The Lindsay leaflet scandal.

    If all of these mistakes didn’t happen, Howard would probably have narrowly won the election.

    Posted by Davoe | January 30, 2010, 17:35
  5. 6. Letting rabid lefties James Fox and Kate Schouten assist in the lindsay campaign.

    Posted by Rex | January 30, 2010, 17:37
  6. The electorate will eventually grow tired of Rudd’s gesture politics.

    Posted by Drummoyne Observer | January 30, 2010, 17:57
  7. The Lindsay leaflets were a disaster and should not have been done by those Liberal members.

    It’s a shame however that the same attention wasn’t given to ALP/Union thugery and tricks in the lead up to to elections (including the election morning bashing of a FF candidate, the usual thievery of LP corflutes, street threats of violence to an LP candidate’s teenage child, vandalism of LP cars etc etc).

    Posted by Double Standards | January 30, 2010, 19:18
  8. the biggest factor in Labor’s win in 2007 was Work Choices. your political practitioner is wrong when he blames the Lindsay leaflets on Howard’s End. “Fact 2” is a fallacy: the die was already cast – the Howard Battlers didn’t give two hoots about the racist dirty tricks, they had already turned against the Libs. And as long as Labor keeps the HB’s (30-55, double income with kids, a big mortgage in the ‘burbs, think pollies are polished turds) they’ll retain power.

    Posted by eastern patriot | January 30, 2010, 21:01
  9. Lindsay only mattered in NSW, and then only in Sydney. WA actually stayed with the Liberals on IR due to local factors. SA had liberal marginal seat MPs well past their used by date plus Adelaide is a working class town, plus Rann proved to Labor look very presentable. Queensland had a local boy in the race, plus many unionised workers in key seats. Unions aren’t seen the same way in QLD, like they are in other states. Victoria was about not having any skin in the Liberal leadership, plus the Liberal machine has withered away, plus it is the most unionised state.

    Rudd is going to keep the gains he made in SA, Vic, Tasmania and QLD. It will come down to NSW and WA.

    Posted by Alan Ramsey's brother | January 30, 2010, 21:46
  10. Give me a break, Howard was just plain gone weeks out. Again lets see if we can blame the leeflet saga but the truth is Howard was way f@%ked before that, remember the debate when he choked on that glass of water?

    The australian voter said enufs enuf!! this coxsucckers been round to long and just plain fkn lies

    Posted by Hawke | January 31, 2010, 0:54
  11. Like all of the crap ever written by Hartcher his conclusion is always predictable.His “analysis” becomes increasingly superficial with every article he writes.Why he needs up to half a page to express his prejudices is a mystery,unless of course he’s being paid by the word,his message in every case could be contained in one line,”RUDD is GREAT-LABOR WILL WIN”.

    Posted by Anonymous | January 31, 2010, 9:39
  12. The Lindsay leaflets were the killing factor for the Libs. Not only the leaflets themselves, but also Jackie Kelly’s response. Laughing the whole thing off was a bad move and turned just enough swinging voters to Labor to give us Rudd as PM.

    Posted by Gregoryno6 | January 31, 2010, 10:13
  13. The actu work rights campaign…..did nothing?
    Cmon… Lindsay was a blunder but it did not king hit Howard. He had no mandate for workchoices.. He went too far….
    Next election won’t be easy for Alp. Race card will be played via population and border protection debate. Rudds carbon trading tax and his big Australia are vote losers in marginals. Too complex and all about future pain. Workchoices is now distant threat. Labor is at risk because issues are going against them. Alp are relying on Abbott being too loopy for public…e.g they are relying on rudds personality winning the day.

    Posted by What about the workers | January 31, 2010, 10:30
  14. “Finally, the Coalition organisationally is far more competent that many of Labor know-alls are prepared to admit. The fact that Howard probably would have got re-elected but for Lindsay is proof of this.”

    As a liberal supporter this statement is frankly BS. If this is so, why have the Libs lost around 20 of the last 21 state elections and why are the Libs out of government in every state and federally with the exception of WA. The joke constantly being told around Liberal Party circles until the Libs won WA was that the most powerful Liberal in the country was the Brisbane Lord Mayor.

    One of the biggest problems the Libs have is a diminishing membership base. The membership is around a third of a single football clubs membership. This means less of a pool of people to call upon to be MPs and less man power for electioneering, campaigning etc.

    The ALP have the same problem however they have a million odd union members who are prepared to help financially. Remember the 3 million dollars the ACTU poured into the anti work choices advertisements not to mention the money they directly give the ALP. Corporate money tends to go 50/50 to either party for fear of retribution if they back the wrong horse. The unions also provide needed manpower outside of the traditional party structure. The Libs simply don’t have this avenue to call upon.

    Posted by Anon | January 31, 2010, 11:40
  15. Howard lost because people got bored of him. Simple. Shoulda handed over to Cozzie and Libs would still be in govt.

    Posted by Anonymous | January 31, 2010, 16:20
  16. What is Howard’s daughter doing these days? Has he a teenage grandaughter yet? Cause I’m up for it, I mean I’m able to ‘drive’ her home.

    Posted by RDR | January 31, 2010, 18:53
  17. But what about ME!

    Nick – you promised.

    You promised me you’d done a deal with the Group to screw over the conservative candidates in Bradfield in return for the Group backing me for the Senate.

    Nick – You PROMISED.

    Posted by Miles | January 31, 2010, 20:20
  18. anyone notice that I’ve found love?

    Posted by toolshed | January 31, 2010, 21:53
  19. Don’t write off the population and refugee debates to racism.
    It isn’t racist to deter people from paying to use leaky boats from Indonesia.
    The Australian people will support more immigration when they trust the rules to keep it under control – eg under Howard by 2004. They won’t always trust those who engage in ethnic branch stacking.

    Posted by Twitter Follower | January 31, 2010, 22:13
  20. Way to go Toolie!

    Posted by chad silder | January 31, 2010, 22:32
  21. Hey Toolshed. That’s great news that Sophia and you are going out!

    Well done to both of you! You guys will have as much as fun as a pig in mud!

    All the best,

    Noel

    Posted by Noel McCoy | January 31, 2010, 22:40
  22. Hey RDR, you vile bastard. At least do you know who your father is? You will forever be living in a housing commission, thanks to your unwed mom.

    Posted by Anton | January 31, 2010, 23:46
  23. Rudd’s real problem is that none of his words have matched his actions.

    He said he was a social conservative but then went off and quietly ended the restrictions Howard put on foreign aid going to NGO’s that conducted abortions (baby butchering for the layman).

    He said he’d pull the troops out of Iraq but they’re still there.

    He said he was an economic conservative and then went on a debt binge sending $900 cheques to bogans and abos, putting stupid pink bats in our rooves and building a whole lot of useless crap.

    He said he’d create an education revolution but just built a stupid bunch of school halls that will magically improve kid’s results (the hall at aloys never helped me).

    Posted by Mark Chan | February 1, 2010, 2:53
  24. Rudd should call an election to be held in March. Abbott should not be given time to sort out his policies with his shadow cabinet. They are in dispute on a number of areas, although this is being kept relatively quiet. He will be tempted to go it alone like Latham, but not as destructive.

    Posted by Go now | February 1, 2010, 9:36
  25. My dad reckons that Kevin is nice – but I am concerned that he does not accept the bible as the literal word of God – we all know that stories such as Daniel and the lion’s den and Jonah and the whale are 100% truthful and God’s own words.

    Posted by Mike Baird | February 1, 2010, 10:11
  26. Amen Mike, Amen

    Posted by Taking of Pel123 | February 1, 2010, 10:39
  27. The talis will be the reason why Barry snatches defeat from the jaws of victory in the next nsw election.

    Posted by citizen | February 1, 2010, 11:28
  28. Not a Landslide? All the punters had the ALP out of power upto and beyond 2011, following the 2004 Latham debacle. Eight seat majority or no, it was a bloody landslide. Not caused by the Lindsay leaflet. That leaflet may well have put the nail in the coffin for Howard in Bennelong (Clearly racist Jacqi was one of Howards favourite’s)but in the overall scheme of things the die was cast, and the Howard Govt. was gone.

    Posted by Arther conan doyle | February 1, 2010, 11:47
  29. “Latham’s forest policy. It pole-axed Labor’s primary vote in the last week of the election campaign ..”

    so you’d expect the prepolls and postals in bass and braddon to have been going fine, but the ordinaries would have collapsed because they came in AFTER

    Posted by c u on the tram | February 1, 2010, 14:38
  30. “Latham’s forest policy. It pole-axed Labor’s primary vote in the last week of the election campaign ..”

    so you’d expect the prepolls and postals in bass and braddon to have been going fine, but the ordinaries would have collapsed because they came in AFTER Latham announced. Before then, Howard was the only one talking about protecting old growth forests.

    http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2004/09/18/1095394060071.html

    Posted by c u on the tram | February 1, 2010, 14:41
  31. Are we all forgetting that we don’t have one term Federal Governments in this country?

    Posted by Steve Sensible | February 1, 2010, 15:01
  32. I wonder if Abbott can snatch the union mining vote with the ETS like Howard did with the loggers in Tassie?

    Posted by Johnson and Johnson shareholder | February 1, 2010, 15:09
  33. Little known fact but labor won by about 7,000 votes in total in 07, a not so big margin. Many voted for save the whales & climate change. Labor has failed badly on both.

    Kev is senn as full of P… & wind.

    Posted by cynic | February 1, 2010, 15:48
  34. It was Workchoices. It was the only thing that put the frighteners into people, especially in places like Western Sydney.

    The Libs stand a chance without that hanging around their necks.

    Anyone who writes off Abbott is a dope.

    Posted by Close To The Storm | February 1, 2010, 16:07
  35. Johnson and Johnson shareholer, i dont think miners are as stupid as loggers. I am not sure though.

    Posted by Arther conan doyle | February 1, 2010, 16:11
  36. citizen = mark lewis

    Posted by in the know | February 2, 2010, 9:50
  37. Just a query – does the ‘senior political insider’ think the Lindsay pamphlets had an impact in Leichhardt, Dawson, Flynn, Page and Forde – where there were big against swings the Coalition?

    Clearly the retirement of sitting MPs was a massive factor in Leichhardt, Page and Forde – but I’m not sure how much impact the Lindsay leaflets had…

    I certainly agree that it had a massive impact in suburban electorates – notably Bennelong and Lindsay itself – but how credible is it to claim that it was the deciding factor in seats like Bonner, Deakin, Corangamite, Makin, kingston, Wakefield, Bass, Braddon, Hasluck, Eden Monaro, Longman, Dobell and Robertson?

    Posted by query | February 2, 2010, 11:10
  38. having said all that – I also agree that anyone who underestimates Mr Abbott is an arrogant fool.

    Posted by query | February 2, 2010, 11:10
  39. Anyone who supports Abbott is a fool and anabsolute W#@$ER.

    Posted by Arther conan doyle | February 4, 2010, 12:29
  40. The deciding factor in Corrangamite was clearly the brilliant Darren Cheeseman ;)

    Posted by mick | February 4, 2010, 18:09
  41. I thought everyone knew it was Mark Davies the Lib councillor from Penrith. He was the guy who called Luke Foley to tell him about the leaflet drop. Just ask Hutcho.

    Posted by ALP Insider | February 8, 2010, 23:21

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