As we pass the clock tower and reach the final furlong of this the great race that stops a nation for as little time as it does to line up outside a school building, write down 1 to 6, then stop off for a sausage sizzle, it is always good to expect a couple things to appear in the media:
- the polls show it will be tight!
- internal polls will show it will be tight!
- it’ll be won in the marginals, and it will be tight!
- the marginal polls show it will be tight!
- the internal polls of the marginals show it will be tight!
And so it is today. I was out having some friendly after work drinks and thus missed the commercial news, and I came home to find leaked internal ALP polling showing it was going to lose the election because it would lose in the marginal seats.
Well grab that feather over yonder and come knock me down with it.
The great thing about internal polls being leaked is they are leaked every single time for a purpose. Back two months ago some ALP internal polls were leaked for one reason – to dump Rudd. This time they are being leaked because every other poll and all the bookies are saying the ALP will win – maybe lose some skin, but will win Government nonetheless.
This would scare the hell out of the ALP.
Especially given the last major marginal polling showed the ALP winning, and the national Newspoll and Nieslen polls had them up 52-48 and 53-47 (and then ask yourself again if you think she would have lost votes this week). Hell even the damn psychic croc in Darwin is calling it for her!
The last thing they would want is for voters to think “Oh well she’s going to win, so it doesn’t matter if I vote for Liberal (just to give them a bit of a message)”. Nope, they want every single voter to think – “Hell! Abbott might win this thing! I better vote Labor, and I’ll vote Liberal next March in the state election”.
And thus tonight’s news story.
Make of it what you will, but ask yourself this, when was the last time a party leaked internal polling during an election showing it was going to win?
Today in the morning Julia Gillard did a plethora of interviews. She did this because she had to be in Canberra today to speak before the National Press Club. Normally this wouldn’t be too bad because Eden Monaro is next door, so the leader can always go there and try and fight for that tight marginal seat. But this time round Eden Monaro isn’t going to shift. Mike Kelly has a good rep, the APS job freeze and cuts proposed by Abbott are death in Jerrabomberra and Queanbeyan. And the NBN is very much in favour in these regional centres.
Last time round Howard and Rudd lived in Eden Monaro – this time round, both camps have done just the cursory visit. That tells a lot.
What also tells a lot is body language. Julia at the press conference looked and sounded like a winner. She took on the questions with confidence, humour and feistiness. When quizzed about the citizens assembly idea, she referred to her earlier mention of Bob Hawke as the great conciliator and referred to his tax summit, saying that if he were to have it now the reaction by the cynics would be “grumble, grumble, grumble, tweet, tweet, tweet” (in reference to the very many cynics on twitter, yours truly included!)
She landed a nice blow an Abbott about his ignorance of broadband, saying the he thought fast internet was just about things you can do on Facebook, noting "You can only imagine his excitement when he finally finds YouTube".
She then underscored the biggest difference between the ALP and Liberal Party in this election:
"I will build the national broadband network, Mr Abbott will not. It could not be clearer."
She ended by saying that the NSW Government had not been exactly fantastic and understood voters anger etc. This got a run in the Sydney news ensuring they all heard the code – I agree with you, your Government is crap, but I’m not them.
She was also good in her defence and selling of the stimulus. She was in short looking like a winner.
Contrast it to three weeks ago when she announced she was to be the “Real Julia”, and her campaign was in tatters due to leaks and what not and a general inability to cut through. And so she got desperate and got on the press bus. It seemed to help show she was doing things differently. But it was obviously a sign that things weren’t going to plan.
Well today Tony Abbott got on the press bus.
He also announced he was going to campaign non-stop for 36 hours.
He actually wanted this to be his big announcement of the day. He wanted to talk about that at his press conference. Yes in the last two days of his campaign he wants to make a big deal about his campaign. This is somewhat interesting given yesterday the Liberals announced their costings which show that they would have a surplus double the size of the ALPs. You’d think he’s want to brag about that.
But no. The reason being that the Liberal’s costings have about as much credibility as Tony Smith’s grasp of the laws of physics. And so (thanks to the ABC’s PM) we can see how he answered all questions about the costings):
TONY ABBOTT: Well our costings have been certified by a highly reputable, well respected accounting firm. This firm would not put its reputation on the line lightly.
We've submitted our costings to a highly reputable accounting firm. This accounting firm would not put its reputation on the line lightly.
The point I make is that we've submitted our costings to a highly reputable accounting firm. It's put it's reputation on the line to certify that our costings are accurate, that our sums add up.
The problem, Tony is that no one doubts that the sums add up. Anyone can create a spreadsheet and produce some numbers that add up.
It’s the assumptions behind the numbers that don’t add up, and the “well respected accounting firm” is not putting its reputational on the line on that score. Here’s what it said in the covering letter on the costings:
WKH Howarth has reviewed the complete set of recurrent and non-recurrent policy commitments and savings, and is satisfied that based on the assumptions provided, costed commitments have been accurately prepared in all material aspects.
That is, they took the assumptions as they were – which of course they have to, that’s what they were paid to do. The Treasury however, isn’t so particular about agreeing with the assumptions of political parties… such as Abbott’s assertion that they can claim savings on asylum seekers because “we’ll stop the boats”. They also took out about $2.5 billion from the budget contingency fund, because they say they’ll run programs better than the ALP does. That’s a bit like someone putting in their household budget that they can save money by not paying for car insurance because they don’t expect to have an accident this year…
So we have Julia looking confident, running strongly, but not announcing any changes to her strategy. And we have Abbott talking about going for 36 hours’ straight, getting on the press bus, and doing all he can not to talk about what should be a big economic winner.
Yeah it’ll be close… but for mine, the result is about by how many, not who.
The only odd thing for Gillard today was her answer in The Oz to the question of who she would invite to a dinner party. She said Shakespeare, Nelson Mandela and…. Catherine Zeta Jones… err what??? Maybe Tim’s a fan and she wanted to keep him happy while she chatted to the heavyweights of history.
UPDATE: So another Newspoll is to be out tomorrow. The last one was on Monday. It was 52-48. Let’s see what this one says. No doubt it’ll be close, no doubt it’ll be tight…
And yep it is – in a bizarre poll the Newspoll has polled 1600 voters – and it is 50-50. And yet it says it will publish a full poll of 2,500 voters on Saturday.
So it’s close, it’s tight…
Maybe the question still is “who”, though given the respective weeks by Gillard and Abbott, my question is “why?”.
UPDATE 2: And we also have a Galaxy Poll out which has the ALP up 52-48.
I have say, for mine, the Galaxy smells more credible.
The last Newspoll was 52-48. Now think about this week. Do you really think the “boatphone”, the focus on the NBN and the economy, the ALP launch (which got good snippets on the news) and even the Rooty Hill in QLD thing would mean a swing to the Libs to make it 50-50? – Especially given the Newspoll has the ALP Primary vote dropping 3 percentage points. Three? In a week? In a good week? Yeah right.
For mine this week has been if anything for a win for the ALP, and in polling terms I would have thought no change.
I can believe a 52-48 and a “it’ll be tight in the marginals”. We know some seats will go in NSW and QLD, so 52-48, but we need to watch where the votes are, smells right. Take this line in the Herald Sun regarding the Galaxy Poll:
The final national Galaxy Poll for the Herald Sun shows Labor ahead of the Coalition 52-48 on two-party preferred terms.
But Labor fears it is winning votes in already safe seats and losing support in the battleground marginal electorates in NSW and Queensland, meaning it may win the popular vote but lose the election.
That is believable – especially after the last 5 days.
But 50-50? Hell it required the ALP to have perhaps the worst week in election history for them to go down to that level 3 weeks ago. This last week (and the week before it) has not been bad for Labor – in fact at times it’s been very good.
I’ll go with Galaxy.