Thursday, August 19, 2010

Election 2010: Day 34 (or, grumble grumble, tweet tweet tweet)

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:

  1. the polls show it will be tight!
  2. internal polls will show it will be tight!
  3. it’ll be won in the marginals, and it will be tight!
  4. the marginal polls show it will be tight!
  5. 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?


347273-julia-gillard-at-npcToday 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.

369111-abbott-on-busNow maybe it’s a sign things are going well and he just wanted to do things differently because, you know, when things are going well in a campaign you do things differently…

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.


Anonymous said...

I like Antony Green's guess at the result of Saturday's vote.

Darryl Snow said...

Tonight's Newspoll has added nothing to your post other than to confirm it's emotional content. And for those without emotion, you just vote. Get it out of the way and move......nowhere in particular. Much in the same way some have a dump.

Each election is different but 2010 has been different for reasons I did not expect. The interaction of twitter and blogs like yours has made this a real hoot. And I thank you for your immense contribution. A contribution you neither envisaged nor expected. But it's been a blast and, modesty put aside, your writing has surely proved to have been an "idea that has come of time. For some, at least.

A good thing to do with praise is accept it with grace. I reckon you have managed that. Thanks

Let's now wait for Saturday. Want my opinion?

It's in the fuckin bag for Julia (and still a glass left in tonight's bottle) Yew

Anonymous said...

angstytwitchyneurotic anon says..

I feel like such a moron because I just don't get these polls. There was the mega one in the marginals showing labor had retained enough and now there's this piddly one saying it's 50-50. Which carries more weight?

I refuse to be stuck in Rabbit's warren!!

arrrgh!!! :(

Anonymous said...

I think the ALP should (quickly) rethink the strategy of saying they might lose. No one likes to back a loser and they might just make it a self-fulfilling prophecy. In other words there are risks in either direction. Of course it could also be an attempt to mobilise those of us who might hand out how-to-votes.

I for one am praying for Gillard to win because the thought of Abbott running the country is truly unbearable. Think of all the job losses that would follow, especially in the public service and universities. What would that do to the economy?

It is astonishing that anyone who cares about workplace rights would vote for him. As has been pointed out in the press the Libs can alter the Fair Work Act regulations to get AWAs in the back door using flexibility clauses. They can also change the Fair Dismissal Code for small business to make it easier to sack people.

My friends and I are surprised that Gillard hasn't made more of the work she put into the Fair Work Act. It is a third the size of the WorkChoices Act, and most importantly for practitioners it is easy to understand and apply. The WorkChoices Act was a dogs breakfast with so many cross-references and false starts it was impossible to use.

The Fair Work Act may not be perfect from the point of view of unions (and the ILO) but as an example of legislative drafting it is very well crafted and has created some innovative new rights (e.g. adverse action claims). An impressive achievement which for some reason Gillard hasn't claimed.

Thanks from me too for this blog which I've only stumbled across in the last week. Would love to pick your brains if you are ever in Melbourne but of course that would mean revealing your secret identity!

Anonymous said...

Something has slipped under the radar: at the NPC, Julia announced two weeks' paid parental leave at $570 per week for partners, SEX UNSPECIFIED, bless her cotton pickin' socks.

Things are a-changin'

Dave said...

It's the first time for me that an election is actually going to have a measureable direct impact upon me personally. Put simply if Abbott and his gangsters get into power then there goes my best chance of getting a half decent job for the next 2 years. The public service is the number 1 employer in Canberra. what's a university student with a degree that's almost complete, but still going to take 2 years meant to do. I don't want to be stuck waiting tables for the next two years. I really really don't.

Grog said...

Thanks Darryl, much appreciated.

And Dave, I know exactly how you feel!

Abbott's freeze on the APS recruitment is the dumbest most knuckle dragging idiotic policy ever conceived.

Forget the poeple in the APS already - what about all those uni students who went to uni hoping to get a job in the APS? When I did my Economics Degree, scoring a job at Treasury or Finance, or PM & C was pretty much the holy grail (aside from those who wanted to be investment bankers).

What the hell are 2 years' worth of Graduates going to do now? Go pick fruit?

But the main reason it's so dumb is (as all those in the APS know) senior, experienced people will leave, and then in 3-6 months will be hired as consultants on a much better rate.

If you want to cut the APS, cut programs, otherwise you're just talking bullshit.

Maria said...

I'm a bit sad that my only comment is such a light weight thing, but could the Catherine Zeta Jones bit be a play on the Welsh heritage?
Have been thoroughly enjoying your stuff...

Grog said...

Ah yes, Maria - the Welsh thing does make sense

Checkers said...

The Newspoll is worth diddly squat until they publish the full figures. To publish only part of them before the full sample is complete is irresponsible and unprofessional. They should know better.

Rowan said...

How can Abbott cut the APS if he's going to send out 10m thank you letters a year to taxpayers? That will need a whole f-ing new department!

And Catherine Zeta-Jones rocks, I'd have her to a dinner party any day!

Thanks from me too for a great blog, Grog, I've been religiously following it for months now, and it is often the most entertaining part of my day :) Big congrats on helping to shame the media into picking up its game.

Anonymous said...

qkuroThanks also from me Grog.A ripper blog and most informative with great analysis as a bonus.

Here's hoping the evil empires attempt to corrupt democracy comes to naught and that we can all celebrate a Labor/Greens victory on Saturday night.

Morewest said...

I hope you're right Grog and Labor wins, and wins well. But I have this sinking feeling gnawing in my guts telling me that Abbott is going to be the next incumbent of Kirribilli. In which case, we're stuffed, especially if the global economy goes backwards which is a real possibility.

Anonymous said...

Echo others accolades to your blogging Grog - thank you.

What's worrying me is that Abott said on Sky News he'd be into the Red Bull in the next couple of days to get his 36 hour sales marathon over the line. Combining hyper-activity (stamina) fuelled by caffeine overload with sleep deprivation (I'm totally committed) and the final meme for the contest plays right into the hands of your average Bogan swing voter in Sthn QLD and Sydney's west: Abbo's X-Treeeeeme!!!! They will lap that up. (And all that self serving moralising by the MSM over Rudds famed energiser routine affecting his judgement yadayadayda conveniently forgotten).

Re the APS - I got the punt last time the Libs got in and have seen the APS bloat to the point that NOTHING can happen without consultancies and contractors who dont even skim - they bulldoze - truckloads of surplus program cash out the door in fees. No wonder big ticket programs have failed. There is no knowledge management and 'human capital development' is a communist theory inthe minds of some SES. In one department alone a $450M Howard era change program was staffed almost exclusively by contractors (all the while the middle ranks of the APS left out eyed each other with suspicion and greed as the SECRET details of their AWA's fluffed up and inflated job values creating considerable afordability problems for HR budgets now and even more so going forward as the deficit is retired and the APS tax - the dreaded 'efficiency dividend' - increases..).

The slash & burn is just good copy for the Daily Telegraph - but you are right to be concerned about loss of opportunities, especially as the APS is sitting on a major reform masterminded by Rudd that wont see light of day should the Tories prevail and has 'opportuntity' writte all over it.

Julia is looking Prime Ministerial, Shandy Abbot is looking like the crazed, stunt pulling intellectual light weight he is, with more red in his eyes, that maniacla ha -ha - ha - ha - ha nanoseconds from his lips. And why isn't he wearing his wedding ring, and why aren't the God -botherers pulling him up on that?

Alistair Baillieu-McEwan said...

Yes they would cut the APS, and yes, there would be a plethora of consultants - but hey, they will be THEIR mates.
A special thanks to all the Labor supporters who couldn't wait to pour sh*t on Rudd and contribute to the ridicule which was part of bringing him down. A special thanks to all those bloggers who spat the dummy because their special projects didn't get priority in a Government overwhelmed with things that ALL had to be prioritised.
It's not a special thanks I give you Grog, it's a sincere acknowledgement of the role you have attempted to play in elucidating the reality of what was happening in face of all the opposition "imposed realities" and the bleating of former supporters of Labor.
For what it's worth, I think Labor will win tomorrow, but if they don't all I can say to those who had a part in changing the Government - gloat while you can.