Sunday, August 22, 2010

Election 2010: Extra Time (or Think, Know, Prove)

In the excellent tale by Randy Shilts of the early stages of the AIDS crisis in America, And the Band Played On… the medical researchers at the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) go through their theories on the causes and nature of the disease by asking what do they think, what do they know, and what can they can prove.

The media at this point should exercise the same practice.

For example many a time and oft this day I have heard how the toppling of Kevin Rudd killed the ALP’s vote in Queensland. This is being reported as a fact. On Sky News one bright talking head mentioned the fact that Rudd had easily retained his seat was evidence that he was popular but his axing was not. Well that may be something that people think, but they sure as hell don’t know it, and they won’t be able to prove – not unless someone does a pre-election poll, and even then it is supposing that those people wouldn't have vote non-ALP anyway.

You see this sort of thing all the time in public policy – a Government initiative give $X million to a program to build widgets. In the year after X million widgets are built and the Government (or whoever) claims it was because of the program , and never considers whether or not that number of widgets would have been made anyway.

It’s the same with the “Rudd-backlash”, people may say that was a reason why they voted against the ALP, but we don’t know that they wouldn't have voted that way if Rudd was still PM.

Well here’s what I know: in his last Newspoll as PM Rudd’s net satisfaction rating was minus 19. That is not popular.

Here’s what I know: the primary vote swing against the ALP in QLD was minus 8.88%. The primary vote swing against Rudd in his electorate was minus 9.11%. That does not suggest he was beloved by his own electorate. The Two Party Preferred swing in QLD against the ALP was minus 5.03%, in Griffith it was minus 4.12%, suggesting he was slightly less hated overall, but not by so much as you would think he was the saviour of QLD for the ALP – especially you consider that Wayne Swann’s two party preferred swing against in Lilley was a pretty similar minus 4.84%.

I can’t prove the ALP would have lost by as much, if not more, but I think you’d be very hard pressed to prove he would have won it for them.

r621210_4171985On the way the three independents, Rob Oakeshott, Tony Windsor and Bob Katter will jump, no one can prove anything. Listening to all three on the 7:30 Report tonight had me at times thinking they might be open to Abbott back flipping on the NBN, and then for a good deal of the other time thinking these guys sound like they’re more in tune with the ALP. 

I think, Tony Windsor’s issues of the NBN and e-Health and climate change would most likely have him close to the ALP, but I also know he did not believe Rudd was any great climate change proponent.

I think Rob Oakeshott’s focus on broadband issues put him more in the ALP camp – and he was well served by the ALP Govt under Rudd – especially on health issues. But I don’t know this.

I think Bob Katter is more likely to favour the LNP side, but listening to him talk on the 7:30 Report also showed that he would have no trouble what soever in siding with the ALP if he thought that would give him the best outcome for his electorate.

I also know that while they were all former National members, that you don’t leave a party just because you’re feel like doing something different.

I think that the crucial number is 73. If the LNP gets over that number of seats, I think the independents will side with them regardless – because at best the ALP would be on 72, and possibly 71 seats if Wilkie gets up. And 74 to 71 would be hard to ignore. But if the LNP only gets 73 seats, and the ALP is on is 73, plus Adam Bandt’s seat, then I think the ALP is going to get the votes.

I think after watching the two press conferences given today by Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott that Julia should be Prime Minister. She was clearly tired from the long night, and yet she stood there for a very long time taking every question the journalists fired at her – from ones about Kevin Rudd, to did she get any sleep last night (yes I know, the big issue) and then why should the independents move to her. She cited the two party preferred figure, but did not go overboard on it, only saying “I think this is a critical fact to weigh in the coming days” 531847-julia-gillard-melbourne

She talked about principles and policies, and she importantly talked about how the game had changed:

“I've heard the voice of the Australian people in this election campaign - I think that they have expressed that voice very clearly. I think Australians are saying to us that they want to see a change in the business of politics, the way politics is conducted."

“That is the conclusion. The Australian people are talking about changing politics. I've heard the voice of the Australian people. We are clearly at a historic moment…. It is clear that neither party has earned the right to govern in its own right.”

I think that is the right chord to strike.

Tony Abbott on the other hand gave a three minute long press conference where he railed against the ALP and talked up the fact that the LNP had got more vote than the ALP – thus pointedly discounting the votes of anyone outside of the two parties. An odd thing to do given where we find ourselves. It also completely contradicts his statements about the South Australian election where he thought the South Australian people had been robbed because the Liberal Party got over 50% of the vote but were denied government. He said:

“There was a savage swing against this Government. It is historically unprecedented for a first-term government to receive the kind of rebuff that the Rudd-Gillard Government received yesterday."

Well great, Tony, but here’s the thing – you may think that, but I know and can prove the electorate didn’t vote for you guys to govern in your own right – you only got 49.33% of the vote and (currently looking like ) only 73 seats.

I think Abbott will do anything he can to cut a deal with the power-three. No doubt he’ll try and do a deal on the NBN and maybe GP Super clinics, and maybe even climate change. In other words he’ll have to repudiate half of his polices that differentiated the LNP from the ALP. I don’t know how that will go down, but for mine, I think it would make him the biggest hypocrite in Australian politics – and I hope the media would hold him to account. But I don’t know that they would.

If Abbot thinks swings are important, I know the big swing was not to the LNP, but to the Greens. The ALP lost 4.87% of its primary vote. The LNP picked up about 1.2%, the Greens picked up 3.63%. So in effect we know the Greens picked up around three quarters of the votes lost by Labor.

So looking at those figures I think the ALP needs to care more about its left flank than it has this past three years, if they don’t I think after the next election I’ll be able to prove that they should have… because I think the ALP’s vote will only go down more, and the Greens vote will only increase.

What do we think? What do we know? What can we prove?

Important questions to ponder as we look at what is written and spoken about the events that occur over the next week.


Here’s another thing I think. Tonight might be my last night with access to the net till Friday. I am moving house and because of the whole bundling of internet/phone etc, and because of various issues with communications companies I might have to cancel my broadband account tomorrow. This of course will likely send me insane! It will also mean I won’t be blogging this week; which I guess is ok, given there is nothing very important happening in politics at the moment…

And thus perhaps this is it for me and the 2010 Election, in which case thanks for all your comments over the past five weeks. Glad to have been of service.

See you all on the other side!

UPDATE: Cheers for Rowan pointing out this Downfall parody of the election. It’s very good – and one of the very few that actually bothers to use the word “Stalin”!


Fiona Katauskas said...

Great analysis. How rare to read a piece of writing that distinguishes between fact and opinion.


MickeyT said...

Thanks Grog - not sure how I'm going to survive the next week if you are offline. Come back soon!

drwho_oz said...

Have a good move Grog - and hope you get up and running again soon.

I have a 3G wireless router, so if I move - as long aas there's a mobile tower nearby - I'm back online as soonas I can set up the PC lol

chrispycon said...

Good luck with the move, Grog.

Anonymous said...

Great analysis, good food for thought.
And good luck with the move, and the internet withdrawals!

Thomas King said...

Thank you for insights over the election and best of luck with the move!


LuluKar said...

Ta Grog. Good luck with the move. Am feeling hopeful they might hear the message. JG has, hope the rest of her party has. It doesn't matter if BudgyBoy compromises to win the crown - he still faces a green senate and hopefully a greener ALP. It may be ok. Gotta be better than Howard years.

lyn said...

Hi Grog

All the best with the move Grog,
and thankyou so much for writing your wonderful pieces for us.

I Do hope you come back very soon.


Fiona Katauskas said...

PS I disagree on the issue of Rudd not being a factor. I think he definitely was but it was not about him personally.

In NSW and QLD, State Labor is incredibly on the nose and is seen (reasonably enough) as pervaded by a culture of jealous, insular and extremely bitter factional rivalry with scant regard to the public good or indeed to the fact that the public exists at all, other than at election time.

The ridding of Rudd (or whatever you want to call it) just added to the jaded-yet not unreasonable-perception that, state or federal, this is what Labor does. What Labor is. Once this connection was made, even if subconsciously, it was pretty much impossible to break. The consequent spin and pork barrelling palaver only reinforced that cynicism.

Of course, this is totally unprovable but I sense it swung quite a few votes or at least influenced them. Politics is never a matter (not that you're saying it is) of direct cause and effect. The impressions that people have of parties and pollies are one of the many factors influencing decision making, but they can colour a candidate so that every subsequent policy or appearance is reinforced.

Johnh Ryan said...

Very good comment Grog,I to get my main Computer back next Sunday.
Hope the move goes well keep smiling

Gabrielle said...

fave blog of this whole sorry campaign. second was when you held the 'press pack on tour' accountable for failing to ask questions of policy. everything in between a pleasure as well. Thanks

Greg Jericho said...

Fiona - yep you may be right. I was just talking to my sister who lives in Sturt, and she said friend of her who normally votes ALP , voted Libs pruely because of the dumping of Rudd.

So it definately was a factor - what we'll never know however is if those who voted Lib because of the dumping of Rudd outwieghed those who would have voted Libs had Rudd still been PM.

Lisushi said...

Just wanted to say I've really enjoyed your blog, Its certainly made me look at this whole campaign in a new way. Great writing. Good luck with the move.

Lis Petersen said...

Your blog has been the most refreshing aspect of this campaign... so much so I'm thinking it would be nice to have no minority government at all hence another election before Christmas and thus giving you good reason to do it all over again *grins.

Greg Jericho said...

Gaaaah Lis, don't wish that on us!!

Thanks one and all, it's been fun (and frustrating and depressing and horrible...)

Anonymous said...

Poor piece of analysis. No offence.

Steve said...

How can Abbott say that this swing against a first term government is unprecedented? Has he forgotten 1998? Perhaps he should be reminded.

Rowan said...

Great piece of ironic prose, Grog, seems to have gone over the head of at least one reader. I suppose that's why we keep getting dumbing down of everything to the LCD. In a depressing turn, a friend admitted he only noticed for the first time last night how biased the media was against the Labor govt. I wonder what gave it away? Was it that the ABC showed the swing bar to greens as less than half the size of the swing bar to the libs despite the swing to the greens being twice as big? (Can anyone explain that?) The constant snide and personal comments about Gillard? The repetition of 'facts' that were patently untrue or unprovable?

And I guess this was only a matter of time...

Pasok said...

It is entirely possible that Rudd's loss of primary vote can be partially related to the coup.

I know people here in the electorate of Griffith who have previously voted for him, but didn't this time because in their eyes it was a vote of approval for the actions of Gillard & Co, not a vote for a local member.

Kev went out of this way to unbrand himself from Labor. All the advertising here was themed in yellow and gave the impression of running as a semi-independent.

Longfulan said...

I see that the 'assassins' Bitar etal are putting the failure to win the election down to the leaks during the campaign.

Apparently nothing happened before then. Or even after.

Quite a definition of self-serving....

Business Mogul said...

Great piece Grog. So much talk about how well Abbott did in the campaign but the coming weeks will be his greatest test. I can't imagine how he will deftly tread through the negotiations privately and through his media statements. Whereas Julia has already shown she is absorbing the result and moved on to this next phase.

Good luck with the move.

Greg Jericho said...

Good point, Pasok, you could be right. Though I would expect people who felt that way would want to show support for "their guy". But that's just my theory.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for all your hard work Grog. I know my election 2010 experience has been enhanced considerably by reading your take on it. It's often helped me clarify issues and ideas that I was wrestling with. Really appreciate your work.

Good luck with the move! Hope it goes smoothly.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Grog

my head hurt all day yesterday, but i feel much better now. I do love the way Tones has resorted straight to the bully pulpit, not a hint of subtlety, no patience.

I am leaning to the idea that the country party independents will side with the ALP, tho i may be swayed by the comparison with '61 when the coalition won with commo preferences.

Anonymous said...

oh and good luck with the move, let the proffesionals do their work

Evan said...

Great post Grog, there's a reason why you're Australia's most famous, important and incisive politics blogger.

On the Qld/Rudd hating aspect, one theory I've heard that could be disproven with statistics was that the Beattie Govt is so widely hated that the Fed's copped some spray. Not at all sure of the numbers up there but I'm sure Poss has a post on it somewhere.

Countering that is the fact that there's ample evidence that Australians can separate State and Federal issues; see coast to coast Labor Govts under Howard, and the fact that there was a swing toward Labor in NSW, despite the State Govt being seriously on the nose.

So, agreed, very difficult to tell WHY the strong move against Labor. The swing to the Greens is probably instructive.

On the fate of the Indies, I agree that I don't think Oakeshott nor Windsor will side with the Libs, without them abandoning some pretty major policies. Katter, I'm not so sure, particularly as I don't understand hiw AGW stance.

I've heard someone suggest he'd make a good speaker? Doesn't have the gravitas of Harry, but an independent in the Chair might be excellent. He seems a little outspoken, so the position might not appeal to him.

More idle speculation from me later if you want it.


Longfulan said...

I read that Maurice Iemma wants Bitar to resign. Maurice may have an axe to grind, but that doesn't make him wrong!

Paul Christiansen said...

Thanks for your commentary this election. I didn't discover your blog until about day 20 or so but I've thoroughly enjoyed what you've written. Hope to see you back again

ANR said...

Stellar blog Grog, for mine the most consistently insightful and entertaining commentary of the election (up there with Rundle in Crikey during the last US election). Hope you keep it up.

Alistair Baillieu-McEwan said...

Well it really is cold turkey this week isn't it? Possible loss of Government, Grog having the effrontery to take time out on a minor pretext like packing up and moving house and having no broadband. In the immortal words of Julie Bishop "Shame on you, shame, shame".
A minor positive note is the return of the "family" seat in Victoria to it's ancestral and rightful owners (McEwan).

Thanks for latest post Grog,it is so logical I feel guilty that I don't often seek to make the clarifications.

P.M.Newton said...

Thanks Grog. Sane, balanced coverage. Here's hoping the move and the net nightmares don't render you insane, unbalanced and unbundled at the end of it.

Andrew Elder said...

I can prove that Oakeshott was disappointed that more of the Garnaut report wasn't implemented.

I can prove that Katter was with the Libs on the mining tax, but dead against privatising Telstra (let alone the cobbled-together telco policy the Libs announced a few weeks ago).

The party that does the best impression of joined-up government wins. Standing on your dig and telling K/O/W what they don't want to hear won't necessarily be a bad thing.

Gavin said...

Thanks for your excellent commentary of this election. I bet when you planned your move you'd have nothing to write about by now. A shame we can't get your commentary this week (though there may not be much to sa -no proof- for a week anyway)

Anonymous said...

I think Rudd's last newsspoll was 52-48 in his favour.

I think that Gillard's last newspoll was 50-50

Rudd's last newspoll was an improvement on the previous. Gillards last newspoll was a decline on the previous.

Also I think that Rudd wouldn't have made such blunders as the Timor detention centre and the "real Julia". Not to mention that every positive raised by Labor during their campagin was from the Rudd government.

Take away the NBN, health plan etc developed under Rudd and what did Gillard give us ? A hard line on refugees and the giant climate change focus group.

Futher now Gillard and Rudd are both somewhat damaged by the process.

IF Rudd had lead Labor into an October election and lost (highly unlikely) then a-waiting in the wings would be Gillard. A fresh, untainted, undamaged option to be a highly effective opposition leader.

Now what ?