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The Shanahan spin

May 19th, 2004

As Crikey points out, Dennis Shanahan does his best to find the good news in the Newspolls showing general public rejection of the Budget. I was particularly struck by this bit

After last year’s budget, which included a $5-a-week across-the-board tax cut, 15per cent of people said they would be personally better off and 32per cent said they would be worse off.

This year, almost twice as many people said they would be better off and only 22per cent said they believed they would be worse off.

This is all true. The only problem is that last year, Shanahan reported on the results of the same poll, and also found it to be good news for the government. How did he manage this, given the awful results? Simple. He reported that 53 per cent of voters thought the Budget would make them better off or no worse off .(emphasis added)

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  1. Don Wigan
    May 19th, 2004 at 09:35 | #1

    Agreed that the polling is alarming news for Howard and friends. The commentariat such as Shanahan do tend to throw their own spin on things.

    My two bob’s worth, for reasons other than those mentioned, is that it’s fairly good news for Latham. For a long time now I’ve believed that, contrary to general interpretation, the key to winning is the level of the primary vote. If the figure is 45% or above, chances are you’ll bolt in regardless of polling in the marginals.

    The Labor primary seems to have levelled at around 44% – just below the figure I set but enough to suggest a big chance. It’s certainly a lot more encouraging than the 38% that Beazley or Crean could muster.

    In that context, it’s a bit disappointing for Latham not to draw a line between cuts for the wealthy, and improved public services. I assume the idea is to avoid Howard wedge traps. Holding your nerve is part of it, I suppose, but a bolder alternative vision might well be worth the risk.

  2. Richard
    May 19th, 2004 at 11:56 | #2

    I agree with you Don that a bolder alternative vision would be good – not only worth the risk, but a strong agenda for the future would probably play well given perceptions that the Govt is now focussed solely on its own reelection.

    Despite your good point about the strength of the intended Labor primary vote, we should understand the Budget political strategy in terms of marginal seat voters rather than the broader community. The following extract from today’s SMH is interesting:
    “Liberal Party private polling on the budget in marginal seats is better for the Coalition than the general level of support revealed in published national polls such as yesterday’s Newspoll, Liberal sources said.”

    I think we’re now going to see a string of health & education spending announcements, given that the budget didn’t quite work politically. The first one came yesterday with remedial reading vouchers for parents whose kids are not up to national reading benchmarks.

    My view is that these won’t work because they’ll look so cynical immediately following the budget, and barring another 11 September or Tampa, John Howard is history.

  3. Geoff Robinson
    May 19th, 2004 at 14:18 | #3

    Simple arithmetic suggests that if the swing in ‘marginal’ seats is below average it must be above average in other seats. The fact that the Tampa etc. theme played especially to Anglo voters suggests that there may be large swings lurking in rural electorates this time( as well all of Adelaide could be classified as Anglo provincial). The services issue will play harder in these electorates and there a few of them in the upper marginal range Labor has not won for a long time.

  4. Homer Paxton
    May 19th, 2004 at 14:57 | #4

    writing such rubbish merely gives more ammunition to the Murdoch conspiracy re Election.

    what is more likely is that Mr Shanahan doesn’t understand the subject.

    This is more likeley. It is strange that when you see who are ‘experts’ on polls in either parties they very rarely understand statistics.

    to take one example I couldn’t get over that in those old opposition days in Howard’s office it was Howard, Barnett or Morris who would be going over the polls whilst in the Tim Stewart who actually understood the subject was rarely asked.

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