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Sea change

May 21st, 2007

Just this weekend, I’ve noticed a sudden change in the tone of political commentary, suggesting that the insiders have undergone a collective change of view. Suddenly, all the stories I read are about how Howard really is losing this time (the commentary from the Costello camp is particularly acid, and a drastic change in the space of a week). It seems as if the proximate cause of all this was the failure of the mythical ‘Budget bounce’ to emerge in the opinion polls (the government got another bad one today). In addition, it seems as if a lot of commentators really were convinced that the government’s moves on IR and education would be seen as sensible political responses to public concern and not as an admission that Labor was in tune with the voters on these issues.

Interestingly, the betting markets don’t seem to have moved too much away from even money, while the polls have been giving a consistent message all year. The election will be a big test for the relative predictive powers of polls, pundits and punters.

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  1. Warbo
    May 21st, 2007 at 10:11 | #1

    Did Milne say anything interesting? I couldn’t get past that extraordinary mixed metaphor in the first sentence. It may seem trivial, but I reckon if someone – especially a professional, who’s supposed to be good at this sort of thing – cares so little about what they write, it probably isn’t worth reading.

  2. Jill Rush
    May 21st, 2007 at 12:41 | #2

    The commentators seem to be in sync with the PM on this as other issues.

    The latest strategy seems to be to face the danger and to try and frighten electors back into the Coalition camp.

    The PM was back on message about the economy at the same time and this was supported by the poll which suggests that 60% of the popululation think that the economy is better handled by his govt. He must expect people to overlook that so much tax from their pockets will not equate to good management.

    Joe Hockey meantime is saying that the unions campaign is the most awesome fear campaign of all time. (He must have missed Tampa and the post 9/11 views).

    Thus the coalition is fighting back and will fight to be the underdog. However it will take a lot to win back trust and confidence of the voters – however Howard is cunning enough to just work for the votes that count. The question will be whether the broad appeal and broad brush approach of the Labor Party will appeal to those in the electorates which will make the difference.

    The commentators who are writing for the Australian will do what they can to help and so the change in tack may be part of the bigger strategy and covering themselves for the future rather than a true change of direction.

  3. observa
    May 21st, 2007 at 13:40 | #3

    Just that the polls for Labor were unprecedentedly high and the Budget was the Govt’s first real opportunity to prove this was probably unsustainable. The fact that it didn’t spelled out the obvious for the punditry.

  4. May 21st, 2007 at 19:05 | #4

    Is it IR or Rudd that has turned things around for the ALP?

  5. jstrocch
    May 21st, 2007 at 22:03 | #5

    Pr Q says

    Just this weekend, I’ve noticed a sudden change in the tone of political commentary, suggesting that the insiders have undergone a collective change of view.

    Why does Ozblogosphere identify the view of the “commentariat” as the sole and exlusive property of the Australian’s three chief political pundits: Milne, Shanahan and Kelly. Talk about the Three Stooges!

    I just wonder why anyone takes anything in the Australian op-ed seriously. Obviously the boss, Rupert Murdoch, doesnt. Otherwise he would not be going for “carbon neutrality”.

    They take themselves more seriously than anyone else, except Pr Q and Mark Bahnisch who obsess about their pronouncements like teenage girls fuming over in-group power struggles.

    There are plenty of other political pundits out there with greater readership and more respect from professional intellectuals.

    Pr Q says:

    Interestingly, the betting markets don’t seem to have moved too much away from even money, while the polls have been giving a consistent message all year. The election will be a big test for the relative predictive powers of polls, pundits and punters.

    I have been wondering about this for ages. Apparently most of the early money went on Howard which has given the odds a bit of a pro-govt bias. No doubt the late money will tend to swing back to Rudd, reflecting the Opp favourable poll results.

    If that happens and the ALP wins the election it will be another nail in the efficient markets hypothesis.

  6. melanie
    May 21st, 2007 at 22:14 | #6

    A week is a long time in politics and the world record for holding one’s breath is somewhere in the region of 8 minutes.

  7. jquiggin
    May 21st, 2007 at 22:19 | #7

    “Why does Ozblogosphere identify the view of the “commentariatâ€? as the sole and exlusive property of the Australian’s three chief political pundits: Milne, Shanahan and Kelly. Talk about the Three Stooges!”

    Why do you assume this, Jack? I was started on this by a column by Matt Price (can’t find it now), and then this piece by Jason Koutsoukis. Milne was just the last one I saw, and the most fun to quote.

    I see now that Paul Kelly is running on the insider-outsider point, but that’s so last week.

  8. SJ
    May 21st, 2007 at 23:14 | #8

    Terje Says:

    Is it IR or Rudd that has turned things around for the ALP?

    Dunno. Was it the stupid Howard policy or the credible Rudd alternative? Hmm, which to choose…

  9. swio
    May 23rd, 2007 at 08:42 | #9

    I think its IR rather than Rudd because of whose vote is being changed by IR. The ALP has not been viable at the Federal level for so long because Howard successfully took blue collar votes away from Labor. IR is something this demographic pays alot of attention to and is heavily affected by. Howard has handed them right back to Labor.

  10. Hal9000
    May 23rd, 2007 at 12:45 | #10

    SJ – le mot juste.

    I’m also detecting a definite game plan in the ALP’s positioning of high profile candidates eg in Bennelong, North Sydney, Eden-Monaro. In AFL terms, it’s putting taggers on the other side’s stars for Bennelong and North Sydney. Eden-Monaro is the litmus seat in popular wisdom and so will attract plenty of media. Colonel Kelly is clearly a star turn up against the grey personality of Gary Nairn, as his effort against Nelson showed yesterday. Kelly looked and sounded for all the world like a cornered ship’s rat. A prediction – as the reality of defeat begins to take hold among the Government ranks, they will attempt to cryongenically preserve their influence beyond the election through long term appointments of cronies.

  11. Ian Gould
    May 27th, 2007 at 22:00 | #11

    The ABC is reporting that Peter Costello has suggested that the G8 break with tradition and nominate a non-American to replace Wolfowitz at the World Bank.

    Is it overly mischievous of me to suggest that Peter may be engaging in preparing for a graceful exit from the domestic scene?

    Trotting the New York champagne circuit has to be more appealing that three years of internicine trench warfare with Abbot and Turnbull over the Opposition leadership.

  12. Ian Gould
    May 27th, 2007 at 22:08 | #12

    I’ve met Kevin Rudd – nice bloke.

    I even worked briefly for him – well I worked for someone who worked for someone who worked for him when I was in the Office of Cabinet.

    Despite Kev’s good qualities I think there’s one important element in his current electoral success which southerners may overlook.

    If elected he’d be the first Prime Minister from outside NSW and Victoria in over 50 years.

    There’s a parochial little part of me that reacts to that.

    C’arn the Maroons.

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