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.