Noting Howard’s prediction of victory, Ken Parish observes
It’s a little surprising really, because you would normally expect both leaders to be still trying to position themselves as underdog at this stage.
but takes the prediction, and Howard’s confident demeanour, as a sign of real confidence, presumably reflecting Liberal polling.
My inclination is to go the other way. After a week or so in which everyone was commenting on how rattled he was (I noted on September 30 that he looked like a beaten man, Howard had to (over) compensate. I suspect that, if he really had good news from the pollsters in his back pocket, he could have managed to look confident while saying it was too close too call (see Peter Beattie for a lesson on how to do this when you are an unbackable favorite). It’s easier to fake confidence if you’re saying confident things.
One thing I find hard to figure out is the impact of denunciations like this one from former blogger James Morrow in the Oz, attacking Howard from the right for his belated conversion to tax-and-spend social democracy. Howard no doubt judges that people like Morrow have “nowhere else to go” and Morrow obligingly observes
, Howard and the Coalition still represent the best chance for our finances.
But he must run the risk of losing people who, unlike Morrow, dislike Howard’s policies on the war, or refugees, or Kyoto, but have been kept onside by his reputation for fiscal restraint.