Originally Posted by howardj
Howard Roars Back
Obviously, it’s still a big lead for Labor, but the important thing is that it’s the Coalition’s best result since February. And let’s not forget that Newspoll on election morning in 2004, showed the parties level on 50/50 when the actual result later that night was 53.5 / 46.5 to the Coalition. So, going from the last election, Newspoll does have somewhat of an in-built, unintentional Labor bias.
Deriving a party bias (intentional or otherwise) from that evidence is an extraordinarily long bow to draw. I think that a better interpretation was that a decent portion of the electorate was essentially undecided right up until the ballot, and that most of those who were still undecided at that stage fell towards the coalition. That phenomenon will likely be far less prevalent this year. I would wager that the amount of voters who are undecided this year would be far less than at the same time in the 2004 campaign. I would also bet the farm on the fact that Rudd isn't going to be the political moron that Latham was.
Galaxy and Gallop, as well as the minor pollsters, have indicated the same thing over the past year- that being a 2PP of somewhere between 55-45 and 53-47. Newspoll hasn't deviated from that range of numbers by more than the likely margin-of-error, aside from a couple of obvious rogues. Sorry to say, but there is no inherent bias there.
And "Howard Roars Back"? Back to the same point (within the poll's margin of error) that he has been for the last year or so, aside from a couple of rogue polls?
Credit where credit is due, though- that's some quality spin right there. Well played, sir.
Originally Posted by howardj
Anyway, the important thing is that it gives the Coalition troops some heart. I’m sure they felt totally dispirited and incredibly punch-drunk after last week’s diabolical chain of events. I’ve been pretty disappointed at the lack of sharpness in the Coalition campaign though. Their response to the prospect of an interest rate rise typifies their sloppy performance to date.
That is, it took Howard from Wednesday when the CPI came out (which indicated a rate rise next week) until yesterday afternoon to finally come out with the line that: “Interest rates, even after the last five rate rises, were never this low under 13 years of Labor”. It was such an obvious line, but it took him five days to come up with it!
By contrast, as I told one of my friends last week, they should have had this line ready to go last Wednesday when the CPI came out. Even I thought of this line last week. Such a response should have been apparent to seasoned experts who are working seven days a week on this campaign.
Instead, Howard flailed around for four or five days; splitting hairs as to what he did and did not promise during the last campaign on interest rates. All that the splitting of hairs did was feed into the perception that he is sneaky and tricky. That it took him five days to come out with a convincing response, is not good enough. They have to do better than that.
Absolutely. There is little doubt that the coalition campaign thus far has been pretty poorly executed- certainly not to the level that Howard has usually co-ordinated his campaigns. Above any of the specific issues, I think the greatest difference between this campaign and the last few has been the complete lack of penetration that the coalition has been able to achieve.
On this point, a lot of the credit has to go to the campaign strategy of the ALP. One of the real advantages that Labor has is that they have seen Howard operate enough to be able to predict how he'll campaign. They have found answers to the usual scare campaigns (and I use the term without malice, scare campaigns are a fact of life in modern politics on both sides of the landscape), which have effectively blunted their impact. The Libs have found no traction on interest rates, they have tried to hit the union issue without a great deal of success (thanks, in my view, to the ill-feeling on IR that WorkChoices has brought to the community), and national security has gone from being a major positive for the government to a pretty big negative.
I said (elsewhere) a long time ago that the winning strategy for the ALP this year is small-target politics. Now that Beazley has gone, there isn't the same link to the last Labor government as there previously was. Rudd is seen in the electorate as something of a cleanskin, and as long as he stays keen, he can almost fire shots at the Libs with impunity.
The "Howard ran interest rates to 22%" thing has really hurt the coalition. It seems to be new information to a lot of the community, and it has negated the government's ability to bring up the past against Labor on rates. Amazingly, the government either hasn't recognised that this warrants a strategic response, or they can't think of one. It is going a long way towards killing one of their main arguments, and yet I haven't heard a single response to the issue, rather than to brush it off and wearily claim that "the public will decide if those rates matter." That's just bad politics, plain and simple- and it is really unlike Howard.
I can see the revelation this week that the "we'll keep interest rates at record lows" comment DID actually pass the PM's lips during the last campaign (after Howard repeatedly claimed the contrary) being another problem for the government. You know that Rudd is going to fire off with both barrels, and it has taken away the Liberal strategy to isolate the broken promise from Howard. I can see that really hurting the Libs over the next week or so.
(And before you berate me on this- yes, I know why Labor bringing up Howard's 22% cash rates is disingenuous. I also know why it is only slightly less disingenuous than Howard and Costello pointing at the 17% rates under Labor as an predictor of future behaviour. I'm talking about electioneering, not economics.)
Originally Posted by howardj
In modern campaigns, the leader only gets 30 seconds of speaking time on the news each night. As silly as it sounds, you have to sit down the night before, and try to get your lines right for the next day - get your 30 seconds down pat, on what is likely to be the big issue the next day.
I also think the Coalition’s advertising has been below par. There’s too much focus on the unions. For mine, they’d be much better served having more advertising directly comparing the achievements and qualifications of the two men who would preside over our one trillion dollar economy - Peter Costello and Wayne Swan; and advertising directly comparing unemployment, average interest rates and average real wages under Labor and the Coalition during their most recent stints in Government.
I mean, with the Unions, who gives a **** what some fat unionist was doing at a Union meeting a couple of years ago? Yes, the anti-Union line has its place, but it shouldn’t be the dominant theme of the Coalition advertising.
In summary, the Coalition really need to lift their game. Their heart has to be in it; they have to be really passionate about it. They will still likely lose this election, but there are things they could be doing - like getting their responses in order much earlier (as per above) and sharpening their advertising - to make the likely loss much less than it needs to be.
Yep. I agree with all of that.
The problem is, I think that a good section of the coalition has ALREADY lost their will to fight, and have turned their attentions to divvying up the scraps when they lose. Costello, for one, has the look of a man who knows that he has no internal support base- and there was no greater demonstration of that than the tax policy release press conference.
He seemed ill-prepared, his delivery was that of a guy who was thoroughly dispirited, and had none of his usual enthusiasm and vigour for the subject. From someone who has been able to show endless enthusiasm for taxation and economics, this was really surprising.
The infighting that has emerged from the coalition is a massive departure from their usual behavior. Whilst the internal sniping and machinations have always been there, they have made a point of doing it behind closed doors, keeping the facade of the united team. That is no longer the case, and the open hostility and second guessing from within have left the coalition damaged. They are no longer the more (outwardly, at least) cohesive side, and that is why I can't see them making any inroads.