March 03, 2004


Mark Latham wins in Australia! Some yet-to-be-selected Democrat wins in the US!

Hey, they could be accurate. Of the two, Latham is the more likely. Then again, polls lately have tended to mislead.

Posted by Tim Blair at March 3, 2004 02:54 AM

...would have led Labor to a crushing win had an election been held last weekend...

and had this election been determined by meaningless polls that spin both ways, instead of actual votes.

Posted by: david at March 3, 2004 at 03:38 AM

Bush will be ahead not too long after the Dem convention is over and Kerry starts having to respond to Rove & Co.'s questions regarding how he can always have it both ways!

Kerry is the most liberal member of the senate - he wouldn't even tell a NY times reporter in response to her question of whether he was a liberal or not - and she is on his side. He knows, as does his campaign, that if the voters figure out who he is - toast. Bush has a little bit of cash around in order to make some subtle hints as to who Kerry really is. Northeastern US liberal democrats do not win national elections.

Posted by: JEM at March 3, 2004 at 06:56 AM

It is impossible to predict the result of an election more than a week away from the day, and then it's hard. As we all know the elections in Oz or US are not on this weekend and there is a campaign yet to be had. In the case of the US a candidate to be chosen and an incumbent yet to stir. Anything is possible.

Posted by: theories at March 3, 2004 at 08:22 AM

Every time an election rolls round, some dubious newspaper hack pulls out an equally dubious poll, cites an arbitrary statistic from that poll, argues that some such political leader will win, and points to an historical precedent which supports his or her argument (ignoring all the historical precedents which do not). It's a relatively easy thing to do, because there are so many polls nowadays, and after over 100 years of democracy in Australia, there are so many historical precedents to cite.
Mike Seccombe's effort in the Herald is merely the latest...

Posted by: TimT at March 3, 2004 at 08:26 AM

let us assume that margin of error was respon sible for the last Newspoll.
This means Morgan, Neilsen and Newspoll are singing the same song.

Iron Mark is still shiny and Mr howard is still has little idea of how to combat him. Interestingly Iron Mark appears to be adopting strategy from both Hawke and Howard.

Posted by: Homer at March 3, 2004 at 09:04 AM

Id be interested if someone in the know could point out how the polls are compiled.

For example, does the poll assume that Australia is a single electorate? Or do they do a small sample from each electorate then work out which seats would and wouldnt be won be ALP or Coalition?

The reason I ask is because Latham needs to make headway in the marginal seats. It doesn't matter if he has simply increased Labors vote in seats that would have been won anyway.

Posted by: Tysen at March 3, 2004 at 09:26 AM

'Iron Mark'? Kidding right?

Posted by: clay pavers at March 3, 2004 at 09:27 AM

Is anyone else wondering how both the SMH and The Age managed to make such basic factual errors in their pieces on the AGB/McNair Poll this morning?

Last time I checked, John Howard did not have a 20 seat majority. I think it's closer to 12.

Given that, I'll be taking these poll results with a grain of salt.

Posted by: Aaron Kennedy at March 3, 2004 at 09:30 AM

The lead article in the SMH was by that well known objective commentator Mike Seccombe. The heading on the continuation of the article on page 8 said "Let the joy be confined, a lot can happen before the election".

Um..whose joy precisely - Mike?

Posted by: Craig G at March 3, 2004 at 09:45 AM

It still has to be borne in mind that polls taken during the leadership of Latham's predecessor, Simon Crean, had the parties neck and neck despite Crean having a basement level approval rating.

Latham's vastly higher approval rating cannot help but translate into votes for Labor and should see him in the Lodge in November.

One of Howard's legacies will be that he almost single-handedly dragged Australia's political landscape back to the middle ground out of the clutches of the cultural elites, forcing Labor to anoint a social conservative (certainly in their eyes) as leader to try and drag back some of that middle Australia constituency.

Posted by: ilibcc at March 3, 2004 at 10:01 AM

So Mark Latham has peaked early? Well, he is an Australian bloke after all. Enough of my attempts at Emma Tom style raunchiness, I remain very much "uncommitted" when it comes to Latham, even though I am a Labor voter by nature. Does this poll suggest that the disaffected who went to the Greens and others last time have fallen for Mark's, ahem, charms. Returning to my Emma guise, I will at this point engage in some self-promotion (maybe they will give me a job on the awful Sunrise) and inform readers that you can find my feminist ramblings about Latham, which no doubt will be enjoyed by all, at this link that should be in blue.

Posted by: Darlene at March 3, 2004 at 11:02 AM

Tysen, the Neilsen poll is not conducted on an electorate by electorate basis. It's a national telephone sample of about 1400 voters.

To quote from the SMH story:

"On a two-party preferred basis Labor leads at 54 per cent (up 6 points) to the Coalition's 46 per cent (down 6). If this swing was evenly distributed across the country, the ALP would have won a 28-seat majority in government - at an election."

It's unlikely that such a swing *would* be evenly distributed, but nevertheless it's possible to infer (from historical experience in actual elections) that a two-party preferred lead of this size would translate into a healthy Labor majority.

It's worth bearing in mind, however, that early in 2001 the polls also had Labor well ahead, and we know what happened that time - the "We Wuz Robbed" election.

Posted by: James at March 3, 2004 at 11:56 AM

Thanks James

Posted by: Tysen at March 3, 2004 at 12:06 PM

The double whammy is coming to squash the blogmire. This place will have to close down come 2005 out of sheer embarassment. Bliar will have to finally go and work for a living, or maybe get out more at least, take out a dictator or two, keep occupied somehow. Coming to terms with utter irrelevance won't be easy for one so vain.

Posted by: Miranda Divide at March 3, 2004 at 12:24 PM

"Coming to terms with utter irrelevance won't be easy for one so vain."

Sounds like the bitter voice of experience, Miranda.

Posted by: Robert Crawford at March 3, 2004 at 12:51 PM

Why don't you fight your own battles. The bloghead can generate his own snappy one-liners all on his own.

Posted by: Miranda Divide at March 3, 2004 at 01:12 PM

Didn't Michael Moore say something similar a coupla years ago? Payback Tuesday, I think he called it.

MiDi, you might want to refrain from trying to predict the future. It'll lower your credibility even more (if that is possible) if (when?) you're proven wrong.

Posted by: david at March 3, 2004 at 01:23 PM

This just in:

Kerry Cements Nomination; Edwards Out

Massachusetts Sen. Flippy-Floppy Heinz-Kerry is the presumptive Democrat nominee. Bemused chuckling heard in the vicinity of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Updates to follow...

Posted by: Spiny Norman at March 3, 2004 at 01:27 PM

Welp, I guess it's about time to watch Bush's popularity soar.

I think it will begin Friday. Polls should start showing it next week, say Tuesday.

Posted by: aaron at March 3, 2004 at 02:06 PM

Dean won as well! Everyone's a winner in the Democrats! It proves that in a perfect world equal outcomes for everyone are possible regardless of race, sexuality or scream volume! And Dean's world is a perfect world! It's Vermont!

Posted by: ilibcc! at March 3, 2004 at 02:14 PM

Three cheers for Dean! Hip, hip, YEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH!

Posted by: Sortelli!!! at March 3, 2004 at 02:18 PM

Congratulations to President Kerry and Prime Minister Latham, joining such luminaries as Prime Minister Andrew Peacock, Prime Minister John Hewson, Prime Minister Kim Beazley, President Dean, and President Clark.

Posted by: Quentin George at March 3, 2004 at 03:52 PM

**Regarding the Australian Poll**

This is ACNielsen, so it has a lot more credibility than Roy Morgan. It's as accurate as Newspoll, which means you have a margin of error of 3%.

So, Labor is ahead by somewhere between 57-43 and 51-49, take your pick. The latter is more in line with Newspoll's findings.

Don't forget, though, that the public polls had Labor and the Coalition neck-and-neck under Crean. Labor's internal pollng, meanwhile, showed the party heading for a train wreck. If the commentators are to be believed, the Coalition's internal polling showed the same thing. So the public polls aren't necessarily a very accurate reflection of the state of play.

A few points worth making:

1. I won't use the word "honeymoon", but Latham's numbers thus far are built on 100% positive media coverage. The press won't go near a negative story about him. So, unless you're a rusted-on Coalition supporter or unless you follow politics intimately, why would you have an unfavourable opinion of him? This one-sided coverage can't last forever--and the editorials in some Murdoch papers have explicitly stated that it *won't* last forever.

2. Howard's approval rating is in the mid-50s. Incumbents with positive approval ratings don't lose elections. The main story here is Latham's current superhuman status rather than genuine dissatisfaction with the Howard Government. So you can expect Howard's numbers to slide or the Coalition's share of the vote to pick back up.

3. Latham's approval rating is highest in the regions? I don't buy it, and that's one reason I refer you to the margin of error.

4. The election is eight or nine months away. Apart from the obvious fact that a lot can change in this time, there is a less-discussed consequence: at this stage of the electoral cycle, the interviewees don't take their answers as seriously as we do. This tends to inflate support for oppositions, as polling in the run-up to the NSW State election confirmed.

That's my take on these numbers. I'd love to hear a detailed analysis from someone else.

Posted by: The Catalyst at March 3, 2004 at 04:01 PM

Bush can't believe his luck. Running against Kerry? He won't have to run, he can just amble back into the Oval Office once Kerry starts getting himself pinned down on policies.

If Miranda fancies a punt, I am happy to accommodate her on a little bit of electionating.

Come on Ms. Deride, 'ave a go. Name your ticket and stump up a few ducats Babe.

Posted by: Fool to Himself and Burden to Others at March 3, 2004 at 04:10 PM

Why don't you fight your own battles. The bloghead can generate his own snappy one-liners all on his own.

We just like picking on ya, 'Randy.

I know, I know, its cruel to make fun of the mentally disabled.

But in your case - highly justifiable.

Posted by: Quentin George at March 3, 2004 at 04:22 PM

"Why don't you fight your own battles. The bloghead can generate his own snappy one-liners all on his own."

My understanding of how blogs (that allow comments) work is that it's considered acceptable to comment on other people's posts. If someone wants to communicate with *only* one person, use email.

Of course, what constitutes an acceptable post and/or response rests with the site owner or moderator.

Some people (like me) may read blogs at the end of a long day at work and actually enjoy *all* the 'snappy one liners'. Keep up with the news and be entertained at the same time. Great use of limited time!!

Posted by: Chris Josephson at March 3, 2004 at 08:27 PM

I'm a registered Dem., so my choices yesterday were either hilarious or depressing. I did my part for democracy: I voted for Kucinich for pres. and for 6 of my delegates to vote for LaRouche. Happy sailing for the American Way!

Posted by: ushie at March 3, 2004 at 10:17 PM