Monday, August 16, 2010

Moving Forward To The Finish Line

After declaring that the Coalition had won the first two weeks of the election campaign, and calling the third week a draw, I believe that the fourth week has been a narrow victory for the Labor Party. It began well with early signs of a comeback showing up in some of the opinion polls, and a strong performance by the Prime Minister in a television appearance on the ABC. The ongoing distraction provided by former Labor Leader Mark Latham achieved two things that may have helped Labor: it removed the spotlight from Kevin Rudd’s activities, and it may well have actually generated some sympathy for Julia Gillard. His intervention might have been viewed as embarrassing, but if anything many people might have felt that no Prime Minister should be subjected to the kind of treatment that Mr. Latham dished out.

At the same time, Tony Abbott slipped up with his failure to display a grasp of the importance of the internet and broadband. Other than that however, the Coalition campaigned solidly. In particular, Mr. Abbott enjoyed a strongly positive response to the Town Hall style meeting at Rooty Hill on Wednesday night. The Prime Minister spoke first, and took questions from the audience, but was upstaged literally when Tony Abbott took to the floor and declared that he wanted to be “on the level” with voters. It was a very smart and very effective tactic and it worked in his favour, and the show of hands declared Tony Abbot to be the winner on the night. Regardless of later concerns about whether or not the supposedly undecided voters in the audience may have been infiltrated by party supporters, it was a very good outcome for Mr. Abbott.

Overall, a narrow victory for Labor in the third week of the campaign is born out by the latest opinion polls. Signs of a bounce in the poll figures began to emerge last week, and the most recent polls have Labor marginally in front in a very close race. The Newspoll published today shows Labor holding 52% and the Coalition 48% of the two party preferred vote. The Neilson poll shows Labor leading 51% to 49%, and there was even one apparently rogue poll showing Labor at 57.5%. Whether it is enough to achieve victory on polling day remains to be seen, because it is quite possible to win a majority of votes without winning a majority of seats, but it still represents a move in the right direction for the Labor Party.

So now we have entered the fifth and final week of the campaign, and the finish line is well within sight, but it’s still too early to tell just who will cross it first.

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