Underdog rides a bandwagon

This bright morning brought news of yet another stellar opinion poll in favour of Kevin Rudd, this one purporting to show that the nation’s preferred prime minister has now taken John Howard’s Queensland heartland by storm, lifting the ALP’s stocks by 15 points. Everywhere, the story has been the same for months. The preferred prime minister’s stunning honeymoon period is giving way to a great national bandwagon, as former Liberal voters push each other out of the way to get on board behind Australia’s new political superstar.

The curiosity is that none of this is believed. The pundits sure don’t believe the polls. Denis Shanahan got my gong last week. When Newspoll showed Rudd with record-breaking satisfaction and preferred PM ratings, Shanahan spun this result as one that “put heat on [the Labor] party”, and hung his hat on a three point upward bounce in the government’s primary – ignoring the margin of error, which is three points on an individual Newspoll and 5 points across two polls. Kevin Rudd doesn’t believe the polls, and says voters are just “kicking the tyres”. The government doesn’t believe the polls. Dolly Downer says Rudd is “flouncing around like a celebrity” and the polls are “ephemera”. Peter Costello says “polls will come, the polls will go”. Experts don’t believe the polls. Rod Cameron doesn’t want to say that the polls are silly, but says that “the polls are silly.” Grahame Morris says Cameron is wrong. The polls aren’t silly, they’re “ridiculous”. Michael Costello says the polls, which are nonsense, are due to Kim Beazley anyway.

Thus we have the unusual situation where, no matter how high Kevin Rudd and the ALP soar in the polls, no matter how big the bandwagon that is building up behind them becomes, they appear destined to remain the underdog. In terms of poll positioning, this is a political bliss point. Of course, I don’t believe the polls, no sir-ree, not on your sweet nelly Bubba, not even for a minute. No-one should.

Update (from comments): If you accept the point, which is that being well ahead in polls that are not believed works to the ALPâs advantage, it would follow that John Howardâs logical counter-move would be to send a public wake-up call, to positively reposition himself as behind amid the pundits. Copping a beating in the polls, yet still being regarded as likely to win, means that the government cannot shift the political pressure, leaving the onus on the polls to come back, and in the meantime dying a thousand polling deaths. The LNP is caught in the inverse of the ALPâs bliss point, and the pain is palpable.

So, perhaps the less preferred prime minister might be well advised to say that he now does sense âa mood for change❠and to warn that âhistory❠just might move against him, and to send a public message to the effect that everyone should have a very good look at that before they do it. In other words, he should firmly take on the mantle of underdog, and put a stop to the ALP cutting it both ways. A conservative bonus here would be that Howard himself tends to fight better when he is written off. Why won’t he write himself off to regain a stable platform with fighting traction? Lazarus was once his principal stock in trade. Hubris? That Howard seems intent on discounting and denying the rise of Kevin Rudd and the ALP suggests that he may have mixed up legacy shopping with doing whatâs necessary to win the election.

I appreciate that this line of thought takes us well ahead of the curve, so disagree by all means, but I donât want to do questions and answers

Breaking news: Maxine McKew is to contest John Howard for the seat of Bennelong. Following the Andrew Wilkie 2004 campaign, Howard held his seat by 4.2 per cent, which a subsequent redistribution has reduced by a debated amount. As a respected national figure, not least among the media reporting the race, McKew can expect to do better than Wilkie and has a smaller task. Thus, Howard’s seat is “in play”, even ignoring the polling, which we don’t believe.

Watching public figures go into politics is fraught, akin to watching rugby league stars adjusting to the pace of international rugby. Hissy-fits, dummy spits and melt-downs are perennials. McKew seems a good bet. Like Garrett and Turnbull, the money is worth less to her than the opportunity to make a difference, which makes McKew not only less accident prone than the usual star recruit but positively admirable. In being married to Bob Hogg, she is familiar with the game at the top level. In having been a leading political correspondent, she has really only moved from being a chair in the political machinery to being an actor, which is just like moving to the other side of her desk. To go to the far side, perhaps the biggest risk is that Maxine will so convince everyone that Howard is going to lose his own seat that hostile former Liberal voters will feel relieved of their duty to vote Labor. Usefully, Howard-huggers may be relied upon to ensure that such a story never gets up, regardless of opinion polls, which no-one believes, least of all me.

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70 Responses to Underdog rides a bandwagon

  1. Depends what you mean by underdog status, Chris. The other interesting poll number this week was a shift in people thinking that Labor will win the next election. Previous polls had a significant majority thinking that the Coalition will win.

  2. The other point worth noting is that the Qld poll (and the C-M is right, Galaxy had a good record in the Qld election) puts paid to the hypothesis expressed by some of the punditariat that Howard would be able to rely on his “strengths” in economic management in Qld and WA – the “two track economy” thing. In WA, of course, the Brian Burke factor might be a significant variable, but in Qld, Rudd has certainly played a smart hand in not just remaining content with the parochialism card, but also joining forces with Beattie to advocate investments in infrastructure which are sorely needed – for instance fixing the horrendous and deadly Ipswich Motorway which Howard has consistently refused to fund. That’s of particular importance to the future of Liberal MPs in Blair and Moreton, but it’s only just one example – infrastructure is a big potential issue in Qld with the continuing fast expansion of SEQ’s population.

    However, before getting too excited, I’d like to see some marginal seat polling. Many of the Qld seats Labor has to win are regional, and statewide trends may not be safe to extrapolate. In North Brisbane seats such as Petrie and Dickson, Labor was disadvantaged last time by branch infighting and poor candidate selection. There are also only two Qld seats with margins under 3% – Bonner and Moreton. The Coalition significantly tightened its grip on many of the seats Labor needs to win in 2004 because the anti-Latham swing was particularly evident in Qld.

  3. cs says:

    I mean “underdog” from the point of view of the participants, pundits and experts, as quoted. I’m barely interested in polling as such, which has a scientific status equivalent to astrology in my book, only it’s effects.

  4. If you’re not interested in polls, and you think their status “equivalent to astrology”, I’m puzzled as to how you can draw this conclusion:

    The preferred prime minister

  5. If your question is why pundits and pollies aren’t believing the polls, the answer, I’d have thought, was fairly straightforward. Either they don’t believe the claimed measure of voting intention translates into anything other than a register of a shifting national mood or they’re afraid of being burnt by making predictions this far out. If your point is that many still peddle the line that “Howard is a political genius who will turn this lead around”, then there are just as many examples of articles in the last three weeks about Howard being rattled.

    I’m not trying to be obtuse, but I don’t understand what you’re trying to say if you reject any significance for the polls. Perhaps you could clarify?

  6. cs says:

    That’s called tongue in cheek or, alias, taking the piss.

    For those who might have trouble reading between the lines (*sigh*), the point of the post is to note the unusual contradiction between the ongoing poll results and the continuing participant, pundit, and expert interpretation of the same.

    Conventionally, front runners are said to benefit from the bandwagon effect, while the trailers are said to benefit from the underdog effect. While the ALP keeps braining the polls, but the government, pundits and experts keep writing the results off, Rudd finds himself in the delightful position of being able to have it both ways – soaring polls, but still behind.

    It does not matter if polling is starting to show an expectation of an ALP win. The government will only be able to pick up the underdog effect when it, Denis Shanahan, Cameron, Gratten, Ramsey, Morris, et al dare to begin to install Rudd as likely to win.

  7. It does not matter if polling is starting to show an expectation of an ALP win. The government will only be able to pick up the underdog effect when it, Denis Shanahan, Cameron, Gratten, Ramsey, Morris, et al dare to begin to install Rudd as likely to win.


    People will only think that Labor is going to win if pundits tell them that?

  8. If you don’t “pay polls”, how do you know that there’s a shift to Labor going on?

    I don’t see your logic at all.

    If the polls tell us nothing about voting intentions, but you’re able to say something about voting intentions, you must have some other basis for saying it. You can’t rely on the polls, because you don’t believe they measure anything.

  9. cs says:

    Mark, take it or leave it buddy. I have consistently categerised polls as the equivalent of reading chicken gizzards ever since I started blogging. If you want to take them seriously, fine, no sweat.

  10. cs says:

    I never said anything about “voting intentions” (huh?). I just reported poll results, and the fact that no-one believes them, and deduced that this contradiction works just fine for the ALP. Sheesh.

  11. I’m seriously not trying to be obtuse, Chris, but I fail to understand how if the polls are meaningless, you can claim to know anything about how Labor is travelling. Evidently, I’ve failed to get my point across, though, so I’ll stop trying.

  12. Kimberella says:

    I don’t get it either, cs.

    You write:

    The preferred prime minister

  13. cs says:

    I haven’t said how I think Labor is travelling. I have said (1) how the polls say Labor is travelling and (2) how no-one in the game agrees with this, and noted that this contradiction works just fine for the ALP, giving them the unusual benefit of both the bandwagon (polls) and underdog (pundit opinion) effects. Double sheesh.

  14. cs says:

    I suggest people who can’t understand the post should not bother reading it.

  15. Kimberella says:

    Or you could make your meaning clearer.

    But I suppose you think people who can’t “understand the post” are dumb.

  16. derrida derider says:

    Yep, Labor is riding high helped by some uncharacteristic missteps by the Rodent, along with a couple of old chickens (Iraq, Hicks, climate change) finally coming home to roost. All three are things which gave him a political boost at the time but were always likely to turn sour on him eventually (as the Americans say, the facts have a well known liberal bias. And facts are stubborn things).

    But I’m one of those with immense respect for the bastard’s cunning – he’ll have some other wedge worked out ready to use. And you’ve also got to remember he’s got a Budget between now and the election. Expect him to spend, spend, spend – it’s what gave him “traction” (his words) in 2001 even before Tampa.

    At this stage, I’d give the ALP only even money at best.

  17. cs says:

    Or you could make your meaning clearer.

    Take it or leave it, I say.

  18. Kimberella says:

    Since you’re consistently condescending to people who don’t agree with you, I’ll leave it, thanks very much.

  19. cs says:

    I don’t have any trouble with people disagreeing, but I don’t like having to explain.

    One more time, with no feeling: the first paragraph reports and characterises polling results, not views of mine; the second paragraph reports insider opinion, not views of mine. So far, there isn’t anything to disagree with me about, as neither of these two paragraphs contain my views or are controversial.

    The third paragraph says this combination of perpetually high polls and insider/expert pooh-poohing of the same is unusual, and happens to be politically handy for Labor. You can disagree with that if you like, since it’s the only opinion I have expressed.

    How I think Labor is travelling, and my idea of voter intentions, are not topics of the post, except in this respect: “I don

  20. C.L. says:

    Since you

  21. C.L. says:

    And would someone please ask the Combat Womble what his exit strategy for Afghanistan is? What’s the timetable? On what date will he bring the troops home?

  22. wbb says:

    On what date will he bring the troops home?

    CL, you need to understand that artificial timetables play into the hands of terrorists. Kevin Rudd is far too safe a pair of hands to fall for that type of folly. They’ll come home in good time- that’s all you need to know.

  23. I dare say everyone with a spare neuron did.

    Well, C.L., evidently you are smart and I’m dumb. Yay for you.

    I don’t “have it in” for Chris. I don’t agree with the logic of the claim that people will only perceive the government as the underdog once the punditariat proclaim it so. I beg leave to doubt how much influence the pronouncements of the punditariat have on voters’ perceptions. It seems to me that if people believe that Labor is likely to win, then that negates their ability to claim underdog status.

  24. However, I also think underdog status is worth more to a government than an opposition. Cf – Beattie who was desparate to claim it (and selectively leaked polls to justify it) because the danger is that a perception that the government will be re-elected makes people feel comfortable with registering a protest vote. I don’t think the same dynamic applies in the case of oppositions.

  25. wbb says:

    Although if an opposition has underdog status then the not quite convinced voter can feel it safe to vote for an opposition knowing that they won’t win but that their vote’ll put the wind up the government a touch.

  26. That’s true, wbb, but I don’t think it’s of the same magnitude as when the gov’t has underdog status.

  27. J F Beck says:

    I’m gonna pop out from under my rock (cs knows what I mean) for a minute to support him on this one — Jeez, I never thought I’d do this. This post is easily understood, forcing me to conclude that the LP crew is even dumber (or perhaps more petty, or perhaps both) than I thought.

  28. I’m sure, J F, that everyone will accord your comment the respect that your interventions customarily deserve.

  29. Link says:

    You forgot to mention Anthony Green who’s too overwhelmed to comment and John Howard who has vowed to ‘work harder’ (in the face of last week’s poll.) These two deeply believe in polls or at least are extraordinarily affected by them. Me, I believe in astrology. ***

  30. J F Beck says:

    Thanks, Mark. I expect my comment will be held in the same regard as your traffic claims for LP.

  31. How unlike you to respond with a personal slur, J F. The stats I was talking about were derived from our host’s server (which incidentally, contrary to what’s presumed on Tim Blair’s thread, leaves out bots). Anyway, I won’t feed your thread derailment any further. I’m sure you’ve got a vital spelling mistake to hunt down somewhere on the intertubes.

  32. C.L. says:

    Well thanks, WBB, for confirming Labor’s Iraq rhetoric is expedient bullshit.

    Seriously, Mark, whenever Christopher posts something you and Kim run over here and do this vexatious ‘my goodness, what do you mean?’ schtick.

    I don’t get it.

  33. C.L. says:

    I know you and Kim were passionately against Rudd’s ascendancy and the Womble is a friend of Christopher’s. Is that what it’s about?

    I dunno. Who cares, I guess.

  34. Well, C.L., I didn’t post a comment on Chris’ last thread, and I posted a few on his thread about the Hockey/Gillard stoush which were about WorkChoices and its effects (legislatively, economically and politically). It’s true I’m not Rudd’s biggest fan, but I’m certainly changing my previous view on his political smarts (for a number of reasons I think it was reasonable to doubt them on the basis of his previous record). But Chris can post anything he likes. I just didn’t get what he was arguing.

  35. C.L. says:

    I thought it was elementary as commentary, Mark.

    Anyway, keep an eye on Milne if the 2PP stays Labor’s way. The Penguin Palooka might start running stories about the Costello camp and the viability of a counter-honeymoon honeymoon nuke.

  36. mick says:

    “counter-honeymoon honeymoon nuke”, interesting phrase CL. The Costello camp is just about out of time, no?

  37. Robert says:

    Just read the post and thought it was a ratbaggery bit of pisstake, pretty much about poll dancing, then saw all the confusion in the comments, so I guess it’s how you first came across it that throws you one way or another on it. (How many times can you write polls?).

    Denis Shanahan’s take and that similar Australian editorial were verging on hilarious. But what is interesting is watching Paul Kelly on the one hand calling it hard for Howard – he’s clearly affected by Howard’s difficulty with Rudd; even more interesting is Grattan: she detested Latham and backed Howard when Latho first stuck it up him and had Howard on the back foot, whereas with Rudd we are seeing a very different Grattan style, instead of toddling down the middle this early she’s tending away from Howard. Grattan can be a pretty good measuring stick for the vibe, because she’s so blandly boringly middlepath, so for her to move off her comfort turf of Howard’s strengths shows something definitely is up.

    Overall, what is delightful is watching Howard battling for the very first time of his prime ministership a valid long term contender. Beazley, Crean, Latham – while each achieved something (well, Crean achieved the lowest ratings and handed Howard his greatest time of ascendancy), none of them had the makeup or mettle as alternative PM. A lot of that while, though, there were indications that “if only” they were more up to it, Howard would be in trouble: ie, the electorate hasn’t been entirely satisfied with Howard’s antics; there simply wasn’t an alternative to call Howard effectively on it, or to move people away from Howard’s good points. Rudd is changing all of that and it’s reasonable to expect he’ll continue. And maybe there is groundswell of anti-Howard sentiment buried beneath the razzamatazz of the daily throw.

    Thus, for the first time in over a decade, Australia and Howard now has a proper Opposition. Howard for his part doesn’t seem to like that – the affrontery of it! – and Australia seemingly for it’s part does.

    CL’s point about elements of the team being a bit howyagoin is fair, and might give rise to Howard lovers understanding how unbearable it is to have to put up with the likes of Downer, Ruddock – well, the lot of them, really.

  38. wbb says:

    The leadership battle for the Liberals is going to be pretty interesting I reckon.
    Ruddock will retire to his haunted castle. Abbott will implode. Costello will keep waiting for the right time. Turnbull will be seen as a pompous out of touch gazillionaire who’s never had a beer in a front-bar in his life. Downer will delusionally dream and surf rwdb internet sites. Nelson will quit and join One Nation.

    The next leader will be Chris Pyne. It’s a measure of the sad state of the Australian online gambling industry that there’s no book for this still.

  39. wbb says:

    CL, meaningless rhetoric is “stay the course” and “global war on terror” – sensible policy prescription is “plan from opposition for a managed and responsible withdrawal of Australian combat troops from Iraq”.

  40. cs says:

    If you accept my point, which is that being well ahead in polls that are not taken seriously works to the ALP’s positioning advantage, it would follow that Howard’s logical move would be to send a wake-up call, to reposition himself behind amid the pundits.

    Copping a beating in the polls, and still being regarded as likely to win, means the government cannot shift the pressure, leaving the onus on the polls to come back, and in the meantime dying a thousand polling deaths. The LNP is caught in the inverse of the ALP’s bliss point, and the pain is palpable.

    So, perhaps Howard might be advised to say that he now does sense “a mood for change” and “history” just might move against him, and send a message to the effect that everyone should have a very good look at that before they do it. In other words, he should firmly take on the mantle of underdog.

    A conservative bonus here would be that Howard tends to fight better when he is written off. The fact that Howard seems intent on discounting and denying the rise of Rudd suggests that he may have mixed up legacy shopping with doing what’s necessary to win the election.

    I appreciate that line of thought puts us well ahead of the curve here, so disagree by all means, but I don’t want to do questions and answers.

  41. wbb says:

    Howard seems intent on discounting and denying the rise of Rudd suggests that he may have mixed up legacy shopping with winning the election.

    No ticker in other words.

  42. C.L. says:

    Howard’s greatest legacy is that the Australian Labor Party has elected John Howard Leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition.

    There’s major dirt on Kevin “Dr Death” Rudd’s legacy in Queensland. When journalists tire of their pillow interviews, we might hear more about that.

    I well remember how “rattled” Labor was by Hewson and how “rattled” Howard was by Latham. Honeymoons don’t last, folks.

  43. C.L. says:

    Labor flags ditching its policy on “ripping up” unfair dismissal laws.

    Julia cuts and runs from the left’s obscurantism on uranium mining.

    Along with Garrett’s Give The Nod conversion to US bases and Rudd’s no-timetable stay the course policy on Afghanistan, the Howardian revolution shows no sign of abating.

  44. C.L. says:

    Comment in moderation?

  45. Robert says:

    So, perhaps Howard might be advised to say that he now does sense

  46. cs says:

    I have added my last comment to the post as an update, Robert, written in a slightly clearer manner, especially re Howard’s apparent unwillingness to play the Lazarus card this time round.

  47. C.L. says:

    And my comment in moderation?

  48. cs says:

    Currency, I don’t have the capacity to put anything in or to get anything out of moderation, if indeed there is anything of yours being moderated, which I can’t tell, anyway.

  49. C.L. says:

    I’m not suggesting you moderated it, Christopher. It contained a few links and I’ve noticed that Troppo sometimes won’t publish link-comments. Just wondered if it still existed or whether it had disappeared. Either way, I don’t really care.

  50. cs says:

    The fate of the comment is hostage to the happenstance of someone with the keys to the Troppo castle idling by and taking an interest, I’m afriad CL.

  51. Bring Back CL's blog says:

    I thought it was pretty clear.
    Some Oppo leaders do rattle leaders.
    Hewson was the undoing of Hawke. Howard didn’t know whether he was coming or going with Latham and still can’t explain the last election ( nor can anyone else and I prefer the Borbige effect to anything else).

    People have wanted a change for some time. Just like 1996 Rudd is saying little will change if he wins whilst saying perhaps some significant change at the margins.

    Foreign policy is between Iraq and a hard place for Howard ( bahaha)
    Climate change makes him look old and out of touch and if Baptist in the RBA puts rates up again…..

  52. Robert says:

    A few thoughts.

    McKew is used to framing her speech for television: a major plus for a “star recruit”, and one where many fail – Garrett and Turnbull are examples here of current “stars”, in different ways, of that failing. Others have failed more spectacularly of course but success – even enjoyment – of under-television pressure is absolutely necessary in these particular circumstances, which McKew has.

    McKew is a woman – which carries with it an inherent saleable perception that she is sensitive to her electorate’s needs. Downside is she’s not of the electorate. Which will win out?

    Conversely, Wilkie came across, while committed, as intense, and did not give the impression he was sensitive to the electorate of Bennelong, rather that he was anti-Howard. That he did so well indicates the moodshift in the seat.

    Bennelong is a very “multicultural” seat, which doesn’t suit Howard on paper. This raises issues in the above couple of points.

    McKew is sharp, strong and probably will be persuasive. She’ll certainly be a good candidate. On the downside, she does come across as holding a bit of smarminess, or intellectual superiority, which reflects badly with Rudd. This may change as she speaks local issues, passionately – a prerequisite. There’s something about her, too, which doesn’t give immediately to trusting her: again, an aspect of that sharpness. A tough thing to say, agreed, but after the thrill of a battle laid out, she will have to work hard to prove herself to that electorate.

    As background, the current ALP candidate, Nicole Campbell, from all appearances is a remarkable person. She has been very dedicated to one thing: the needs of that electorate. She doorknocks come rain hail or shine and is right across the issues there. The AlP, from her accounts, at campaign headquarters level, have previously written the seat off and not assisted her – that the seat is now marginal is overwhelmingly I’d say due to Nicole providing a real alternative through her own incredible efforts. (Along with a general change within the place).

    What this does do is place inordinate pressure on Howard – that’s priceless given the current circumstances, where a ruthless PM will do anything to remain in power. Such pressure can only do good for the seat, the election, and the country. With this comes the altered media conversation, where the focus is on Howard’s vulnerability and whether he is entitled to remain a representative of the people. What changes will he make, locally? Bowling Club photo ops and porkie chops are not enough. These things will take on national coverage as things move on, which serves to bring a very different light at times to the election. Hence, we have highlighted Howard’s entitlement to remain representative at an international, national and local level. It’s that media conversation which is so damaging.

    It is a sharp move against Howard, but by no means a given that she’ll prosper there, until she gets across local issues and speaks them with integrity. There would still, I believe, be a residual concern for Nicole and McKew would have to overcome that. Nicole may spit the dummy, but my shot would be she, while maybe fighting for the seat, would also concede ultimately in favour of local needs. She must surely feel unfairly done by, and again I could be wrong, but I don’t believe it will be an overly messy preselection. That attendant media scrabble serves also to reflect on Howard’s threat.

    While exciting to those who wish Howard out, there are local issues to come out, and it’s by no means a given McKew will ride through with the same public regard she now has.

  53. Nicole Campbell wasn’t the endorsed candidate this time round, Robert. Some guy who’s a Parramatta councillor was.

  54. Robert says:

    Thanks Mark, I’m going off 2003 times with those comments about Nicole, and haven’t been up to date locally since then. Happily corrected; scrub the references about Nicole above, if that residue mentioned has dissipated.

  55. Bring Back CL's blog says:

    Mark is certainly correct.
    The ALP candidate was going to be my local ALP parramatta councillor.

    Howard has not lived in the electorate since the days of Ted Mack when he was asked by the Liberal party to compete against Ted. He didn’t as his ticker wasn’t up to a contest.

    Nicole had a swing against her last time where Wendell ran a brilliant campaign.

  56. Robert says:

    BBCL, some local independent did a preferences deal during 03 which served to provide a considerable swing against Nicole. Wilkie flying in by all means was the public figure of those changes, but Nicole’s work has to be included in the mix, given the movement against Howard. What with the NHJ campaign, it was a messy election in Bennelong, overall.

  57. Bring Back CL's blog says:

    wendell got 16% of the vote end of story.
    Nicole is the ALP candidate for Epping ( state election). I am voting for Greg Smith!!!
    I will be voting for Max later though for the same reason.

    in 2004 Howard came to Eastwood shopping centre three times. IT is his ‘lucky’ talisman. Each time he was loudly booed. That is unheard of here.

    My guess Max will capture the wendell factor and she has gained some ALP booths from Parramatta.

    This will be a lot closer than people think

  58. Ken Parish says:

    For the general information of commenters (not just CL), my understanding is that the Akismet anti-spam system now built into WordPress assumes a comment is spam if it has any more than 2 hyperlinks. It may be possible to retrieve a spam-deemed comment from Akismet as long as we find out about it soon enough. Like most popular blogs, we get hit by a hundred or so spam cmments every day, so the task of hunting through the spam list to find genuine comments becomes very time-consuming if we aren’t notified striaght away when your comment disappears. I’ll have quick look for CL’s missing comments but I don’t like my chances. The best bet is to be sparing in your use of hyperlinks in comments (or put any after 2 1 in a separate comment/s).

  59. Robert says:

    Just on further reflection about the Howard combat line attempting to brand Rudd as “full of himself”, over-intellectual, walking two sides of the street and each way Rudd – the premise for this attack is that it sticks in the same way Beazley’s “no ticker” tag stuck. Coupled with McKew, these combat lines are already being mentioned and will no doubt get a razzing in the week ahead.

    Don’t know if it’s too early to trust this feeling one way or another where a doubt is arising that this sort of attack is working. I’m wondering if in fact the voters accept that sort of personal rather vindictive style when a government is achieving gang busters – almost as bragging rights fairly assigned and allowed them by voters.

    But when a government is in the shit, that sort of approach doesn’t at all seem to have the same effect – it appears as arrogant and plainly rude.

    Again, too early to tell if this line against Rudd is working for Howard, but there arises the point that it may backfire, unless Howard and other attack doggerels are visibly seen to be achieving in the national interest.

    McKew and Rudd, being the prissy shiny poncerellos or some such as occasionally accused now may end up being received pleasantly for being, contrastingly, non-simplistic, non mono-headed and non mono-lingual, ie, credibly intelligent people to run the country.

    What a lovely day it is.

  60. Ken Parish says:

    OK I found CL’s comment buried under 300 or so porn and viagra spams. In fact it only had 2 hyperlinks, so it looks like any more than a single hyplerink per comment and you get consigned to the spam bin!!!

  61. Ken, if you install the latest version of Akismet, you’ll save yourself lots of problems. It totally blocks comments on old posts, and most spam is left on old threads. Since we did it, we’ve gone from having at times over 1000 to wade through, to usually only having less than ten. So it’s much easier to find genuine comments.

  62. cs says:

    Thanks Ken, on behalf of Currency.

    Back on topic, I have noticed a good deal of enthusiasm mixed with much foreboding and hesitation about Max’s announcement, a tone also somewhat reflected in Robert’s comments. This is very understandable, of course, as it reflects how badly beaten the ALP’s supporters have been over recent years. In keeping with the general thread of this post, however, I think that it is a very good political thing for the ALP to be able to recruit a top-notch candidate like Max against the PM and for everyone to continue to firmly believe that Howard is unquestionably the front-runner and she has little chance. Max and the ALP have thus pulled today’s political jackpot, becoming the talk of the town with her announcement, and yet she now goes into her campaign clearly branded as the underdog. It couldn’t be better. Long may the aura of Howard invincibility last, hopefully all the way to election day. If the ALP is not allowed to get up in the political commentary, it will not be able to be pulled down. You couldn’t ask for better political cover. Max can enjoy a mini political bliss point.

  63. Bring Back CL's blog says:

    The Beazley ‘no ticker’ charge was made in the 1998 election.

    You remember it. Howard got the lowest EVER vote for a Government and the lowest vote in the Senate since Trumper was playing.

    That charge was a real winner.

    I will tell you one thing both parties polling have people tuning out when Howard talks about Iraq

  64. Robert says:

    BBCL, I do recall something of it; but more importantly, it will be interesting to hear of how things feel for you and how you see them playing out as you meet and greet in Bennelong as the days move on.

  65. Bring Back CL's Blog says:

    My feeling hasn’t changed since last election.
    A swing is still on and to my mind Max is bright enough to catch it.
    I have been very impressed with her thus far. Open, higly articulate and willing to be controversial.
    Howard on the other hand looks quite old

  66. wbb says:

    Howard on the other hand looks quite old

    He is old. But then again, he was born old.

  67. C.L. says:

    Thanks, Ken.

    I have been very impressed with her thus far.

    Homer, I take it you’re referring to the earlier chapter of her Labor career – when she was working as a “journalist” for “our” ABC?

  68. Pingback: Club Troppo » Rudd reverses the mud

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