As has happened through most of the election campaign period, two of the major opinion polls are contradicting each other, and the latest Newspoll is yet to be released. ACNeilsen shows the Coalition comfortably in front (52% to 48% in two-party preferred terms) while Morgan’s flagship face-to-face poll shows Labor in front by a slightly smaller margin (51.5 to 48.5).
Update (Tuesday morning) – Newspoll also has the Coalition leading narrowly (50.5-49.5).
The second-string media-commissioned polls reflect similar confusion. The latest Murdoch Galaxy poll has the Coalition leading 52-48, while Fairfax’s Taverner poll has Labor in front 51-49. And this story from The Age reports that an updated Newspoll of the 12 most marginal seats shows the Coalition retaining a lead of 51.5 to 48.5 in all of them, while the Taverner poll reports that Labor could win 4 of the most marginal NSW seats!! See this page at the Newspoll website to open the updated marginal seats poll results.
Meanwhile the bookies are still figuring on a Coalition win (see Bryan’s graphical representations at the foot of his post).
What does it all mean? I reckon the parties’ own confidential marginal seat polling shows the Coalition with a narrow-ish verging on comfortable margin. John Howard’s body language and confident tone when interviewed by Laurie Oakes on the Nine network Sunday program yesterday strongly contrasted with his anxious, almost hysterical demeanour at some earlier stages of the campaign. Maybe Howard has been practising his method acting skills, but I suspect there’s more to it. Even his opening gambit to Oakes exuded confidence:
LAURIE OAKES: Six days to go. How confident are you that you’ll wake up the winner next Sunday?
JOHN HOWARD: I think we’ll make it but it’s very close. It always was going to be close. We only have a margin of eight seats. And that is a tiny margin, in a House of 150.
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. Any readers have suggestions on why Howard isn’t doing that?
In any event, my current expectation/prediction is that the Coalition will win on Saturday and be returned with a very slightly reduced margin. It looks like Howard’s “spend-and-scare campaign” (as Murdoch hacks are now calling it) has worked. I expect that trend merely to be reinforced by the final week advertising blitz and disengaged undecided voters finally focusing on the choice to be made.