Has the tide turned for John Howard?

Has the tide turned for John Howard?

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    Guest slot on the Australian election by Steven Phelps

There have been some major changes in the polls and in the betting on the coming Australian election since I last reported.

First, a quick recap. The next Aussie General Election is expected to be held in October this year. Pollsters quote a Two Party-Preferred (TPP) basis result, which allows for second preferences. The Coalition, led by John Howard, has won the last 4 General Elections, 1996, 1998, 2001 and 2004. In December 2006, the Australian Labor Party (ALP), which had had three different leaders since 2001, at last chose one with major electoral appeal: Kevin Rudd.

Since Rudd’s rise to the top, the polls have consistently put the ALP in a very strong position, with TPP in the upper 50%’s for months. No amount of mud-slinging seemed to affect him. Howard himself stated that the Coalition faced annihilation.

On the betting markets, Betfair was quoting the ALP as low as 1.70, while the average of the Aussie bookies moved down to 1.65.

    Then along came a poll which upset everything. On 4th June Galaxy reported a swing of 8% from the ALP to the coalition, putting them at 53:47. The question was, was it a rogue poll, an outlier? With the question unanswered, the betting market swung towards the Coalition.

Then on Monday (19th June), pollsters AC Nielsen and Newspoll both reported, with 57:43 and 56:44 respectively. There had also been a couple of Morgan polls in the interim, both of which had 55:45. The graph of the Coalition TPP moving average, used by kind permission of OzPolitics (copyright), shows the movement in opinion, but whether this movement will be sustained and eventually give a lead to the Coalition remains to be seen. Some further tightening is expected, but will it be enough for Howard?

John Howard has been the come-back kid in election after election, but after 11 years in office, has the Australian electorate had enough of him? The jury is still out. Meanwhile, Betfair still has the ALP at 1.95 and the Aussie bookies are averaging 1.83.

Steven Phelps

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