Waleed Aly’s long piece in today’s Fairfax press about Tony Abbott is thoughtful, but the headline it carries: “No Way Abbott Can Now Budget For Second Term“ is too strong.
Every reader fell greedily upon that story, I assure you, but the headline hints at far more certainty than the excellent Mr Aly projects. Here’s three reasons why “one-term Tony” will win the 2016 election, and one reason he might not…
In the lower house, the Coalition leads Labor 90 to 55. Labor needs to peg back 21 seats to win. If you look at the pendulum, that means they need to win every seat that the Coalition holds be a margin of 4.3 per cent or less, while not losing any of their own seats. That’s a lot.
Winning a lot of seats will be hard for Labor, because it requires not just a swing but a lot of good candidates, a lot of organisation and a lot of money.
2. Sophomore surge
In theory, someone who was an unknown at their first election becomes familiar at the second (sophomore) election. They enjoy a surge in popularity. This effect, if it exists, will help the Coalition a lot – they introduced 19 new MPs.
As the name implies, the sophomore surge is a US concept. Is it real in Australia?
Some bloggers argue yes.
This book written about the 2010 election thinks so:
That means that even if Labor gets 51 per cent of the vote in 2016, it can easily lose a lot of important seats and be stuck in opposition.
3. Budget trickery
Tough budgets now lay the foundation for easy budget later. I wrote about this last week.
“To most people, the grumbling of early 2014 [will be] as relevant to the political situation as the result of the 1974 VFL Grand final. Labor can’t get over the broken promises and keeps talking about the past, while Mr Abbott is focused on the future. “
The evidence for the efficacy of this approach is mounting. Not only Victorian Premier Denis Napthine but also NZ PM John Key have unveiled more generous budgets on the eve of elections. (NZ is introducing free doctor’s visits just as we abolish them. Time to move to Wellington?)
4. But the polls are very bad.
55-45 is BAD.
I can see just one good example of a government coming back from that, in the early 90s. Keating took over a very unpopular government and won the next election.
Howard was losing by almost as much prior to the 2001 election. I also commend to you this graphic of the newspoll:
If this polling continues, expect newspapers to push the idea Malcolm Turnbull should take over from Mr Abbott. Not only would it likely help the Liberals, the media have clearly learned that a good leadership challenge narrative attract eyeballs and, crucially, elevates their (our?) own importance.