Election date games

Saturday, 1 September 2007 

Michael Kroger on Lateline repeated an assumption that seems to be creeping into election date speculation, that the campaign itself will close the gap as the electorate focuses on the economy. This doesn’t make sense. We are already in effective election mode and if Howard had a winning tactic he would be using it already.

Election campaigns are more likely to speed up the direction of the campaign than change it and the campaign’s momentum looks if anything to be edging away from the government (the latest Morgan poll notwithstanding). However, it is likely that the first sign Howard can turn it back the government’s way, he will speed it up by announcing the date and the technical issues that commentators are factoring in (RBA interest rate announcements, Melbourne Cup etc.) will be very secondary.

While Howard is waiting for this turn, Rudd is using the third anniversary of the 2004 election to play the usual ‘bring it on’ game of the opposition leader, but with a twist. This time Rudd is less calling Howard a coward, but clever, i.e. not so much that he is delaying the election timing but that he is doing it to suit him. Howard’s response on this the other day was decidedly not clever by asserting it was his ‘right’ to decide the timing. There were similarities to his reaction to criticisms over fund-raising at Kirribilli, that it was his ‘right’ because it was his home. Rudd is capitalising on the growing feeling that election dates should not be in the hands of politicians, which has already led to the push for fixed terms in the states. Once again Howard seems to be slightly tone deaf to the anti-politics game Rudd is playing.

Posted by The Piping Shrike on Saturday, 1 September 2007.

Filed under Tactics

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