The latest 59/31 Newspoll confirms that the last month has been disastrous for the government, undoing much of the gains made since May. Even the strongest optimists for a government recovery are starting to give up. So it is worthwhile recalling not only why this has happened, but also deal with some of the less credible reasons now being put forward by those same pundits for the bad polling.

The government is in trouble because:

1) It stands for nothing
2) which is no longer covered by the War on Terror,
3) and Howard cannot adapt to the new agenda on global warming that would have given it a new sense of purpose.

Factors that are not key to Howard’s decline, but nevertheless pushed by those who have been calling it wrong all year are:

1) Workchoices: despite what Kath & Kim say, this has had a modest impact on industrial relations as collective bargaining went out the door years ago under Keating. The issue may give internal comfort to Labor, but if anything, IR has probably had a modest negative effect in deterring small business from moving to Labor.

2) The hip pocket nerve: if ever there was an election that should have disproved this old media prejudice it was this one, but it still persists and explains why some pundits have called it so wrong this year.

3) Rudd: A new, ‘fresh’ face has emphasised the government policy exhaustion but not caused it. Rudd has admittedly been very sharp at using anti-politics sentiment against Howard. However, as much as this blog hates to admit it, even Beazley could have been in a winning position at this stage, i.e. this is truly a ‘Rusty the Dog’ election.

Posted by The Piping Shrike on Tuesday, 4 September 2007.

Filed under State of the parties

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