This week’s Newspoll results indicate a lot more Liberal seats could be at risk in this year’s election than you think.

Lengthen that list of Liberal seats at risk

Sealed section March 9

“John Howard’s repeated warnings that his Government was just eight
seats from ‘electoral oblivion’ has become a brutal political reality,
with internal Liberal Party polling showing key Coalition seats at
risk,” Samantha Maiden wrote in the Australian on Friday.

She quoted studies by Liberal pollster Mark Textor from the last six
month that showed the Government was “out of touch”, then nominated a
range of seats the Coalition could lose – Hindmarsh, Hinkler, Herbert,
Canning and Wakefield.

Is that all, we ask?

What about Victoria? La Trobe, Deakin and McEwen are all at risk – and
there’s even a Minister, Peter McGauran, facing a peasants revolt in
Gippsland. Adelaide and Makin in South Australia are all soft, and you
can virtually add your pick of Queensland seats to the list.

Someone’s bound to produce a fuller list during the week.

Stayed tuned for all the fun then, kids. Afterall, that Newspoll suggests the list of seats in trouble could hit almost 30.

More Liberal seats at risk than you think
Sealed section March 11

Crikey’s philosopher-at-large Charles Richardson writes:

You’re right about how the media persistently understates the number of
seats at risk if there’s a serious swing to the opposition. You even do
it yourself when you say “that Newspoll suggests the list of seats in
trouble could hit almost 30”. Well actually, Newspoll is saying a 6%
swing, which if uniform means exactly 30 seats would fall to Labor.

Perhaps we’ve been misled because 4 of the last federal elections have
been pretty close, but historically they’re the exception rather than
the rule. A 6% swing is not inherently unbelievable: if you discount
the Tampa election as an aberration, it means a 4% swing since 1998,
which is a fairly normal movement against an incumbent government.

Of the first 30 seats on the government side of the pendulum [view it
at http://www.aph.gov.au/library/pubs/rn/2003-04/04rn35.htm], I can
only see 4 – Kalgoorlie, Cowper, Dunkley & Aston – that I think the
Coalition should be reasonably confident about holding. As against
that, it’s easy to find a similar number above that level – say,
Leichhardt (6.4%), Macarthur (7.0), Robertson (7.0) & Flinders
(7.4) – that are going to be in a fair degree of trouble if the swing
is really on. So a 30-seat gain, in other words a 38-seat Labor
majority, is probably about what we’re looking at just now.

If you wondered why the government seems to be getting an air of panic about it, that might be the reason.

Peter Fray

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