Is this tugger the next Premier of WA? See the results of our caption competition and read Crikey psephologist Charles Richardson’s analysis of the latest Newspoll suggesting Colin Barnett is a shoe-in to beat Geoff Gallop.

Colin Barnett caption competition

We asked Crikey subscribers to suggest a caption for this picture and here are some of the responses that poured in:

“If I show them I can whip up some goat’s cheese from this maybe I can win back the Liberals for Forests votes and maybe a few Greens preferences too.”

“The last nanny I tried this with threatened to go to the media.”

“Kissing babies? We do things differently in the West.”

“I’ll milk it for all it’s worth.”

“At least it’s not me getting squeezed for once!”

“It only goes to prove that if you pull it long enough no-one will take too much notice.”

“This is just another example of the nanny state?”

“Is there any relationship between this goat and my policies?”

“I hope the photographer has got my best side – he certainly hasn’t got the goat’s”

“I’m going to milk this media opportunity for all it’s worth!”

“Surely it’s easier to get blood from a stone.”

“The Libs in WA have gone – no use crying over spilt milk.”

“Obviously a breakdown in communication when I said I would milk it for all the publicity I could!”

To himself: “now if I can just ease the squeeze……hey, there’s a campaign slogan”.

“Pull the other other one it’s got bells on.”

Two-Term opposition leader puts squeeze on new career.

Preparing for the Treasury benches.

“I don’t have the dignity deserving of my office.”

“So…this is the land of milk and er..honey?”

“You milk one goat!

“Baaaaaaah humbug”

“Christ I hope they can tell which one is the politician.”

“This bloody election’s got my goat..!”

“This cow’s owner must be a Mark Latham fan – he wants me to ease the squeeze.”

“Now lets see, what did John say? 1. Kiss a baby, 2. do the animal photo op, 3. splash some cash. Oh goody I’ll be elected this time for sure.”

“Where is the @#$% National Party when you need them!”

“Just a little squeeze and as you’ll see they always lean to the right. First I milk the cash cow, then I move on to the pork barrel.”

Email boss with your suggested winner.

Meanwhile, there is the more serious issue of whether Colin Barnett will be the next Premier of Western Australia:

Can we believe the Newspoll out West?

By Crikey psephologist Charles Richardson

Another Newspoll, this time in Western Australia.

The WeekendAustralian led with the news that its poll shows the opposition in Western Australia on track for a very comfortable victory in next year’s election, leading by 56% to 44% in two-party-preferred terms. This raises two rather interesting questions.

The first is the relative importance of two-party-preferred voting intention and the “preferred premier” poll. The Australian in this case obviously regards the latter as much less important: even though it shows Geoff Gallop way ahead of his challenger, Colin Barnett, 48% to 26%, this is given very little prominence in the story.

For what it’s worth, I think News Ltd is right about that; I don’t think the “beauty contest” results matter very much. But it is worth pointing out that this contrasts with their treatment of federal Labor’s fortunes, where the two-party-preferred figures (which, as I pointed out in Crikey last week, have been surprisingly good recently) have consistently been buried at the bottom of articles that focus instead on Mark Latham’s poor performance as preferred prime minister.

The more interesting question is, how much weight should one give to poll results that conflict strongly with intuition and historical experience? Remember, this is a first-term government, and they are notoriously hard to beat – every other new Labor government in recent years has won by a landslide after its first term. The Western Australian government seems no more radical or irresponsible than the others, it hasn’t presided over any obvious disasters, and its opposition is dysfunctional at best. Why should it be so far behind? (If it’s just a John Howard bandwagon effect, why isn’t that showing up in the federal polls?)

Ultimately, the observer’s intuitions about how people should vote have to take second place to hard evidence of how they do actually intend to vote. But when the intuition is so strong, I think we are entitled to wait for better evidence than just one Newspoll. If further polling shows the same trend, we will have to admit that the Gallop government is in trouble. But for now, I still expect it to be returned.