The speed with which it has reacted to a few hot days leads me to the conclusion that the Government is nowhere near as confident as the general public that victory is assured at the next election.

Prime Minister Howard has been quick to try and snuff out areas of discontent of late. He made his cosmetic but costly announcement about paying drivers to convert their cars to LPG because petrol prices were high. Last week he was throwing money at skills training, an area Labor had plugged away at relentlessly as part of its attack on exploitation of the temporary visa system. Now there’s an acknowledgement that there might be something in this global warming business after all and a considerable sop to farmers who badly need some rain.

I might be imagining things but I expect the Howard antennae — helped along with a finding or two from the pollsters — detects a turn for the worse. And he is wily enough to know that it does not help one bit that the voters whose support the polls show he is losing still think he will be the winner.

The graph below is based on the Morgan poll and I have used a moving average to even out some of the weekly ups and downs. The blue line shows the voting intention and the purple people’s expectation about a Coalition win.