People who judge the political mood by what happens in the Parliament have declared Budget Week as being a clear victory for the Government but as a commentator who rarely ventures in to the big house on the hill I think Labor can be well pleased with the way things currently stand.
Economic management is the one big policy area where the pollsters have the Coalition in front of Labor and with the present benign economic conditions it is no surprise that Treasurer Peter Costello was able to deliver a package of goodies.
That is what the public expected and they were given nothing on Tuesday that would change their voting intention. And that voting intention as measured by all the pollsters before the budget shows Labor with a bigger lead six months out from polling day than any Opposition has had for decades.
The first post budget polling, for the PM’s own seat of Bennelong by Galaxy, had the PM losing his seat to Labor’s Maxine McKew. Probably the most we can make of that result is that there has not been an immediate swing back to the Coalition and, if the Coalition is to lose office, there is a good chance that the captain will be going down with his ship.
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In this morning’s News Limited tabloids the no-change from the budget response was confirmed with Galaxy showing only a one percentage point improvement in the Coalition vote. With the two party preferred vote split 57 to 43 in Labor’s favour there is still a lot of ground to be made up.
The betting exchange Betfair still has Howard a firm favourite as a 69% chance to be returned in Bennelong. That assessment is, I also note, at odds with the overall assessment on the Crikey Election Indicator (itself based on Betfair) which has Labor and the Coalition virtually at level pegging – 50.8% chance of a Labor win and a 49.2% chance of the government being returned.
That is exactly where the Indicator stood back in February so Kevin Rudd is certainly having a lengthy honeymoon.