The latest Newspoll suggests there has been no budget bounce. The Oz’s Dennis Shanahan reports: “Voters have given the budget the highest rating for economic management in the 11 years of the Howard Government — 60% — and say it is the best time for their own pockets, with 36% saying they were personally “better off”.

“But voters seemingly took their best budget in 15 years in their stride. Labor’s primary support rose slightly to 50% and the Opposition Leader widened his lead over John Howard as preferred prime minister to 12 percentage points”.

It should be noted that this was the view of the professionals — eg. Paul Kelly — “The correction in the polls will take time. But it will come and it will be hefty.” Or Gary Morgan (on Saturday night): “It is obvious to all prudent poll watchers that Newspoll have to have ALP up, as the previous poll had Labor down. Maybe Big Brother is not the only place which has dills.”

In fact, a “generous” budget rarely changes the polls and Henry’s hypothesis is that the time good budgets have their main impact is when the voters are standing in the polling booth with their pencils poised.

There are some logical reasons for this. First, smart people wait until the last possible moment before deciding on difficult matters, like who should get to drive around in the gas-guzzling Comcars. Then there is the “thank your mother for the rabbit” syndrome. This applies with especial force when the “gift” is not costly to the giver.

In today’s SMH, Steve Burrell quotes ANZ economist Saul Eslake on the amount of revenue largess delivered in the past half-decade:

ANZ chief economist Saul Eslake estimates that over the past five budgets these parameter variations — the impact on revenue, spending and net capital investment of all the upgrades in economic forecasts and other non-policy variations, benchmarked from the 2002-03 budget and including the “out years” to 2010-11 — have cumulatively added just short of $400 billion in windfall gains.

Gadzooks, and it gets better. Looking only at the past year: “the Government will give back about $13 billion more than the bounty delivered simply by the Australian economy outperforming Treasury’s estimates of a year ago.”

The Coalition is so far behind that there will need to be an improvement or the punters will begin to think this is an “It’s Time” election and The Force is with Kevin from Queensland.

Read more at Henry Thornton.