To the polls that the pollsters themselves do not believe but journalists report as if they are significant, we can now add the new category of secret party polling which journalists really love because they can describe them as secret polls even if they suspect that the whole thing is nothing more than make-believe designed to con the public.

The Sydney Morning Herald brought us one of that secret category this week. It purported to reveal that Labor Party research showed that while John Howard was unpopular, his Liberal deputy Peter Costello was even more unpopular. Well fancy that!

And fancy this as well. The Australian brought us the exclusive news that secret polling by the Liberal Party reveals that a significant hesitation is developing in people’s minds over how Labor Leader Kevin Rudd responds “under pressure.”

Labor’s vote was soft with swinging voters yet to make up their mind is what we were told. Surely it would only be news if Liberals reported that their internal polling showed people so set against the government that plans to spend multi-millions on advertising were being scrapped so as not to throw good money after bad.

Over in the Murdoch tabloids they had their own “real” polls with Galaxy showing a substantial decline in the Labor vote over the last month. If public opinion moves five percentage points in a month when nothing substantial has happened then John Howard might have been right when he said that the Australian people could have a sick sense of humour.

When polls differ so much — Newspoll with Labor on 60% to Galaxy’s 53% — we might just as well make up our own. Which is precisely what the politically astute readers of Crikey are doing in our Pick the Newspoll contest. Make your prediction of what the next Newspoll will show and enter here to win a dozen bottles of wine.

And if you really want to know what is happening keep an eye on the Crikey Election Indicator which is based on the market prices at Betfair.

It currently has Labor as a 56.4% chance of winning the next election compared to a 43.6% chance for the Coalition.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey