Irate viewers, it is reported this morning, rang the ABC switchboard last night to complain about The Eulogy Song sung on The Chaser’s War On Everything.

The song did give a fair old serve to a few dead people, and I winced and giggled my way through it, but the people who should really be complaining are staunch Liberal supporters. For it is the living John Howard, not the dead Steve Irwin, Stan Zemanek and Kerry Packer, who was really hurt by last night’s Chaser.

Let me explain. The demographic where support for the Coalition is lowest is among young people. A huge proportion of them do not read newspapers nor watch the nightly television news. Not surprising then that researchers have identified that the political views of the young are more likely to be influenced by shows like The Chaser and Rove than any other form of media.

Last night, in a savage but most entertaining way, Prime Minister John Howard and his Coalition team received a right royal bollocking. From a re-run of the A Current Affair “gaffe” to a clip of Howard not being able to find his way out of a room and on to one of those Chaser stunts where they intruded into a prime ministerial power walk, the team made fun of an old man who they portrayed as someone who should have retired.

To follow on there was Employment and Work Place Relations Minister Joe Hockey with his Hoctober where you never know who he will sack next, Treasurer Peter Costello yawning for a witty power nap sketch while the old leader was shown dozing off at a conference.

True it was that, in the great ABC spirit of equal time, Peter Garrett was ridiculed for abandoning his principles on environmental matters and Kevin Rudd was depicted as an identity fraud thief for stealing so much of the Howard persona but they were merely side swipes. The overall impression was that the Coalition is led by yesterday’s man.

In computing The Daily Verdict on this election campaign for Crikey, considerable weight is given to programs like the Chaser which key target groups look at. Last night what was shown on the ABC played a significant role in giving Labor the victory in what was a rather low scoring campaign day.

The positive Kevin Rudd pictures with nurses while announcing something or other about nurse training beat the Peter Costello previewing an anti-union ad hands down.

And while a good performance on the ABC’s Lateline has only a minute influence on the Daily Verdict ratings figure because it has so few viewers and they are largely of the thinking variety anyway, the appearance of Labor Deputy Leader Julia Gillard should have been good enough to make Liberals think again about whether attacking her is such a good idea.

A Gillard smile is surely more attractive to voters than a Costello smirk. The young people Liberals need to lure back if they are to win this election would not even know what a communist was, so applying a communist smear to Gillard will not win them over.

Coalition ALP
Television 0.97 2.10
Newspapers 0.08 0.06
Radio 0.26 0.28
Internet 0.00 0.05
TOTAL 1.31 2.48

You will find details of the way the Daily Verdict is compiled, with the help of raw material provided by our friends at Media Monitors, on the Crikey website .