When your luck it up, you just can’t take a trick.
Today we have the best Newspoll for the government since November, even if it’s only due to a bit of minor party preference noise, but as far as the image goes – a good poll is a good poll is a good poll.
Ordinarily, the popular media outlets would have a couple of stories splashed around hailing a comeback, the not so popular media outlets would probably be going hysterical and the nightly news would lead with the story; Laurie Oakes telling Nine viewers in tones of gravitas that the election is now a competition.
But this is no ordinary week.
Today’s papers are all about the ponies, tonight’s news will be about them as well, Wednesday’s papers will be all about the ponies and interest rates, Wednesday night’s news will probably be all about an interest rate rise, Thursdays papers will certainly be – and then the media attention and narrative turns to the first polls after the rate rise (assuming there is one).
Where does the best poll for the government in 12 months fit into that cycle? Well, it doesn’t. Not as far as normal people are concerned. But the particularly nasty piece of bad luck in this sequence of unfortunate events for the government is what is likely to come next.
The headline two-party preferred result of Newspoll has been bouncing around an awful lot lately – it’s almost become the great oscillator.
This week’s Newspoll figures have the problem of slightly undervaluing the preference flows the ALP receives from the minor parties, meaning that it’s more likely than not that the next Newspoll will probably fix that up. These slight rounding problems and sampling volatility of the minor parties all come out in the wash over a few polls.
When you combine that with the ALP primary looking rock solid at 47/48, it’s almost expected that in the next poll or two, the two party preferred headline figure will show the ALP increasing its lead – simply as a result of the high ALP primary vote combining with this minor party sampling error and rounding issues.
But should that happen, the headlines will undoubtedly scream “Interest Rate Backlash!” as some new 55/45 poll shows the ALP gaining a two point lead from the previous poll, the best poll the government had enjoyed for 12 months, but one which no-one paid attention to because the ponies were on.
Somehow, the gods look to have conspired against the government to the point where their best Newspoll result in a year will likely be completely ignored in terms of any beneficial media coverage that matters, but instead will create the platform for a very dominant media narrative that launches against them if rates rise tomorrow and the next Newspoll moves toward the ALP simply as a result of polling noise. And with it goes the second last week of the campaign.
Howard must be pulling out with absolute frustration those few remaining hairs he has left on his noggin. He just cannot take a trick.