Study the form. The Bureau of Meteorology is providing the form guide for a new way of having a bet. Alice Springs based Centrebet is now quoting odds on which Australian state will receive the highest rainfall in April and the Bureau has just published its national outlook for total rainfall for the period April to June. According to the Bureau there is “a moderate to strong shift in the odds favouring a wetter than normal season over the eastern halves of Queensland and NSW.” Yet Centrebet is expecting that good old Tasmania will win out and has the state a $2.70 for $1 favourite.

Swinging to Barack. The contest for the Democratic Party presidential endorsement seems to be swinging back in favour of Barack Obama with the nationwide opinion polls now putting him as the choice of 46.2% of Democrat voters to 41.6% for Hillary Clinton. That gap of 4.6 percentage points is up from under 2 points a week ago.

On the Crikey Election Indicator which measures the odds on the leading prediction markets, Obama is now assessed as an 82% chance of becoming the opponent of Republican choice John McCain. In a contest between Obama and McCain the pollsters have Obama very marginally in front – a lead of 0.2 of a percent in the average calculated by Real Clear Politics.

The pressure mounts. The mob might not have panicked about economic conditions yet but there are some ominous signs for the government in the newspaper headlines as a glance at our pick of this morning’s political stories below shows. The double whammy of falling home prices and losses on personal superannuation is upon us and when people realize that their wealth is going down they will be looking for someone to blame. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd might have thought it clever to pretend his overseas jaunt was all about the economic well-being of working families but that claim has already spun out of control as he plays the big noting would-be foreign minister who wants to play on the big United Nations stage of the Security Council. Taking part in a UN talkfest might be important to the former diplomat but it will not feature in the small talk at barbecues. House prices and the state of your super most assuredly soon will be.

Very correct reporting. I supposed if you live in Darwin you don’t need to be told what kind of lads are involved in the Caz Boyz or the Karama Boyz, but it is a bit confusing for those of us down south. The Northern Territory News this morning led with the story of seven men and one woman being brutally bashed by 40 teen street gangsters, with eight-year-old members admiring the “bloodbath” from the sidelines. There was no mention whether the Saturday night biff outside a local pub involved white, black or brown youths or a combination of all of them which makes it difficult for those not in the know to know if and when to be scared of young men in the street. Perhaps even stranger is the complete absence of a report on this alarming incident on the ABC news website for the Northern Territory.

The Daily Reality Check

One thing about the media coverage of the last election that intrigued me was the way that when The Australian ran one of those polls on the internet asking readers how they intended to vote the proportion supporting Labor was substantially higher than the opinion polls were recording for the nation as a whole. Because of the way in which such non-selective polls can be rorted I was not sure whether the figures were a true reflection of the readership of the national daily or not. The evidence from Saturday’s list of most read stories on The Oz’s internet site leads me to suspect that they were and that the paper most staunchly pro-Coalition in its editorial attitudes in fact relies on lefties for a major proportion of its readership. The story that caught my eye was headlined Media Watch ‘recycled PR’ and it was the only political item in the top five. What it contained was a lengthy attempt to justify the coverage by the paper earlier in the week of the Aboriginal Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin spending a night aboard a boutique fishing boat rather than slumming it in the local Aurukun community. The Australian’s seemingly sensitive Editor-In-Chief Chris Mitchell’s was quoted replying to an inquiry from the ABC Media Watch program “I have a question for Media Watch: Why are you recycling false allegations pumped out by Jenny’s PR and already published by Chris Graham of the National Indigenous Times and Crikey. Don’t you believe in ministerial accountability? We stand by our story.” My suspicion is that what elevated this story onto the most read list is the delight that many of Mr Mitchell’s readers get whenever his paper is attacked. Instead of being attracted because of agreement with the views expressed, there are many – perhaps even a majority of the readership – who fall into the category of media masochists who cannot wait to be angered six mornings a week. Fortunately for this group, Mr Mitchell’s response to Media Watch is clear evidence that he is happy to continue in his role as a sadistic editor.

The Pick of this Morning’s Political Coverage

Quote of the day: “Tasmanians were trapped in a time warp yesterday with many people unsure whether daylight saving had ended.” The Mercury

The Pick of the Weekend’s Political Coverage

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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