Alan should give thanks. Alan Carpenter should be very pleased with the opinion polls showing a close run thing in Western Australia and give special thanks to the bookmakers reporting an interest by people in backing the Liberals. A truly unscrupulous Labor Party would in fact go further and put some of its hard earned campaign expenditure on backing their opponents to keep up the illusion that this state election is far from over. For my part I’ll be punting that a divided party – one that changes its leader frequently like the Liberals – cannot win. It’s just a matter of guessing when the price is right.

The fashionable togglers. The theory that many people vote differently in federal and state elections as if to prevent one party having a monopoly on political power has become the fashionable wisdom of commentators since the Northern Territory election nearly ousted Labor. Imre Salusinszky was advancing it in The Oz this morning and warning Alan Carpenter, Anna Bligh, Mike Rann, John Brumby and David Bartlett: “Be afraid. Be very afraid.” The latest dire Newspoll for Labor in NSW, he wrote, confirms the “toggle voters” – voters hedging their federal and state voting intentions -are on the move. I suppose there would be a rough kind of logic in the toggle theory, but whenever I have looked at any lengthy series of state and federal election results I have not been able to discover any meaningful correlation to suggest that the phenomenon does occur in practice.

The danger of a spurned politician. Far more believable to me as an explanation for Labor’s poor NT showing was that the election was called early and that it followed the ousting as the Leader of the Party of the woman who had led it to two victories. The connection between those events was commented upon in the Northern Territory News this morning with a story saying that Clare Martin was going to quit the Parliament in September which prompted her replacement as Chief Minister, Paul Henderson, to go for broke with a full Territory poll rather than risk being embarrassed at a by-election.

A Tasmanian side show. Tasmanians have a long history of taking in their stride allegations of improper conduct by their politicians – just think of Sir Robert Cosgrove and Spot Turnbull – and sure enough the latest opinion poll down south shows that dismissed criminal charges against a former Minister and the retirement of an unpopular Premier have not dented Labor’s re-election chances. The Enterprise Marketing & Research Services finding is that an election held last week would have had Labor with 40% of the vote, Liberals 38%, Greens 19% and others 2%. That Labor figure was eight percentage points higher than back in May.

A Bob Hope Democrat. Apologies for not putting the link in properly yesterday. The Bob Hope link that appealed to my sense of humour is here.

Peter Fray

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