Not a fair test. The idea that giving Brendan Nelson another month to try and prove himself a leader is going to achieve anything is as ridiculous a proposition as I’ve ever heard in politics. While the media is full of speculation that a challenge is on the way the poor man has no chance of improving his standing as measured by opinion polls. And the speculation is certainly not going to stop. Every fortnightly opinion poll will simply feed more of it. The only reason not to get rid of him straight away is that replacing him with Malcolm Turnbull would simply result in a renewal of the Peter Costello leadership campaign.

A message for Family First. The Family First Party can share a little of Labor’s disappointment with its showing in the Western Australian State election. Family First gained less than two percent of the votes in the Legislative Assembly poll and only marginally better with 2.5% in the Legislative Council poll. It is now clearer than ever that Senator Steve Fielding gained his seat by an absolutely fluke distribution of preferences and his chances of getting a second term are slim

Trawling through the state election data. Just to confirm what an election junkie I really am I spent some hours going through the data on state elections to see what evidence I could find on whether a state political party really does suffer when its federal colleagues are in power. In my sample of state elections since November 1946 there have been 136 elections including Western Australia eight days ago. On 63 occasions (46.3% of the time) the winning state Premier has been from the same party or Coalition as the Prime Minister. On the other 72 occasions the voters went for a different party to represent them in their state capital than the one ruling in Canberra. There is thus some evidence there to support the theory that the party not in power federally does better than the one that is but to my eye it probably amounts to no more than a quarter of a percentage point.

Of far more significance, it seems to me, is the impact that going to the polls early can have on an incumbent state government’s chances. Leaving out the first election in each state and territory gives a sample of 128 and of those 92 (or 71.9%) were won by the incumbent. Yet when an incumbent went to the polls six months or more early, (as happened on 27 occasions) that winning percentage fell to 51.9%. My rough stab at what that difference means is that the incumbent loses more than one percentage point of the vote.

You too can look like Sarah. The Kazuo Kawasaki glasses, frame style series 704, color 34, are currently on back order but now are being churned out on a 24 by 7 production cycle to catch up with the demand created by Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.

And Florida’s WigSalon is doing great business with its Sarah Palin wigs.

Shop around and you might even find a pair of those red Naught Monkey peep-toe pumps with 3½-inch heels she wore at the Republican convention. They are selling fast as the woman becomes a marketing sensation.

The market starts believing. The prediction market is starting to believe that the opinion polls showing the Republicans well in front is actually might be right. With the Real Clear Politics average of the major American polls having had John McCain in front of Barack Obama for over a week now, the Crikey Election Indicator now puts the probabilities about becoming president at McCain 51% and Obama 49%.

Peter Fray

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