Working both ways. The idea that the Labor predominance in state governments is on the wane is getting many of those writing politics for The Australian quite excited. The loss in Western Australia and the near thing in the Northern Territory are advanced as evidence that things will soon get better for the Liberals throughout the nation. Figures from Newspoll are used to back up the argument that Australians don’t like wall-to-wall Labor governments.

Now, there may be something in that argument — although on my analysis it is not as pronounced an advantage for state oppositions as is generally believed. But there is also another side to this idea that a love of checks and balances sees some people vote differently at state and federal elections. If the state government in a state is Liberal then these maverick people will be siding with Labor federally.

Perhaps Galaxy polls appearing in the Brisbane Courier Mail illustrate the point. Yesterday figures on federal voting intention showed support for the Rudd Government at 51% on a two-party-preferred basis compared to the 50.4% recorded in Queensland at last year’s election. Today figures on state voting intention show a movement in the other direction with the Bligh government two party share of 52% being nearly three percentage points down on what the Labor Party gained at the last state election when led by Peter Beattie.

Firm and getting firmer. Conditions just seem to keep on getting better for Barack Obama. World financial chaos would not be the way anyone wanted to be elevated in to the US presidency but it is surely happening. This is the way the markets and the Crikey Election Indicator assess the probabilities this morning:

The message of the polls and the market. For a while there earlier this month there was quite a gap between what the pollsters were showing was the current opinion and what the markets were predicting would be the case on the first Tuesday in November. The pollsters recorded Republican John McCain overtaking Barack Obama while the market continued to expect an eventual Obama victory. In the last week the two have moved back closer together with both measures showing Obama as favourite.

The graph below compares the Democrat vote measured by the Real Clear Politics poll average of all the major pollsters with what the players on the Iowa Electronic Markets are predicting will be the eventual vote in November.

After taking out the don’t knows and the votes for the minor parties, the pollsters currently have a two candidate vote share of 52.3% for Obama and 47.7% for McCain. The investors on the IEM are assessing the final shares as 53.8% for Obama and 46.2% for McCain.

The influence of race. I was intrigued by a reference in a recent article in the London Daily Telegraph which said that a poll last weekend found Mr Obama would be six points higher in the polls if he were white. I could not find the poll in question but I did find this analysis in the Gallup figures:

True it is that these figures show a significantly smaller support for Obama among white voters than there is for McCain but conversely the Democrat has an enormous advantage among black voters. And there is no evidence that Obama’s support among whites is sliding as the election gets closer although there is some to suggest that McCain is beginning to do better among Hispanics. Perhaps Obama’s eventual fate will depend on the ability of his campaign to enrol more blacks and get them to the booth on polling day.

A little further insight in to the racial aspect of this election comes from the Battleground polling network conducted for the George Washington University in Washington, DC.

The answers to that question suggest there is a little growing uneasiness about voting for a black man to become president.

Peter Fray

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