Coming round the home straight and already a chant of “one more week” has broken out in the Crikey office. After weeks of campaigning, the race between Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott is still fierce. Will it be a photo-finish for PM or will one leader streak ahead in the final stretch?

The general consensus from the commentariat continues to be that Gillard will probably win it, but Abbott’s still got a chance and what a damn good job he’s done, even if the economy isn’t proving to be his strong point.

“The bookies still say it’s Labor — but only just. And despite appearances, the polls are converging, and pointing towards a cliffhanger result in Saturday’s election,” declares Tim Colebatch in The Age.

David ‘Penbo’ Penberthy is calling it for the Coalition over at The Punch, even if it means a deal with the Independents. “The Coalition will narrowly win next Saturday’s election and govern in its own right.”

It’s still anyone’s game, argues Dennis Shanahan in The Oz: “…Labor is favoured to win but, in such an uncertain election, either side can take government with a show of certainty and resolve.”

This may be the final week of the campaign but Gillard is only launching the ALP campaign at 11:30am in Brisbane today. The launch is an important event — Gillard is expected to go hard on the economy and will offer up her own personal outline for a Gillard government.

The launch could seriously affect the election’s outcome. “Today is the most important day of Julia Gillard’s political life,” announce Stefanie Balogh and Anna Caldwell in The Courier-Mail.

Hopefully Gillard can give the punters something worth campaigning for, pleads Dennis Atkins in The Courier-Mail: “The Coalition last week missed an opportunity to give people something to vote for. Labor has a similar challenge this week with the environmental movement in particular.”

Time for Julia to dig deep, says Dennis Glover in The Oz, “When you’re in a situation like this, with your back to the wall, there’s only one thing you can do: draw down on your character and belief system for one last moral effort. This is Julia Gillard’s task.”

Don’t get too excited about this morning’s launch. “Today’s Brisbane shindig will resonate with disengaged voters only if there’s a torrent of cash or a stumble, unlikely on both counts,” argues Tom Dusevic in The Oz.

“Labor’s attack on Tony Abbott’s financial credibility has succeeded in wiping out the Coalition’s election lead on economic management,” writes Dennis Shanahan at The Oz, so expect Gillard’s launch to continue her economy obsession. So far the focus on Labor’s economic management is working.

Abbott’s continued refusal to debate Gillard on the economy shows how lacking his credentials are, says Peter van Onselen in The Oz.: “Now, by not even being willing to have a debate in conjunction with the Liberal Party’s much-sought community forum, Abbott has revealed himself to be truly worried an economic debate would expose his weaknesses.”

But not everyone thinks Labor has done a great job. “…the grey belt has a simple financial trigger to loathe Labor, and to long for a return to the Coalition’s brand of economic management, because superannuation nest eggs have been smashed over the past three years,” notes George Megalogenis in The Oz.

Costings have come back to bite Abbott on the bum, since this election costings farce dates back to Howard era days, writes Megalonis: “Instead, he enters the last week of the campaign with a costings debate he doesn’t need, and a call for an economic debate with Julia Gillard he is trying to avoid.”

It’s not just Abbott who emerged with troubles from the Budget Honesty Charter. “Sometimes we are way too cynical about politicians, when they’re trying to do their best for country and constituents. Other times, you legitimately wonder how they sleep at night,” says Michelle Grattan in The Age.

Blame the embattled Queensland and NSW Labor governments for Gillard’s struggle. “Julia Gillard will this week attempt to sprint to polling day on Saturday dragging the two most unpopular state governments in the Federation,” says Malcolm Farr in the Daily Telegraph.

There has also been a series of polls covering the marginals, which are well covered over at Poll Bludger’s blog. Galaxy had a big poll released in News Limited papers, announcing that the Caalition held 51-49 in the two-party preffered. Antony Green at the ABC dissects how this Galaxy poll was wrong, and should read a more accurate 51-49 for the ALP. A weekend Newspoll was released today, with Labor holding the two-party preferred vote at 52-48. Alternatively, the Age/Nielsen poll had Gillard ahead at 53-47.

This is about more than who wins and loses next Saturday, writes Waleed Aly in The Age:

“We may have entered a new era in politics ruled not by ideas, but by focus groups, polling data and stage-managed pragmatism. A new era swamped by media that approaches politics as though it is some kind of sporting contest in which there is nothing beyond the scoreboard.”

Bugger the policy, this is all about personality. “While the policy debate is virtually non-existent it is the closeness of the race and the reluctance of voters to commit to either leader overwhelmingly and uniformly that makes this election so exciting,” argues Dennis Shanahan in The Oz.

I’m young and disillusioned and I vote, says Alexandra Adornetto in The Age: “Whichever party wins on Saturday, they need to stop seeing the young as irresponsible, out of control and binge drinking partygoers. Perhaps it’s time politicians recognise this as the behaviour of a disenchanted generation and do something about it.”

Too bad, this is the Kath and Kim election. “Voting for the first time? Single? Don’t have kids? Live in a safe seat? Unemployed? Disadvantaged? Interested in tax reform? Worried about the environment? Forget it. This election isn’t about you. It’s not about policy. It’s not about the will of the people,” writes Josh Gordon in The Age.

“This election has highlighted the vast political divide between the states,” notes Jack the Insider at The Oz. Australia has been divided into red and blue states, just like the US.

If you’re not a marginal voter, you don’t count because “once there was city and the bush, the rich and the poor, the workers and the bosses and the various state rivalries,” argues Tony Wright in The Age, “This time, essentially, there is Queensland and there is western Sydney…”

Don’t get carried away with this being the bogan election, says David Penberthy in The Oz: “Australian voters are not only smart, they’re often smarter than people such as us who write about politics.”

But be afraid, be very afraid. “Fear, in all its forms, is the overarching theme of this campaign, as parties ditch the effort to inspire and make overwhelmingly negative appeals to voters’ insecurities,” warns Claire Harvey at the Herald Sun.

Gillard should’ve waited before running off to the polls. “Even if Gillard scrapes across the line on Saturday night… she will do so with her public credibility severely dented and her political judgment under a cloud,” writes Paul Daley in the SMH.

A Gillard government will be decisively left-wing with a “feminine” touch, says Paul Kelly at The Oz: “Presented with a feminine stamp Gillard holds out the prospect of giving the pragmatic Left the most success and respectability it has enjoyed in this country for many decades.”

Meanwhile, Michelle Grattan has moved ahead from the who’ll win it, to the how will they lead and who’ll be ministers, in The Age. Expect Rudd to get a foreign ministry position if Gillard is elected, while if Abbott wins it, Turnbull may be given defence.

But let’s not count chickens before they’ve hatched, warns Grattan:

“Of course, the most fascinating result on Saturday would be the one that only gets minor mention — a hung parliament. With three sitting independents expected to be returned and the Greens in with a good chance in Melbourne, that is a possibility which will be on a few minds this week.”

Phillip Coorey agrees: “A more contemporary analysis of the last two polls indicates Labor would lose a net 14 seats nationally, taking it from a notional 88 seats to 74 and therefore, a hung Parliament.” But that relies on a uniform swing, which is rarely the case. More likely, he argues in the SMH, is that Labor will retain government with just 76 seats.

This is Abbott’s one chance at the prime minister’s job and even if he loses the Liberals would probably want to keep him as leader. But should he? “Would he want to? Who knows. Would he be wise to? I don’t think so,” declares Michelle Grattan.

Give him a back on the pat for trying though: “The Coalition has managed to hold itself together and frighten the daylights out of the government. The leader who not many people wanted can take a lot of the credit,” writes Shaun Carney in The Age.

Miranda Devine agrees in the SMH: “Whether the Coalition wins or loses next week, its accidental leader is the only reason it has come so close.”

Former PM John Howard even penned a piece for The Oz, listing Abbott’s skills and experience and declaring “If Abbott becomes prime minister of Australia, he will bring many qualities to that office.”

It’s still anyone’s game, so sit up and pay attention.