Poll watch. There’s one thing about this election campaign that we can be sure of — media coverage more dominated by opinion polls than during any other campaign. Yesterday the party leaders had barely finished their opening addresses to the press before the Seven News was reporting on a six-question survey conducted that afternoon by ReachTel of 2949 residents across Australia that put the two-party preferred score at Labor 48% to the Coalition’s 52%.

This morning it’s Newspollpublished in The Australian, with the same overall 48% to 52% result.

I’ll be relying on our own expert The Poll Bludger to sort out the inevitably conflicting findings of Newspoll, Nielsen, Morgan, Galaxy, Essential and ReachTel in the weeks ahead. His latest Bludger Track of the lot of them puts the starting point at 50:50, but the Labor figure will be marked down a shade when the next calculation is made.

Labor support declines. The Crikey Election Indicator, based on what the markets say, has Labor taking a turn for the worse this week.

A terrible few days for Labor. I cannot think of any prime minister who has called an election after a week of such bad news stories as those that preceded Kevin Rudd’s announcement. As if the report into the scandals involving NSW Labor Party members were not a sufficient problem, election eve had an explosion in the budget deficit, the promise of increased unemployment, spending cuts and some new tax increases. Fodder for a torrent of negative headlines.

Rudd will be hoping that better news is on the way in the form of another interest rate cut by the Reserve Bank board when it meets tomorrow. The market expects that it will be so.

The pick of the post-announcement political reads

  • Spot the difference between a reborn contrite Kev and Team Tony — “The leaders of the two main parties are making very different emotional appeals to the people, but promising remarkably similar policy outcomes,” argues Peter Hartcher in The Sydney Morning Herald.
  • Can Australians learn to trust these men? asks Annabel Crabb on the ABC’s The Drum. “This is not a ‘change election’. It’s more of a ‘have either of these men changed?’ election.”
  • Hockey’s populism ties up Labor — Ross Gittins in The Sydney Morning Herald notes “how successfully Joe Hockey has outfoxed Chris Bowen and Kevin Rudd on the questions of budget promises and perceptions of economic competence. Hockey’s fast footwork achieved its most dramatic success on Friday when Labor re-nailed itself to the cross of a Treasury budget projection almost four years into an unknowable future only a few months after Wayne Swan and Julia Gillard had so painfully torn themselves down from the selfsame cross.”

The pick of the weekend political reads

  • The Sydney-based Fairfax columnist Paul Sheehan featured south of the border in The Sunday Age  claiming that the return to Australia of New York Post editor Col Allan had Kevin Rudd as the primary target. “Why Murdoch wants Rudd to lose the coming federal election is not merely political, it is commercial. News Corp hates the government’s National Broadband Network (NBN). The company has formed a view that it poses a threat to the business model of by far its most important asset in Australia, the Foxtel cable TV monopoly it jointly owns with Telstra.”
  • On the digital campaign trail — Analysts and databases that helped win a US election are being employed in Australia, write Nick O’Malley and Chris Johnson in The Sunday Age.
  • This Coalition ad is brought to you by … Mike Carlton in the Sydney Morning Herald on how “Toll is effectively the corporate sponsor of an opposition policy. Conflict of interest, anyone?”
  • Little to cheer about no matter who wins — Peter van Onselen (paywall) in the Weekend Australian:

Some other views. So much for what the so-called experts think. At Campaign Bites we’ll be searching blogs, the social media, letters to the editor and comments by readers on our own Crikey election stories for some alternative views. Your help in finding interesting snippets will be appreciated. Send suggestions to me via [email protected]

An opening selection:

A letter writer in The Age who would not have been surprised by this morning’s Sydney Daily Telegraph front page:

Grog’s Gamut on Election 2013: Day Zero: (or “Ze plane! Ze plane!”) — “Looking back three years, one thing that strikes me is that Tony Abbott and the Liberal Party have pretty much the same strategy of last time.”Looking back three years, one thing that strikes me is that Tony Abbott and the Liberal Party have pretty much the same strategy of last time.

En Passant: Neoliberalism and the cruel election — “Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott, the chief barbarians of political capitalism, will battle it out on 7 September. On those areas they both think they can win popular support and votes, like asylum seekers, they will try to outbid each other in cruelty.”

paddy — Posted on Crikey Sunday, 4 August 2013 at 5:06 pm:

“Perhaps the most impressive part of Rudd’s performance, was his willingness to call out the press gallery on their failure to address the real issues on actual policies. It promises to be a lively campaign.”

Other news and views noted along the way.

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