It might have been during the televised "People’s Forum" last week that the penny dropped with Coalition strategists. Almost every question from the self-described unaligned voters was about the issues on which Labor had been campaigning: negative gearing, banks, health and education.

In one respect, this was unsurprising, given the audience was from western Sydney, but the line of questioning placed the PM in a predominantly defensive position. And it left him little room to spruik the benefits of the Coalition’s jobs and growth agenda.