Just go on the record. Some may call this a history-making campign, but I expect that this will be a campaign that will inspire low levels of interest and enthusiasm compared to 2007, Julia Gillard notwithstanding (see my recent article here and my earlier one here) Tony Abbott has done exceptionally well so far, he has presided over a surge in Coalition support and driven the policy debate to an extent remarkable for an opposition. This has been despite his lack of public appeal and here is a lesson for those observers that fixate on approval ratings (2.5 cheers out of 3 for Peter Brent), Joe Hockey would have been more personally popular but would he have got the Liberals to this position? Abbott was the right choice for the Liberals just as Keating was for Labor in 1991. But to win the election is a bridge too far for Abbott he has got the Liberals to the position Andrew Peacock got the Coalition at the end of the 1984 campaign remarkably close but not close enough Female leaders will often evoke enthusiasm among women but this enthusiasm ebbs quickly if it is not linked to deeper policy preferences, Sarah Palin the best example, many lower-income women initially liked her but soon lost interest as she revealed herself to an aggressive conservative Republican. Gillard’s support among women more deeply based (Labor’s advantage on health and education) but across the campaign Liberals could make up ground here. Overall prediction:
1. not much movement either way
2. swings to Labor in Victoria & Tasmania (at least excluding Denison this state is conservative Labor country and made for Gillard), with swings against Labor (especially Queensland which is just conservative) elsewhere but NSW showing little movement either way
3. a good election for sitting MPs (just as in 1984 another low enthusiasm election)
4. Greens to win Melbourne (a Foculdian might argue Lindsay Tanner and the Greens operated within the same problematic but Cath Bowtell does not, note how unmoved Green voters were by the Resources Super Profits Tax)
Journalists and political scientists may complain about each other but they share an excessive focus on elections rather than policy outcomes, it would be nice to imagine a chastened Labor government giving more attention to progressive policy development, but more likely is a cautious Labor government that will respond to the likely Green balance of power in the Senate by pursuing agreement with the Coalition although Green hubris after winning Melbourne probably won’t help here.