Predictions and reflections

There’s an interesting post over at one of the Age’s election blogs by Jason Koutsoukis, where he looks at some of the predictions made by the pseph blogotariat (detailed here at Oz Politics) and wonders why the press gallery pundits are so shy of calling the result (aside from their presumed desire not to make an appearance in one of Gerard Henderson’s snarky columns):

Unlike those of us in the Canberra Press Gallery, they most probably don’t spend their days talking to politicians, and nor would they spend much time talking to the legions of strategists, spin doctors, and advisers that we spend so many hours a week chatting to.

Yet my prediction is that these casual observers will be a lot closer to the mark than us professionals, which gives me a slightly uncomfortable feeling.

The reason most journalists are not making a prediction is because we live in terror of offending one side or the other and of being cut off ‘the drip’. So most of us hedge our bets and don’t say what we really think.

Indeed.

And, as I’ve been suggesting, and as Margaret Simons argues too, coverage of the election is deeply distorted by the poll driven horse race focus as opposed to writing about politics as if it mattered. But, to continue my reflections on the online coverage of this campaign, isn’t it the case that those same pseph bloggers who’ve dominated discussions about the increasing profile of the political blogosphere have completely shared that focus on the horse race and the polls? Now, I’ve got the utmost of respect for Possum, The Poll Bludger, and the rest of the online pseph crew. They do a fabulous job. But I was wondering just before what their role would be if the mainstream commentariat actually started reporting polls properly.

There’d still be a distinct niche, no doubt, for more sophisticated analysis and commentary, and for the sorts of conversations that ensue on their threads (which have their own value), and Possum in particular has an excellent eye for political strategy, but hasn’t everyone more or less agreed that the significant contribution of the blogosphere in this election year has been to contribute to better analysis of psephological data? That’s fine, and that’s important, but it seems to me to be a little bit of a pity that, in a way, this contribution just reinforces the overly wonky and inward looking nature of Australian political journalism, even if it does contribute to an improvement in its quality. It’s at least a bit of a pity too that blogs which specialise in more qualitative political, cultural and economic analysis and policy like this one, PollieGraph, Club Troppo, and John Quiggin – to name but a few – haven’t really broken out of the blogospheric space in a big way.

One thing I do think will be important, assuming that a Rudd government is elected, will be a renewed focus on what the government is actually doing – new policy and its effects on the country and its people. I really hope that as one election cycle closes, we can move away from the almost exclusive focus on the horse race aspects of politics and begin to write more about politics as if it actually mattered to people.

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Posted in federal election '07, media, politics
47 comments on “Predictions and reflections
  1. I'm having an organism says:

    “But I was wondering just before what their role would be if the mainstream commentariat actually started reporting polls properly”.

    As I said earlier in another thread, there is no space online that they cannot fill. The independent Oz political blogosphere is dead in the water on the 25th.

  2. jinmaro says:

    Yes, all true. And a bit depressing and sad for that. But a sign of the times. It’s not just discussion either but activism too, I suspect, which is affected. Just spent the last few weeks with similar 40-plus-somethings with full-time jobs (and in many cases dependent children) intensively letterboxing. I know the ALP in the area has the same problem. Where are the younger activists who care enough to do this basic chore which in its way too is a political labour of love? No need to answer, we all know the answer.

    But Mark, your consistent, thoughtful contribution to a deeper and more democratic and policy-focussed discussion of politics, as it matters to people, not just to candidates, electoral machinery and those enmeshed in or blinded by such secondary concerns, has been almost unrivalled on the blogs, as far as I can see – or at least with those where a significant two-way discussion has got going.

    It’s been very stimulating, educative and thought-provoking, for me, as have been so many of the fascinating comments and discussions your posts have elicited.

    So well done, and thanks.

  3. Mercurius says:

    “…haven’t really broken out of the blogospheric space in a big way.”

    I would put that down to the fact that there’s no obvious strategy or indeed much apparent intention on the part of any of those blogs to “break out”.

    Sorry to go all meta on you, but LP defines itself as ” an Australian group blog which discusses politics, sociology, culture, life, religion and science from a left of centre perspective.” And it does precisely that, with distinction. But there doesn’t seem to be much scope in that statement for extra-bloggy development, no?

    If “breaking out” of the blogosphere ever happens to LP, it won’t be because the rest of the world stumbles over the rare and precious jewel that is LP and places it in the Museum of Important and Influential Stuff. It’ll take a concerted campaign, relationship-building and constructing an agenda over many years.

    That said, Mark I think you may be under-selling yourself somewhat. LP writers tend to be prolific and more widely published than this blog – your good self being a conspicuous example. So I think you could rate that to be at least some measure of “breaking out”.

    My, but isn’t my navel fascinating!

  4. joe2 says:

    Jason Koutsoukis is the one of the small number of Newscorp commentators on, Teh Insiders, that still has a brain.

    Did I forget to mention that?

  5. jimmy says:

    It’s not only journalists reluactant to call it. Plenty of bloggers, commentators on blogs, random people you meet in the street, just about bloody everyone seems reluctant to call it, and insists that it will be “down to the wire” despite ALL the evidence to the contrary.

    I put this down to two reasons:

    1: People have seen Howard come back from behind before. Yes, not this far, but still. He’s the lord and master of the carefully-targeted marginal strategy to just slip back in. He’s not for nothing thought of as a sneaky rodent.

    2: Those who want the Coalition to win say it will be close because they don’t want to publicly admit that they’re probably going to get routed. Those who want Labor to win say it will be close so they won’t have to face the pain of Howard winning AGAIN without adequately preparing themselves privately and publicly for the very worst. Combine this with a commentariat petrified of being “wrong” (and thus, allegedly “biased”), and bam.

  6. Gaz says:

    “Comment by jimmy”

    Wee Jimmer spot on.

  7. jinmaro says:

    Clarification: My comment at #2 was not agreeing in the first instance with the seriously wacko perhaps guilty wishful thinking comment at #1, but rather with the substance of Mark’s post.

  8. Sans Blog says:

    I wonder if Aussie blogs, at least for the foreseeable future, need a ‘big daddy’ such as Blogocracy’s relationship with News Ltd to draw the punters in. Too many blogs are incestuous places with same old, same old agreeing with everyone else regardless. This applies to blog on any position on the left, centre, right scale.

    I am sure Blogocracy has attracted a readership and commentariat of many who would not have previously thought of visiting or commenting on a blog or perhaps even that they existed.

  9. mbahnisch says:

    Jason Koutsoukis is the one of the small number of Newscorp commentators on, Teh Insiders, that still has a brain.

    Actually he’s from Fairfax, joe2.

    I am sure Blogocracy has attracted a readership and commentariat of many who would not have previously thought of visiting or commenting on a blog or perhaps even that they existed.

    As I suggested in this piece, the MSM “blogs” have successfully colonised the space that might otherwise have been filled by the independent blogosphere:

    http://www.newmatilda.com.au/home/articledetail.asp?ArticleID=2501&CategoryID=

  10. mbahnisch says:

    It’s been very stimulating, educative and thought-provoking, for me, as have been so many of the fascinating comments and discussions your posts have elicited.

    Thanks very much, jinmaro, it’s very kind of you to say that.

  11. joe2 says:

    “Jason Koutsoukis is the one of the small number of Newscorp commentators on, Teh Insiders, that still has a brain.
    Actually he’s from Fairfax, joe2.”

    I stand corrected Mark.

  12. Liam Hogan says:

    Where are the younger activists who care enough to do this basic chore which in its way too is a political labour of love? No need to answer, we all know the answer.

    I don’t know, jinmaro, what’s the answer? Surprise us with a statement consisting of anything but a gerontocratic sledge against anyone born later than 1965. G’on.

    One thing I do think will be important, assuming that a Rudd government is elected, will be a renewed focus on what the government is actually doing – new policy and its effects on the country and its people.

    Mark, I entirely agree. One of the patterns of the last six to twelve months has been a significant holding-of-breath amongst policy ideologists. Nobody is quite sure what’s possible within the context of a Labor Commonwealth Government—and unwilling to break the fragile ideological truce keeping together opposition to the Howard Government. Who’d have thought we’d see John Valder and Malcolm Fraser in common cause with Kev Reynolds and Mar’n Ferguson?
    I’ll be very interested to see the direction social democracy takes should Labor win.

    On the blogospheric ‘economy’: there’s a critical leap between what happens here and what happens in the comments fields of the mainstream established-media blogs. Within the gift economy of pre-2006 blogs, the paranoid idiots aren’t taken entirely seriously, and it’s a symptom of my own shameful elitism that I think that’s a good thing .
    At which point I think I should make my own entirely Strocchi-scientific prediction: blog commentary in the next Commonwealth Parliamentary term will gradually assimilate further and further towards the spEak You’re bRanes level. Resistance is useless.

  13. CK says:

    Some sensible comments from former ALP advisor Bill Botwell over at ABC Unleashed: http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/stories/s2095589.htm

    “The 1998 result exposed the fundamental political weakness inherent in the Liberal Party’s long march to the right of the Australian political spectrum which began in the late 1980s and reached its apotheosis in the last term of the Howard government.”

    Howard’s political career has always been based on the nasty dry conservatism of Thatcher, Reagan, and B2, and Tip’s not far behind. He wants to present KR as a kind of Mad Mullah, but in truth Teh Crodent’s more like Thatcher: Power for its own sake; Completely convinced of his own invincibility; And wants to remake the nation in his own image.

    And there’s his problem. As with his mentors his politics are 20 years out of date and it’s now all about him.

    “I love being prime minister” doesn’t actually mean he should get the gig.

  14. Ambigulous says:

    Mark B,
    I second jinmaro at #2. It has been a great pleasure to discover Larvatus and all who take the trouble to make reasoned comments, give links to stimulating pieces elsewhere, etc. Good too to find social democrats with an unwavering loyalty to democratic practices, while detesting poverty and injustice with a passion. You have some fine writers with technical knowledge.

    Merci beaucoups!!

  15. Ambigulous says:

    Her Majesty’s Vessel Menzies
    Additional Bulletin for Wed 21st Nov

    Viscount Turnbull wishes all crew to know that he has independently acquired his personal supply of wines, and will not therefore require to draw on the general stores previously listed by the Quartermaster.

    He wishes all crew the Compliments of the Voyage, as this seafaring phase draws ever so imperceptibly towards its concluding stanza, and a hush falls over the creaking timbers and swaying rigging.

    Stand firm and steady, men.

  16. mbahnisch says:

    Thanks, Ambigulous!

  17. Gaz says:

    Meanwhile on the good ship Fisher some where on Lake Burley Griffen.

    Signal to the Ambigulous.

    Sir your last signal to Fisher was unclear,was that stand firm and steady/or stand firm and erect.

    Capt. Sir K. Rudd A.L.P. C.F.M.W.U. A.W.U.

  18. Surely the problem is that neo-liberal orthodoxy has permeated politics and society to such an extent that “policy” discussion is reduced to tedious detail about micomanagement. It’s little wonder that election campaigns are reduced to presidential spectacles and that the only thing that is of any interest is “the race”. You can’t blame the psephologists for the reasons why so many of us suddenly are fascinated by psephology.

  19. CK says:

    Loved the 7.30 Report tonight. JHo, over and out!

  20. wpd says:

    Mark et. al., this is the best ‘site’ for rational discussion without question IMHO.

    I suspect that Rudd and those who advise him at the senior level will have this site on the ‘must read’ list. Seriously.

    Congratulations to all those who post and those who respond.

  21. zebbidies spring says:

    Teh Crodent’s more like Thatcher: Power for its own sake; Completely convinced of his own invincibility; And wants to remake the nation in his own image.

    Remake the nation in his own image? Wot, we shall all pursue careers as government employees and retire on massive superannuation payments that somebody else is funding? Nice work if you can get it (even public servants can’t get it that good).

    When’s the last time John Howard had to turn a profit?

  22. gandhi says:

    The reason most journalists are not making a prediction is because we live in terror of offending one side or the other and of being cut off ‘the drip’. So most of us hedge our bets and don’t say what we really think.

    Dare I say it – the same criticism could be levelled at many high profile bloggers (not naming names) who act as if they are professional commentators and end up self-censoring themselves. It makes Ozblogistan a much less interesting place, but then it’s surely a reflection of the Beige Society society we late C20th Aussies live in (don’t pretend we’ve entered C21 yet).

    Blokes standing around the BBQ with a light beer in one hand, talking shit. Girls drawling on about magazine-style crap they long ago lost interest in. Sunrise, sunset… Mortgages and mid-life crises, dead lawns and endless piles of glossy advertising in the mailbox. C’est la f***ing vie d’aujourd’hui. None dare rock the boat. None stick their heads out the window and shout aloud: “I’m not going to take this shit any more!!!” Suicide rates remain high, even among the gutsy AJ’s who boast about seeing “action” like it was still 1914 or something. Ponting’s scored a century. Blah blah. Howard’s Australia. It won’t last forever, but it sure feels like it sometimes.

    Possum & Co have done a stirling job, but their time will soon pass and blogs like this one will begin to reap the benefit of much solid hard work. The election result will vindicate you, Mark. A few days ago I was thinking to congratulate everyone here at LP – including the commenters – for all the wonderful effort of the past year, but it seemed a little premature. Maybe it’s not – y’all deserve it (even Darlene). Seriously.

    Sadly, there’s no money in that, and no recognition, and maybe not even much additional traffic. But is that how success is measured these days? We all know that the people here have been right, consistently right, and right for the right reasons – principle, not profiteering.

    Consider the demise of the GG as a cautionary tale: for all their efforts, they haven’t been able to push this election “story” like they used to do. Who reads newspapers any more? Who will be reading Shanahan at the next election? I’ll wager many more people will be reading sites like this. And even if they don’t, it will be sites like this that drive the narrative and keep the bastards honest. EG: how many journos do you reckon have stolen ideas from blogs in the past few months?

    Still no money in that, of course. But kudos and Big Respect. Larvatus Prodeo rocks.

  23. mick says:

    It’s interesting to ponder why LP and similar blogs haven’t “broken out”. I mean we’ve never aimed to “break out” well at least as far as I can tell. Though, in the US blogosphere the big blogs didn’t really aim to “break out” either, well, I’m sure there was more than a little link whoring and all that but you could definitely make a case that the public moved to them more than the blogs catered their product for the public.

    That said, I think one of the key issues in understanding the lack of “break out” (I really wanted to say “blogospheric acne”, would that be wrong?) is timing. I think that the blogosphere has already lost a bit of its intertubish influence to Facebook. Don’t know about you, but my Facebook page is crawling with political activism. Sure, not much of it is carefully considered opinion pieces, but how much of the public is really into that?

    In the US experience the blogosphere rose partly because of a lack of alternative to mainstream commentary. In the absence of things like Facebook, the young-uns who spend all their time online had no-where else to go. Now the market is a lot more diverse and LP is essentially catering to a niche market – I do believe however that this is a really important part of the market! Opinion has to come from somewhere, and one thing that I think LP does really well is to provide opinions..

    One of the things that I’ve been thinking about is how continually changing online trends are affecting the parties ability to get control of the intertubes. The ALP has done a pretty good job campaigning on the web, but I wonder if they’ll be ready for whatever it is that replaces YouTube and Facebook next year?

    A year ago I was worried about the formation of “super-blogs” which dominated online opinion. Fortunately, I think that the internet is proving to be such a fluid place that this may not happen. That has to be a good thing for democracy in the end.

  24. gandhi says:

    … and as long as I am slagging off fellow bloggers, kudos to the LP writers for happily wading into the comments threads and keeping it real. Some bloggers use pseudonyms when they post comments, just so they can maintain an aura of masterful authority (I post, you respond). Some bloggers avoid posting links to other blogs, who they see as competitors. Fortunately there is none of that nonsense apparent here. Did I mention LP rocks?

    Same goes for Big Media on that last point: the buzz among journos is that blogs are (a) a joke and (b) a threat (somehow simultaneously). Some journos will pinch bloggers’ ideas, few will acknowledge blogging sources. Is it the guilt that stops them? Or the fear of ridicule? If blogs like LP haven’t “broken out” into the media, I’m sure that has a lot to do with it.

    In the US model, celebrity bloggers like Kos got TV gigs during debates. It would have been nice to see some media channel at least give that sort a thing a try. What’s the bet Tim Blair would get the gig though?

  25. mbahnisch says:

    But kudos and Big Respect. Larvatus Prodeo rocks.

    Thanks, gandhi!

    mick, interesting comments. I think you’re right that the intertubes will keep throwing up new ways and platforms of discussing and acting. But I’m not too sure about FB v. blogs – I see joining an FB group or putting a button on your profile as sort of the outer edge of the circle of political activity – whereas writing or commenting on a blog is much closer to the inner edge. As it were! Having said that, since I argued in my Griffith Review piece last year that people were totally not getting the amount of interest that the “yoof” (and older cyber-savvy citizens!) have in politics and that a lot of it was manifesting on social networking sites rather than at demos, I do feel a little vindicated!

    gandhi, actually one of the stories of this campaign has been the number of journos and writers in the MSM prepared to cite bloggers and work with us not against us – I’m thinking of people like Dennis Atkins at the C-M (who anyway, for my money, has always been one of the only commentators who’s ever been in touch with what’s actually happening), Tony Wright and Matthew Ricketson and Rachel Hills at The Age. There are quite a number of others, I know, who don’t get to write commentary or op/eds who don’t see the thing in adversarial terms. And there’s also obviously been a much greater degree of intermingling between blogs and online media like Crikey and New Matilda. I think there is a bit of a tide starting to surge.

    On Kos, etc, I’m kinda glad we don’t have “celebrity bloggers” in Australia, just quietly.

  26. mbahnisch says:

    I also wanted to emphasise the point I made at the end of the post. I think that if (as I expect) Rudd is elected on Saturday, there will be a very different environment for the blogosphere and online media. I’m not sure too many people have thought past the Sunday hangovers (which is completely understandable!). But last time there was a Labor government, blogs and online media didn’t exist. The oppositional role – against Howard – will be gone, and that will also mean some reconfiguration of the elements who’ve coalesced against him. But my hope is that we’ll be in a position to play a role that doesn’t just look forward to the business end of the next election cycle but rather “keep the bastards honest” as it were, on policy, and delve deeper into where the new administration is going and what it’s doing with reference to how it impacts on folks.

    Of course, it will be fun dancing on the Tories’ grave!

  27. mbahnisch says:

    Oh, and thanks, wpd, as well.

    As to gandhi’s point about bloggers commenting – the ability to engage in these discussions as I used to do at Troppo, Quiggin and BackPages from early to mid 2004 is what attracted me to this in the first place. And it’s kept me (relatively) sane through 3 more years of Howardism than we should have had. And it’s just fun, and great to meet and talk with and get to know so many fascinating people – a very diverse crowd, incidentally, I reckon.

  28. bahnischba says:

    “…3 more years of Howardism than we should have had.”

    We shouldn’t have had any, of course. I liked your idea the other day that 1990 was the election to lose. After 3 years of Peacock and a recession we could have reminded the population forever of the dangers of voting for the conservatives!

    Sorry, that’s off topic. As you were.

  29. It’s fucking group hug time, then? Alright. I’ve actually had more satisfaction from this year in Ozplogistan than I’ve had in the last 3-4 odd years checking out the rest of the Blogosphere.

    Mucho gracias to LP and Possum.

  30. silkworm says:

    Sorry, I couldn’t resist –

  31. Shaun says:

    “But my hope is that we’ll be in a position to play a role that doesn’t just look forward to the business end of the next election cycle but rather “keep the bastards honest” as it were, on policy, and delve deeper into where the new administration is going and what it’s doing with reference to how it impacts on folks.”

    Exactly. This will also lead to a re-shaping of Ozblogistan for the better. The expected demise of the Howard years will not mean an uncritical appraisal of Rudd. There will be plenty to blog about.

  32. Shaun says:

    Oh, I just like to record my prediction that the election will not be close. Rudd by a mile and the Libs in despair. Just think of it as an over correction of the “it will be close” calls in the Oz media.

  33. aidan says:

    I reckon LP has done marvellously and just goes from strength to strength (server glitches notwithstanding).

    Evidence? I haven’t regularly visited Kos/TPM for a couple of years. Good on youse!

  34. mbahnisch says:

    Evidence? I haven’t regularly visited Kos/TPM for a couple of years

    Heh!

    Incidentally, if they recover from their heads exploding on Saturday night, I wonder how what’s left of the RWDBs will deal with the reign of Rudd. Will they self-diagnose “Rudd derangement syndrome”? Will they criticise themselves for “Rudd-hating” and being a narrow elite out of touch with teh verdict of teh people?

  35. Nabakov says:

    Politics in Australia? We’re all hypnotised by the swinging pendulum in a grandfather clock in the hallway of an ramshackle house at the end of a cul de sac in a half-arsed housing estate. Very soon, the predictions and reflections here will look like the jokes in Australasian Post – the sixties barbershop version.

    The only thing you can predict about the future is that its gonna get very unpredictable even sooner that you think. When OPEC announces it’s gonna tackle climate change, Brazil hints it’s getting nuke warheads and the Russian Business Network relocates to China, all bets are off. The high craziness of the 21st century is only just beginning.

  36. haiku says:

    Now, I’ve got the utmost of respect for Possum, The Poll Bludger, and the rest of the online pseph crew. They do a fabulous job. But I was wondering just before what their role would be if the mainstream commentariat actually started reporting polls properly.

    Initial response: no danger of that. Only a small minority (Megalogenis, Koutsoukis, Hartcher, and maybe a couple of others) are likely to actually take a sensible approach. The rest are too partisan, lazy, incompetent, or cynical to engage in the sort of quality analysis the specialist bloggers provide.

    Second response: actually, wouldn’t it be great if they did? That way, comments threads on the Poll Bludger could revert to manageable levels and I wouldn’t have to wade through reams of flame wars and trolling to read some analysis.

    Third response: many of the journos/pundits rely on the blogs for ideas now anyway. We know that Sid Marris, Sam Maiden, Dennis Shanahan and Caroline Overington read the psesph blogs from time to time … (they’re probably reading this now. Hi Caroline! Fancy a shag?) 😉

  37. gandhi says:

    Also worth noting that not a few * government officers are keeping an eye on blogs these days, so one imagines we are possibly even helping to drive policy formulation – surely a good sign for a post-Howard role?

    As Nabakov rightly says, we are in for some turbulent times: it’s not gonna be boring!

    I know there are funding issues, but personally I would like to see an Aussie blog like WP develop towards a group diary structure (like Kos or the Smirking Chimp), where readers can contribute stories and intermingle a bit more. Anyone got George Soros’ mobile number? I hear he loves throwing money at such leftwing propaganda projects… OTOH surely there are lots of young students at QUT who could help out with the programming side of it?

    * Even my miserable blog gets regular hits from a couple of political staffers.

  38. Iain says:

    LP has meant I have spent much less time reading aggravating shite in the Australian. Long may it continue.

  39. boredinHK says:

    Mak B wrote -” Incidentally, if they recover from their heads exploding on Saturday night, I wonder how what’s left of the RWDBs will deal with the reign of Rudd.”

    My guess is they will microscopically examine all details of policy for errors and then complain and bore at Olympian standards. The debates on economic policy will be unending and I think monetary and fiscal policy will often be mentioned. Expect threads to start going over 1000 comments pretty soon after Saturday 6pm.

    ” Will they self-diagnose “Rudd derangement syndrome”? Will they criticise themselves for “Rudd-hating” and being a narrow elite out of touch with teh verdict of teh people?”

    Rudd will be a normal issue, NSW Right type of leader. Competent , not flashy , nerd like even. The lack of extreme consequences from his decisions will starve their arguments of oxygen and the consequent criticism will be that he is boring, dull, the Antipodean version of John Majors.
    Decisions will be made through consensus building , earnest and detailed debate – not the natural territory for the DBs.

    Liam’s comment -” Mark, I entirely agree. One of the patterns of the last six to twelve months has been a significant holding-of-breath amongst policy ideologists. Nobody is quite sure what’s possible within the context of a Labor Commonwealth Government—and unwilling to break the fragile ideological truce keeping together opposition to the Howard Government. Who’d have thought we’d see John Valder and Malcolm Fraser in common cause with Kev Reynolds and Mar’n Ferguson?”

    This fragile ideological truce had better hold for most of the first term or this ALP government might be shortlived. Once the internal feuding ,factional stacking and counterattacks start the RWDB, the MSM commentators and other ALP opponents will be on fertile ground . Rudd won’t be the main target though as he won’t in charge anymore.
    The group of voters who have only every lived in Howard’s Australia , those from 18- 30 say ,expect a continuation of the economic goodtimes.
    If they are subjected to a recession I can’t predict how they might react but their lived experience as adults has been not much more than financial good times ,taking on debt and presuming all will be well.

    I have no evidence for the next suggestion but I feel that ageism( more a sense that these old folk aren’t with it anymore – the structure and pace of work , the internet life not just the influence it has at work) is a significant component on many voters rejection of the Liberal politicians- one group which has swung very significantly to the ALP is the younger vote.

  40. joe2 says:

    Thanks Silkworm and glad you did not resist.
    That one is a crack up and very clever. Obviously from a dirt unit with a good sense of humour.

  41. Su says:

    “It’s fucking group hug time, then?”

    Heh. In my head that line was voiced by Lawndale High’s Mr DeMartino.

    Thanks LP’ers; my party political literacy is way better than it was. Best informed I have ever been prior to an election.

  42. Ambigulous says:

    Gaz @ 17.

    Apologies signal unclear. Please pass on to Capt. Rudd the clarification:

    *Stand firm and steady, men.*

    In these penultimate days, after weeks of strenuous battle, spirits are sadly flagging, all passion spent, tumult & shouting dying away: FIRM & STEADY is the best we on HMV Menzies can hope for.

    Firm and erect too much to hope for.
    Firm and elect we would gladly accept.
    But don’t mention the Elect Vessel.

    During naval parties, Lt Downer is prone to prance around, calling out “is that an election in your pocket, or are you just awfully chuffed to see me?” We must dolefully admit, that on HMV Menzies as of this inst, NO-ONE has an election in their pocket.

    Some sombre Holst is in order, Ship’s Band.

    Adieu, M Gaz

  43. suzeoz says:

    Rudd is live at the National Press Club now.
    http://media.smh.com.au/?rid=33391

  44. […] on about the need to discuss politics as it actually affects people rather than as a horse race for some time now. Pavlov’s Cat has written an excellent post riffing off this idea, which for my money, is one […]

  45. Jack Strocchi says:

    Mark Bahsnisch says:

    It’s at least a bit of a pity too that blogs which specialise in more qualitative political, cultural and economic analysis and policy like this one, PollieGraph, Club Troppo, and John Quiggin – to name but a few – haven’t really broken out of the blogospheric space in a big way.

    Pr Knopfelmacher used to say that “modern social theory was not science, it was journalism, and bad journalism at that”. That is the problem with qualitative blogging. There is an ocean of it out there, anyone can do it and you cant even use it to wrap fish in.

    Any analyst worth his salt needs to combine both qualitiative theory and quantitative fact to try to make sense of this crazy world. Blogs like Larvatus Prodeo and Pollie Graph would add more intellectual value if they controlled their ideological speculations with more empirical quantifications.

    Quiggin is not a good example of a qualitative blogger. He is a mathematical economist by profession. His blogging has a heavy emphasis on rigorous quantiative analysis, being grounded in econometric modelling and “econological” theory. He is not exactly obscure, having a regular gig for the Financial Review and being one of the first points of call for any journalist seeking a run-down on Ozblogistan.

    Science, contrary to mark bahnisch’s post-modernist reservations, is about explaining and predicting the relations between variables, accross both space and time. No doubt “prediction is very difficult, especially about the future”. But it can be done, with a tolerable degree of accuracy. You just have to work hard and think smart.

    Winning, whether in financial or athletic contests, is about getting there first. If it were easy then any old “qualitative blogger” or pontificating pundit would be gathering up the glittering prizes. But the prizes go to the quant guus. Just ask Milton Friedman or John Maynard Keynes. THey became world famous social scientists because their mathematical models correctly predicted the signs and rough magnitudes of intertemporal variations in very important variables (unemployment and inflation).

    The psephitariat have the balls and brains to put their psephological models to the predictive acid test. Consequently they are getting kudos for making correct calls before the punditariat. They derived empirically testable predictions from their psephological theories and these predictions are on the mark.

    NB Although I am not a qualified pseph blogger I believe I was the first blogger to call the election for the ALP, way back in June 2006 when Beazley was leader and the polls were neck-and-neck. I did this on the basis of standard psephological theory: the cyclical tendency of the electoral pendulum to periodically procede for and recede against the government of the day.

    But this theory does not explain the magnitude of the landslide swing to the ALP.To do this one needs to drill down into the data to see what is moving the population at the time. Policy differences b/w the parties are, as I predicted in 2004, trivial. So it must be the polity that has changed.

    The cyclical change in party fortunes are being amplified by a structural change in polity preferences. This is roughly the difference between a variation in values causing movement along a function and a change in parameters causing a shift of the function. THus not only is the pendulum swinging but the whole clock is being moved (to use Phillip Adams brilliant metaphor.)

    I believe that Andrew Norton’s cohort theory of “baby boom” partisan alignment explains the magnitude of the ALP’s victory. Who incidentally produces a very good combination of qualitative theoretical and quantitative empirical work.

  46. Barbara B says:

    Jason Koutsoukis, like Margo Kingston was, is one of the few in the gallery who wears his partisanship on his sleeve. Nothing wrong with that, but I suggest this is the emotional source of his complaints that unlike himself, the rest of the Gallery is not predicting (and rejoicing in) a Labor landslide.

    By and large the members of the gallery are fence-sitters and you only get serious policy analysis from the likes of Paul Kelly. It’s Jason’s passion that makes him interesting, particularly on television.

    Incidentally in all the psephologists analyses I have been curious that none have considered the possibility that a “referendum effect” might have been taking place in all the polls which might be corrected on polling day?

    I would have thought this would be an obvious consideration since if the Coalition loses in a landslide today it will be historic and unprecedented in Australian political history?

  47. Andrew E says:

    Jason Koutsoukis has wasted his life sucking up to Costello and is now marooned. He is the prime example of the clueless, groupthink-buggered press gallery journalist. No Jason Koutsoukis column gives you any insight other than how clueless the columnist is. Did Jase get the inside skinny on Costello standing down? Not much value in insider status, then.

    There should be a mass abandonment of the press gallery. Except for Annabel Crabb and half a dozen other gossip queens, or otherwise unemployable crusties like Michelle Grattan, all media organisations currently accredited to the press gallery should cut their press gallery staff by 80-100%. A debate over education, for example, involves a lot more than whether Gillard is overworked. A debate over defence involves more than Nelson defending his record. It requires specialist reporters who can explain niche and esoteric debates to a wider audience.

    In the post by Koutsoukis you can see a man who looked in the mirror, flinched, and desperately caries on as though nothing has happened. Till silent voices wake him, and he drowns.

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