I formally kicked off the election CABPOLL three weeks ago. Prior to that I’d been doing casual reports on passenger's views. However, once the media became interested I was inspired to have a serious go.
It was never my intention to garnish pure voting numbers, looking for an empirical result per se, but rather to gauge what issues were exercising the minds of passengers. In order of priority, they were concerned over,
- Mark Latham’s relative youth, temperament and inexperience
- economic management, in particular interest rates
- fixing a dysfunctional health system
- security, plus foreign policy regarding the UN and US, though not Iraq
- the provision of decent education opportunities
On this basis one could be forgiven for thinking the election is a referendum on Mark Latham...
In pure statistical terms I conducted 11 CABPOLLs reporting on some 60 considered opinions. These were passengers who had definite views, one way or another, worth noting. Of these, 21 supported the Coalition, 23 supported mainly Labor (including a handful of Greens), and of the remaining 16 their vote could not be determined. This would indicate(crudely) 26% of reported passengers were undecided, as of Wednesday evening.
Issues discussed usually reflected the current press reports on the given day, as pollies made pitches and policies were released. A couple of big shifts occurred throughout the campaign, and had a direct effect on not only passengers outlook, but also the bookies market.
Right at the start, the Jakarta bombing seemed to have a paralysing effect on Labor supporters. Their despair prevailed for weeks, leading to my assessment for the SBS televised debate,
There is a begrudging concession Howard will win...
I used the word ‘paralysing’ to denote a general flight of reason and willingness from this block to think beyond rhetoric. This necessitated my applying a quasi-filtering process on all those who couldn't offer rational and considered opinions. I explained this phenomenon in Not a CABPOLL and make no apologies for the filtering.
Furthermore, this lack of reason was a constant throughout CABPOLL. If I make one decent observation from the survey, it is this - the worrying amount of passengers who just don’t think deeply enough on their political positions. Yet are only too willing to damn the status quo, based on either personalities or facile views, without offering concrete justification or constructive alternatives.
Conversely, a related constant was the ability of status quo supporters, to offer lucid, erudite and reasonable substantiations of their views. To wit, Government supporters were generally calm, considered and logical, whilst non Government supporters were too often driven by a passion ranging from loyalty to blind rage.
A second major shift eliminated this negative mood and swung the pendulum back towards Labor. Namely Labor's official launch, early last week, when Latham released Medicare Gold. Overnight their fortunes lifted not only amongst the media cheer squad but also at Centerbet. The following day I was interviewed by Joshua Gliddon from the Bulletin magazine for an election special. My response, published on Wednesday, has me forecasting,
Even (result), trending towards Labor. Anyone under 30 doesn’t remember high interest rates, and I think that Latham will recapture a lot of disaffected Labor voters that went to the Greens last time. I think that the Greens will drop. Latham has really piqued the interest of a lot of voters. Early in the campaign even people who were grudgingly saying Howard would win, now they’re thinking that Latham has a chance’.
In an edited version of the phone interview, I’m saying here that last week there was renewed hope and momentum for Labor. However this week, after the excitement and cold assessments of Medicare Gold, I can report the fervour for Labor has diminished somewhat. Now, only hardened loyalists are confidently predicting a Labor victory. This then leaves the only conclusion, to be drawn from my passengers - a Howard win by a spiders dick.
And my own personal prediction ? Allow me to dog it, instead repeating what I told New Zealand TV’s Paul Holmes show, aired either last night or Wednesday,
“There will be a lot of inner-city, Sydney residents next week bemoaning, ‘I don’t know anyone who voted for Howard !?’.”