It’s the timeless sales pitch for joining a political party: A megaphone and bad hair will only get you so far, the real way to effect political change is from ‘inside the tent’.
But when it comes to politics, we’re not happy campers. Membership of mainstream political parties is on the slide, with Labor’s shrinking and disaffected base a key area of debate during the weekend’s National Conference.
Essential polling this week shows meeting the Prime Minister’s target of 8,000 new members this year will be a serious challenge for the party. In fact, to achieve the target will mean improving the current performance by a factor of about 8,000.
This week we asked about membership of all sorts of social, community, recreational and political organisations and of all these categories, it is the political parties that are suffering the most.
The compelling narrative emerging from the Canberra Press Gallery is that Labor is dead, Gillard is a dud leader and the whole show should put itself out of its misery and hand power to the Coalition.
It’s a message reinforced with the release of each major opinion poll; take this week ‘Budget falls flat’, ‘Gillard on the nose’, ‘More troubles with boatpeople’.
The problem is that polls and analysis are completely different beasts and if you judge the national debate purely on the numbers, there is a very different story – a government weighed down by a major reform, stabilising in key areas.
1. Preferred Party
The Coalition has an election-winning lead, but it is two years out from the election. The polling numbers have been stable since the announcement of the carbon tax – proof that Labor requires a long game if it is to win the next election.
This week’s Essential Report actually picks up a minor bounce to Labor, exaggerated by some rounding issues, but like the other polls, Labor is behind but not miles behind.
|2PP||Election 21.8.10||4 weeks ago||2 weeks ago||Last week||This week|
Pollsters are regularly accused of treating politics like a sporting contest, so given there is no fresh data over Easter it’s time to indulge our inner footy fantasy.
Easter is bit like quarter time in a big game, the key contests are developing, both sides are giving us glimpses of their respective strengths and weaknesses while individual performances are coming under the microscope.
And if you look at the Two-Party Preferred scoreboard Tony Rabbit’s Blues are well ahead of Real Julia’s Reds after a scrappy start to a quarter that was ultimately dominated by one critical play.
The Scoreboard (2PP)
New South Wales political history was being written on Saturday night. Now it is being rewritten with key Labor figures refusing to accept that the scale of the debacle came down to their own blind pursuit of power.
Former NSW premier Morris Iemma, along with his renegade treasurer Michael Costa have taken to the media claiming it was the party’s failure to allow the privatisation of electricity (read, influence of the unions) that was at the root of Labor’s demise.
A more sober analysis of the poll data suggests the opposite may be true, the reason Labor got hammered was that 39 per cent of people who identify themselves as Labor voters could not bring themselves to vote for this government. And for many of these voters, the power sell-off was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
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