Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A State of Play

In light of the weeping and gnashing of teeth we've seen in the last 36 hours, I thought it would be interesting to glance at the NSW figures in this week's Nielsen poll.

This is the relevant part of the tables (as ever, leaked by @ghostwhovotes):
The Full Table can be seen here
This is to be compared with the results from December last year:
Full Table here
Now, there are countless problems with assuming anything as a result of a swing between one poll and another. The weaknesses in the entire polling model are well documented and a discussion for another time.

Suffice to say that the sample size for this entire poll was 1400. Focussing on NSW, and assuming that they selected respondents in proportion to the relative population of that state, this means that the NSW numbers are drawn from a sample of approximately 400 people. The SA/NT numbers are probably half that.

What I did want to think about briefly, however, are the NSW numbers, to the extent that we can be pretty sure they are just generally awful. Is there anything that NSW Labor can do to help? Moreover, would they be interested in doing so?

It has been my observation over the years that state leaders often appear ill-at-ease when purporting to support their Federal counter-parts. Either the State party is strong and therefore disinclined to support a weaker Federal campaign, or the Federal party is strong and disinclined to accept a weak state party's endorsement.

This translates to a lot of awkward photo-shoots as "worlds collide", where no one is really sure how to act and journalists unclear on how to frame the event.

My point, of course, it that Federal Labor probably doesn't really want John Robertson's help. He has no particular popularity (or even, let's be honest, profile) to draw on. His alternative government is monumentally unpopular. His presence, especially in light of the constant reminder's in the media of Labor's corruption, would almost surely do more harm than good.

As for Barry O'Farrell, what on earth does he have to gain? More importantly, he runs a major risk in being photographed with (on a personal level) the incredibly unpopular Tony Abbott. I think we can expect him to stick to voicing his support on twitter, and not a great deal more.

It's plain wrong to say that the election will be won or lost in western Sydney, except to the extent that any seats lost there will of course need to be made up somewhere else. Of course, that applies to every single seat that Labor holds, so I'm not sure it shows any great insight.

It's a pretty formidable challenge for Labor. I just hope that Gillard is not expecting any help from John Robertson, because I'm not sure he will be able to provide it.

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