As we head into the home straight, an analysis of the views of the responses of 700 respondents to the Morgan Reactor indicates that we can see why the bookies have already paid out in favour of a change in government next weekend.
The ALP fightback may help retain some but not enough of the marginal seats, but the NOTs (neither of them) and the DBMs (don’t bother me) have decided it’s time – again.
For those that actually stayed with the whole of the third debate, it is instructive to follow the worm as Ian (the small business truck owner) provides the clearest profile of the large swing to the LNP win. Ian suggested that the only thing that Labor is good at is spending other people’s money, getting a response from Rudd in favour of small business.
The average audience response moved towards support for the government, with the emphasis on protecting the economy and Abbott indicating that there would be cuts to instant asset right-offs. However, respondents who later indicated that they were still undecided or scored the debate as a draw became more positive to the honesty and openness of Abbott.
Ian followed up “to be fair”, putting it to the Opposition Leader:
I give the commonsense test to policies. Your policy of paid parental leave is a great policy, but I just think that the forklift driver in Mt Druitt shouldn’t be paying his taxes so a pretty little lady lawyer on the North Shore earning 180 grand a year can have a kid.”
As Abbott gave his answer that big business will be paying the costs and arguing for the differences between the alternative PPL schemes, the polarisation of ALP and LNP responses became stark, and the overall average headed strictly for the middle line.
However, those who later indicated the debate was “a draw”, and the small percentage that remained “undecided”, accepted Abbott’s reasoned argument in favour of his scheme, and Ian commented, “It was a good scheme.”
While the election started with an assumed 50:50 allocation of two-party results, the pattern in the debates suggests that the “undecideds”, “independents and others” and “not sures” have moved against Labor.
Abbott has successfully neutralised the education, health and parental leave issues and convinced the swingers that time is up for Rudd.
Only those who consistently indicated support for the Greens tended to stay with Rudd throughout the debates, and their preferences will not be enough to counter the preferences allocations of Palmer United Party and other right of centre minority allocations across the nation.
For most of the third debate those that were not rusted onto the major parties followed Abbott and accepted his clear presentation of a case for change and reacted badly to the negative tone of Rudd’s case on costings, cuts and implied huge black holes, etc.
As Peter Beattie commented after Rudd’s return to the labour themes of jobs, apprentices and small business, these should have been the centrepiece of the pre-launch debates rather than the focus on cuts and costings that followed focus group research of the rusted on party faithful and those that remained to be convinced.
Dr Colin Benjamin OAM is the chairman of Cultural Infusion Ltd and director general of the Life: ‘Be in it’ Australia charity.