Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Howard Goverrnment, the polls and puzzled commentators

Australian public opinion polls continue to show the Australian Labor Party with a strong lead.

This has puzzled many commentators who struggle to see why a still disciplined and well run Government presiding over a strong economy creating a surging budget surplus that allows the Government to provide lots of electoral goodies should be in so much strife. I don't think that there is all that much mystery too it.

Governments make decisions. A large proportion upset someone. People forget or adjust, but over time there is a build up of those willing to vote for a credible alternative. Then there is another, more subtle, force at play.

Governments generally come into office with a pretty fair understanding of community attitudes and expectations across the country. This is hard to maintain once in office because day to day pressures, the desire to complete previous actions, commitment to already held positions, lock in to particular interest groups, all reduce a Government's capacity to identify and respond to changing needs and perceptions.

In time, unseen gaps open up between Government attitudes and rhetoric and community opinion across a range of issues. Suddenly these gaps, as appears to have happened now, become yawning fissures in the face of a credible opposition.

2 comments:

Adrian said...

Jim, do you think the poll figures will change much come election day (taking into consideration undecided votes and all)? And what do you see happening in the Senate? I think my ability to predict an outcome is very much entangled with my hopes on this one...

Jim Belshaw said...

Blowed if I know, Adrian. My best guess at the moment is a Labor win in the Reps by a reasonable margin. Senate is much harder since you have to go state by state looking at the details.