Friday, 26 March 2010

Australian federal election 2010: a garden trowel analysis of Teh Worms

Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott with the Channel 7 polygraph 'worm'

Apparently many Federal Coalition MPs and associated political hacks just can't believe that their favourite verbal street brawler might just turn out to be the one politician in 2010 that most of Australia secretly loves to hate.

To the last person the Coalition has forgotten the considerable negative baggage Tony Abbott has acquired over the years and haven't factored in the possibility of a quiet desire to 'pay back' this man for years of arrogant, sneering, judgmental and plain offensive statements made about various sections of Australian society.

Indeed, since 1994 Abbott's cast his net so wide that it would be hard to find an extended family with a single member he has not offended at one time or another.

Rather than face this possibility right now, Liberal Party director Brian Loughnane simply launched himself into the stratosphere obviously hoping to meet up with Major Tom:

Today Tony Abbott clearly established himself as an alternate Prime Minister. He showed the people of Australia he was up to the job. The Prime Minister just waffled.

Assorted Coalition sympathizers have decided that they are more than a little suspicious of those Channel 9 and Channel 7 Leaders' Debate audience response 'worms' - maybe it's all a bit of a conspiracy or even a really big one.

Journalist Adam Carroll writing in The Daily Examiner on Wednesday 24 March 2010 is also a trifle uneasy:

SO, what to make of yesterday's debate between Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and the man who wants his job, Tony Abbott?
If Channel Nine's worm is to be believed, the Prime Minister romped it in.
The worm, or the people controlling it at least, didn't appear to like what Mr Abbott had to say about health, the area for which he was responsible for a time in the Howard government.
The result - the worm had Mr Rudd winning 71-29 - should be viewed with a deal of scepticism. There's no way Mr Rudd won the debate by that margin, if indeed he won it at all.
Either the room was unintentionally stacked with rusted on Labor supporters, or the 'wormers' had preconceived views about Mr Abbott.
Whatever the reason, the worm plunged through the floor each time it was the Opposition Leader's turn to speak. Sometimes it headed south even before he opened his mouth.
The worm is an unnecessary distraction and should be retired for future debates.
It was disappointing Mr Rudd did not use the debate to reveal more detail about his proposed changes to the health system.
Perhaps he should have been pressed a tad harder on that front.
It was also evident the Coalition will need to undertake some serious policy work in areas like health if it is to land any blows on the Rudd Government.
Vague as he might have been about Labor's health plan, Mr Rudd at least appears to be speaking to people in a way the Coalition is not on this important topic. His message is clear: 'I'm willing to do something to improve the system'.
Mr Abbott is unlikely to make any significant policy announcements until much closer to the election. That's not unusual.
However, his tendency to try and score cheap political points fell flat each and every time yesterday, a sign people want to hear constructive debate about issues such as health, free of negativity. And in an election year, this can only be a good thing. Let's hope both sides of politics heed the message.

Go to Possum Comitiatus over at Pollytics for a discussion on the merits of the two methods used to track responses during this debate:

Channel Nine's worm used market research firm Ekas to source their actual participants. Ekas runs a large online panel from which self-identified undecided voters were selected to man the worm handsets – with each participant getting paid $50 to attend the shindig. The actual audience response technology however was provided by a different company, IML Australia.

Channel 7 on the other hand used Roy Morgan to not only source participants, but to provide the Roy Morgan Reactor technology to do the audience response tracking. The people selected by Morgan to participate were a cross-section of all voters (not just Undecideds that Channel Nine used) that approximately reflected the current state of voting intentions. These folks too were paid $50 to participate.

First Dog on the Moon from Crikey refuses to take the matter seriously and was at his rollicking best in this absurd cartoon last Wednesday:

1 comment:

Ken_L said...

'... or the 'wormers' had preconceived views about Mr Abbott.'

It would be remarkable if Australians didn't have preconceived views about someone who's been around since the Keating Government, especially when it's a bloke who's always gone out of his way to attract attention.

Do conservatives really expect us to airbrush the Howard years out of our memories and judge people like Abbott as if they are cleanskins with no track record? I'm not the slightest bit interested in anything Abbott says. He says whatever he believes will impress his audience. I formed my judgement of him years ago based on his insufferable self-righteousness as a minister and no amount of Canberra spin doctoring is going to alter it.