Monday, 12 August 2013

Australian Federal Election 2013: Battle of the Worms

The first televised and transcribed Leaders Debate of the Australian 2013 election campaign occurred on Sunday night 11 August 2013 and by Monday morning there was barely a ripple to be seen on the electoral pond.

Both leader's had said it all before in one guise or another and the only novel aspect was the wide disparity between the behaviour of the 'worms' responding to different studio/viewer audiences.

On 11 August ABC News reported:
Australians sent more than 75,000 tweets during Sunday night's leaders' debate between Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott.
The social networking service tracked 31 debate-related keywords and found the hottest topics in debate-related tweets were: energy and climate; the economy; and immigration….
The ABC conducted an experimental Twitter tug-o-war during the leaders' debate, asking people to vote for who they thought was winning using the hashtags #DebateRudd and #DebateAbbott.
More than 500 responses were received; half an hour after the debate ended 72 per cent of respondents said Mr Rudd had won, compared to 28 per cent for Mr Abbott.

That same night Channel 9 News reported:

Tony Abbott and Kevin Rudd have faced off in the first leaders' debate of the 2013 election campaign with the prime minister declared the winner, according to Nine Network's 'Worm'. Prime Minister Rudd claimed a significant victory over Opposition Leader Mr Abbott, scoring 59 percent of votes from the live studio audience….

Channel 10 journalist Sandra Sully's live tweets appear to support these assessments:

CLIMATE CHANGE - RUDD SPEAKING 60% #BelieveRudd 40% #BelieveAbbott

AGED CARE - RUDD SPEAKING 58% #BelieveRudd 42% #BelieveAbbott

NBN - ABBOTT SPEAKING 56% #BelieveRudd 44% #BelieveAbbott

TAXES - ABBOTT SPEAKING 54% #BelieveRudd 46% #BelieveAbbott

ASYLUM SEEKERS 54% #BelieveRudd 46% #BelieveAbbott

The next morning 12 August The Sydney Morning Herald explained what many had puzzled over the night before – the behaviour of the Channel 7 worm:

Seven opened its audience meter to all comers, and was taken over by partisans.
Liberal partisans outnumbered Labor two to one. It didn't matter what the subject was, it didn't matter what was said, their response was always the same. When Abbott spoke, Seven's audience loved it by a 2-1 margin. Whatever Rudd said, they opposed it similarly. No swinging voters there…..

The Roy Morgan Research Reactor worm appears to have crashed on the night – perhaps in part because the Liberal Party's Federal Director Brian Loughnane reportedly sent out emails to the party faithful asking them to download and use the mobile app.

The last word must go to a tweeter from Perth WA:

If I had to choose, I'd pick Rudd, but I'm going to be spending Sept 7th praying for a giant asteroid to crush us all #debate #lizardwars

Cartoon from 123RF

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