The polls have been bad all year for the coalition so there’s no doubt that they went into this campaign already a little worried about their prospects, but the campaign has really been a string of bad decisions and embarrassing behaviour.
We may never know what possessed Tony Abbott to sledge a wheelchair bound asbestos victim, not plan properly to attend a televised debate and swear on camera, but we do know that it isn’t going to help him look like a winner.
John Howard’s insistence that he is a man of the future was undermined by his commitment to plan for 1916 and his televised twitch looked like someone playing Igor in a third rate Frankenstein movie. This morning, while in Melbourne, Howard abandoned his regular walk along the Yarra and strolled around Flemington to avoid being ambushed by FM radio DJs, satirical protesters and the Chaser. Going to Flemington was a bold move for John, as with his current luck he’ll probably bring equine influenza to the place. Hiding away from the populace however, does not make you look like a winner.
Peter Costello competently handled his debate with Wayne Swann, but he didn’t manage to land any knockout punches. By all accounts it was a close decision on points as Swann was fairly competent too. Not convincingly beating your opponent when you have eleven years experience on your side does not make you look like a winner.
Mark Vaile had managed to keep pretty well out of the limelight, until he decided to once more beat the drum for climate change denialists. Hanging shit on an issue that voters have almost universally embraced does not make you look like a winner.
The cabinet leak surrounding Malcolm Turnbull’s Kyoto position is intriguing as it’s not clear weather the leaker was Malcolm trying to save his seat, or a leadership contender in the Liberal Party trying to undermine Turnbull by making him appear disloyal. Either way, last minute policy backflips do not make you look like a winner.
Combine all of these things with a year of opinion polls where the incumbent government has not once been in an election winning position and you begin to get a self fulfilling prophesy. Perception is reality and at this point the perception in the broader electorate is that the government are looking like a pack of losers. No-one likes hanging out with losers, no-one likes backing a loser, so at this point it is almost irrelevant what the ALP do because the focus is on the Coalition and their smell of death.