Sunday, 29 July 2018

Super Saturday and politics for dummies

I am going to merge both these topics as they came together beautifully on the weekend.


  1. They were not by-elections. They were re-elections. By-elections occur because people resign from Parliament or they die. In all but one case all MPs were told they were ineligible to sit as MPs ( indirectly) because of the Court of disputed Returns absurdly literalist  interpretation of the constitution. see ME or John Quiggin.  
  2. This being the case it makes no sense at all to compare these results to 'normal' by-elections.
  3. Given the seat polling is total crap most of the commentary was as well.
  4. In all BUT one seat ( Braddon) the electors in all 'Disputed return' elections gave the Court of disputed Returns the two fingers.
This leads me on tow two distinct areas of politics rarely talked about.

Most parties talk absolute claptrap about their so-called internal polling. We have 4 public polls that regularly poll about  how the nations will vote. They are Newspoll, ReachTel, Ipsos and Essential.
Read Kevin Bonham on them and others.

A reasonable conclusion to come to is that if one organisation has a 55-45 result one way and the others are say at 52-48 the other way then the former is a rogue result. yet time after time we see journalists reporting such tripe without ever asking how many people were polled and what the margin of error was. moreover it is quite expensive to do such a poll and one would have to ask why.
( Those with good memories will remember ALP MPs rejecting Rudd because ALP internal polls were  clearly at odds with the published public polls and NO journo ever asked why this discrepancy). Why any party do it when the polls come out regularly.
 When the pollbludger told us last week of a liberal tracking pol it got to the ridiculous. A poll of 500 means a largish margin of error of 4%. Tracking pols means you are 'tracking so you are doing numerous. .You are simply wasting money. If the Journo did not know that Bowey surely did so why did he report this tripe???

I should have added we now see politicians, advisors, commentators all talking from a position of profound ignorance. an anecdote might come in handy here.
 A certain person was visiting Tim Stewart in John Howard's office when in Opposition. He asked what Howard and Barnett were doing in Howard's office. The door was open. They are going through the latest poll was the answer. But the incredulous visitor asked they know nothing about statistics and you studied quite a bit about the subject in your PhD. The answer must remain secret. 

Senior Government sources means either The Minister ( or PM  has talked to the Journo or their Chief of Staff and senior policy advisor has on their behalf. Malcolm Turnbull ( or Kevin Rudd to be bipartisan about it) has been a senior government source whereas with Abbott it was his chief of staff Credlin.
The beauty of this is the politician in question can talk off the record and never be identified by the Journo in question when they vociferously deny the allegation.  In this I am reminded of a retired female journo who was told something by Costello. When he demanded to know who was this anonymous leaker she had to remain mute. This is very bipartisan.