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Election 2016: the realists, the rationalists and the romantics

We don’t know for certain why people vote the way they do. But, as Paul Rodan writes in Inside Story (4.5.16), three theories give us glimpses.

‘With the election set for 2 July, tightening opinion polls have been good news for the media and the political commentariat. As in sporting contests, the prospect of a close race means more readers and viewers. Even a widening of the gap can be written off as being within the statistical margin of error (a misleading argument dealt with recently by Peter Brent).

‘As the campaign progresses, breathless references to “party polling” and polls in individual seats will suggest that things are perhaps not as they seem in the published polls. But individual seat polling has a mixed record of accuracy, and it’s hard to know why journalists allow themselves to be used by apparatchiks peddling self-serving “party polling.”

‘Malcolm Turnbull is unlikely to imagine himself running a close race, but that prospect has at least eliminated any complacency among Coalition MPs and officials. Turnbull still leads a first-term federal government – a species, as history tells us, that has been re-elected at every relevant election since 1931. While it is equally true that these elections see a swing away from the government, it is not unknown for the government to make up ground during the campaign itself. In a campaign as long as the one that awaits us, it is possible that the movements will be greater than usual.’

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