May 14, 2007 | Graham

Just how good is John Howard’s personal vote

Galaxy’s latest poll in Bennelong has John Howard losing to Maxine McKew. As the PM says – no big surprise there. If it said anything else you’d say the sample was bad, because it would be completely out of line with everything else the polls currently say about the state of the parties’ votes.
Except that the part of the sample dealing with the old Bennelong is out of line with everything else the polls currently say.
Bennelong has been redistributed. According to the Sun Herald “The polls show that while support for Mr Howard and Ms McKew is at similar levels among voters in Bennelong at the last election, Ms McKew enjoys a lead among new voters in the seat.” It’s unclear whether they mean voters in the new areas, or those who’ve moved in, but either way it suggests that Howard has a huge personal vote.
Newspoll on the 1st of May says there is a 10% swing against the government, but in the old Bennelong it would appear that there has virtually been none.
Sitting members generally enjoy some sort personal vote, but rumours are that many current sitting members enjoy personal votes of heroic proportions. These are not generally picked-up by newspaper opinion polls because they ask for generic party votes rather than ones specific to the seat the respondent lives in.
There is another interesting disconnect in these polling figures. The media generally assume that McKew is well-known. But according to Galaxy “Ms McKew has clearly created a very favourable impression, but most voters remain largely unfamiliar with her.
Only one in three claims to know a fair bit about her, a further 37 per cent recall she used to be on television, 14 per cent know the name only and 15 per cent knew nothing about her. ”
This gives Howard an opportunity which he will try to exploit. Most voters aren’t voting for McKew, they’re voting against Howard. If he can paint some of the detail in on her in a way favourable to him then he can pull it back. In fact, he doesn’t need to paint it in on her so much as Kevin Rudd.
Politics is a question of alternatives. At the moment Howard is being judged against a perfect standard, rather than against his actual opponent. Polls like the weekend’s will shake the electorate out of its reverie. Howard should be happy with Galaxy.

Posted by Graham at 2:19 pm | Comments (3) |
Filed under: Australian Politics


  1. Problem is what will happen if the polls stay bad for the Govt,what will Howard do,will he take the hint and dump the whole stinking mess onto the smirking Costello and resign.
    Or would he stick it out lose and resign after he loses and cause a by election.
    Be interesting to see

    Comment by John Ryan — May 16, 2007 @ 10:20 am

  2. You’re missing the point John. If the polls continue like this there won’t be a need for a byelection in Bennelong if the government loses. If the government loses, then Howard will most likely lose as well.

    Comment by Graham Young — May 16, 2007 @ 10:27 am

  3. A swing of 6% in Bennenlong would show just how much trouble the Govt is in, the swing wont be uniform and a seat like Bennenlong would swing by less than some others.
    After 30 years as local MP, while the seat has changed, that would give you a large personal vote.
    Eventhou I’m expecting an ALP victory over all, I’m not sure how Bennenlong will fall, but Howard starts favorite by virtue of him being PM and nature of seat

    Comment by bmwofoz — May 17, 2007 @ 8:33 pm

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