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Opinion Polls OR If I Raced Usain Bolt I’d Be Neck And Neck With Him!

Costello Media told us that the two major parties in the Victorian Election were neck and neck, according to the latest opinion poll and I can’t work out whether:

  1. they are trying to boost Matt Guy’s chances by suggesting he’s a real chance
  2. they are trying to ruin his chances by worrying Victorians that we could actually have him as Premier
  3. they are just trying to sell newspapers by suggesting that it’s actually a close race
  4. they are complete morons who have no idea how to interpret opinion polls

Now, let me start by saying that I have no idea what the final result of the Victorian Election will be. However, I do know that if I were racing against Usain Bolt and he beat me by 90 metres in the heats, then I’d be a lot closer if I were to make the final. In the final, I’d be very close to him when we got on the starting blocks and I’d still be close to him when the gun went off and I’d still be a lot closer to him than I was in the heat and I’d stay closer to him until he’d run about twenty metres by which time he’d be a long way in front but I’d be as close to him as I’m likely to get… Unless he fell over and didn’t get up, in which case I’d beat him.

My simple advice to sports writers, however, is that you should not be writing me up as being a lot closer than last time just because we’re a long way from the finish line.

I’m going to make my point about opinion polls for what should be the final time but unfortunately political commentators still insist on doing the following:

  • Treating an individual poll as though it’s 100% accurate even though most firms running a poll will tell you that it has a margin or error of about 3% making an single poll pretty much useless for picking the result given 3% either way will usually mean a different party wins.
  • Ignoring the individual electorates and treating a poll like it will be consistent throughout the whole state or country. We’ve had a number of federal elections where the polls that predicted a swing that would result in a change of government were pretty much right, but there was no change of government because it just didn’t happen in the handful of seats that they needed to win.
  • Overlooking that a large number of people will make up their minds at the last minute and so the weather may make people feel happy or like they want a change. In the end, this handful may swing the three seats or whatever that make all the difference.
  • Treating all polls equally and ignoring the fact that some polls have been more accurate than others owing to the fact that they use better methodologies.
  • Failing to ignore the fact that certain polls are commissioned by certain people with certain agendas. If, for example, I commission a poll, it should be no surprise that the results show that even though Usain Bolt has won decisively the sprint final, most people admire my refusal to give up even more than his running ability.
  • Concentrating on something that won’t actually matter when people vote such as who is the preferred leader. Sure, it might swing some people but there could still be a case where the incumbent is the preferred leader by a significant amount, yet his or her party is behind in the poll. If the people who committed themselves to party B in the poll even though they preferred leader A, what makes anyone presume leader A’s popularity will be a significant factor in the actual election…

Speaking of Jeff Kennett, he recently tweeted that he was sorry that he didn’t stand. I don’t know what he was thinking when he tweeted it but I hope he wasn’t intending to drive anywhere in that state of mind. I inferred from his tweet that he thought that his standing would have helped the Liberals which tends to suggest that he doesn’t think that they’ve run a very good campaign. I also inferred that Mr Kennett seems to have forgotten that his own electoral record as leader consists of Loss, Loss, Landslide Win (When Labor Were So Unpopular That Tim Smith could have led the Liberals to a win… remember he’d have only been nine years old at the time…), Win after previous landslide, finishing with a Wi...Oh, hang on, this was meant to be in the bag, what do you mean the Independents hold the balance of power, well, I’ll sort them out and let them know who’s boss and.. what do you mean they’ve made Steve Bracks the Premier… I’ll quit politics and then you’ll all be sorry. So it’s three losses and two wins.

While Kennett was never all that popular, Dan Andrews was quite successful at winning some hearts and minds with his handling of the pandemic, even if a significant minority were showing their love of freedom by urinating on the Shrine of Remembrance. Even if some of that has worn off, there have been some truly silly attempts by the media to make Dan Andrews seem unelectable. such as the exciting news in The Herald-Sun that a federal politician slammed Dan Andrews and said that he didn’t deserve to win. Surprisingly, the politician concerned was Peter Dutton. Imagine that! The leader of the federal Liberals not thinking that a Labor leader was doing a good job… Let’s not forget that the stairs Andrews fell on were only steps. The “so-called stairs” refused all requests for an interview.

Three days out from the election in Victoria, it’d be unwise to make too definitive a prediction but I’m very sure that even if the opinion poll that made the media so excited was replicated, Labor would have a comfortable win. Of course, as the cliche goes, there’s only one poll that counts but the newspapers need a front page apart from repeating the Liberals’ election promise without criticism and finding a headline to link Dan Andrews with Satan (did you notice that If the “N” in his name was a “T” his name is an anagram of “WED SATAN”… of course, you have to leave out a couple of letters but let’s not let the facts get in the way of a good front page story).


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  1. RomeoCcharlie29

    Love reading about the fantasists in Melbourne’s mainstream media making clowns of themselves. As Bernard Keane said in Crikey, yes Andrews can be criticised but ( my interpretation) some of the crap being written about him, apparently seriously, is unbelievable. I completely sympathise with Andrews over the broken back since I fell on one step three years ago — admittedly from 2.5 metres above — and crushed a vertebrae, lost a lot of the ‘processes’ on others and cracked a rib. I was in a brace and practically immobile for six weeks. It might be churlish but I would like to see some of the so-called journalists do something similar, it might give them some empathy. Incidentally I am 1cm shorter as a result of my mishap which involved being on a roof at the age of 74, stupid.

  2. pierre wilkinson

    oh well, I recall the media suggesting that the WA election would be a close call and look how that turned out

  3. margcal

    As someone spending too much time (but nowhere near as much as some) handing out pre-poll HTV flyers, I’m worried about the outcome. It’s certainly unpredictable where I am. But as pointed out, there are lots of districts, not just mine.
    However, I have got to the point where I’m hoping any candidate will win on enough preferences to keep Pesutto out.

    As comments…. only Lib voters are rude, there’s a huge number of politically ignorant voters across the parties board, the number of people who don’t care about or believe in climate change, sadly including young voters, saps hope somewhat, young voters with mum/dad and clearly voting the same way is uninspiring.

  4. 2353NM

    It’s a bit like the ‘red tidal wave’ in the recent USA election – that wasn’t. Trump’s people were going to ‘win big’ according to the media – until they didn’t.

    As a comparison, the last time Trump actually won was 2016, he lost the House in 2018, the Presidency in 2020 and the subsequent 2022 mid-terms.

    I wonder how the media will spin a Dan Andrews victory if it happens

  5. Terence Mills


    I can only assume that the Murdoch minions particularly those on SKY are up for a bonus if they can get the ALP out of office in Victoria on Saturday – otherwise why would they spend so much time, energy and venom day after day against Andrews ?

    Question is : is this coming directly from the old codger (coffin-dodger) in New York ? Is this his legacy ? if so it’s really quite sad.

  6. Harry Lime

    Kennett,the worst thing ever to happen to Victoria, is like an arse that can’t be wiped,and Murdoch is simply an embittered arsehole who knows the days of his rotten life are numbered.The world will be a better place when they are gone.There are many things that need to be dealt with,like yesterday,and media ownership laws should be near the top of the list,as the trash spewed daily from Murdoch’s lie sheets demonstrates.

  7. wam

    I can imagine the loonies insinuating (or lying) their arses off whilst door knocking melb and the floods..

  8. Harry Lime

    Brother Stuie…slippery as a butcher’s proverbial,and twice as ugly.Like his good mate Secret Scottie of multi ministry fame.How is it that these happy clapping hypocrites can be dishonest to a fault with a seemingly clear conscience?

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