Monday, 22 March 2010

Herbert – could this be the ultimate game plan?

Over the weekend I started wondering again about the ALP’s federal intervention into the preselection for Herbert .

Could it be that this pick has been made in the expectation that the ALP will lose the seat – that the preselection is a give-aways to appease the factions or to settle old debts in the expectation that it in fact won’t be won?

Unless Abbott totally implodes (a distinct possibility but maybe not a probability), history tells the campaign strategists that, in all likelihood, Labor will lose rather than gain seats at the next federal election.

Understandably, parties concentrate their campaign resources in marginal seats and, if the expectation is that seats will be lost, they are concentrated in those seats you marginally hold and not those marginally held by your opposition.

For the record, Anthony Green estimates that the currently Liberal (or is that LNP) held seat of Herbert is marginally Labor (by 0.4%) following the last redistribution.  Green also estimates that on the new boundaries, the ALP has to protect 14 seats which they currently hold by a margin of 3% or less.

With the demographics of Herbert changing since the 2007 election and arguably trending to the right over the last decade or more (witness for example the increase in defence force families in the electorate), the seat could be difficult for Labor to win if, as realistically expected, the national swing against them is on come election time.

If I’m right, the ALP’s campaign resources won’t be wasted on seats such as Herbert (they will seek to, for example, protect Maxine McKew in Howard's old seat of Bennelong before taking a punt on Herbert), Mooney will lose, and his last shot in the locker will have been spent (and all party debts to him will have been paid).

Worth thinking about? What do you reckon?

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