I’ve reached a certain age where I’m having more and more trouble with elections.
If I do say so myself, I used to have such a strong grip on them.
Knew instinctively when they were like to come up and could predict the outcome just about every time. Oh, who am I trying to kid. Every time!
When a state election popped up in Victoria in 1999, I tried to boost the spirits of trade union mates in Melbourne by declaring that Steve Bracks would definitely come first. And he did…although he took a while.
I took a long hard look at the Queensland state election of 2015 and liked what I saw. An incredible urge come over me to declare that Annastacia Palaszczuk would milk the public’s trust and gain minority government, thus ending Campbell Newman’s reign after just one term despite enjoying a massive majority.
Palaszczuk turned a seven-seat rump into a 44-seat rumpy-pumping of Can’t Do and I was rather chuffed with that prediction.
What can I say? It is – or was – a natural skill and I had elections and their outcomes basically in the palms of both hands.
But then came along the last federal election in 2019 and I really cocked that one up. Ended up with what may have been egg all over my face when my prediction that Bill Shorten had the heads up on that one until right at the death Scott Morrison came over the top of him.
So my relationship with elections is now a nervous and tenuous one, on both state and federal levels. I’m no longer sure what’s coming – and when.
Take the federal scene. There’s been so much mainstream media chatter of recent months that the next federal poll is likely to be quite premature. Heard one TV news reporter talk about the “expected” election about this time next year.
Even the Saturday Paper (at top) was guilty last weekend of suggesting an early election was, not such a rumour, but a rock- hard fact of life.
Shattered as I now am as to my skillset at predicting the timing and outcome of elections, I can only fondly remember a time when I would have called immediate bullshit on an early federal poll, even despite the federal government’s post-Budget bounce in Newspoll.
There was a time that I could trust my ever-increasing gut that by this time next year, Morrison’s star will have well and truly waned.
And that when those 12 months have passed, the PM would not be calling a snap poll because he’d have no chance of getting it up. And I would have instinctively known that Australians would not be at all happy with a PM calling a poll six months early for any cockamaimie reason.
Yet I haven’t heard one political commentator knocking that grand plan on its head. No-one explaining to Morrison, using proper words of course, that we already have shitty, short three year-terms so just do your fucking job and go to the polls around May 2022 when it’s due.
Then there’s the current Queensland state election.
That election is firming up very quickly with all parties going at it hard, spraying their policies left, right and far righter.
Do I feel confident enough to turn things around and predict who’s going to have the most swelled head on that election night and who’s going to feel like a right-royal knob?
In fact, I did have a rush of blood a few weeks back and foolishly predicted a minority LNP government come October 31.
I did that partly because I’ve no longer got a reputation to protect as an election whisperer. That my time as arguably the nation’s most accurate amateur psephologist reached its climax a long time ago.
And partly because I was never really all that good, even when I was at the peak of my election powers, at holding things back and making the most of the moment.
I’ve clearly shot my bolt early with my latest prediction and maybe it will now be two elections in a row where I’ve got the outcome terribly wrong. Let’s hope so.