The 2007 federal election wasn’t the rout I feared , and so we are (probably…) not in the situation in which an unelectable opposition rather than good performance keeps the government in power. But a poll in today’s Sydney Sun-Herald shows the unfortunate long-term consequences of such defeats, in this case the 1999 NSW state election.
According to the story accompanying the poll:
Three-quarters of voters think the health system is poor or just fair, and almost two-thirds have no confidence that the Iemma Government can make improvements….
Only one-in-five gave the Government a tick, with 18 per cent saying its performance over the last year had been good, and 2 per cent saying it had been excellent. In contrast, 39 per cent said the Government’s performance was just fair and 38 per cent declared it poor.
But how will they vote?:
Labor has lost ground since its stunning win last March, but it would still have scraped in with a two-point margin – compared with four points a year ago – if an election were held yesterday.
The problem is that the Opposition has not succeeded in establishing itself as a credible alternative. It seems that only a quarter even know who the Opposition Leader (Barry O’Farrell) is. He’s certainly not invisible – I have seen him on TV many times despite being in Sydney only seven or eight times a year. But clearly he isn’t making a big impact. And apart from Shadow Health Minister Jillian Skinner (who used to be my local member when I lived in Sydney) I could not off the top of my head have named any Shadow Minister (here is the list).
Surely next election they will either win or do well enough to be a real danger to Labor. But the best case scenario is a more than ten year recovery period from a bad election loss, trapping NSW with a government that deserves to lose.