I’ve been a bit hesitant to write anything over the fiasco of this week – when Kevin Andrews calls for a spill to run for the leadership and over 40% of the party room supports him, the time for any sort of rational analysis has long since bolted.
The other problem here is that good info is hard to identify because most of the political sources that are speaking are doing so to bolster their own side of the split – usually contradicting other leaking politicians.
Consider the info being spruiked so far: Abbott has the numbers, no Hockey has the numbers, no Turnbull has the numbers, no Hockey has the numbers if Abbot stands aside and gets the Treasury, no there’s not a majority willing to call for a spill because a critical number of people don’t trust who would actually end up running in any head to head contest etc etc.
What we do know however is that Turnbull is right when he says that a Coalition diving head first down the climate denialist shute would get their arses kicked six ways to Sunday in any election. The Newspoll analysis in The Oz today says as much and is completely consistent with what we’ve seen come out of Morgan and Essential Report over the last 6 months or so.
What is an interesting piece of food for thought is that the seats likely to be lost by the Coalition in any swing against them are more likely to be held by broad moderates than broad conservatives. If we nominally label each Coalition member as either moderate or conservative and look at what happens to the ratio of conservatives to moderates in the Coalition party room as the swing against the Opposition increases, this is what we get:
As the number of seats the Coalition would lose at an election increases (based on the standard pendulum), the proportion of the remaining party room considered conservative increases.
It’s mostly moderates that hold fair dinkum contestable swing seats – because median voter theorem pretty much dominates the demographics of those types of seats.
The problem with the hard conservatives taking over the party and losing an election as a result of their hard conservative views (such as climate change denialism) is that the members left after a defeat are themselves most likely to be hard conservative – making it difficult for a Party to escape from their ideological rut and to bridge the gap between the views of their base and the views of the wider electorate.
It’s the political equivalent of disappearing up ones own fundament.
We’ve seen this in action over the last week. The “flood” of correspondence flowing in to the offices of Coalition Senators and Reps members demanding that they not pass the ETS didn’t come from normal people. It came from their ideological base – a euphemism for folks whose views on any given issue are usually two standard deviations removed from the national mean.
Labor experienced a similar thing over the Tampa legislation in 2001 – being inundated with correspondence from true believers that simply wasn’t shared by a majority of the electorate.
Anyway – the whole thing is just getting bizarre and we won’t really know how it’s playing out in the public until early next week when the polling rolls in.
In the meantime, since rationality seems to have completely flown the coop in the Liberal Party – what is the most bizarre possible outcome you can imagine occurring next week?
Considering what’s already happened, it’s probably a fair bet.
Elsewhere (deep breath): The Stump, Pollbludger (comments), Larvatus Prodeo, Christopher Joye, Piping Shrike, Andrew Elder, John Quiggin, Jack the Insider, Political Sword, The Tally Room, Grog’s Gamut