Thursday, 7 July 2016

Why did the Canberra press gallery get the election so wrong?

It's a question the media are now asking themselves. It appears they simply were too busy talking to each other than the voters. 

They ended up convincing themselves that despite the tight polls that hadn't moved in eight weeks, and a lackadaisical campaign by Team Turnbull, that the Lieberals were heading for an easy victory. 

Journalists started talking about sensing things, and getting vibes. The polls didn't move but apparently there were turning points in the campaign. In the end their commentary was just a fiction of their own imaginations.

Perhaps they should have asked themselves how willing voters were to swallow a turd?
During the campaign, several events became seen as "turning points" for the Coalition despite the polls never really budging. Labor's admission it would increase the budget deficit over the next four years was one. So was the UK's departure from the European Union. ​

The Australian Financial Review's Laura Tingle spoke for many in the gallery in mid-June when she wrote that "the sense that Labor is a serious challenger has faded". 

And The Australian's Dennis Shanahan on the day before election day: "Malcolm Turnbull is coming home with the wind in his sails, Bill Shorten is running out of puff. 

The Daily Telegraph, already foreshadowing a challenge to Shorten's leadership, reported on Friday that Malcolm Turnbull was on the "brink of victory". Fairfax Media highlighted a 50-50 poll result but with an unusually strong emphasis on voter expectations that Turnbull would win. 

Leading commentators on Sky News predicted between 80 to 85 seats for the Coalition, with Peter van Onselen saying he would quit in the event of a hung parliament. 

Many had picked up a "vibe" in the community that voters were disappointed in Turnbull, but not sufficiently angry to remove him. There was also the confidence exuded by Turnbull and his advisers. 

Many of us even convinced ourselves that the low-energy, small-target campaign was a clever way of "boring" voters into backing the Coalition. 

"You got the impression they were confident and confident for a reason," former Media Watch host Jonathan Holmes says of the coverage. "There was very little scepticism of what was behind that". 
But if the media were wrong they were hardly alone. Two days before election day the bookmakers - often hailed as more accurate than pollsters - had Labor at $8 and the Coalition narrowing to a near guarantee of $1.08. Canberra Times