Having a read of Fairfax’s 2011 political predictions, and their self-grading of their 2010 predictions, two things jumped out.
The first is that Fairfax’s political staff have now wedded their reputations as political analysts to a National victory. The number 1 prediction is: “National will form a government after the November 26 election. (Note the dangerously specific date)”. So now the journos at one of our five leading political media outlets have a strong personal incentive to maintain the narrative that Key is a minor god and Goff is a sure-fire loser.
The poll gap is closing and will continue to close. There’s a natural story in that of the underdog, Phil Goff, rising to have a serious chance but will journos go there when it means overturning the narrative they decided on within weeks of the last election and have now set in stone?
It’s more likely that journos will (sub-consciously) slant their coverage to perpetuate their narrative and justify their earlier predictions. That means more blind praise of Key and dismissing of Labour. Sure enough, in today’s Dom Tracy Watkins has written yet another job application that praises Key’s handling of the Canterbury Earthquake. Ignored is the fact that on the Monday after the quake he was still planning to go to London to visit the Queen the next weekend until Captain Panic-pants finally talked him out of it.
The second is that they got their economic forecast for 2010 completely wrong – “The economic outlook and Budget deficit will keep improving, lowering the forecast debt mountain” – and don’t make one for 2011.
I don’t think you can ignore the impact of the economy on politics and expect to your predictions of the future to turn out right. Indeed, politics is mostly about the economy – how do we divide up the wealth we have, how do we make more wealth to share among us?
One thing to watch is the petrol price. Support for the governing party is strongly linked to the price of petrol – I’ve just been reading the draft of Marty’s next post, which will present some graphs on that link.
John Key and Bill English have already sleepwalked the country back into recession. With petrol prices trending up, support for the government of the day, National, is likely to continue to erode. Any set of political predictions that ignores the economy in general and petrol prices in particular is missing the real story.
One last note, this prediction – “Judith Collins will become defence minister after the retirement of Wayne Mapp. Without tanks she could be a useful addition to our arsenal.” – has got to be one of the prime examples of how National governs by myth, not action, and some in the media buy the myth. What has Judith Collins actually done? She promised to get tough on crime – crime is up. She promised to crush boy racers’ cars – not a single car has been crushed. She’s meant to be tough but she’s all talk.