After taking Kevin Rudd’s scalp and now having done a deal with the miners, Australia’s new prime minister, Julia Gillard, is widely expected to call an early poll. The question is, when will the election be held?
As usual, my first inclination is to dig into the historical data. Looking at all of the Federal elections since Federation, December is far and away the most popular month for a poll. Although the election does not even have to be held this year, December is sufficiently far into the future that it fails to qualify as an early election. Unless the bounce Gillard has experienced in opinion polls proves to be extraordinarily short-lived, we should be looking at a somewhat earlier date. Interestingly, both July and August have only seen one election. On the admittedly spurious grounds of historical precedent, September would be a better bet.
Australian Federal Elections by month
But what of other sources of information? At the time of writing, the shortest odds from SportingBet were on August 7. In my own rather modest poll, August is also proving the most tipped month (it’s not too late to vote in the poll…just make your selection in the form below). No-one has voted for a date in July and I am inclined to agree that that is really a bit soon. Nevertheless SportingBet is still showing odds (admittedly long ones) for 31st July.
In a bid for contrarian status, I will diverge from both the bookies and voters in my poll and will tip a September election. But which date? History is not much help there. Of the four September elections in the past, there has been one on the 1st, 3rd, 4th and 5th Saturday of the month (1914, 1934, 1940 and 1946 respectively). So, I will veer as close as possible to the people’s choice of August, while still tipping September and predict that the election will be on Saturday 4th September. In choosing that date, I have not been swayed by the fact that the fourth Saturday of the month has been the most popular historically, other than to nominate 28th August as my fall-back selection.
Since I will most likely be wrong and you probably disagree with me, make sure to vote!
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Sean – mate, let me be the first to point out an obvious fact, to which I am not at all surprised you are unaware, but September is the month of footy finals (Sept 25th is the AFL GF and Oct 3rd the NRL GF). No sane govt would call an election that late in the footy season hence the skew towards August or later in October. Don’t you know our national anthem – “One day in September, we want to remember…”. Perhaps a more interesting analysis is the length of time after the election is called until it is held. I believe (not sure) it must be at least 4 weeks hence ruling out July. What I do know is that if Gillard is playing full forward for the Dogs, as she said she would if made PM, they might just be in with a chance.
Mule, you have ignored the close of the football season and the football finals in picking a September date. The last AFL game is usually the last saturday in September (as used to be the NRL) and the last NRL game is the first saturday in October. This hints at an October election. Why not November? There is a Victorian election due for Nov. 27 or thereabouts. Going on the last Vic election they had a 4 week campaign and I doubt they want any federal crossover. This again hints at an October election. So my gamble is the 16th or 23rd of October.
If I were in Ms. Gillard’s shoes (hopefully, she doesn’t wear stilettos) I would call elections as soon as possible.
This way she could avoid too many losses and maybe even capitalize on her honey-moon period.
Zebra and Marco: when I comes to ignorance of sport, I plead guilty. It does explain why the last Saturday of September has longer odds on SportingBet than either earlier in the month or October. Do you think that the grand finals rule out 4th September? If it does, that perhaps means either August (although that feels a little soon) or October (which feels a little late, especially given both parties appear to be commencing electioneering mode).
Since posting this, there have been a few more votes in the poll, and the consensus for August is building.
Mule – there aren’t just grand finals but semi finals and quarter finals as well.
Can’t they get them all done in a few days?
No, they take a few weeks so we can see them all, not just one whilst the others play.