JWS Research founder John Scales explains in today’s Australian Financial Review by looking at recent polls and historical examples that if the race is close going into the last week of an election campaign, anything can happen.
With a majority of voters casting their ballots in a booth on election day – about six in 10 – election day stunts can have a very real impact on who gets to govern.
Voters may be dissatisfied and disengaged, but this is not to say they are not paying attention to what is going on in the election. Any researcher conducting focus groups throughout the course of a typical four-to-five week campaign will likely confirm the key issues and themes are resonating, but it’s most interesting to find out what, if anything, changes perceptions.
Voters absorb the debate, passively taking on board information and forming conclusions about the key candidates and parties based on narratives that feel true and reinforce underlying prejudices. But this passive absorption leaves room for something to happen in the last week that either confirms underlying suspicions, or that shocks those deeply held feelings by disappointing expectations.
The results of previous elections would have looked very different, had there not been such upsets in the last stretch of the campaign.
As long as the race remains close heading into the last week of the campaign, anything can happen.