Spent today in the (Liberal) marginal seat of Paterson. Started off badly with the Newcastle Herald running a poll that had Labor taking the seat on the two party preferred vote 51% to 49%. If the Libs cannot hold Paterson then it's all over rover. Calmed down just a tad when told the Herald was a Labor supporting rag.
Drove to Bob Baldwin's election headquarters at Raymond Terrace. One thing that struck me on the way was the almost total absence of election hoardings from all Parties. I raised that early on in my interview with Bob's Chief of Staff to be told that their assessment is that Bob has such a high profile and recognition factor that money is best directed elsewhere. Can accept that but does it also mean that Labor is running a shoestring campaign? Not sure as their candidate is a Union organiser with the ability to tap into union resources. Perhaps the day of the billboard is coming to an end as in the six electorates I have travelled through you could count the billboards on your fingers. On the matter of campaign finance and I was interested to learn that there are no restrictions on expenditure. Provided you can raise it, you can spend it. Had to be so because the Bob Baldwin TV spots (lasting up to 1 minute) would not come cheap.
The Liberal Party does not place a huge store on membership and in Paterson members would number in the low hundreds. Nevertheless on election day they will have over 1,000 volunteers in the field. That is an impressive figure.
Their campaign strategy has inbuilt flexibility designed to counter the unexpected. While they have run a proactive campaign in recent days they have had to counter 'attack ads' by Labor directed against Bob Baldwin personally. I blogged on this earlier and their assessment is in line with what I expressed that those ads will backfire on Labor. Nevertheless, they could not be left unanswered and resources had to be directed to answer them. That was foreseen in their campaign planning.
So how will it pan out? My assessment is that they are relaxed (as ever they can be). That they have done what they needed to do. They are picking BB by 500 votes so it's very close and a seat to be watched. They think they will have a result by 10.30 pm (NZ time). Polls close at 6.00 pm local.
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