If, as some pundits say, elections are won and lost in the first and last weeks of the campaign should we be paying much attention to the "battle of midway" being waged this week and next?
The short answer is yes. COVID-19 has led to a surge in pre-poll and postal voting as electors keep shy of public polling places on election days. The dynamics of how, where and when many Australians vote has undergone a sea change.
This, combined with the large number of people still going for "undecided", has laid the groundwork for a very unpredictable next few weeks. It would be foolhardy to predict who will be living in the Lodge, and which party will be occupying the government benches, when Parliament resumes on June 7.
With candidates already wallpapering their electorates with postal vote applications and pre-poll voting due to start on May 9, the race is on to secure the support of the undecided cohort as quickly as possible.
It is unlikely, given the anticipated turnout of early and postal voters, either of the major parties will secure an election winning edge in the final days. Every week - indeed every day - counts.
That's why, after what was an admittedly underwhelming beginning to its campaign, it was so important for Labor to have made a good showing last week. If the LNP won the first week with a slam dunk on the back of an own goal by Anthony Albanese then it's fair to say that even with their leader struck down by the dread hand of COVID Labor fell across the line on points at the end of week two.
Some of the more jaded commentators have even suggested having Mr Albanese on the bench for seven days reduces the chances of him making further mistakes and also allows some of the party's other strong performers (and possible future leadership contenders if Labor does lose) to shine.
Jason Clare has acquitted himself well as have Jim Chalmers and Penny Wong. The latter has done a very good job of applying the blow torch to the Prime Minister, the Defence Minister, and the Foreign Minister over the deal between Beijing and Honiara.
While Richard Marles, who at one point appeared to be sending mixed messages on tax, the coal industry and China in the Pacific, hasn't fared quite so well he made a good recovery over the weekend.
Mr Albanese's slim victory in the first debate would have been a morale booster for himself and Labor.
That said, the ALP has not had it all its own way. Last week's scare campaigns on Medicare and workplace relations will likely be met with the scepticism they deserve and the attacks on Katherine Deves, while vocal, are not the ground on which this election will be won and lost.
Ms Deves's chances of besting Zali Steggall have always been Buckley's and none. Her selection by the PM is nothing more and nothing less than a dog whistle to what are euphemistically called "conservative elements" in the western suburbs and rural electorates who quietly agree with her unedifying position on the trans community.
Labor has also failed to put forward a convincing argument that it would have handled the Solomons-China deal any better than the government. Peter Dutton's comments that Beijing is playing by a different set of rules will resonate with many voters.
It will be interesting, given neither the LNP or the ALP want to go hard on climate change for fear of the impact this would have in marginal mining electorates, to see if the issue that is front and centre for most voters becomes more prominent this week and next.
Far from being a phony war the next 14 days - which will take us through to the start of pre-poll voting - are going to be vital.
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