ANALYSIS: “You know how you win a campaign?”, US President Lyndon Baines Johnson once posed.
LBJ won his first primary by 77 votes and an appeal to overturn that decision lost by just one.
Johnson went on to become the most effective Senate leader last century and president at the most consequential time for the US and the world since World War II.
He did it all by not losing.
It’s a mentality that’s been adopted by both major parties in the long and drawn-out lead-up to the New South Wales election.
Ahead of the NSW election, who do you trust more to handle the cost-of-living crisis?
Labor leader Chris Minns has adopted the so-called small target mentality of the successful Labor federal campaign and Premier Dominic Perrottet has talked of long-term planning after a long time of Coalition government.
Policies have been prominent, but the politics risk-averse.
With prices, rents and tolls all soaring and the Liberal Party brand on the nose, it is easy to picture the Coalition government going the way of their South Australian counterparts.
‘If the Coalition manages to cling to power then a blueprint is born for their federal colleagues to follow’
And we are about to learn a lot about both major parties.
In the next eight days, voters in the seat of Aston and the state of NSW will cast ballots.
A loss in both elections will be crushing for an already vulnerable Liberal Party.
Peter Dutton’s leadership, despite the prime minister’s assertions, is not under threat.
But the hesitancy of Perrottet to be seen anywhere near his federal leader is evidence that the Liberal brand remains deeply unpopular and without an obvious fix.
As one Labor strategist put it this week: “Dom’s (Perrottet) done a remarkable job of distancing himself from himself and the party.”
If the Coalition manages to cling to power then a blueprint is born for their federal colleagues to follow.
Gladys Berejiklian and Perrottet have governed as moderate, pragmatic problem-solvers.
The current premier was much happier working with Victorian Labor treasurer Tim Pallas on tax reform and infrastructure than working with Scott Morrison on anything.
A Coalition victory on Saturday night would mean a repudiation of the teal brand that caused so much damage last May.
It would also mean deep soul-searching for NSW Labor.
Not since World War I has Labor spent so long out of power in Macquarie Street.
Barry O’Farrell, Mike Baird and Berejiklian all won elections without knowing electoral defeat.
The result on Saturday will clearly be consequential across the state, but also across the country.
Labor eyes potential wall-to-wall governments in the future and the Coalition a circuit-breaker to stop their slide.
Neither leader has lost this election.
Now it’s up to the voters.