It's a global economy, stupid!Howard won because the election was held during a period of prosperity and low interest rates. Most voters think this prosperity must be all the work of JWH and Mr Costello, and don't know/don't care that these jokers have just been lucky, presiding over this great land during a period of global [Western] good times.
And I thought that most voters either didn't know or simply didn't care about the degradation of our democracy under Howard's watch. However, with that Senate result, it looks like they did know and do care, and they want more!
A minor word on personalities/image, which I don't think was a factor in the Coalition win/Labor loss: for Labor, I don't think that Latham is the problem, although he's completely boring now that he's not engaging in a bit of biffo. Marky Mark ain't no orator. And he sure as hell needs to be put on the charisma transplant list. But (all these sentences starting with "and" and "but" - see, i'm badly affected by the Coalition's expected but nonetheless shocking win) a charismatic John Howard is a seriously major tautology.
Anyway, I'm just going to crawl back into my shell of denial.