Insert Ominous Music
Posted by Possum Comitatus on September 4, 2007
I prefer early Byzantine church music myself, but anything with deep subwoofer destroying bass and an appropriately foreboding vibe would suffice.
The main figures show the TPP at 59/41 to the ALP with the primary vote running 51/37 Labors way.
The headline numbers will undoubtedly have the politicians, commentators and pollyjunkies running around like headless chooks in varying states of euphoria or complete panic, depending on ones political bent.
But underneath these headline figures it is nothing more than business as usual.
Nothing has actually changed since March. The nature of polling series is such that they wander a few points around their true level simply because of the probabilistic nature of sampling that occurs with opinion polls.
But so saying, break out the popcorn because the fallout is going to be worth watching 😉
This apparent increase in the ALP vote would be consistent with the observed effect that interest rate increases have had on the ALP primary since 2003 that we measured a few weeks ago. The movement did come a poll early (remember its historically the third Newspoll after the rate rise where a small but significant movement to the ALP occurs), but that may just be an artefact of the timing of the official notices of interest rate increases reaching the mailboxes of those with mortgage monsters.
Let’s get away from the headline numbers though and take a look at the underlying swings, because that’s where the information contained in the data plays out in its most obvious form.
Swings are simply the difference between a given poll result and the result at the last election. Let me bring to your attention today the dynamics between the primary vote and two party preferred vote swings of the major parties.
Let’s start with the ALP:
What the graph shows is the change in the primary vote since the 2004 election, the change in the two party preferred vote since the 2004 election (the two lines) and the difference between the two (the bars at the bottom).
The swing difference contains interesting information about how the nature of support for the ALP has been changing over time. When the swing difference is positive it means that the ALP TPP vote had grown faster than their primary vote in the period from the last election to that observation. That tells us that there was an increase in the minor party vote compared to the 2004 election and that increase in the minors was delivering preferences to the ALP to boost their TPP level. I rant about this phenomenon quite often, so forgive me but it’s quite important.
When the swing difference is negative, it tells us that the ALP primary vote had grown faster than their TPP vote since the last election. That tells us they are pinching primaries directly from the other parties.
This brings us back to the issue of momentum. The ALP has had momentum behind their TPP vote growth since May 2005.But it was only since December 2006 that the nature of that momentum changed from being a soft growth heavily reliant upon minor party preferences to being a hard momentum driven by the growth in their own primary vote that continues to this day.
The fundamental nature of the ALP vote has changed.
It’s changed from being a vote boosted by a dislike of government to now incorporating a large level support FOR the ALP.
If this vote was soft, we would have seen a lot more variation in the Coalition primary vote over the last 6 months than has been observed. As the news and issues of the day broke, some of those soft supporters would have moved back and forth between the Libs and either the minors (and preferenced the ALP) or the ALP vote itself. But there has been no such hesitation on the part of the voters with the Coalition primary stuck below 40.
In fact, the only real movement since March has been between the ALP primary vote and the minors primary vote.
If we do the same thing with the Coalition TPP and Primary vote swings:
And note the size of the swing difference between the ALP and the Coalition, the Coalition primary vote and TPP swings have been super close. Here we see that the Coalition primary vote has been dropping slightly faster than their TPP vote over the period since the 2004 election through to June 2007. The primary vote didnt move to the minors and flow back to them through preferences, it just packed up and went starting in March 2005.
In the last few months it has become apparent that the swing away from the Coalition in their TPP vote has become larger than the swing away from them in their primary vote. That tells us that over the last few months, the composition of the minor party vote has been such that the Coalition are also getting smaller preference flows than they did at the 2004 election.
So not only are the Coalition hurting with their primary vote, the minor party composition is even less beneficial to them in terms of preference flows than it was at the last election.
Unfortunately, we wont be able to get a better grip on how this may be playing out seat by seat until the next quarterly Newspoll – but if the wonderful Martin O’Shannessy really loved us, he might release it at the end of September after the last September Newspoll completes this quarters data 😉
On a different note, there’s a new federal election site with lots of shiny stuff creatively called Federalelection.com.au
It might be worth a squiz.