Possums Pollytics

Politics, elections and piffle plinking

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.

We are talking of course, about todays Newspoll that you can peruse HERE.

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.



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10 Responses to “Insert Ominous Music”

  1. Leopold said

    Rubbish. The poll is rogue. Like the 60-40 at the end of May. Outside the margin of error. No way on Earth is the Labor primary still above 48. End of.

    I’m 95% sure. If ACN goes the same way, I’ll change my mind, but I firmly predict it won’t show anything resembling 51-37.

  2. gusface said

    Hi possum (ps it’s bass not base though if its a pun apologies)

    a few thoughts
    1.we are going to 1996 base as the determining factor for the swing ie labs REAL swing is only 5-6%
    2.the sheeple locked in after the ruddster and aint going anywhere
    3.the more the libs intrigue the more the swinging voter is polarised toward labor

  3. barney said

    fed election.com is run by ch 7

  4. steve said

    While I agree that interest rates are the major factor, it appears the whole
    Eeconomic Management charade of the Coalition is unravelling. The Secretary to the Treasury gave a nice old serve to them today.

  5. Lomandra said

    Barney: “fed election.com is run by ch 7”

    Yes, I thought it looked a little on the glossy corporate media side. I think I’ll stick to the blogs.

  6. Stig said

    Popcorn indeed. I’m waiting for the main course.

    Election night will be fun at my place – get all my political friends around for the show. Possum – will you be hosting on-line? Or are you planning on hanging around at Poll Bludger’s place?

    Everything that has come out lately has been another nail in Howard’s political coffin. Possum’s deconstruction of voting swings looks like another one. While his choice of music is generally excellent, when it comes to this government at this point in time, he should look no further than “The Downward Spiral”, by Nine Inch Nails 😛

  7. KC said

    When you consider the number of people and groups that Howard and co have managed to upset and alienate over the years, workers, homeowners, small business, defence forces, horse industry, farmers, conservationists, non-christians, non-fundamentalist christians, non-anglo-saxons and probably some others I have missed this result is not surprising.
    What is surprsing is that the libs are still managing to get over 40% of the TPP.

  8. Bennelong Resident said

    Nice to see my prejudices borne out with data …

    Perhaps Possum was refering to his sub-woofer destroying Bass, the Tasmanian electorate ?


  9. bungs said

    “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 2005 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.”

    Possum, do you mean December 2006 is paragraph above? The graph looks like the change occurred in Dec 06, not 05. That would make it Rudd’s leadership that changed the voting intentions, I guess.

  10. Possum Comitatus said

    Oops, thanks bungs – I need a secretary.

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