Possums Pollytics

Politics, elections and piffle plinking

A Nexus Poll.

Posted by Possum Comitatus on September 17, 2007

A company called Nexus Research has released a poll of Melbourne and Sydney voters over HERE:

It says the usual type of stuff that has been falling out of the polls since February.ALP primary on 51% and Lib primary on 36% etc etc. It’s amazing how remarkable figures like these all become so ho hum after a while.

But what is really interesting about this poll (deserving of a standing ovation for Nexus Research from pollyjunkies across the land) is the inclusion of an interactive portal through which poll tragics everywhere can analyse the polling results from both this poll and a near identical poll taken in September 2004.

Go on – have a play with it… you know you want to!

Of key interest to me with this polling was the breakdown in voting intention by occupation status. The Crosby Textor Oztrack 33 research indicated that there was a national 14.5% swing against the Libs on the primary vote by part time workers and an 18.3% swing to the ALP on TPP by part time workers back in June.

This Nexus poll not only suggests similarly large movements (the first time we can get verification of OzTracks part-time worker swing), but it also tells us that in Sydney and Melbourne at least, these swings that were apparent nationally in June are still apparent in September.

Back in September 2004, 50% of part time workers surveyed stated that they would vote for the Liberal Party and 35% stated they would vote for the ALP. Yet in September 2007, only 29% of part time workers stated they would vote for the Liberal Party while the ALP vote from part time workers jumped to 53%. These are primary vote figures.

This might turn into the missing demographic link in the polls, and if the ABS would pull their finger out and release the 2006 Census data on occupational status, we could indeed scare the seven shades of shite out of sitting government members everywhere by looking at the proportion of their electorates that are part time workers.

But alas, we’ll have to wait a little longer to have that fun.

Another thing that keeps popping up lately is the notion of the dreaded “soft vote”. The problem I have with these soft vote nostrums by various commentators is that they aren’t turning up in the data. Oztrack 33 back in June had the soft vote equal for each party on 5%.I’m hearing from both sides in all sorts of seats that voter support isn’t soft – but none the less the dreaded “soft voter” is the cliché you just cant leave home without.

But the last word on soft voters has to go to a stand up comedian named John Withheld posting over at the Poll Bludger.

The voters are waiting for Howard with nerf bats.”



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23 Responses to “A Nexus Poll.”

  1. Okay, for all those smeg heads like me who had no idea what “nerf” meant, and before you go to Google like I had to, here is the link to save yourselves the trouble: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nerf

    NOW, I get it.

  2. Pi said

    The part-time worker demographic certainly tells the story. They’re the ones that have been hammered by AWA’s.

    The other point about it though, is that in some of those leafy suburbs, it’s the kids of the people that own those houses that are the worst affected by AWA’s. Hence the swing dynamics.

    Labor supporters (predominantly working class) in their electorates will have mild swings, because they’re the most affected, but they’ll be voting ALP anyway… but the big swing is coming in the marginal Lib and safe Lib seats, because a group of people that never would have considered voting ALP can see the effect of AWA’s first-hand.

  3. disenfranchised Gippslander said

    As it happens I agree with your analysis.
    But another analyst might say that it’s Doctors’ wives talking to their husbands who are talking to their patients. (the “Hugh Mackay” hypothesis)
    The difference is that on the first analysis an anti union campaign might be counter productive for the Libs. On the second reading, it might work!
    In either case I think a calm, and maybe effective , response by Labor would be.. union leaders are elected by their members, and we are presenting ourselves to the Australian people to elect us..in each case that’s called “Democracy”

  4. John Witheld said

    Hi Possum,

    Thanks for you gracious attention to my humble witticism.

    As always, I stand in awe of your insight, analysis and cute fluffy tail.

  5. Aristotle said

    Two things have continuously amazed me this election year re the polls:

    1, that they have been so remarkably consistent; and 2, that many commentators insist that the ALP vote is soft and is built like a house of cards.

    The only thing soft is the commentators’ anaylsis, the ALP vote is firm.

  6. seajay said

    I know Morgan defines (or at least identifies) soft voters as voters who have opted for Labor but who ‘approve of the direction the country is heading’. Of course they approve – they think the country is heading for an election and a change of government; nothing soft about that, they are very happy about the direction.

  7. Richard Green said

    Ah, it’s a pity that when you get to the occupational status charts the sample has become too small, giving results like “100% of housewives/husbands voted for labor at the last election”.

    I’d love to see more of these things though.

    Also, in the converse on Morgan’s “soft support” measure, how many people would not approve of the direction the country is going in on the basis that they dislike migration, or gays, or erosion of “traditional values” and thus form part of the Liberal party rump.

    And surely those in a “progressive” state of mind have a positive bias in expectations about the future.

    Far too shonky a measure really.

  8. Greensborough Growler said


    I always thought the only thing we had in common was that my waistline is 3.14 times my circumference.

    However, your insight in to why traditional non Labor seats might be swinging is brilliant.
    Take another cream cake.

  9. Greensborough Growler said

    Before I get killed, it’s diameter not circumference.

  10. dany le roux said

    I think your explanation for the part time worker voting intentions has a much simpler rationale – there have been letters to the SMH about it-the only work for many people is subsidised part time work which lasts for a limited period.

    The 4.4% unemployment figure is misleading because there are 1.7 million on Newstart.

  11. haiku said


    do you have Newspoll data back to 92-93? How valid is the comparison “these are the same numbers (55/45) that Hewson had against Keating, eight weeks before the election”?

    apologies if you’ve already covered this …

  12. Long John said

    Very perceptive, Possum. That’s the biggest elephant in the living room.

    There may be others. Difficult as it may be for leafy suburbanites to appreciate, the impact of immigration policies on employment and wages is also worth contemplation. I am aware of a case recently in aged care (from a senior management source) where 457 visas are being used to replace existing workers. This isn’t supposed to happen, of course.

    The very recent initiative by the Government to allow post-graduates to stay for an extra 16 months to work should also prove popular.

    It is as if the Government has deluded itself into thinking that it can use immigration to exert downward pressure on wages, particularly for the young, without any of them, or their families, noticing.

  13. laughoutloud said

    Long John’s comment (12) is astute. In fact that is exactly what the 457 visa scheme is supposed to do, as is the Welfare to Work caper. Note that the rates required to be paid to the visa holders are less than market rates (although of course, conforming to the legal rates now mandated) in every case. The lovely ‘low inflation’ numbers have been achieved by downward pressure on wages and remuneration (at the bottom of course). The idea that the punters haven’t noticed is one of the reasons that the political class in this country appears so bemused by the polls.

    I don’t mean to suggest that a Rudd ALP government will do much about this, but the point is that the issue of increasing supply and lowering the cost of labour, while the cost of everything else just keeps on climbing, is something that can’t be hidden form people’s real experience, while interminable blather about ‘TEH economy’ just goes through to the keeper. It is a mark of how out of touch the real elites in this country are, that this issue has escaped serious inquiry altogether, while a totally phony ‘war on unions’ receives breathless coverage across the board. It’s just as well we have an alert, curious and ‘in touch’ Press Gallery isn’t it! Imagine what it would be like if all they did was talk to each other!

  14. dany le roux said

    laughoutloud and Long John,

    You are both correct.The “missing demographic link” is not just the part time workers, it is those who see that jobs are hard to come by for the bottom end of society.What do you do for work when a 457 visa holder takes your job emptying bedpans?Answer – you go on the dole and afterwards onto a three month part time job whose wages have been subsidised.
    I congratulate both of you for having the insight and courage to blog about this subject.

  15. stevet said


    Antony Green was asked about that poll in 1992 and ponted out that in something like 7-9 polls before that Keating had lead in all but two of them. The polls were vrey volatile around that time, as they were in 2004. Whereas in 1996, they were very consistent, as they are now.

    I have said it before and I will say it again, some very cogent comparisons can be made between 1993-96 and 2004-07. I’m just hoping they turn out to be right.

  16. Long John said

    Thank you, laughoutloud and dany le roux.

    Bear with me as I make two more points on immigration.

    James Tobin, a Nobel laureate in economics, was once interjected during a lecture by a student demanding a one-word definition of the subject. Tobin accepted the challenge and replied “incentives”.

    Now what are the incentives to business in a government policy to lower wages? The answer is to invest in the bottom end, not the top end, of the skills spectrum. And it’s happening. The best example I can think of is the amount of Federal funding that has gone into training in the retail industry. Investments in counter-jumping!

    A high wage policy, on the other hand, provides incentive to move to high-skill investment and employment. It is interesting that in the early nineties, Labor Governments, State and Federal, expressed a vision of a high-wage, high-skill Australia. Maybe I’m out of touch, but I cannot recall any Labor politician saying that lately. But if you’re going to get the high-skill, high-wagy economy, you cannot escape looking at immigration policies that encourage investment at the low end.

    What about genuinely high-skill migration, doctors, engineers, and so on? Even if we make the assumption (which practical experience suggests is open to question in not a few cases) that they are equivalently qualified, a serious ethical question arises.

    It is this. Is it right to strip poor countries of the few human resources of international standard that they have? I have never heard this raised in an ethics context by the political class. But it is considered serious enough by public health professionals to have been discussed in the WHO in the context of medical specialists. (I cannot give you chapter and verse, but I know it to be a fact).

  17. Artee said

    Very interesting Nexus result mirroring the bias amongst women voters for the conservatives. It was the majority of women voting for the liberals overwhelming the majority of men voting labour that kept menzies in power at the end of his reign in the 1960’s.

  18. dany le roux said

    Long John,

    You seem to be thinking that there is an urgent imperative to create more upmarkety type jobs.With 1.7 million on Newstart the problem is to provide full time jobs of any description for these people to get them off work for the dole etc.Encouraging low skill 457 visa immigrants simply makes the situation worse for the Newstart people by soaking up bottom of the pile type jobs.
    Hockey’s recent answer to the problem is to speed up the work for the dole waiting time to get the unemployment numbers down.
    Work for the dole people are by the way classified as part time employees even though they get no remuneration beyond their dole payments.

  19. Long John said

    My argument is not a quick fix. Key considerations are

    1. More higher level jobs are likely to increase productivity. So the size of the cake will grow;

    2. If there are more high-level opportunities, the labour supply at the bottom end will decrease. Other things equal, the price of labour at the lower end will increase as a result.

    I certainly concede that this is over-simplified and raises a lot of other questions. But it’s not a bad conceptual place to start.

    What we have now, however, is a reversion to Australia’s traditional role as the quarry of North Asia. Employment opportunities are largely being sought, by deliberate policy, mainly by means of lower wages and casualisation at the lower end, with 457 thrown in to accelerate the trend.

  20. dany le roux said

    Long John,

    The increased “productivity” you speak of will not be manufacturing because we have been priced out of it by the factories who use our quaried stuff.If you are thinking of service industries then I think we have a surplus – there comes a time when there are just too many Australia Post employees or people to do your lawn.
    What types of high level jobs have you got in mind?
    The casualisation of the lower end and the rorting of the 457 scheme ( and WorkChoices and Welfare to Work and Work for the Dole)are there to ingratiate the Howard government to its main voting support – the ruling classes.
    You speak of it as if it is benign economic policy whereas in fact it is only a two bit plan to pander to the greed of the employers.

  21. Lynda Hopgood said

    My main objection to Morgan’s analysis of the “soft” Labor vote is that you just can’t do any reasonable analysis based on a question that is so open to interpretation.

    As many people have stated, “heading in the right direction” can be taken many ways by both the left and the right of politics. As a determiner of “soft” voting it is meaningless.

    The other obvious objection is to the assumption that you can’t acknowledge that economic fundamentals are sound and also want to vote out the incumbent government. Many people feel that the economic fundamentals are sound because of decisions made by Keating and co – we are now reaping those rewards.

    I’ve seen it elsewhere as well; if you vote for “economic issues” as one of the determiners for the way you intend to vote, the assumption is that you are a Conservative voter. If you therefore vote “economic issues” and “intend to vote Labor” in the same poll, you are put down as a soft Labor voter.

    It’s crap analysis that plays on outdated stereotypes of “typical” Labor/Coalition voter. Time for Morgan to either reword the question or ask a new one.

  22. J-D said

    Possum, if you’re waiting for 2007 census data, you’re going to wait a long time. There was no 2007 census.

    Around 1997 (plus or minus a year) I heard Gary Gray (then National Secretary of the ALP) saying that one of the successes of Coalition media management in the 1996 campaign was getting it reported repeatedly that they had a lot of ‘soft’ support. He (Gray) said that their support in 1996 had been ‘rock hard’.

    There is a simple reason, though, why journalists are likely to keep talking about ‘soft’ support. The job of journalists is to write news stories. If you write ‘show’s over’, ‘the fat lady has sung’, ‘all over bar the shouting’, ‘nothing more to see here’, then there’s no more news! So instead you write that there is news, that ‘the race is tightening’, ‘it’s all still to play for’, ‘it’s going to be close’, and, in the same vein, ‘a lot of that support is soft’.

  23. Possum Comitatus said

    Doh – Ta JD.

    I remember Gray saying that too.I dont quite understand the pursuit of the underdog status since it actually flies in the face of some things that have a measurable, significant relationship as a vote driver – the Crosby Textor “Win Expectations” for instance.

    Maybe the most preferable position for a party to be in is where everyone thinks you are going to win, but enough lingering doubt remains to stop the whole process turning into a foregone conclusion.The bandwagon effect without the bandwagon sort of thing.

    Id love to see an article on the latest polling saying “Nothing to see here – move on, just the same as last week”.That basically sums up the last 6 months worth of polls.

    I’ve been tempted to do it myself 😉

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