Possums Pollytics

Politics, elections and piffle plinking

The Narrowing

Posted by Possum Comitatus on September 27, 2007

Today I thought we might have a look at the grand old wives tale of pollypunditry, “The Narrowing”. – The inexplicable tightening of polls when the election is called.

Not being a great believer in fairy tale determinism myself, preferring reason backed by the copious use of data to derive meaning from polling behaviour and thus rational explanations for voter behaviour, I’m somewhat bemused by the almost religious qualities that some pundits give to The Narrowing.

But before we get into this, it would be good to take a small overview of the general behaviour of polling data first, as this will come into play later on.

To start with, let’s look at the primary vote of the two major parties since April 1996 using every published Newspoll. The vertical black dotted lines are the elections of 1998, 2001 and 2004 respectively.

alpprimallnewspolls1.jpg

coalprimallnewspolls1.jpg

The obvious thing that stands out here is how noisy these buggers are. In any given 3 or 4 poll period, you can have poll results falling within a 6 point margin. This, of course, is to be expected simply as result of sampling variation – the dreaded margin of error. As a result, these polls are generally too noisy to use for nearly everything.

Instead, let’s look at the monthly average of Newspoll for the Coalition primary over the same period of April 1996 through to September 2007.

coalprimmonth1.jpg

This gives the Newspolls the valium treatment and they become far easier to work with. There is still noise in there, but as you can, it’s been seriously reduced.

By using the less noisy monthly averages of Newspoll, it also makes it easier to see some interesting behaviour in the series. Notice how the series is very “peaky”? Public opinion reacts to the events of the day, but these peaks also suggest an overreaction. Tampa/S11 is a good example here. When those two events occurred, the vote reaction was to rally to the government, but that rally also contained an overreaction component – the bandwagon effect which gave the government a very short polling peak before that bandwagon effect washed out of the system, taking the vote down with it. This is polling overshoot and you can see its effects everywhere throughout the polling series of both the Coalition and the ALP. It normally takes a few months for that overshoot to wash out of the system after a big movement.

On the ALP side, the same thing can be seen observed with leadership changes. When Rudd assumed the leadership, the polling overshot by a couple of points into the low 50s as a primary vote before the herd effect, the bandwagon effect, washed out of the system and the ALP primary settled down into its long run level of 47 that we still see to this day.

Now armed with our knowledge of sampling variability and polling overshoot, we can move on to the next issue that must be taken into account when measuring “The Narrowing”. That issue is the polling movement in the months preceding the campaign.

Remembering back to our quick squiz at the governments advertising campaigns in the lead up to the last two elections, we found that the primary vote of the Coalition made large recoveries in the period of the taxpayer funded advertising blitz.

01govad1.jpg04govad1.jpg

This is important, not only because it can drive party political momentum into the campaign (as it did against Latham) but can also be used to boost any underlying movement to the government (such as was occurring with the Tampa/S11 episode in 2001). These advertising campaigns assisted the government greatly in setting their final pre-campaign period support level from which to launch into the campaign itself. The 1998 election wasn’t renowned for its massive advertising blitz (at least compared to the last 2 elections) although it did have some GST stuff (I think – can anyone clarify?), and the One Nation effect not only clouded any advertising bounce, but generally made that election rather unusual to begin with. So we havent thrown that graph up.

Now keeping all that in your thought orbit – lets move on to The Narrowing.

We’ll look at every election since 1993.The way we’ll do it is simple. First we’ll show the monthly Newspoll primary averages leading into the campaign (to show us momentum) where the second last observation, and sometimes third last observations are the month(s) in the campaign itself, and where the final observation is the election result. So for 1993 we get:

1993primaries1.jpg

Notice how the long term momentum was with the ALP and against the Coalition, and carried through the campaign period into the election itself? On primary votes there was a superficial narrowing, but nothing that wasn’t already happening anyway. Over the medium term, the ALP primary from November 1992 through to the election result simply oscillated around 44.

Secondly, we’ll also look at TPP, but measured in a slightly different way. We’ll use the primary votes of the Newspoll estimates and then distribute preferences as they occurred at that election. So effectively we are backcasting preference allocations from the 1993 election onto the primary vote estimations taken in the lead up to the 1993 election. This way, we end up with a more realistic and consistent TPP estimate that reflects more accurately the preference allocations of the time. Also, we’ll add in 6 months of Newspoll monthly averages (calculated the same way), then the first single poll before the election was called, and every Newspoll during the campaign until the election result itself. When the election was called and campaign began is marked with a vertical black line. Doing this we get (and this time the ALP is blue, and the Coalition red – my stuff up in the graph – apologies)

1993election1.jpg

This is interesting because the November and December results look like typical polling overshoot before the estimates settled back into a more modest and realistic level that was consistent with the longer term momentum and trend. Again, there was superficially a narrowing – but it wasn’t as a result of the campaign being called, as the 49% ALP TPP going to 51.4% ALP TPP from the beginning of the campaign to the final poll of the campaign is all simply movement within the margin of error of the polling. The true underlying result ‘probably’ did narrow slightly in the campaign – although the Newspoll estimates cannot say definitively one way or another. What we can say is that the movement in the campaign was consistent with the longer term movement before the campaign.

Moving on to 1996:

1996primaries1.jpg

1996election1.jpg

Not much can be said about this except that there was absolutely, positively no narrowing at all in either the lead up to the campaign, or during the campaign itself. The numbers did not move for 8 months.

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it.

Now for 1998:

1998primaries1.jpg

1998election1.jpg

On the primaries, there was probably a slight point or two movement away from the ALP , while the Coalition primary was getting battered around by One Nation and was all over the place – eventually ending up on election day at its long run mean over the period. The TPP figures reflect the Coalition primary vote figures. There’s that big overshoot in June 1998 reflecting the One Nation push, and the final result being very close to the mean vote level over the period of February 1998 through to the October 98 election. During the campaign period itself, there was no narrowing. In fact, using just the polls taken during the campaign, they suggest, if anything, the possibility of a slight widening or a point or so. But at the end of the day that’s just noise and we can safely conclude that the polls didn’t narrow over the election campaign,

Moving right along to the 2001 election:

2001primaries1.jpg

2001election1.jpg

This polling is interesting for many reasons. The ALP from March to November 2001 were experiencing a slow decline and trend away from their primary vote. That is as clear as day and is consistent with the advertising blitz we showed earlier. The Coalition primary however was experiencing a slow trend towards them, interrupted by the Tampa/S11 overshoot in the polling. It becomes much clearer looking at the TPP figures. The August to September movement is highly pronounced, directly followed by a slow recovery back to a more normal position as the S11 issue washed out of the system. Here there was definitely a narrowing, but one easily explainable. If you look at the TPP chart, you can see clearly the longer term trend between March and August away from the ALP and toward the Coalition – forecasting that forward you end up with something pretty close to the election result.

By the election, the vote for each party had recovered to again reflect that earlier movement after it was interrupted by Tampa/S11.This type of behaviour is extremely common in the financial and commodity markets where you have long run movements getting interrupted by exogenous shocks, whereupon they undergo an adjustment process as the effects of that shock wash out of the system, and the series attempts to catch up, or revert, to where it’s long run behaviour would have ordinarily had it situated. This is a classic, almost textbook example of an impulse response function.

Now on to 2004:

2004primaries1.jpg

2004election1.jpg

 

This is pretty easy to explain as well. The ALP was undergoing a longer term trend away from its primary vote while the Coalition was enjoying a trend to it’s primary vote (helped in large part to the advertising blitz and associated pork combined with Lathams implosion).On TPP terms, the vote was pretty volatile, but with the ALP being various levels above 50. What is crystal clear is that far from the vote narrowing once the campaign was called, it blew out toward the Coalition, following what in hindsight looks like a fairly solid , even if volatile trend toward the Coalition that started 6 months or so earlier.

From the last 5 elections, what can we say about The Narrowing?

In 1993 there may have been a narrowing and in 2001 there was a narrowing, but both times that narrowing was consistent with the longer running trends occurring in the vote over the previous 6-8 months. 1993 is reasonably easy to see, even if there was a bit of polling overshoot in the mix, and even if any narrowing was not statistically significant in the campaign.But in 2001 it gets a little more complicated as the impulse response function of the Tampa/S11 exogenous shock on the polling series occurred during the election campaign period itself. But from an econometric perspective – the narrowing is nothing more than a reversion of the polling series to its long run trend via a typical impulse response function

In 1996 the polls didn’t move during the campaign, or at all for 8 months.In 1998 the polls didn’t move during the campaign, although in the period before the campaign One Nation was causing havoc with the TPP and the Coalition Primary. In 2004 the complete opposite of the Narrowing occurred.

So The Narrowing is 2 from 5 at best, 1 from 5 that can be called certain, and where both of those occasions can be explained by the longer term trends and movement occurring in the polling series over the previous months.

While The Narrowing makes for a simplistic bed time polling story and is to be expected to be used by political parties as a weapon for their own electoral self-interest, when it comes to providing actual explanations of electoral behaviour to a broader public, the dogmatic representation of “The Narrowing” as some divinely inspired inevitability is a poor substitute for polling analysis based on the evidence contained within the polling data.

Those who aspire to understand Newspoll properly would do well to spend a little less time proselytizing with faith based arguments and a little more time using the data they proudly claim as their own to provide the type of cogent, rational and evidence based analysis that would better serve the public interest.

Over at the platinum blog of Australian blogs, Larvatus Prodeo, there is an excellent debate going on over this very narrowing here and here, and well worth a squiz.

 

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59 Responses to “The Narrowing”

  1. barney said

    Only one slight quibble Possum. The 1998 election was preceded by the massive GST “unlock my heart” advertising campaign.

  2. Possum Comitatus said

    The GST advertsising was, IMO, actually related to a large piece of policy and it wasnt really the type of image boosting stuff the government used in 2001 and 2004, and it certainly didnt have the massive pork that went along with the 01 and 04 campaigns.Combined with the way One Nation played havoc with the vote, and the fact that the GST wasn’t exactly popular, any advertising effects for the government just got overrun by other issues.I’m glad you brought it up – I’ve added a few words to better explain that.

    Thanks.

  3. Stig said

    As a completely unreliable rumour, I believe that the GG editorial staff are beginning to grind their teeth whenever “Larvatus Prodeo” or “Mumble” are mentioned. Also, they are collectively having nightmares about being stomped on by a giant possum with a bag of popcorn in one front paw, and a stats textbook in the other.

  4. Matt said

    Geez Possum I think my head just exploded…

    At least we’ve got some statistical evidence to show ‘narrowing’ isn’t something that just happens during elections. It may or may not occur, but it’s not a given.

  5. Lefty E said

    Nice work Possum. A big fan of your analyses.

    This is why I choose the blogosphere these days for all my news needs.

  6. Dave Solomon said

    Stick that in your sarcastic pipe and smoke it, Chris Mitchell.

  7. Martin said

    Excellent analysis and I love second last paragraph.

  8. disenfranchised Gippslander said

    Thank you for a very pleasant ramble through the polling countryside.
    I think that it illustrates the danger of trying to extrapolate what are volatile numbers. I’m reminded of the behaviour of dynamical systems when subjected to more or less random perturbations. Chaos theory produces just that sort of noisy response with a vaguely discernible pattern. But very hard to predict just which butterfly will produce an unknown size hurricane in an undetermined spot.
    What really caught my eye was in the “raw” graph of Alp primary at about x axis=410 et seq. There was a very distinct step in the function, carried on over about 5 polls & since then a barely(if at all) perceptible drift downwards. In a physical system this would be like a constraint being removed. I presume this is down to the IR changes, together with Rudd???
    Anyway, thank you for providing a nice framework for further thought.

  9. Possum Comitatus said

    Gippslander, that big jump is the Rudd leadership off the back of the Workchoices boost.It ended with a slight overshoot before settling down into a stable mean of 47 as a primary vote.A classic structural break if ever I’ve seen one.

  10. Mercurius said

    That sound you just heard was the commentariat handing an envelope full of cash and a photograph of Possum to a six-foot tall Hell’s Angel called “Mauler”.

  11. disenfranchised Gippslander said

    Possum, this is probably a comment on a previous thread, but WTH, this is where the action is.
    Have you thought of doing a factor analysis of the Newspoll quarterly figures. How much of the variability is due to state, marginal status, and capital city status. I’ve made a start here by analysing the electorates according to these criteria, so as to use them as weightings for this, but my statistical expertise is asymptotically approaching zero! (gee, I can remember an exam question about “latin square experiments” which I actually passed! I have no idea what they even are).

  12. Possum Comitatus said

    Gippslander, I’m thinking of doing some more stats heavy stuff like that for the election campaign.I’m not too fussed on PCA for polling data because of the lagginess involved in the data series and their relationships with each other, but a panel data regression approach is what I’ve got in mind with a few tricky little bits thrown in for good measure.

  13. Ancient Mariner said

    Hi disenfranchised Gippslander

    Actually my thoughts exactly as to dynamics,it is my understanding that the “vaguely discernible pattern” is actually oscillation betweens limits.

    To explain, classical systems converge to a single limit, chaotic systems oscillate between two or more limits “attractors”.

    To my thinking this is the big danger for the ALP, as you correctly point to the stepfunction of Rudds popularity and workchoices, my fear is they have perterbed the system too far away from balance and there is a danger the system could slam back to the coalition (impulse response?).

    As the heroic marsupilal has pointed out the “narrowing” is bolloks, what the state apparatchiks call the narrowing could be a natural convergance to the upper limits based on clever timing ot the election to correspond with the cycle. If the upper limits are appart there can be no narrowing (in a chaotic model).

    Is it correct to apply chaotic modelling to explain the polls, I dont know but I can see plenty of degenerate states on both sides of politics.

    Never discount poetry

    Socrates said, our only knowledge was “To know that nothing could be known”
    a pleasant Science enough, which levels to an ass each man of wisdom, future, past, or present.

    I look forward to reflecting on Comitatus’s work after the election

  14. Excellent analysis Possum.

    Ever since the last Newspoll sent the Oz scribes off into a delusional tailspin I’ve been waiting for your usual calm, measured, thoughtful demolition.

    I’m sure Mitchell, Pearson and Shanahan wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat imagining there’s a possum sitting on their windowsill wearing a smile and carrying a laptop.

    What was that spike in Nov/Dec 92? Did something happen or was it just animals in the statistic zoo?

  15. PJay said

    Possum. If all this be true, why is the lord and master so confident in a bounce when he calls the election? Does he know something we don’t? Has he hidden a stash of tricks up his sleeve? Or is he in denial? Whatever – wish this campaign was over. Has been running for a year and I’m sick of the Fed. Gov. junk mail. Never seen anything like it! I’m suffering voter fatigue.

  16. Enemy Combatant said

    Road Widens on “Ventura Highway”; Ruddster motors on.

  17. Oldtimer said

    Possum, love your work! The stats and analysis are dazzling. I really had to concentrate but got there in the end. I just hope Labor do!
    You are and have been offering reassuring analysis through this very long precampaign campaign!
    Cheers

  18. Greensborough Growler said

    Ancient Mariner,

    And the dish ran away with the spoon.

  19. Mate said

    Comment by Ancient Mariner — September 27, 2007 @ 5:32 pm

    “Never discount poetry”

    Jesus why not, seems a waste of space to me…

    But maybe I miss something “shrugs”

  20. Crispy said

    Nice rhyme, Ancient Mariner.

    Possum, brilliant and soothing number crunching as usual. How old are you? Are you a nice boy? I have daughters of marriagable age in 2013. We must tear meat and break bread together!

  21. haiku said

    I think we can hear Chris Pearson spluttering over teh intertubes already … keep an eye out for the last paragraph in his Saturday column: if he responds to your demolition, it will be there, and probably along the lines of “readers have quibbled with my interpretation of the polls. I remind them that I forecast that Howard would beat Latham and Beazley. So there, nyah nyah nyah na na naa …”

  22. Ancient Mariner said

    Hi Mate

    Statistics, dynamics, time series analysis all this physics can only take you so far. Art is another window into truth. Some people think life imitates art.

    Hey you dont like poetry how about rhymes, you know

    “the litle dog laughed to see such fun and the cow jumped over the moon”

    the poetry in the last post is from Byrons Don Juan. The point is that we cant predict what will happen, it looks like the ALP TTP is converging to something around 56%, it should be enough, narrowing has been shown to be bolloks in this article, so it all seems to add up tp the ALP as a certanty, however we are all going to look loke ass’s iff the Colaition gets up.

    Anyone know the plural for ass

  23. Just Me said

    Thanks for another excellent analysis, Possum.

    What are the units on the horizontal axis in the first two graphs? And what is their starting point?

    Do you enjoy getting up the noses of the MSM ‘experts’?

    I hope so. Coz I (and apparently many others) are enjoying watching you do it.

  24. Crispy said

    “Anyone know the plural for ass?”

    Federal Cabinet

  25. Mate said

    Not sure, Maybe stick a “s” on the end of Mariner?

  26. Possum Comitatus said

    Just me,
    The units on the bottom are just the poll number.I used a Newspoll series that starts with a poll taken on 2-4 & 16-18 February 1990 and has every poll thereafter.I have Newspolls that go a few years further back, but that one was just handy to use.

    Crispy – you have daughters of marriageable age in 2013 huh? If you’re a typical Dad, I guess that would make them around 30 at the moment?😉

  27. Kymbos said

    Brilliant work again, Possum. Satisfying stuff

  28. meher baba said

    Interesting analysis Possum. I agree that the narrowing legend is a bit simplistic.

    However, I still wonder whether there might not be some parallels to the 1998 election at work in this one. As in 1998, the swing out there across the electorate as a whole is significantly fuelled by a single issue (GST in 1998, Workchoices in 2007). As in 1998, Labor is running a “small target” strategy (I don’t know why Rudd gets so much praise for this, as Beazley was the past master: can anyone out there remember one single policy run by the ALP in 1998 other than revamping sales tax as an alternative to the GST?). Again, as in 1998, the ALP needs to see a strong national swing translate into victory in a large number of marginal seats.

    Can they do it? Perhaps this time – unlike 1998 – the ALP will benefit from a sense of it being time for a change. However, I remain more sceptical than most about the prospect of Rudd raising his arms in victory on election night. It might happen, or it might be another Don’s Party night.

    By the way, the “Unchain my Heart” ads ran during the first half of 2000 in the lead up to the introduction of the GST. Rumour has it that market research showed that they were only a mild success at best, if not a flop.

  29. Ringtail said

    Lovely stuff Possum, but I’ve got a headache now.
    Despite your analysis however, both sides of politics seem to firmly believe in The Narrowing (publicly at least). I suspect they’ll continue to do so, if only to claim underdog status. All the more your analyses are so important to cut through the spin and hype.

  30. Possum Comitatus said

    Thanks for GST ad info Meher – I’ve fixed the post up to reflect it.Can anybody remember what ad campaigns were running in 1998?

  31. meher baba said

    I don’t think the GST was advertised at all by the Government before the 1998 election. Even now, it is pretty unusual (and, many would argue, unethical) for the Government to advertise any new policies before they have been enacted by Parliament (which, with the GST, didn’t happen for over a year after the 1998 election). Anyway, the GST was highly unpopular – and represented Howard going back on a strong undertaking he gave before the 1996 election – so they were hardly likely to want to ram that down people’s throats.

    The 1996-98 period was a “slash and burn” one for the Howard Government (one of the reasons that they became so unpopular). There might have been some government advertising around some social security and rural services improvements. I can’t recall anything else.

  32. andrew said

    meher_baba: the first workchoices ads came out before the legislation was submitted to parliment. Secondly unlike 1998 workchoices has already been enacted and is law rather than policy like the GST is. Thirdly the 1998 election was lost in the marginals of NSW this doesn’t seem to be the case currently.

    I think the main reson everyone believes the polls are going to narrow is that a TPP result 56-58% in a general election is almost unprecedented.

  33. Andos the Great said

    Hi Possum,

    Long-time reader, first-time poster; I am very appreciative of your statistical analysis of the reams of polling data out there at the moment. It is good to see someone taking an evidence-based approach to cut through all the hype from the MSM, especially the GG.

    Just one issue; I think the legend for the 1993 TPP graph is wrong. It labels the blue line as GovTPP and the red line as OpTPP, I think it should be the other way around? Red line = ALP = Gov in 1993? That would fit better with your comment following the graph.

    Keep up the good work.

  34. Leopold said

    From pedants corner: without checking, I think your 1993 2PP graph is the wrong way round. The blue line should fall behind in Nov/Dec 1992 and then hit the front again early in the campaign.

    But I agree. There’s no clear evidence that polls MUST narrow during a campaign. It still seems to me that a record-smashing Labor victory (55% or more) would be truly extraordinary in current economic conditions, so I do expect some tightening from the current margin – but anything’s possible.

    And here’s a wild thought: with Labor’s primary vote so high, maybe they will get a lower preference flow than at the last two elections – say 55% rather than 61%. If that were the case, a result of (say) 46.5-40.5 in favour of Labor on primaries would go to less than 54% on 2PP. Which is a quite plausible result given the age of the government and the oft-demonstrated (by Mumble) electoral weakness of Howard. So conceivably there could be no ‘narrowing’ – just the current 2PP estimates are a bit dodgy – and you still get a historically believable outcome.

  35. Possum Comitatus said

    Andos and Leo – thanks for that.The graph is right (just the colours are opposite to what they usually are).What I did was call the ALP at 51 pre-campaign rather than 49 (as I was reading from the colour of the graph when writing, rather than what it actually was.. doh!.. my mistake, but that’s why you guys are my editors😉 )

    But now all fixed up and a million thanks.

  36. Possum Comitatus said

    Leo, I had thought the same thing, but every time a polling organisation actually actually polls on second preferences (Morgan and ACN particularly), the preference flow to Labor keeps turning out to be equal to or higher than 2004 rather than lower.

    It’s bizarre.

  37. andrew said

    Morgan headline is up “ALP Primary Vote (54%) At Highest Level Under Rudd”.

  38. Mark said

    as a new comer here, what is MSM and GG?

  39. andrew said

    Mark: Main Stream Media and Government Gazette the later being a nickname for The Australian newspaper.

  40. Andos the Great said

    Wow, 54% ALP primary vote and the Morgan Poll server can’t handle the huge traffic of psephologists trying to see the numbers!

  41. PP said

    Andrew @ 37 – where are you getting this from? The Morgan Poll website shows nothing new.

  42. Possum Comitatus said

    PP,
    from http://www.roymorgan.com/news/polls/2007/4217/

    Crikey has the results as:

    60.5/39.5 Two party preferred with primary vote 54/36 to the ALP.

  43. PP said

    That’s nuts. It must be some kind of MOE issue.

  44. Mark said

    With all the usual MOE disclaimers it does seem to put a bit of a hole below the plimsoll line in the hull of the good ship Narrowing.

  45. Just Me said

    Possum 26. Thanks for that.

  46. canberra boy said

    Re #43 – PP, I don’t think it’s nuts at all, even though it is some kind of MOE issue. All the major polls have been oscillating within MOE above and below the 57% mark for Labor for ages – the fact that the last Newspoll, last Galaxy and previous Morgan all happened to move towards the Coalition side of this figure will make it all the more hilarious when one or both of the next Newspoll and Galaxy results move back to 58 or 59% for Labor. This Morgan poll has a MOE of just a tad over 3% for a 60.5 to 39.5% result. The MOE for the last one was pretty similar. So if we were to suspect that the ‘real’ figure is around 57.5% then both this result and the previous 56.5% are not too surprising.

  47. Kramer said

    Well this Morgan poll is certainly impressive for the ALP. The MSM’s salivating over the last Newspoll and how it demonstrated that the Coalition was “back in the fight” was really quite laughable.

    One of the most notable figures from this poll was the drop in the Greens’ vote (down 3.5%) with the bulk of these voters flocking to the ALP. The figures have been solid since early March and I can’t see the campaign making that much difference for the Coalition. Labor has a large war chest this time around and it wouldn’t surprise me if there was a further surge in Rudd’s favour between now and the election.

  48. […] There’s lot more numbers and graphs at Mumble Elections and Possums Pollytics. […]

  49. Lomandra said

    Might I ask an off-topic question? How does “pingback” work?

    Thanks in advance!

  50. disenfranchised Gippslander said

    Possum surely the procedures used to “normalise” the raw stratified data are of more importance than the MOE when trying to analyse both secular trends and the results of different pollsters. For example, a sample of 1500 would only have 10 in each stratum if the strata were federal electorates. in my seat, if these 10 had Traralgon or Churchill disproportionately included, and fewer from say Orbost, then the entire sample could be skewed. (and vice versa, of course).
    Even a stratum such as “safe rural coalition” might mean Gippsland, Indi, & Murray, with say 30 respondents, but still with big opportunities for clustering.
    I saw a report of a UK poll which I found much more informative, as it gave both the raw figures, the normalised figures, and the approach taken to weighting. Do the Australian pollsters give this information? Do they even indicate when their methodology or parameters have changed?
    In another place you mentioned problems with reconciling the results in Vic. Can you indicate the nature of these problems?
    Is there any reason to suppose that the private (sic) polls carried out by the parties are any more “accurate” than the public ones?
    PS Go easy on Glen. he’s doing his best, but he has to push a pea uphill with his nose!

  51. KC said

    Possum

    The 2004 result and the preference flows were one offs, I don’t think you can use past preference flows to look at the present due to the disappearance of the Democrats, the rise and fall of One Nation and the suprise result of Family First. Though I feel FF have had a lot of recent exposure recently about their backers and the nature of the party that may count against them

    The best we can do is rely on the preference flow from the polls as that is what te people polled are saying.

    It does seem strange to take into account and accept their primary vote and then try and reason out why the subsequent preferences are the way they are.

  52. Leopold said

    Bizarre is the word. There’s no objective level on which 1) the size of Labor’s primary vote lead, 2) the 2PP preference flows, 3) Rudd’s personal numbers… can really be argued to make sense.

    A Labor lead such as the one Kim Beazley had in late 2006 can be justified. A narrow (or even solid – 80-85 seats) Labor victory based on a sense of boredom and annoyance, yes. But the smashing landslide the polls have been predicting for 10 long months? I dislike Howard, but looking at things rationally, I just can’t explain it. Which is why I kept (and to an extent, keep) thinking it can’t be real.

    I think many government ministers are having the same problem.

  53. Niz said

    Just as an exercise in interest, id like to see the last 8 months news polls laid over the top of the 8 months of news polls leading into the 1996 election.

    Someone suggested that perhaps voters were waiting for howard with nerf bats on their porches instead of the real ones they had for Keating. Perhaps its those recalled nerf bats with the iron pole inside that you can slide the foam off.

  54. Niz: “Just as an exercise in interest, id like to see the last 8 months news polls laid over the top of the 8 months of news polls leading into the 1996 election.”

    Bryan Palmer has exactly the beast you want if you scroll close to the bottom on this page: http://www.ozpolitics.info/guide/elections/fed2007/polls2007/

    It is titled Newspoll 1996v2007. It is one of the most interesting and revealing graphs Bryan does.

  55. cortexvortex said

    In answer to Leopold (I think?) re why such a huge lead for Labor in such good economic times? my theory is that the demise of the unions has reduced the number of rusted on supporters from both sides.

    I believe that the threat of unions was a powerful influence on a large section of the community but the absence of negative headlines ie Strikes etc has made Labor a palatable choice for many.

  56. thedjselectionometer said

    Possum,

    I’m a huge fan of your analysis, but I’m one of the pessimists for a large Labor win. The disorganisation in many regional Labor Party branches is infamous in Queensland. The reason? The Labor Party is so used to losing these seats to the National Party (or a Liberal Party candidate in a few significant cases) that they appear incapable of pulling themselves up and making a fight of it. John Howard (although I hate to admit it) does have a chance of winning seats where it counts.

    Do I really think that this will correlate to saving more than 16 seats – no way! Bring on the carnage! But a bit of food for thought – the word on the ground (at least among coalition ranks, and I count myself as part of them) is that there will be a *narrowing* in marginals (though I am using the term marginals to refer to seats at 6%) simply because of the Labor Party being disorganised at the local level.

    Just what I’m hearing mate, but as I said: Bring on the Carnage. Even I think it’s about time for a change.

  57. Like Santa…

    …the Newspoll is also apparently coming early this week.
    According to the Newspoll survey, there was no real change in the two-party-preferred support for Labor, with a 12-point lead last weekend of 56 to 44 per cent, compared with 55 to 45 per c…

  58. Modular Buildings…

    […]The Narrowing « Possums Pollytics[…]…

  59. ШЕРСТЬ, ВОЛОКНА, ШЕЛК, АКСЕССУАРЫ ДЛЯ ВАЛЯНИЯ, ВСЕ ДЛЯ БИЖУТЕРИИ, ПРЯЖА ДЛЯ ВАЛЯНИЯ И ВЯЗАНИЯ, ФУРНИТУРА ДЛЯ СУМОК, Кожа и…

    […]The Narrowing « Possums Pollytics[…]…

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