Possums Pollytics

Politics, elections and piffle plinking

The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

Posted by Possum Comitatus on October 19, 2007

And for those ALP supporters, remember, the cover says “Don’t Panic!” :mrgreen:

Two new big polls out today; the Coalitions favourite pollster Galaxy and the mogodon of Australian polling, ACNielsen, have both unleashed their figures on the nervous political landscape.

With impeccable timing for the Coalition that only Galaxy can muster, their poll today showed a 3 point increase in the Coalitions primary vote to 43 and one point drop in the ALP primary to 45. This resulted in a two-party preferred estimate of 53/47, a 3 point drop from last polls ALP 56 headline figure.

The minor party and others vote reduced from 14 down to 12 and the undecideds were at an extremely low 4%. The MoE was about 3.5%

So, what to make of this?

The Galaxy result has the ALP at somewhere between 56.5% and 49.5% on a TPP.

Galaxy also had Rudd ahead in the Preferred PM stakes at 50% to 41% for Howard.

That makes it business as usual until we see another Galaxy, as is always the way with these things. Small samples don’t help either.

Moving right along to ACNielsen, the primary votes of the ALP and the Coalition were both up, with the ALP up 1 to 48 and the Coalition up 2 to 42. This resulted in a two party preferred estimate of 54/46 to the ALP.

Again, no movement – business as usual.

The minor party and other vote collapsed 3 points to 10 and the MoE on the poll was about 2.5% 3%.

So all we can say is that the ALP is on TPP terms somewhere between 51.5% and 56.5% 51% and 57%.

[I misread the sample size for ACN there… sorry]

Interesting though is the change in the preference flows for ACN. Last poll ACN had the preference flow to the ALP at 69%, consistent with preference flows for the last 8 months or so, and this poll has it down at 60%. That suggests that the Coalition picked up minor party voters that were preferencing the ALP and received a primary vote from them, improving their own position and also improving their preference flows from the remaining minor party vote.

Personally that looks a bit smelly to me, and a 55 TPP figure running off the back of 48 primary would be more consistent with every other poll published over the last 8 months in terms of preference flows – excluding, of course, the governments perennial favourite pollster, Galaxy with their congruous timing.


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96 Responses to “The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy”

  1. Matthew said

    I didn’t think all the stuff in this morning’s papers was totally accurate, and figured that this was all basically inside the MoE each of the polls operate within.

    Thanks for the analysis, Possum – always nice to know Howard still looks more than likely to be gone in 5 weeks time! 🙂

  2. David Gould said

    Do you know why both pollsters used smaller samples this time?

  3. absolut_andrew said

    Possum you write a brilliant column! Your analysis on the advertising spin on ‘Be Clever’ was particularly insightful. Good to see you’re garnering some recognition via Crikey. (Long time reader, first time commenter)

  4. mark-sydney said

    Thanks for that Possum – some of us were getting concerned!
    I thought Peter Hartcher’s analysis of all this in the SMH (in the main Opinion section – not in their Decision ’07 area) here: http://www.smh.com.au/news/opinion/look-at-me-tactics-give-pm-hope/2007/10/18/1192300948339.html was pretty spot on and you’ve kind of confirmed all that here too…
    My feeling is that these polls are going to hover around these kinds of numbers in both directions for the next four weeks or so and then start oscillating wildly a bit more heading into the final week…anyway, we’ll see
    Looking forward to the Mike Bailey/Joe Hockey debate this afternoon! Should be interesting…

  5. George said

    Possum, other than the two cups of coffee I NEED to have before 10am each morning, I think I hit your site 100+ times in eager anticipation of the day’s political analysis. You are my MAIN source of info for this election. Your analysis is superb!

  6. BlueSkyMining said

    Thanks for the summary and analysis Possum. It just goes to show once again how the MSM barely *ever* quote poll results in a truthful, considered manner.

    MSM, write on the blackboard 500 time before lunch the following:

    “We must quote the result range given the margin of error.”
    “We must quote the result range given the margin of error.”
    “We must quote the result range given the margin of error.”

  7. country kid said

    Some of the chatter (poll bludger) runs the idea that KR is off to a bad start – & ask why he hasn’t gone in harder.

    Isn’t it a good idea to let the other side start with all guns blazing while KR holds his high ground position.

    JWH’s ‘noise’ has grabbed a bit of attention among those who are usually disinterested – thats good.

    By holding fire – KR can now capitalise on the lift in election awareness among the masses(calling it interest might be stretching the point).

    With a slightly more attentive audience – he can maintain & develop the stories on the important bits: health, education, training, technology, water, energy – all underlined with an optimism for the future & calm resolve to truely serve in the best intersts of the country.

  8. BlueSkyMining said

    country kid @7, I have to admit that after avidly reading all the commentary on pollbludger for the month previous to the campaign starting, I have given up since Tuesday because the level of noise and rubbish has just sky-rocketed this week. I now only read William’s topic post then do a Ctl-F on the comments for “Possum” “William” and “Antony” and ignore the rest!

    And I agree with you, despite all the “bad start for Kevin” stuff on pollbludger and everywhere else in the MSM, I cannot see what he has done wrong *at all* yet in a strategic sense. We are only 5 days into a 6 week campaign for gods sake!

  9. Lomandra said

    “Possum, other than the two cups of coffee I NEED to have before 10am each morning, I think I hit your site 100+ times in eager anticipation of the day’s political analysis. You are my MAIN source of info for this election. Your analysis is superb!”

    Yikes, George. Are you me??

  10. Possum Comitatus said

    Why thank you all, underneath my furry facade I’m blushing profusely.

    One thing we all need to remember over the polling season is that in an election campaign, the variance of the polling is larger on average than it is ordinarily. That’s probably as a result of the undecided voters starting to make up their mind, that 5% of newsvoters regularly changing their mind as the headlines and issues of the day change much more regularly and the usual things that happen in election campaigns that turn people off some members, or the advertising that sucks them in over some particular issue.

    We should expect to see some polls over the campaign with much more volatile results than we’ve been used to lately. Campaigns are like the full moon, they make people do funny things.

  11. Possum Comitatus said

    David – I dont know why the sample sizes were smaller this time, it’s a good question.They might have had time constraints.

  12. BlueSkyMining said

    Of course, like George and Lomandra, I have to say I found myself “refreshing the possum” a dozen times this morning waiting for the analysis of the posts. I also noticed myself skipping Lateline last night and AM this morning thinking “I wont waste my time, I will read about it from Possum”.

    Waiting until midday almost killed me 🙂

  13. Possum Comitatus said

    Strategy is a game played over a longer term, tactics are what happens on a day to day and even week to week basis.

    You can be the greatest political tactician of all time, but if your broader strategy is crap, you’ll get beaten.

    Its chess vs checkers.

    Howard had the tactical victory in the first week, he played his big card, he changed the media narrative and now he has some polling results that can be used to gee up the troops. If he can go well in the debate in Sunday he’ll take strong momentum into week 2 of the campaign.If he fluffs the debate, the tactical victory of this week may be completely flushed away.

    But you can only launch the $34 billion tax cut program once. He now has 5 weeks to go and his biggest shot has been fired.I know whose shoes I’d rather be in at this stage of the game.

  14. BlueSkyMining said

    And lastly before I pop off to lunch, an off-topic comment for Possum’s pleasure…

    As an occasional reader of New Scientist magazine (my link with a past life) I found in the latest edition the following small article:

    “Possum breaks record with year-long snooze”

    “A possum has set an enviable record for doing absolutely nothing. After stuffing itself full of food in a laboratory, one curled up and hibernated for a record 367 days.

    It used just one-fortieth of the energy it does while awake, which probably allows the possum to survive lean times in Australia’s unpredictable climate”

    So I was just wondering Possum, is this how you make it through those long and dreary non-election years?

  15. Chatswood Statsman said

    I too have to get my Possum adrenalin rush each morning before I open the SMH and AFR. As an ex statistician I loved your regression on economic management v primary vote for the Coalition where you got the negative coefficient.

    I like the absence of abuse and points scoring on this blog (although I do enjoy the skewering of the GG hacks)
    Keep it up

  16. SJP said

    I also wish to thank you Possum. After 2004 I don’t think I would be survive the next 5 weeks without you! By the way is your nom de blog a play on “posse comitatus”?

  17. BlueSkyMining said

    Ok, so forgetting all the tactical noise for the moment, it would seem that the general strategies from the two parties could be summarises like this:

    Labor: we have a strong lead already and a long 6 week campaign. Let’s keep our powder dry, watch and counter the Liberal’s daily tactics early on, then roll out more and bigger policies each week until the end. But let the Liberal’s make the first mistakes…

    Liberal: we are way behind, we need a big-bang to wake everyone up early and get the media & momentum on our side. Keep another big-bang in our pocket for half way through and fill the spaces in-between with fear-and-smear (and cross our fingers)

    Ok, so this may be a little trite, but what do others thin the general campaign strategies of each party was coming into the election, now that we have seen the opening sequence?

  18. Kymbos said

    Phew! Thanks, Possum – the wait was killing me.

    What will you do when the election is over, I wonder? I imagine you will put the furry suit away for a while, at the back of the wardrobe, and wear the clothes of an ordinary citizen, walking the streets like an ordinary man… until next time.

    Or, I’ve just had a bit too much coffee while waiting today…

  19. Possum Comitatus said

    It sure is SJP.

    Bluesky – that’s looks like a pretty accurate representation so far.

    The ALP havent started their own proper advertising campaign yet, while the Coalition was out of the gate on day one. On the policy side, the ALP keeps filling in the pieces of its policy program on issues they are well positioned on like health, education and infrastructure. It’s like they are just drip feeding pleasantries into the public mindset to remind everyone that they’re still around and “this is what we stand for” sort of thing. Their big stuff – tax, childcare and the inevitable joint press conference with the State Premiers to unleash some enormous program that the Commonwealth only has to pay half for is yet to come.

    Howards tax gamble was a big risk – and it worked for week 1. Whether there’ll be any residual effect into week 2 and beyond is the big question.

  20. GS said

    Is ‘refreshing the possum’ some strange euphemism? One is enjoying the analysis and measured commentary here. Found PB a bit breathless and increasingly subject to what I can only presume is an all-night blog attack by young Liberals who were never taught punctuation.

  21. Blacklight said


    I hear a rumor Possum is actually not a Possum.


  22. Blacklight said

    possum, just avoid the ‘Threatning Bears’ from the Sideshow…


  23. Possum Comitatus said

    That’s a good question Kymbos – I havent decided yet.

    I’ve had some interesting offers to do a few things after the election and I’ve got to say this is far more interesting than being an economist. But I’ll deal with all that after the election.Until the 24th November, it’s all politics.

  24. Possum Comitatus said

    GS – “refreshing the possum” is making me feel a tad nervous!

  25. Xercius said

    I agree, BlueSkyMining . . . I see no evidence of a ‘bad start’ for the Opposition Leader either. My reasoning for this feeds from my agreement with Possum regarding the subtleties between ‘tactics’ and ‘strategy’.

    An analogy to illustrate. An election campaign might be compared to a stage of the Tour de France (‘cept without the dubious chemical assistance). A good strategy to increase the chances of a win is to keep out of the breeze, stay up near the front of the bunch and think long and hard before deploying a tactic such as an attack on a climb ( . . . in terms of, ‘What have I got to gain and what have I got to lose?’).

    Extending the analogy a bit. From what I have seen of Big Kev’s efforts towards Paris thus far, he has been doing just that . . . he’s been letting the other blokes face the wind, has avoided a few falls back in the bunch, but is never far off the current yellow jersey holder’s wheel. I wouldn’t mind betting that he’s holding off on the big tactical moves until the final 20 – 30 kms. All part of the overall strategy you see. You quietly and inconspicuously wear your opponent down by carefully positioning them, until they’ve got nothing left in the tank in the final 1km and then 500 metres.

    Rarely do those solo breakaways (big tactical splurges early on) succeed.

  26. Dinsdale Piranha said

    On something a little different, re your “music to blog by”

    Check out http://www.radiohead.com/deadairspace/ to download their new album. You can pay whatever you want for it, including nothing if you are a git.

    It’s nice to live on the same planet as Radiohead.

  27. BlueSkyMining said

    GS, as I indicated early our favourite Possum may only require bodily refreshment (admittedly in copious amounts) once a year, however the rest of us mere mortals must “refresh the possum” in our web browsers once every minute to get the latest updates…..

    BTW, I checked out the WordPress blog features at http://wordpress.com/features/ and couldn’t see any RSS feed or similar notification mechanism to alert viewers to new posts and comments. Is there any such thing? Would make life much easier although whether that would be more or less distracting than “refreshing the possum” I couldn’t say!)

  28. dany le roux said

    Analysis such as you did for the post “Does Economic Management Influence the Primary Vote” must have had a wake up effect on some poll commentators in the Ratty supporting press to the extent that they might be careful about primary voter data assumptions in the future. i.e.could you do something with the ALP primary vote as the dependent variable and the TPP as the independent variable so that future polsters are not tempted to present “smelly” data for fear of being sprung by superior Possum analysis?

  29. Possum Comitatus said

    Bluesky – my RSS feed link for new posts is in the sidebar.


    I don’t have one for comments.

  30. wantok said

    Here’s another factor to consider: we’ve heard a lot about nosediving donations to the Liberal Party, and a real campaigning resource crunch, to the extent that plausibly-winnable seats have had to be written off.

    What if the “go hard early” tactic is actually about financial desperation? Getting some runs up front, and a friendly poll or two, then hitting the donors fast while their prospects look slightly rosier than deep grey?

  31. Possum Comitatus said

    That’s entirely plausible Wantok, particularly for the local campaigns where the donations have been dying up the fastest. A bit of a sniff of “back in the game” could probably pull in some much needed financial assistance for the local campaign outfits.

  32. MsLaurie said

    Ah Possum. Your blog is a lovely little spirit reviver!

    I find it interesting that Labor seems to have very little in the way of advertising yet – an interesting approach, considering we’ve been hearing all year that they have significant financial resources this time around.

  33. GS said

    Oh I suppose its all about hitting ‘f9’. Just sounded like an excuse to disengage at a tiresome cocktail party: “Excuse me, just have to pop off and refresh the possum’…

    I too will – if the MSM lets me – visit this site following the next Newspoll as I think I’ll not want to be reading Shanahan’s ‘take’ on it (probably crowing over 1%) over my cornflakes.

  34. BlueSkyMining said

    Thanks for the feed URL Possum. At least that gives me simple alternative to getting notified about new posts by your good self.

  35. Kymbos said

    Apparently Rudd is announcing Labor’s tax policy at a 2:15pm press conference.

  36. Mark-Sydney said

    Kymbos – where did you hear that?
    David Speers has said a few times today that Rudd has been rumoured to be going to announce something “major” today…could this be it?!
    Thanks for the heads up

  37. codger said


  38. Possum Comitatus said

    Thanks for the heads up Kymbos – I better go and turn on the ever dreary SkyNooz and watch. Hopefully that human porcupine Speers will be out of camera shot.

  39. El Nino said

    #2 and #11 – I am a bit late but…

    The sample sizes would have been smaller because they would have had to trim reposnses to ‘fit’ with the usual weekend demographic profile. For example, you tend to get a higher affluence in the demographic on the weekend. To fit the same as their weekend profile they would have had to drop out a lot of the pesky lower affluence respondents.

  40. Mark-Sydney said

    Funny Possum (re: SkyNooz)…just do what I do and have it on in another room while doing something else, that way you can ignore watching the constant loop of talking head pieces and just wait for when someone starts *talking very loud in a very serious voice* [I’m sure the music gets louder too]!

  41. BlueSkyMining said

    I like the analogy Xercius, especially as the drama of Le Tour is all in watching the riders “blow up” as they run out of steam on each hill.

    Two questions though:

    – For our political riders does the energy equation look like this?
    1. energy = money
    or this?
    2. energy = positive media attention
    in which case the first equation gives you the “whole Tour” equation for timing your run (Labour strategy?) while the second gives you a new start and a fresh pair of legs each day (Liberal strategy?). Possum@31 also sees 2 feeding into 1. I suspect it is a single equation combining both parameters, so how important is each of those two factors over the long run? I have no idea myself. Anyone?

    Also, cycling is a teem sport and “protecting the leader” is as important a tactic as any other, both on a daily basis and for staying in contention over the whole Tour. Which brings me to my second question:

    – How good are the respective teams going to be at protecting their leader? And how do you do that in a political sense during a campaign? What are the pros/cons of having two nominated leaders in the same team?

  42. Doug said

    Morgan Poll out claims to pick up movement to Coalition on the basis of tax cuts

  43. Tom said

    Greetings to the furry four legged one. I’ve been known to do the odd possum refresh myself, but decided to put a few bits of carrot on the patio instead to encourage the pos down for some more insightful anaylsis, and here we have it… Thanks possum.

    So after nearly a week of the campaign the liberals have gone for the king hit. Only, the referee set the rules in advance so that the opposition leader must enter the ring with his hands tied behind his back and wearing no head gear or mouth guard, so the PM can land bare knuckle blows at will, oh and each round is to be of 10 minute duration. Sounds fair to me, quit that unaustralian grumbling up the back of the room there son! How else do you describe several months of treasury analysis, followed by a massive $34 billion in phased tax cuts announced on day one of the campaign, closely followed by a chorus of endless squealing from the usual suspects in the government and the media, all shouting down the opposition for not immediately releasing their tax policy. Oh yeah, nearly forgot that you have to debate us this sunday even though there are five weeks of unannounced policy that will never be debated, including the opposition tax policy (in my estimation).

    Then for the remainder of the week we see the mainstream press falling over themselves in a collective love in for the government. But what has changed, poss? A sliver of movement in the polls is jumped on like it’s the government’s salvation. But it sure cost ’em a pretty penny didn’t it (of our money mind you).

    A few comments on the performance of the key players getting towards the end of week one. Coalition = desperate rabble. Labor = unfazed frontrunner wondering if it’s even worth the effort putting in (since the campaign should not have started till this coming sunday considering the announced election date). It seems everything the government has done during the course of this year comes across as a monumental and barely thought out stunt. It’s pretty obvious what the strategy has been, yet the press lap it up like a master stroke from the collective geniuses running the campaign of the contestant in the blue corner.

    The punters are left to ask the obvious question, how on earth can the Labor party counter? Let’s just call the election now as a return of the government then shall we? Er, in your dreams… This is going to be fun to watch, especially when the other bloke actually decides to untie his arms and hurl a bit of leather. And in case you’re wondering, of course he has to wear boxing gloves cause otherwise he could seriously hurt the champ. Sounds fair to me!

  44. CL de Footscray said

    In a very brief period i’ve become very dependent on Possum – you are a very informative critter! I too have been refreshing the possum all morning, in an attempt to keep fluttering despair at bay … Now, to torts – in my brief and undistinguished military career I had the good fortune to study the battle of Marathon. In this battle, the Greeks defeated a much superior Persian force, by thinning the centre phalanxes of their army and reinforcing the wings. As the Greeks advanced, the wings turned to envelop the Persians. As the Persians advanced in response, the Greeks withdrew their centre, which meant that the Persians were surrounded and slaughtered. In other words, they went soft in the first week in order to outflank the Persians when it mattered. Hopefully the Libs haven’t read Herodotus. Hopefully the Kruddites have. May I extend the metaphor a little, and suggest that as every Marathon runner knows, that event is a 5k race preceded by a 37.2 k warmup. There’s still a fair way to go before anyone starts sprinting, I suggest!

  45. Rod said

    The new Morgan has:
    TPP at ALP 55.5%, L-NP 44.5%
    Primary ALP 45%, L-NP 39.5%




  46. canberra boy said

    Re #2, #11 & #39 – I would think that the smaller sample sizes are more to do with timing and cost. The ‘regular’ monthly Nielsen & Galaxy polls are conducted on weekends, where they are free to ring voters all day and into the evening. The two latest polls were either commissioned on the Sunday after the election announcement or on Monday in response to the tax cuts. In both cases they were run from Monday to Wednesday, meaning that a very high proportion of respondents would only be available at home in a limited evening window of calling opportunity. Cost may also be a factor for the commissioning media – obviously you pay more to employ more call centre staff if you aim for a bigger sample size.

  47. JustAlarmed said

    I would like to add my thanks to the small furry one for his outstanding analysis. I have jettisoned my MSM favourites, and even the bloggers on PB are getting a little shrill…

  48. B1 said

    First tax points are in:


  49. Thanks Possum for calming the panic. 🙂

    If you don’t think there’s much to this shift, now’s a good time to put some money on the ALP as the bookies’ odds have spiked!

  50. stevet said

    Just listened to Rudd on tax policy. Think he has got them well and truly.

  51. John V K said

    Right on Tom, 43.

    Saved me a lot of typing now I can have a beer.

  52. John V K said

    And CL footscray, cheers.

  53. Mark-Sydney said

    stevet – that was my initial reaction too (re: the tax reform plan)……the only thing that bothered me was the journo’s questions
    after got bogged down in a lot of detail (from the journos not Rudd & Swan) – time will tell how this is received but it’s a smart move from Labor to give some of the tax cuts but have the education refund and cutting out one tax bracket from the cuts while also promising to flatten the tax rates down to 3 instead of 4
    Very interesting move and should give JWH and Rudd some interesting talking points on Sunday night!

  54. Ian said

    Morgan poll states
    “Currently, 17.5% (down 5%) of all electors say Australia is “heading in the right direction” yet say they would vote Labor if an election were held today. The Morgan Poll considers these electors to be “Soft ALP voters”

    Interesting analysis and proves that you need to ask the questions carefully.

    Could it be that the respondents believe that the Government will change and hence ‘the country is heading in the right direction’?

  55. Chatswood Statsman said

    That “heading in the right direction” question is extremely ambiguous. IMO Aust has been in heading in the wrong direction until this year, but my support for Greens/ALP is anything but soft!

  56. El Nino said

    #46 – I hope there is also some demographic trimming involved, otherwise the polls are more bunk than I already suspect.

  57. TMP said

    What I am seeing is a lot of coalition advertising principally concerned with scaremongering. The endless call of union puppets is annoying, the bleakness and dreariness is quite cleverly negated by the image of Rudd actually talking to the populace. I think it is a very clever move to let Howard swing wildly toward the underbelly, absorb these punches while putting on a brave face, continue to appear in the public space as calm and collected and then release small policies which are linked to the drift of the whole years proposals.

    Howard continues to look flustered and is issuing foolish, retreaded and unconnected policy while Labor appears to be releasing parts of a picture that fits neatly together to match the focus on education, health, infrastructure without forgetting the need to feed the greedy hip pockets.

  58. mate said

    Alas, tis true… I’ve have been “refreshing the possum” abit too much lately.

    My eyesight is getting blurry 😉

  59. mate said

    Or mebbe that should be “furry’..ok, ok,

    I’ll stop now 😉

  60. CK said

    “The Galaxy result has the ALP at somewhere between 56.5% and 49.5% on a TPP. Galaxy also had Rudd ahead in the Preferred PM stakes at 50% to 41% for Howard.”

    WTF sort of bullshit figures are these?

  61. Possum Comitatus said

    CK – Galaxy ones.Their figures for the 4 Queensland marginals last weekend were even more dubious.The preference flows for those seats were utter nonsense.

    That’s why I pay very little attention to Galaxy polls normally – but being the election, one really has to mention them.

    TMP – that’s a good description “Howard looking retreaded”.That’s a good description of the image that the ALP seems to be trying to frame Howard with.Howard going negative early is a big risk too, that stuff will give you a bounce, but it risks wearing out.

    There’s a law of diminishing returns with that kind of advertising, that’s why I dont expect the big ALP scare ads to come out in the back half of the election.

    So saying, they’ll probably prove me wrong and launch a cascade of them tonight!

  62. CK said

    It’s OK Possum, I wasn’t having a go at you, and thanks for the response BTW.

    Galaxy really seems to be all over the shop, and if these are the sort of ridiculously large (i.e. meaningless) ballparks they’re playing in, well, words fail me.

    Interestingly though, Anthony Green is today predicting a vigorous coalition win.
    His predicted seat-by-seat outcome here:


  63. Possum Comitatus said

    That’s alright CK – I agree with you on Galaxy.They’ve been all over the shop all year.

    Antony’s calculator is interactive – you’ve got to move the slider.I don’t think Antony is actually predicting anything much.

  64. CK said

    Not having a go at you PP. Galaxy is all over the shop, and if they’re posting such ridiculous ballpark figures … well, words fail me.

    But, more pertinently, Anthony Green is calling it for the coalition with a 30 seat majority.

    His seat-by-seat breakdown here: http://www.abc.net.au/elections/federal/2007/

    I haven’t quite figured out how he’s worked it, but hey – big call.

  65. CK said

    “Antony’s calculator is interactive – you’ve got to move the slider.I don’t think Antony is actually predicting anything much.”

    Oh I get it now. The point being absolutely nothing. What a dumb idea.

  66. CK said

    And Fairfax’s “Whack-A-Poll” is definitely worth a go. Seems pretty scientific to me:


  67. Enemy Combatant said

    Opening Soon In The Valley:

    CAFE COMITATUS is a High-Concept, low-rent, open-all-hours licensed establishment catering exclusively to discerning pseph-heads and disowned political junkies.
    Appointments include: multiple wall screens featuring domestic tv/cable, satellite, and constant re-runs of all episodes of West Wing. Cafe Comitatus is BYOPC-friendly, sporting six(6) broadband sockets per table. There are daily special-guest-appearances In Season from celebrity shills, serious scholars, high-profile blog-meistres and “known” poll tragics . Only primo baristas are afforded the opportunity to dish their wares. Banter and craic most days are to-die-for and at a pinch, the tucker ain’t half bad although it’s a joint where nobody comes just to eat. Table 42 is reserved for Mr. Green when visiting BrisVegas. Comfort trolls and humourless party hacks are dissuaded.

    A November launch is expected, the date TBA.

    (creative thanks to George, Lomandra and Blue Sky)

  68. CK said

    “CAFE COMITATUS is a High-Concept, low-rent, open-all-hours licensed establishment catering exclusively to discerning pseph-heads and disowned political junkies.”

    So this is like Timezone, right?

  69. George said

    Enemy Combatant, can I sign up for a life membership? Just point me to the credit card screen….

  70. Possum Comitatus said

    EC – sounds tempting!

  71. George said

    Hey Poss, can you fill us in on how the margin of errors are determined, especially with so many variations in polling methodologies?

  72. Possum Comitatus said

    George, the methodology for MoEs are found over here:

    But a rough rule of thumb that works well for the types of polls we see in politics in Australia is, for a 95% confidence interval, you divide 0.98 by the square root of the sample size.

    How they are determined by each pollster for their individual polls gets more complicated if they do it properly, because their weighting mechanism starts to impact upon the MoE, and the sample size and population size become issues and the calculations need to be adjusted accordingly. Without knowing the exact weighting mechanisms involved (they’re generally pretty closely guarded secrets) I can’t really offer an opinion.

    But the rough equation will work as far as we are concerned here because we really dont need to get the margin of error right to so many decimal places.To the nearest half is enough for a basic idea of polling credibility.

  73. Enemy Combatant said

    Might have to lash out on a new frock, CK. Wanna handle the monthly Cabaret?

  74. George said

    Thanks Poss. the second part of your answer was what I was hoping to get an insight on, but as you note, they [pollsters] don’t exactly spell out their whole methodology and thus how they come to their MOE. It’s interesting that no one seems to use a 2400+ sample size in any one poll (correct me if I’m wrong). It would much less fluctuation due to the MOE and less analysis by the MSM on something they may not be real. But the, what fun would that be!

  75. BlueSkyMining said

    EC, being an escapee from Melbourne to a central highlands town with more cafes per head of population (1 per 300) than my previous abode of South Yarra, I would give up every one of them for life if I had a CAFE COMITATUS nearby. Hell, I could even shut down my home office and run my business on those “six(6) broadband sockets” at my regular Table 43 up the back right next to the “primo baristas”. One question: does Mr Green (makes Antony sound very “reservoir dogs”!) sit at Table 42 to ponder the Question or dispense the answers to LTU&E?

    Maybe a franchise is on the cards for latte-sipping lefties like us….

  76. Possum Comitatus said

    You’ve hit the nail on the head there George – small samples make for good journalistic copy because there is, more often than not, movement!

    If the polls stayed the same, what would they say?

    “Nothing to see here, please turn to page 5 and look at Lindsay Lohans latest rehab shots”?

    And lets face it, if there wasnt as much silly MSM polling commentary around, there’d be a lot less fun happening over here. 🙂

    2400+ polling would be quite expensive. I dont think the polling agencies could financially sustain that sort of expenditure.

  77. BlueSkyMining said

    Looks like my last (serious) “media release” (i.e. comment) at #42 above got swamped by the Kevin07 Shiny New Tax Policy announcement 30min later…

    … now I know how L1 and L2 feel 🙂

    Any thoughts anyone?

  78. BlueSkyMining said

    Poss, interesting comment re sample sizes… is there any prior evidence to show that the poll sample sizes taken are larger in the last week of a campaign so that the pollsters (possibly) can claim to have “called the result” correctly?

  79. George said

    Poss: “Nothing to see here, please turn to page 5 and look at Lindsay Lohans latest rehab shots”… stop that, I’m trying to drink my 5th late for the day…

    But you’re right, the cost is probably prohibitive. I wonder if now that the election proper is on, the sample sizes go down due to even more frequent polling?

  80. Possum Comitatus said

    I dont actually have a record at hand of the sample sizes of the polls for previous elections, but looking back over the polling results for elections going back to 1993, they do seem to have a lot of variation until the last week where they close up quite tight onto the actual election result. That suggests to me at least that the sample sizes reduce during the campaign (as the polling becomes more frequent), but that the last week they go back to larger samples in an attempt to claim bragging rights on accuracy.

    I’ve never noticed that before – the cheeky bastards!

    Thanks guys for bringing it up.

  81. Enemy Combatant said

    Both,I reckon, BSM. Re the franchise; always found theatre of the mind rather difficult to administer on a business basis, though I suppose one should always remain open to the possibility nice little earner. Perhaps a post election pow-wow is worth considering. Que sera sera.

  82. BlueSkyMining said

    Hmmmm…. gotta love a home-cooked conspiracy theory confirmed in 5 minutes flat. Thanks Possum!

    Ok, here’s my next question on MoE then.

    Back in my prior-life-as-a-trainee-physicist days, we would to graph all our experimental data with “error bars” to indicate the MoE either side of the sample point, like so (my best ASCII art attempt):


    Then we would plot a (preferably straight) line-of-best-fit through the error bars, not just join-the-dots of the sample points. Why don’t we see this done by anyone analysing the poll results? Admittedly the data is a time series that suggest a moving-average fit is applicable, but if it is true (as has been suggested repeatedly) that the Labour 2PP poll results are essentially remaining unchanged from poll-to-poll then wouldn’t this be worthwhile? Or am I missing something?

  83. BlueSkyMining said

    Sure EC, I for one can tell you that turning a “high-concept” into business reality aint’ all beer and skittles. But it is anything but boring and beats working for the man. Just be sure to find the right partner to share the work load and hire Possum to be your figurehead/promoter/interior design consultant 🙂

    So you have Doris Day on the play list at the Cafe?

  84. George said

    Agree BlueSkyMining – same here. When I undertook medical science at Uni and during postgrad studies, anything we graphed had to show error bars. You’re probably trying to compare high scientific analysis with polling 😉 Not sure if the two go hand in hand.

    BTW everyone, not sure if you guys have seen the Yes PM episode where Sir Humphrey explains “surveys” to Bernard:

  85. Rod said

    A query.

    When was the last time that Labour had a lead of this magnitude at the end of the first week of an election campaign?

    When was the last time any party had a lead of this magnitude and subsequently lost?



  86. Rod said

    Sorry, the second Q in my previous post should have read “When was the last time any party had a lead of this magnitude AT THIS POINT IN AN ELECTION CAMPAIGN and subsequently lost?”

  87. Chris said

    ““Possum, other than the two cups of coffee I NEED to have before 10am each morning, I think I hit your site 100+ times in eager anticipation of the day’s political analysis. You are my MAIN source of info for this election. Your analysis is superb!”

    Yikes, George. Are you me?? ”

    Ditto for me, except I’m trying to follow all this from London and hit the site 5 times between 23:00-23:30 (8:00-8:30) trying desperately to find out what Possum’s daily post is. It’s great stuff mate, keep up the good work.

  88. Rod Hagen said

    While we are on the Hitchhikers theme, has anybody else noticed the new “technique” during interviews of having an extra nodding / frowning head in camera shot behind the PM to re-inforce whatever he says.

    Does this technique immediately invoke the notion to anyone else that we have really have been under the control of an ageing, xenophobic, Zaphod Beeblebrox for the last few years?

    Whenever I see it I find myself thinking of one of the quotes from the Radio version of Hitchhikers:

    “If I had two heads like you, Zaphod, I could have hours of fun banging them against a wall.”



  89. BlueSkyMining said

    “Bluesky – my RSS feed link for new posts is in the sidebar.


    I don’t have one for comments.”

    Gadzooks, but I must be an idiot. There is an “RSS feed for comments on this post” link staring me in the face just above the “leave a comment” section….. so if I want to get notifications of new comments appearing on a blog topic I just have to add that RSS feed to Bloglines or similar.

  90. philmour said

    JWH’s response to “The Chaser” rabbit stunt was not at all cheery. Not a good look really. Is it a moment like the 2004 handshake or not?

  91. Leopold said

    Maybe ACN’s preference flows above 60% or so shouldn’t be taken all that seriously.

    They were the same (and wrong) in 2004.

  92. Firemaker said

    Just wondering if the 1% ALP primary gain but 2% 2pp loss actually indicates that previous predictions of preference flows was ovestated for the ALP and the actual 2pp was always 54/46.

  93. John Wriedt said

    Re :BlueSkyMining — October 19, 2007 @ 12:23 pm
    I completely agree with you !!
    Great analysis Possum, I’m an avid fan of your site, it’s going to be a great 5 weeks..

  94. The Doctor said

    just a note on the tactics/strategy thing, it is always possible that coming across a really good tactic can change a strategy.
    If you are good they merge seamlessly.

  95. rossco said

    just going back to the Antony Green calculator, the way I read it a 2PP of >51.5 would give Labor a majority of seats so they could still drop a couple of points on the latest polls and still win. Of course more than 51.5 is just icing on the cake. Looking forward to the next Newspoll now Labor has its tax policy out. Will they do their polling over the weekend or wait until after the debate?

  96. Enemy Combatant said

    The humble side of raw ambition is tastefully understated on a shingle outside the great man’s Toorak office;

    The Hon. Peter Costello, MHR
    Member for Higgins
    Worm Master.
    Board Odds: 1.43/ 2.70

    This could be the moment where the Political becomes the Permacultural;
    when a campaign meets its destiny in a compost heap.

    On the upside for Team Smirk-Rodent, the Inattentive Green Vote is definitely up for grabs.

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