Possums Pollytics

Politics, elections and piffle plinking

The Dog Ate My Narrowing.

Posted by Possum Comitatus on October 23, 2007

Newspoll Tuesday started off with a bang. A 1706 sample poll giving the ALP a 58/42 headline TPP result.

The primaries are running 51/38 against the Coalition and the big result is “No Change”, just as it’s been since the beginning of March. But since when has the absence of change ever stopped us from ranting endlessly about these polls.

With a 1706 sample, the MoE should be about 2.5%, but Newspoll says 3% so who am I to argue – could be the weighting variance causing that, or maybe Newspoll just cut and paste the usual minutia into their output which you can find in The Oz HERE.

[George informs us via the lovely Ms Marks of Newspoll , that the MoE is indeed 2.5%]

But let us first look at the beauty contest – the infamous preferred PM numbers that we were assured, not that long, would lead to better times for the Coalition.

Rudd is up 2 to 50, Howard is down 2 to 37.Looking at these numbers since November 2006 using the monthly Newspoll average series we get:


Remember the story “Howard Checks Rudds March”? The lecture we were all given by those that own Newspoll about how the Howard resurgence was imminent because of the Preferred PM measurement? You’re lucky if you can remember, because you don’t seem to be able to read it any more on The Oz site. The original story appears to have been replaced with this.

So I thought we’d just mention it again – for the sake of nostalgia and all 😉

Moving right along to the satisfaction ratings, Howard’s down 4 to 43 and Rudd is up 3 to 63. Looking at the monthly Newspoll average ratings over the period since the last election we get:


And not to be left out, the dissatisfaction ratings for each:


Now we move onto the main game – the primary votes, again using the Newspoll monthly averages, followed by the two party preferred vote:






So what to make if it all?

That growth in the ALP primary vote since May could be dangerous. So saying it might just be noise, but if I were a political party, I’d rather have noise of that shape than noise of the shape the Coalition has been experiencing since May. Are the Rudd honeymooners coming back to the Rudd camp after playing tootsies with him but leaving in the March-May period?

Could be – too soon to say, but something to keep an eye on anyway.

The other question to ask is where the hell did The Narrowing go?

We were assured it would have turned up by now. Calling the election was supposed to be the circuit breaker…. Well, so we were told. Then again, the budget was supposed to be circuit breaker and didn’t that just go smashing.

There was also something in the poll to feed our inner Crosby Textors; Newspoll asked a question today of “Which political party do you think will win the Federal Election?” and the results were 52 to the ALP (down 5 since August) and 30 for the Coalition (up 2 since August). “Win Expectations” are still killing the Coalition as per the June OzTrack 33.
Another economic management question popped up in the Newspoll of the type we analysed the other day in “Does Economic Management Influence The Primary Vote?” Sure enough, the regression results hold with the ALP increase in the economic management question (up 4 to 37) walking hand in hand with an increase in their primary vote. Also remember back then, we found no relationship between the answers to the “which leader do you think would better be more capable of handling the economy” question and the primary vote of the Coalition – despite some commentators in certain newspapers making claims to the contrary with zero evidence to support the proposition.

Finally, there was another question about those dreaded soft voters, and three cheers to Martin O’Shannessy for including them again.


Just like it was the last time these questions were asked, the ALP vote is slightly stronger than the Coalition vote.

So let the analysis begin. I’ll probably post an update later in the day.



George sent a fabulous little pic showing the Newspoll primaries since the beginning of the year, complete with the shaded MoE.


Since March, the ALP primary looks like its been stuck somewhere around 47/49 with the Coalition primary vote stuck somewhere around 38/39 since June.




AddThis Social Bookmark Button

add to kwoff


136 Responses to “The Dog Ate My Narrowing.”

  1. George said

    Poss, on the MOE, I have an email from Cassandra Marks at Newspoll confirming that the correct figure is 2.5%

  2. pligg.com said

    The Dog Ate My Narrowing. « Possums Pollytics

    Newspoll Tuesday started off with a bang. A 1706 sample poll giving the ALP a 58/42 headline TPP result.

    The primaries are running 51/38 against the Coalition and the big result is “No Change”, just as it’s been since the beginning of March. But…

  3. Possum Comitatus said

    Ta George – I thought it was a bit whacky. It should be around 2.4%

  4. Dangerous said

    Am I right in thinking at the preferential voting system accentuates swing? That is, in a FPTP election, votes can be wasted (in that the winner need not gain 50% of the votes), whereas here one must (eventually) state a preference. Therefore, if a swing is on, it is amplified by the system.
    Or am I talking rubbish?

  5. Possum Comitatus said

    That sounds like a very sensible proposition Dangerous.

    I’ve never actually run the numbers, but it certainly would make sense in a lot of elections.

  6. adrian said

    More excellent analysis Possum.
    Listening to Sol Lebovic being ‘interviewed’ by Virginia Trioli this morning, you get the impression that some people inhabit a parallel universe where the consistency of these polls mean nothing and voters are just playing with the pollsters, only to reveal their true intentions when entering the polling booth on election day. Do people like Lebovic and Trioli really believe this garbage, or is it just a last desperate attempt to shore up the coalition vote?

    I don’t know how many times we have heard about the narrowing, or the budget or some other bounce, or ‘soft’ labour voters etc etc etc. I mean how friggin’ stupid do these clowns think we are?

  7. Leopold said

    Turn it up. As Mumble implied and Poll Bludger said, there’s something wrong with the sample.

    Setting aside the voting numbers, you can’t get the PM surging on personal numbers in ACN last week and crashing by the weekend without either a) a dodgy sample or b) a major event. The latter is absent (between Wednesday and Friday anyway), ergo the former it is. Not to mention the extraordinary surge in Labor support on national security and the economy – unbeloodyleivable.

    I will predict here and now that the next Newspoll (barring something extraordinary between now and then) will be headlined ‘PM’s fightback’ or some such, as it corrects back to a more accurate reading.

    Newspoll does this every few months – suddenly lurches 3-4 points on the Labor primary, then lurches back again in the next poll. Its meaningless.

  8. Possum Comitatus said

    Leo, on the ACN sample, I said myself in Crikey that it looked like a rounding issue at the margins

    But you are making the mistake of comparing the movement from an ACN poll with the movement in a Newspoll.

    You CANNOT do that!

    Only movement in polls of the same type can be realistically, and honestly compared. Not polls from different organisations.

  9. Rod said

    The Newspoll website itself quotes 2.5% MoE :


    (The second of these, by the way, carries the rather strange note that “Surveys were conducted among people aged 18 years and over, except the latest survey which was conducted among 1,706 electors nationally.” Can’t work out what it means, so I presume it is simply a case of dyslexic cutting and pasting or some such! 😉 )

  10. David Gould said

    There was a major event, though: the release of the Labor tax policy. So, assuming that there actually has been movement (which I doubt), the ACN recorded the movement to Howard from his tax policy and the Newspoll recorded the movement back to Rudd from his tax policy.

    All in all, though, I think, ‘No change within the margin of error,’ explains both polls without any need to talk about major events influencing voting intentions.

  11. steve_e said

    The Newspoll 23/10 is pre “Debate”. There may not be the reversal or narrowing of TPP in the next week due to the debate and the worm.

    PM makes Costello disappear [George Megalogenis | October 23, 2007 The Australian]

    JOHN Howard has departed from the Government’s re-election script by deleting all references to Peter Costello in a personal letter sent to voters in the Prime Minister’s own seat of Bennelong.

    Is the Team another dead body eaten by the Worm?

  12. Possum Comitatus said

    Spot on David

  13. Rod said

    Leopold wrote:
    “Setting aside the voting numbers, you can’t get the PM surging on personal numbers in ACN last week and crashing by the weekend without either a) a dodgy sample or b) a major event. The latter is absent (between Wednesday and Friday anyway), ergo the former it is. Not to mention the extraordinary surge in Labor support on national security and the economy – unbeloodyleivable.”

    An alternative interpretation is that the ACN poll was simply a bit overly optimistic (or a “bad sample” itself) for the coalition , Leopold, and that what we are looking at here is simply, as the Poss suggests, more of the same. As for “events” we’ve seen the Labour tax policy and Costello / Hockey et al bashing the unions. Labour won on both – not by much, but by enough to more than offset any early week advantage the Coalition may have obtained from the tax policy release.

    But I suspect the real answer is that people made up their minds long ago, and we are just seeing very minor poll related variations around a pretty solid set of public opinion. It is going to take more than harping and carping to push the Labour train off the tracks this time.

  14. Bingo said

    The problem for the twin-headed Liberal leadership is that they have fired their biggest gun ($34 Billion dolars worth of electoral ammo) but there was no voter explosion. Where do you go to from there?

  15. Leopold said


    Tosh. They are sampling the same population and usually show similar numbers. If they’re moving in opposite directions, something is wrong with one of them, and Newspoll is the one with a strong record of weird lurches in the Labor primary vote (late May for example; mid-August last year).

    And I was particularly pointing out – not because I think it’s an election indicator but on the issue of a sampling problem in this Newspoll – that in ACN, Preferred PM went from 52-39 for Rudd to 47-43, the narrowest it’s been all year. In Newspoll, it’s gone the other way slightly (I know the question is different, but they tend to widen and narrow in sync) to it’s widest Rudd lead in months. Add to that the extraordinary Rudd surge on national security and the economy, Howard’s job approval plunging 4 points (why? WTF has he done in the last week to justify that? Announce tax cuts?) and a dodgy sample becomes the 90% most likely explanation IMO.

    Whether it’s 54-46, 55-45, 56-44… your guess is as good as mine. But 58-42 or thereabouts it bleedin’ well ain’t.

    Another interesting debate is: are the ‘underdog’ advocates or Crosby-Textor right about ‘win expectations’? This poll is wrong – but it will effect perceptions. If the former view (my own is right) it’ll be good for the Coalition. If the latter view (yours) is correct it’ll be good for Labor.

    PS – I suppose some of what I talk about above could be explained by some difference between midweek and weekend sampling, but that would presume a surprising degree of incompetence on the part of everyone but Newspoll.

  16. canberra boy said

    Rod (#9) a possible explanation for that curious note would be that between elections, pollsters generally ask whether the respondent is over 18 years old in order to find ‘voters’ for the survey. With the calling of the election and close of rolls (at least to new enrolments), Newspoll may have changed the question to ‘are you enrolled to vote?’. This represents a subtle difference, given that there may be up to a couple of percent of the >18 population who are not enrolled – the problem of course is that a high proportion of those who are not enrolled probably will not know this fact until they get to the polling booth.

  17. Jessica said

    Hi Possum – this is my first post here – love your work! There is one aspect of this whole polling debate that bugs me – its the line that the bulk of voters make up their mind in the last couple of weeks (or days depending on who’s saying it) before the election. This is repeated adnaseum by Sol Lebovic and I heard it again from Malcolm Farr this morning. Have you done any real analysis on this – is it historically true and do you think it will happen this time around?

  18. Possum Comitatus said

    Leo – the pollsters all have different weighting systems, as they all have a different interpretation of what makes up the population of people that vote. As a result, not only are most of the polls incompatible in terms of stand alone cross comparison, but looking at the movement in one poll over two periods compared to the movement of a different organisations poll over two periods is an exercise in pure nonsense.

    Add to that basic sampling error, and the possibility of that sampling error being compounded by the stratification weights, and two polls over a given period can move in completely opposite directions and not mean a thing.

    Movements in different pollsters polls can be compared over the LONG term, but not the short term.It’s as simple as that. If you try to do short term comparisons, you just end up confused – like most media commentators.

    When you start comparing the polls like you are doing now, you start conferring on sampling noise properties which dont actually exist.

    It’s not a dodgy sample, it’s actually the largest sample of any poll we’ve had for months.Just because you dont like what it says doesnt make it dodgy. If you want to convince me otherwise you’ll need more than political spin.

    The ALP headline vote has been 56-57 for 7-8 months.This poll is absolutely consistent with that.

    On win expectations, the “underdog” status thing is just an anti-arrogance meme. But ask any pollie if they want to be going into an election where people think they are going to win or going to lose – you’ll only get one answer.

  19. Bring Back CL's blog said

    Leo you are wrong and Posum is correct.

    My MOE is 2.4% as well.

    This election appears eerily ssimilar to 1996 with people who have no memories at all

  20. Possum Comitatus said

    Hi Jessica,

    In every election since 1993, the trend in the vote that was in existence before the campaign was called, carried through into the campaign itself right up to election day. Sometimes it became complicated because of low samples in the campaign, but it’s statistically the most likely explanation.

    So X amount of people may say that they make up their minds in the last few days of the camapaign (and perhaps they even do), but when it comes time to vote, when it comes to the crunch, they vote in the same proportions as those people that had made up their mind much much earlier.

  21. David Gould said

    Possum at 20,

    re the late deciders voting in the same proportions as the people who have already decided, isn’t this what would be expected statistically in any case? I mean, unless those who make up their minds late have a completely different demographic profile than the rest of the population, it should be expected that they will vote in the same proportions.

  22. Possum Comitatus said

    David – you would think so. If that didnt occur, that would imply that late deciders had some special political qualities that set them apart from the broader population, and since the late deciders arent the same people every election, that special political quality would seem to magically derive simply from being a late decider.

    It would be …. ‘peculiar’ to say the least if what actually happens did not happen.

  23. BlueSkyMining said

    So despite the fun of the latest Newspoll all the other poll-noise, I can be quite happy just knowing that a 56% 2PP for Labor is a fairly safe bet for now. All the polls allow for that result within their respective MoE (from memory and Possum’s assurances) which means after the 24th I will be living in a safe Labour seat again (Bendigo: ~10% margin). More reassuring though, Bennelong would seem a certainty to fall: even with a 2-3% sitting-member factor (although given the perception of Howard I am not at all sure that counts) the seat would still go to Labour with ~2% margin. And to top it off Higgins would be a marginal completely dependant on Costello’s sitting-member factor (and I wonder how big that is?).

    So: Liberals gone, Howard shamed, Costello scared.

    Love it. Can we skip the next 4 weeks?

  24. happy chap from Griffith said


    If you want to talk about sampling error etc, surely it would be more likely that Galaxy, ACN et. al. would be out because of their larger MOE than the recent Newspoll (because of the larger sample NP has this time)…?

    Though with that said, I am more of the opinion that Rudd’s tax package has given him the surge. Although 91.5% of it might be identical to what the Coalition is offering, it’s that 8.5% of difference that makes Rudd’s ‘results’ (i.e. policy) significant (e.g. it plays well re: Rudd’s ‘future’ message and makes Howard’s policy look short-termish). A good statistical analogy might be that Costello is there screaming to anyone who will listen about how closely correlated these policies are, however he’s missed the fact that it’s the 8.5% of variance that makes Rudd’s pitch statistically significant. You with me?

    It will be interesting to see what happens in the first post-debate poll. It seems that even good ol’Dennis at the Oz is now excepting that it was a Rudd-slide. Maybe he’ll start referring to Rudd as the Rudd-inator as well 😛

  25. Leopold,

    Polling companies do not simply ask a few questions and then present the data They use statistical weighting depending on such things as demographics of survey group and time the response was give (time of day and day of week).

    Each time the raw data is ‘modified’ by using various weightings…etc, an opportunity for variation (read: error/variation) in the data to occur.

    Unfortunately, statistical error is a funny fish – it compounds each time you fiddle with the data. And to ame matters more complicated/worse, simply reducing the error during one modification won’t necessity reduce the overall error of the result. It’s a slippery beast!

    Now, keeping in mind that each polling company would use different weighting factors – lets say they each make 10 statistical weighting calculations/modifications on their data) and you compare one polling company’s results with another, that’s 20 opportunities for error to creep in!

    Hence you need to compare apple with apples or polls using the same method of weighting from one polling company.

    Now poll results will still vary from one company’s results to the next, however it’s the very fact that the same weighting method is used (and so limiting opportunity for compounding error/variation) that the combined result still has (some) meaning and not too much error.

    Hence Possum’s stating that you can only compare one polling company’s results with itself!

    Statistics is all about asking “Yes but how much error”. It’s as simple and an as complicated as that!!


  26. Mr Denmore said

    What is it with Sol Lebovic. He is brought into on-air debates these days as some kind of impartial, scientific observer, but he inevitably spins every poll in favour of the Liberals and away from Labor.

    Is he on the Libs’ payroll??

  27. George said

    Mr Denmore, totally agree – we’ve just been having a conversation here in our office exactly on that topic. It’s looking totally pathetic and doing his company a diservice. What’s worse is that when he is interviewed he contradicts himself in the same sentence and statistics takes a back seat. Not a good look at all.

  28. Meng said

    George’s graphic is confusing – ALP in blue???

  29. PJay said

    Piers Ackerman has the answer. Just read his blog in today’s Daily Telegraph:

    “I think people see through Rudd but are still playing with the pollsters.”

    You are on the wrong track, Poss…

  30. Gazzard said

    This poll had a much larger sample size than they normally do, right? And wasn’t the Galaxy Poll only about 400-odd?

    Does anyone else suspect that, given the large sample size, if a “narrowing” had occurred, the likes of Sol and Den-arse of the GG would be talking up it’s accuracy and significance?

  31. Samuel K said

    As much as I would love it to be inevitable – I like so many others have been disappointed too many times. The movement back to the Coalition last week cannot be ignored. It was significant in my view because it occurred across two separate polls. The likelihood of two separate polls deviating from the “true mean” by (say) minus 2% and minus 3% must be pretty low. What I think it showed is that there is some ‘cream’ on top of the ALP vote that Howard can wipe off fairly easily by polling day. His problem is the next 2 to 3% who haven’t budged an inch all year. To turn them around Howard will need very significant traction on his union argument or some stuff ups related to economic management from Rudd or some external event, e.g. 1987 style sharemarket crash.

    I am working on the basis that the ‘cream’ will all move over to the Coalition as their risk aversity kicks in strongly towards the end of the campaign. Therefore I think the most that Labor can hope for is around 53/47 – and that’s if everything goes really well.

    P.S. I have a theory that today’s poll involves some News Ltd creativity to generate a “Howard checks Rudd’s march and is back in the fight” type moment in a week or two when it drops to 55/45 or lower.

  32. George said

    Ackerman is Darth Vader, doing the beckoning of his master, Howard.

    Meng – resent the graph to Poss with the new “non-confusing” color scheme 😉

  33. adrian said

    26&27 – I don’t think that Lebovic is with Newspoll anymore. The very reason that he’s trotted out on a regular basis by cerain media outlets is because he creates an impression of impartality, while in reality spruiking for the coalition for all he’s worth.

    As you say it’s really quite pathetic, but the media outlets who use him know exactly what they’ll get every time. That’s why you hear him so often on your ABC.
    Along with David Speers, Malcolm Farr, Denis Shanahan and all the other government propaganists currently infesting the ABC.

  34. George said

    Adrian, agree with you – same with seeing Andrew Bolt and Gerard Henderson on Lateline last night analyzing the polls… and they know what exactly about polls? Very amusing.

  35. adrian said

    Yes it was amusing all right. Henderson seems the mirror image of his mate Howard, and as with Dear Leader his state of denial is palpable.

  36. Gazzard said

    Henderson looked really depressed. I got a chuckle out of Bolt’s Benaud-esque suit, though…

  37. adam said

    Can’t agree more…

    It’ll be interesting seeing how many hacks have to polish up their CV’s, after finding that the gravy train is stopping all stations, starting with theirs.


  38. stevet said

    Samuel K, you are making a very brave assumption in thinking that all of the ALP ‘cream’ will be wiped off in one hit at the election or that it will make much difference.

    Judging by the result today together with the ACN and Galaxy results, I would put the ALP 2PP vote at about 56-57. If they lose that 3 percent ‘cream’, that will put them at about 53-54. Hawke got 53% in 1983 and that moved 25 seats. More than enough. 54-55% will result in absolute carnage for the government. Howard needs a miracle at this stage, and I don’t think his pensioner bribe will give it to him.

    Possum, you might want to keep a close eye on those IP addresses, mate.

  39. country kid said

    Did not last week’s ACN Poll have labour primary vote at 48??

    Still can’t see what all the fuss was about last week – given such a solid primary & it has been consistently good for months – with today’s result at 51 – pretty much more of the same – as many have already noted.

    Various MSM people talk about the soft vote. Maybe soft votes are lurking out there – but it is hardly on the labor side.

    Instead disullioned Liberal voters may be ready to loosen their vote preference & place it with the next best thing – ‘conservative’ labor.

    Some may already have done so – hence the healthy primary for labor.

    Others may do so in the sanctary of the ballot box.

    It could get brutal on the day.

  40. Enemy Combatant said

    Soft Vote Solly is clearly getting out of hand in his well paid role as a Rodential booster. He’s bleating his bullshit every time he’s wheeled in front of a mic or camera. Someboly has got to give him a little slap next time The Solster’s on telly and wise the shill up about precisely which way the undecideds have crumbled on E-day, say over the last five or six Fed. elections.
    Don’t wish to rush to judgment here but after Lateline last night I got the distinct impression that La Bolta will not be on Gerard and Anne’s xmas card or dinner party list going forward.

  41. Samuel K said

    stevet, I am as one-eyed Labor as they come. Hell, I would sooner have my eyes poked out with election booth pencils than vote for John Winston. I am just saying we shouldn’t get our hopes up only to have them dashed by an electorate that gets nervous when it comes to actually putting pencil to paper.

    My reading is that it currently sits at 53/47 ex-cream. It only takes a minor further risk aversion shift from there to deliver Howard government with a minority of the 2PP vote.

  42. gusface said

    Bye bye poss

    i have really enjoyed your work,but owing to factors beyond my control,i must bid you sayonarra

    keep up the good work

    Go the RUDDER of the nation

  43. mark-sydney said

    stevet said: “I am just saying we shouldn’t get our hopes up only to have them dashed by an electorate that gets nervous when it comes to actually putting pencil to paper”
    Oh Steve, never a truer word was spoken! I look at all the positive stuff flying around about a Labor victory and I want to believe it all so much but a tiny part of me keeps imagining waking up on Sunday morning only to find that JWH snuck back in by the skin of his teeth…..the horror! If that indeed does happen the Libs will be truly insufferable (yes, more than are now)

  44. stevet said

    Samuel K, many apologies, should have read your post a bit closer. Given what you are saying, I think that Rudd would have to monumentally stuff up to lose it from here. It really is his to lose. I think the vote is very solid at the moment. All the stats seem to point to that, and more importantly, I don’t think it matters what Howard does now, people are not listening any more. If anything, the position Howard finds himself in leaves him more prone to doing stupid desperate things to try and win.

  45. canberra boy said

    On the Newspoll primaries & MoE graph in the update – looks to me like you can draw a straight line through the Labor primary at around 49% and be within the MoE the whole time since March. That is to say, you could argue that the Labor primary has not changed from 49% at all since March and the individual poll results are just the normal sampling variations within MoE.

  46. George said

    What do you guys think of the Costello/Swan debate coming up? Do you think it would rate anywhere near the kind of numbers that watched the leaders’ debate? I can’t see two guys talking about tax scales and economic indicators would be stuff most people want to listen to, let alone understand.

  47. Rod said

    stevet wrote:

    “I don’t think it matters what Howard does now”

    Mmm. What could he come up with?
    Declare war on Indonesia, perhaps, on the basis of a suspected North Korean/ Iranian plot to build a nuclear reactor in an active volcano in Bali??
    Announce the implementation of martial law in Queensland, and a national state of emergency which prevents elections being held altogether, to prevent council amalgamations in that State?
    Get Andrews to announce that Rudd and the rest of the Labour front bench are really “illegal non-citizens” and have to be held in the Woomera detention centre for the remainder of the campaign?
    Suppress the publication of newspapers and any media coverage of the election on the basis that a Labor victory would amount to “practical support for terrorism” in Ruddock’s opinion if it is allowed to continue?

    I’m sure the possibilities are endless. 😉

    On a serious note, though, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see a reprise of something like the xenophobic offerings that we saw from Andrews at the beginning of the campaign, only louder. Somewhere down the line they are almost certain to make a major play with race / foreign threat cards along the lines of those we have seen in every election that Howard has been involved in.

  48. Rex said

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who has picked up on Sol Lebovic’s blatant Coalition bias, while otensibly being interviewed as an “unbiased expert”! And while I’m on the whinge, it’s high time someone told Fran Kelly on ABC radio to take a beginner’s course in clear thinking, if not statistics… Fran says such silly things in relation to movement in the polls: I’m sure she has no notion of MOE. Or is it just that she starts so early in the morning?

  49. hergs said

    Well considering Costello and Swan will face off on a Tuesday, it would be hard for that debate to get anyway near Sunday night ratings. I think you’re right, it will be pretty boring.

  50. sean said

    Hi Possum

    Is it possible for you to give us an example of different weightings and how they work – ie how and why for instance different demographics or sampling times might be weighted differently??


  51. BlueSkyMining said

    Hmmm, what is it about corporate figures called “Sol”?

    Reminds me of a Chaser song: http://youtube.com/watch?v=ZDa2wv69uEY

  52. Lynda Hopgood said

    Poss – are there any exit polls from previous elections that give an indication of exactly how many people didn’t decide until they were in the polling booth and if so, how do these compare with the current “undecided” figure?

  53. sean said

    Rex – Fran Kelly really gets under my skin. The problem with Fran is that she’s all hustle and bustle, clearly smart and competent but when she lets opinion creep into her utterings she has almost no depth to her knowledge. Her obserations on the Insiders really ram this home. Then again, there seems to be a raft of ABC commentators who you suspect have effectively been neutered by Albretchsen, Brunton et al on the ABC board. The culture has definitely changed and unless they’re spouting right wing nonsense they clearly are worried about opening their mouths. The ABC news the other night didn’t even broach the matter of who won the debate. The infiltration of new limited journalists into the ABC, given the fact that australia already has one of the most concentrated owned medias in the world is unbelievable. Not only the insiders, but now Lateline seems to be infected.

  54. Enemy Combatant said

    George, The Fiscal Barnyard Rooster-in-waiting will “have his way with” Subprime $weetie in Tuesday’s debate. No imho here, pal. If you’re unencumbered, put your house or specky on it in the same way that many of us did when Team Smirk-Rodent’04 took ownership of interest rates.

    Beyond a few rehearsed lines, $mirks hasn’t got the smarts or the rhetorical skills to match Wayne in front of a live crowd of testy journos at the NPP. The wordsmiths and talking heads will be half pissed by showtime and like blood-hounds on the scent they’ll go for Worm Master’s jugular.
    Expect Shill Shanahan to shine with pearls of exquisitely polished inquisitorial wisdom, however, The Poisoned Dwarf may need to be restrained lest he furthur embarrass himself and his fellows. Yeah, Glennie will need a minder to keep him off the piss. He’s an animal.

  55. Bruce said

    Hi Possum, Samuel K and others.

    If I may comment on the polls from the POV of a statistician, which is what I pretend to be…

    There are two types of error in polling – systemmatic error, also known as bias, and sampling error. Systemmatic error or bias is what pollsters work very hard to eliminate. You get bias when you ask a liberal party meeting their voting intention, or somehow choose a non-random sample. Hence all the fancy sampling techniques, stratified sampling, careful design of questions, etc. I can’t tell you if ACN and Newspoll are biased. I assume based oin Possum’s comments they have historically been good predictors of the ultimate outcome, so let’s assume they are not biased.

    On the other hand, sampling error is unavoidable. You can only reduce it by using a bigger sample. Sampling error (MOE) is proportional to the inverse of the square root of the sample size. In fact, assuming the first preference or 2PP is close to 50% (say between 30% and 70%), to a good approximation the MOE is MOE = 1/sqrt(N) expressed as a percentage (MOE=100%/sqrt(N))

    For example, if you randomly sample 100 voters, MOE= 100%/sqrt(100)=10%.
    For 1000 voters, MOE=100%/sqrt(1000)=3.2%.
    For 1706 voters, MOE=100%/sqrt(1706)=2.4%.
    Newspoll usually uses 1000 voters, hence the quoted MOE is usually 3%. This poll has 1706, which reduces the MOE to about 2.5%.

    Note the diminishing returns. Say we want an MOE of 1%. That would require a sample of 10,000 voters – this is expensive!

    Great so what does MOE mean. MOE means roughly that if do repeat the survey many times over, on average 95% of the time the interval from the result+MOE to result-MOE will contain the true voting intention.

    Say the true 2PP is 56%, then 95% of polls of 1000 people (here the MOE is 3%) will measure a 2PP voting intention between 53% and 59%. 5% will actually have an even bigger error!

    To paraphrase Possum, NOTHING in ACN or Newspoll since March this year shows any evidence that the 2PP has deviated from 56-57% and the Labor primary vote has deviated from 49%. having ACN last week with a 2PP of 54% and Newspoll this week with a 2PP of 58% are completely consistent with NO CHANGE in votingf intention. Both are within an MOE of 2.5-3% of the long term average of 56-57% since March. All this nonesense that learned commentators carry on about is just reading tea leaves.

  56. stevet said


    I don’t think he will try xenophobia again. He has tried it a few times lately, all to no avail. Partly because the electorate is a wake up and partly because Rudd and the ALP refuse to take the bait.

    No, judging by what he did today and last week, it is going to be money, money and money, and if that doesn’t work, lots more MONEY. He is going to try and bribe the electorate to the point of economic nausea. No expense will be spared.

    Will it work? Maybe, but I think probably not. The voters are used to it by now and nothing will ever make up for Workchoices.

  57. George said

    Bruce, perfectly explained!

  58. CL de Footscray said

    Samuel K, as a Geelong supporter I can sympathise with your position. Even at 15 goals up going into the last quarter it’s possible to see doom staring you in the face. However, a little calm please! The Ruddster seems quite good at keeping his cool, which is all he has to do unless Howard can cancel the elction or arrange a declaration of war or both. Even then, I suspect he wouldn’t get back. Forgive my simplistic analysis (I’m sure the patient and informative Possum will be kind enough to tell me if I’ve made a schoolboy error!) but if you take even a moderately long look at the polling – say Newspoll – you can see that the ALP’s lead on primaries since the beginning of July 2006 (35 polls, so a reasonable number of data points) has been an average 6 percentage points. Since January 2007 the average primary lead has been 10 percentage points. The ALP lead jumps around a bit over the whole period (standard deviation of ALP primary lead 6.4 on mean of 6)(note the average difference in the second half of 2006 was -1, with a standard deviation of 3.3!) but settles down nicely in 2007 (standard deviation of lead 3.7 on mean of 10). Over the whole period the ALP primary has been 45%, the coalition 39%. In 2007 the ALP primary has averaged 48%, the coalition 38%. In other words, the primary trend is well established and highly consistent over all of 2007 (markedly so since Rudd got the gig).

    On 2PP, the ALP’s lead averaged 10 percentage points over the whole period since 1 July 2006 (SD 6.1), with an average 14 point lead in 2007, compared to a very modest 3 point average lead in the second half of 2006. This lead has been quite consistent in 2007 – (standard deviation of 3.7 on mean of 14) compared to the earlier period (standard dev of 3.2 on a mean of 3!).

    So not only has Ruddy taken the ALP into consistently positive territory he appears to have damped dowwn the volatility to some extent.

    I think it’s clear that people were fed up with the rodent a long time ago. What stopped them dumping him was the quality of the opposition leader. I think it’s true that governments lose elections but there has to be somewhere else to go – Beazley didn’t do it for the folks, and Latham, whatever his virtues, appeared – well – mad. Rudd wants the job, looks safe, has united the ALP like no other for some time and keeps wrong footing the not very adroit rodent, who having eliminated all internal opposition has no-one to tell him when he’s being daft – as he was in the debate.

    It would be remarkable if these well established trends were dramatically reversed. But yes, the anxiety continues, at least until the mid-point of the last quarter, when, 18 goals up, we can start singing the theme song. But I won’t be popping the Moet until Antony G dishes up his prediction!

  59. Rate Analyst said

    Bruce, very well explained, I agree.

    There may be a spending binge, true, but I think it may only be short lived. Watch it come to a screeching halt tomorrow at 11:30 if CPI is above 0.8. The PM is wedged on the economy. He has money to spend but can’t do so without risking a rate rise.

    If this CPI is above about 1.1 or 1.2, the bleating that will accompany any major announcement will essentially end this election campaign. There’ll be a few speeches here and there but major policy innititatives will be rare – the ALP don’t need to and the Coalition can’t risk the criticism over inflation.

  60. Enemy Combatant said

    Board Odds: Lab.$1.45, Coal.$2.75 and widening.

  61. canberra boy said

    Bruce (#55) absolutely right – I have been astonished at how even the pollsters themselves (who should know better) have been providing commentary as though every movement from one poll to the next represents real change in voter sentiment. No doubt when the Galaxy & Nielsen polls in the next couple of weeks bounce back to 56/57 or above, this will be heralded as another change.

    There is a mountain of evidence available to us to suggest that we are about to see a once-in-a-generation landslide.

  62. Pi said

    It’s worth noting though, that the two outliers are on the north end for the ALP. Drawing a line between the previous results will certainly still remain within the shaded band, but can we assume that everyone thought it was a good idea to think one way for a few weeks, and went back to the way they were before a couple of weeks later? I think not.

    It does lead me to the conclusion that this is of the same variety. It’s on the top end of the spectrum, but it’s business as usual with about a roughly 49% primary to the ALP. The same it has been for almost nine months.

  63. canberra boy said

    CL (#58) – I was confident enough to go out and buy 3 bottles of champagne for election night about 7 weeks ago!

  64. CL de Footscray said

    canberra boy – i admire your confidence. am planning on buying some soon, but I may need to fudn it from my prospective 2013 tax benefit …

  65. Neil Cammack said

    Question foir Possum (and/or whoever): if so much of the Labor vote in the polls is “soft”, wouldn’t you expect this softness to be reflected by more volatile results than we’ve seen? Not every piece of news this year has been positive for Labor, but the bad news doesn’t seem to have panicked the masses by more than a smidgin from poll to poll. To me this suggests an unusual degree of firmness of purpose on the part of the punters, but I’d be interested to hear more expert comment.

  66. Burgey said

    Neil @ 65 – can’t speak for the venerable marsupial, but I think you’ve nailed it and answered your own question.

  67. Rod said

    stevet wrote:
    “I don’t think he will try xenophobia again. He has tried it a few times lately, all to no avail. Partly because the electorate is a wake up and partly because Rudd and the ALP refuse to take the bait.”

    Depends how desperate they get, I reckon stevet. As you say, it may well not work, but there are always some votes to be got this way in Oz I’m afraid, and doing so would inevitably cause tensions within the ALP, shift some of their primaries to the Greens if they refuse to bite, potentially make things more complex in the Senate, etc.

    Howard’s own increased dependence on Chinese votes in his own electorate counts against him being able to play it as hard as he has in the past, I’ll grant you.

    Nothing would surprise me less, though, than the sudden discovery of a “terrorist plot to blow up the Harbour Bridge” or some such, in the last week of the election!



  68. Charles said

    How about a straight line though all the points to show it would be inside the margin of error.

  69. Rod said

    Neil writes:

    “if so much of the Labor vote in the polls is “soft”, wouldn’t you expect this softness to be reflected by more volatile results than we’ve seen? Not every piece of news this year has been positive for Labor, but the bad news doesn’t seem to have panicked the masses by more than a smidgin from poll to poll.”

    I think you are dead right, Neil. The polls suggest an electorate that knows what it wants far more steadfastly than we have seen for many years. And what it wants, 56% to 44%, above all else, is “NOT the Howard/Costello diumvirate”!



  70. John V K said

    Workchoices for the majority. There is only one crime in Australia to bring such a move that we are observing, playing the punters for mugs. That was it. Capital offence now everything comes back to haunt. We havent even got the debate factored in yet.

    When a prime minister in the nation is being abused by the olds, not the young, it’s pretty much over, they don’t get excited they get the fury.

    Rudds been negotiating and it’s starting to look like all negotiating is finished. Rudd could negotiate, Howard can only bribe.

    Howard only asked one question of everyone this year, “Is it me?”, the graphs above give the answer.

    The money for carers and elderly has been costed by treasury, so Rudd can me too. Easy Peasy.

    His success was ever the support team but he told them to F$$$ off he knew better.

  71. Rod said

    Neil writes:

    “if so much of the Labor vote in the polls is “soft”, wouldn’t you expect this softness to be reflected by more volatile results than we’ve seen? Not every piece of news this year has been positive for Labor, but the bad news doesn’t seem to have panicked the masses by more than a smidgin from poll to poll.”

    I think you are dead right, Neil. The polls suggest an electorate that knows what it wants far more steadfastly than we have seen for many years. And what it wants, 56% to 44%, above all else, is “NOT the Howard/Costello diumvirate”!



  72. Neil: The “soft vote” theory is emu droppings. Utter emu droppings, unsupported by nothing more than Gary Morgan’s gut feelings (and, if I’m cynical, polling companies’ need to keep the contest interesting to get people buying polls 🙂 ).
    In his Sydney Institute speech last month, someone (coughSolcough) who should know much better went so far as to say that the rock solid 55-57% vote for the ALP was just an indication that people had “parked” their vote with them. Rather than Morgan’s “soft vote” tealeaf reading, go with the Newspoll asking a direct “How solid is your vote?” question. That showed (iirc) something like 90% of voters had made up their mind.

  73. KC said

    The primary looks rock solid, labor in the past have achieved around 50% on the primary and the libs @35% on the primary.

    Looks like labor will get about 49% primary and the libs/nats 38% on the night.

    This will give labor around the 57% TPP mark, the question of how many seats this wil mean will depend on where the swings are, could be anything between 103 to 124 seats.

    The commentators are not picking up just how much people want a change, it is not just Howard on the nose, it is the lot of them, Abbott, Andrews, Costello, Nelson, Pyne, Ruddock, Hockey Downer et al.

    Everytime they bring out the experience jibe it reminds people of the incompetance and atrocious past behaviour of all of the above..

  74. Kirribilli Removals said

    Regarding the Smirk and Swan, it sure can’t all be about the numbers, so it must by necessity turn to Costello’s lack of ticker in not pushing the loser Howard aside.

    This is suicide for the Smirk, which just shows how desperate they are! Cossie seems determined to go down with the Dear Leader.

  75. Mark said

    Possum, I would be interested to read your take on allegations that last weeks Galaxy was a push-poll.


    I’m wondering how much the ALP tax launch was influenced by Galaxy?

  76. Bingo said

    Keating summed him up best – the treasurer is all tip and no iceberg. Swan should just play it cool, put forward the positive Labor plan and let Costello blather on and expose his total lack of any ideas or plan for the nation (apart from giving away billions of dollars in bribes).

  77. jocko said

    im waiting for the reckoning when if the libs lose all the truth will come out . public servants keeping files re. awb,hicks.iraq/etc. will be more bloddy than a pride of lions with a staked calf.

  78. jocko said

    or possum

  79. Harmless Cud Chewer said

    Possum, a follow up from my question on the previous thread. I think this guy is following a similar pattern of thought to me:


    and I quote:

    Lets look at the bias hypothesis. I estimated Newspoll to be running a 2.9 percentage point pro-Labor bias in its 2PP numbers in 2004, which is pretty large. An important source of Newspoll’s bias in 2004 was its method of allocating 2nd preferences to minor party voters, which they’ve since changed, and presumably, is generating less bias for them. So, for the sake of argument, lets say Newspoll has trimmed half of that bias from its Labor 2PP estimates, and it is currently holding, say, a 1.5 percentage point pro-Labor bias. If we then interpret the published 58 number as 56.5, we’re still talking a 2.5 percentage point jump, and the probability that there was a “real” pro-Labor shift is 94.6%.

    (You have to read the rest of the article at this point for the above quote to make complete sense.)

    The problem here is he’s just taking a good guess at the Newspoll pro labor bias..

    Is there a more scientific way to get at this?

    For what it’s worth. My take is the other polls actually reacted to the election itself being called. And the shift to labor in Newspoll is real. It’s a bunch of voters collectively going ‘oh ok.. I wont lose much personally’.

    My prediction: ALP 2PP between 52.5 and 54 – and yes I think thats bordering on pessimistic.


  80. jocko said

    or bloody if your picky gotta lay off the rose’when i get 58/42

  81. Leopold said

    Possum at #18

    You’d better tell Simon Jackman he can’t compare one-off surveys from different companies directly, as he did today.

    I agree with Poll Bludger that this is a very Labor-friendly sample. Given that, I think trying to use it as evidence of whether or not there is a ‘Narrowing’ underway (I don’t see unequivocal proof either way yet) is flawed.

    You disagree and insist that all the movements to Labor – even the ones well outside the MoE – are perfectly consistent with a fine sample, and it’s just that I’m in denial.

    May I note your use of the sample size as evidence on this point is a touch egregious: unless my stats recall is failing me, the change in sample size NARROWS the 95% MoE, but the possibility the poll is outside that MoE remains the same: 5%.

    Let’s agree to disagree.

    Like you, I dismissed Galaxy’s 44% Labor primary back in early June as inconsistent with other evidence; today I’m dismissing Newspoll’s 51%. I have a quiet suspicion that if the polls taken last week had been ACN and Newspoll, and had shown (say) 55 and 56 for Labor, and Galaxy had come today with 51, you would be the one dissing the inconsistent poll. And you would be right to do so.


    PS – re #75: You are a) misusing the term ‘push polling’, go read the correct definition on wikipedia, b) loopy if you really think Galaxy would run an intentionally biased poll.

  82. Samuel K said

    Have to agree with Leo – why on Earth would you run a biased poll?! Assuming that you wouldn’t, that makes today’s Newspoll result absolutely extraordinary! For a poll during an election campaign it’s almost completely unprecedented. It’s absurd. It’s ridiculous. But it is statistically consistent with the entire set of polling in 2007. So why do I think champagne orders should remain unfilled?

    I am not arguing, and have never argued, with the polling methods of pollsters or the MOEs that arise from polling samples. I think the polls are correctly measuring what they say they are measuring: voter “intention”. But this is only the nonchalant intentions of a large body of voters at this stage. My argument is one of psychology. It’s incredibly easy, having not yet focussed on the real implications of one’s choice, to say “yeah I’ll vote Labor” to a pollster based purely on an urge to give Johnny the flick. But when people in the key seats are actually faced with the voting decision they will have to think about whether they really want to risk change, whether they really want to kick their long standing local member (who is usually not John Howard), whether they were ever that affected by WorkChoices, or whether Labor really could have done any better on any of the things that they’re annoyed about.

    The poll on polling day will not yield 58/42, or 56/44 or 54/46 – it will be relatively close. If not in terms of 2PP, definitely in terms of seats.

    You could possibly liken WorkChoices to the GST in terms of its electoral impact – i.e. it will make Labor win big in traditional Labor held seats, but may not penetrate where it matters. This would put Labor back to around 1998 support. This, plus Rudd’s popularity and “It’s Time”, could be enough. But I remain, as always, unconvinced.

    BTW: For betting types, try a “Coalition bet arbitrage”. I have put a few hundred on Johnny to get back at long odds. If Labor wins, I don’t care about the money; if Howard wins I can afford to get drunk every night for a week to ease to pain.

  83. Stig said

    Bruce back at #55, and a few other guys since then, are spot-on. The polls haven’t really moved all year, and the bouncing around is basically within MoE. That is THE story, except it isn’t being reported that way. Every time I hear a breathless media spokesmodel “analysing” the latest week’s data in the context of the last two weeks, I want to engrave “MOE” in giant letters on their forehead with a texta. Maybe then it will be remembered. Even if only by Larry and Curley over drinks later in the evening…

    Howard’s still waiting for the parachute-opening miracle. The ground is starting to get close though.

  84. johng said

    A lot of fluctuation in polls is sampling error, but one factor not often allowed for is the lag between political events and change in public opinion. Most people pay only peripheral attention to political matters and so it takes a while for a political perception change among those who pay attention to filter through to the rest of the population. So the me-too perception of Rudd became strong quite a few weeks ago but I think only really showed in the polls a week ago. And I think the Mcclelland affair and perceptions of Rudd being disloyal and poll-driven and unprincipled again only showed up in the polls last week even though McClelland was 2 weeks ago. For my theory to be correct, the recent Newspoll bounce would relate to events about 7 to 10 days before the 19th/20th. Perhaps it reflects the impatience people felt with Howard dilly-dallying about setting the election date. Who knows. My theory of lags is rather hard to test because the lag between change of opinion and the event will vary according to the event.

  85. Doug said

    Re 82 and others: The question of what the polls ar measuring that is being asked by some of the sceptics on this site is interesting. The question that arises is why would what the polls are measuring in the run up to this election be different from what the polls were measuring in the run up to previous elections?

    If they are measuring the same thing as in the run up to previous elections then we can assume that the connections between what was measured in the run up to the elections on previous occasions will be similar to what is happening this time.

    If the polls in the run up to this election are measuring something different than was the case in previous elections then we need a hypothesis that suggest what the difference is. why it is different and what the implications for the final result are.

  86. Rod said

    You are misunderstanding our erstwhile Possum, I think, Leopold. Essentially what he is saying is that the basic picture is rock solid, not that Labour have suddenly pulled a rabbit out of a hat (apologies to the Chaser) in the latest poll. Simply put, the fluctuations between 53% and 58% in the weekly polls don’t matter. They are a product of sampling variations more than anything else. They all fall within the margin of error. It ALL is happening within the margin of error of the various polls. It simply isn’t going to change before November 24 short of thermonuclear war.

    My own view of the situation as it stands (and I’m sure Kev07 et al would vehemently disagree!) is that:

    1) This election is over barring very dramatic circumstances ( a thermonuclear suitcase bomb attack on New York or Sydney, perhaps?)

    2) The Libs should be working out where they are going from here. Can they move fast enough towards the Ruddian centre to be a chance in 3 years time? Can they find a way to differentiate themselves enough while still staying genuinely electorally viable? Or should they be carving out a niche as a minority party on the right, perhaps as an ally of Labour (as the new conservatives) , if things go too badly? Who amongst them is likely to be able to take them on a path with a future? It clearly won’t be Costello unless he can develop a more appealing persona and accept policies that recognise the real needs of the electorate far better than he is currently able to do. If Costello wants to lead the Libs in the future then he has to get beyond private school/ corporate lawyer bully boy tactics as well as the Dollar Sweets approach to Industrial Relations! So what does that mean for the party ? Wealthy business “liberal” Turnbull or Catholic highly conservative pragmatist Abbott as the new leader?

    3) How are genuine small l liberals going to react? Will our next Federal election essentially be a contest between Labour and the Greens, perhaps? Will people like me be able to stomach Rudd’s version of “New Labor” or will we be looking for something more? The Thatcherite / Bush amalgam of the Right is as dead as a dodo as a real force in Australia as far as the electorate is concerned. What will be the new “centre”? Will Labour explode because of the internal pressures , just as the Libs seem to be on the verge of doing at present?

    4) Most importantly, will we really be able to sort out the issues of the day? Climate change? Massive economic changes with China as the pre-eminent power? New alliances? Energy Issues? Environmental issues? The final end of the last vestiges of western colonialist control and a choice between either the death of western racism or the death of western economies?

    Whatever you think about the above when the Libs next have a real chance at government in Australia it is going to be a very different world. I reckon a substantial piece of “repositioning” is going to be required if they are become a significant force in the future. Given the current state of the local and global tea leaves they would be mad not to be thinking already about how they are going to make the necessary changes. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if we see the serious game players in the Liberal party beginning to “adopt the required position” well before the results start flowing in, even if it hurts the vote in the current election!

    (Just by the way, of course the Galaxy poll involved a large amount of “push”. Asking about people’s knowledge of Rudd and whether a particular party “deserves” to win or not before actually asking them how they intend to vote would have made Sir Humphrey Appleby proud! )



  87. Samuel K said

    Johng – if your argument holds, the last week of the election campaign doesn’t matter. That can’t be right can it?

    I think the polls actually respond very quickly to new information. I believe ACN and Galaxy picked up a tax package bounce, and then Newspoll picked up Rudd’s neutralisation of tax as an issue and reverted to the long term level.

  88. johng said

    I would argue the lag in last week is compressed because most people remember they have to vote and so pay more attention than normal. And big events like the debate are going to have a shorter lag.

  89. Burgey said

    Heard Lebovic on Agenda tonight – banging on about 25% of people not deciding until the week before the election.
    I gather they garner that stat from exit polls?
    I’m wondering, if the mood for change is on, whether that stat is holding true this year, given the low number of uncommitteds in recent polls. In other words, has the advent of Rudd engaged a larger % of the masses who want something new?
    Could the fairly substantially larger debate audience be reflection on this as well?
    Not very scientific, I know. But I’ve got a feeling it may be so.

  90. Meng said

    George & Possum – thanks for “fixing” the graph! 🙂

  91. Harry said

    Very interesting thoughts, Rod. Perhaps what is actually going to be required of all the politically engaged is a complete re-think of how polities at all scales are managed/organised to maximise citizen participation. It is obvious to me that Rudd does have his work cut out for him to win, given the influence of the MSM and the skewing of the MSM to favour who they think is going to butter their bread, as opposed to the blogosphere being able to offer some more actual analysis of what’s going on. Nevertheless, unless the corrupt current mob are removed, only a slide into more of the same, but worse, will happen.

  92. BlueSkyMining said

    George, thanks for the Newspoll primaries plot with MoE shown: just what I was talking about a couple of threads ago https://possumcomitatus.wordpress.com/2007/10/19/the-hitchhikers-guide-to-the-galaxy/#comment-2491 except that the coloured shading is much spiffier than simple error-bars!

    The Boy Scouts (and Guides?) in this thread seem to be neatly split into two camps:
    1. Camp Possum: the “The MoE Flatliners”
    2. Camp Leopold: the “The Headline Numerologists”

    Must say I am clearly in with Camp Possum. There is a lot of political meaning being attributed to data points for which the BEST FIT IS A HORIZONTAL LINE! Sure, Camp Leopold members *may* be right, but Camp Possum members above are *most likely* to be right (with ~95% certainty, that’s good enough for me!) on the evidence presented so far.

    As for prognostications about whether the current well-established pattern will change over the next month, well it’s all supposition until it actually happens (or far more likely: it doesn’t!)

  93. Helveticus said

    Is there a possibility that we wrongfully blame the dog?
    What about if the intense public focus on polls by MSM feeds back into the decision making process of the voters. Hence , the disapearance of the Narrowing could be explained by the voters asserting themselves again, after they gave some sympathy nods or a round of polite applause to Howards Big Bang Billions.
    I seem to remember an election in the US, where a candidate lost basically because of a swing in the Western States when the press in the East declared him already as the winne at the closure of their polls.

    PS as a first time commenter…. love the show…… Thanks Possum

  94. canberra boy said

    Leopold (#81) beat me to it in pointing out that Galaxy was not engaging in ‘push polling’, but it does look like biased or loaded polling. Whether this was deliberate or just very poor questionnaire design is a moot point.

    To my knowledge, real push-polling was first used in Australia by Mark Textor to spread racial fear based on lies about the NT Labor Party in the mid 1990s, and he also used it against the Labor candidate in the by-election for the seat of Canberra in 1995.

  95. Evan said

    Helveticus, that was Truman v Dewey in 1948.

    Some poor editor in Chicago (possibly Piers Akerman’s old grandad) actually ran with the now famous “Dewey-Wins” headline before the counting was complete and the West Coast results were in. This sure gave Truman a chuckle or two over his brekkie the next morning.

    Quelle embarrassment.

    This is a bit different. Going into polling day Dewey was within striking distance in the opinion polls and actually had a chance. On the polling available to us, Howard is not and does not.

    Go Piers.

  96. Helveticus said

    I realise the Truman vs Dewey example is in a different context Evan, but could there possibly be some feedback of the published polls into voter intensions. Would it not be better strategy for the Libs to aknowledge the polls and point out the consequences… a landslide … rather then reinforcing the swing by fudging the trends and pretend the election is still winable, bar a TAMPA. But then I guess that strategy would need integrity and humility not hubris.

  97. Rattus nonveritas said

    Rod (67) “Nothing would surprise me less, though, than the sudden discovery of a “terrorist plot to blow up the Harbour Bridge” or some such, in the last week of the election!”

    Not this time Rod! Keelty and Huston want Team Rodent gone so bad that they would smother any such story.

  98. Dinsdale Piranha said

    Go Piers.

    Comment by Evan — October 23, 2007 @ 11:52 p

    No, that should read: “Piers, GO!”

  99. Stevet and Rod @ 67, I think they may try a dog whistle or two in the last 2-3 weeks of the campaign, partly because they can’t help it. It will almost certainly fail and harder heads at Lib headquarters know that but Heffernen or Abbot may slip the leash anyway.

    I think we may be more certain of national security scare showing up in the last two weeks. Some scary intelligence will be alluded to or some scary statistic will surface, childrens lunch money being stolen by JI or some such. Won’t work either.

  100. Aspirational Aspirationalist said

    The liberals just released a new policy. Possums are safe….. for now.


    Its about 2.5 Meg due to the cover page showing the Team.

    Also Hindmarsh polling of 714 people gave a 60-40 TPP and 46-32 primary.


    What are the chances of seeing a primary of 50+ and TPP around 60 on election day….. Ozpolitics says the biggest TPP we’ve had on election day was around 57 in 1966.

  101. Juz said

    canberra boy 94: When I worked for Newspoll we did a push-poll in 1993 about Mabo and mining. We had to read out a 300-word blurb about how great mining is for the economy, then ask (I kid you not) “given the importance of mining to the economy, do you think it is fair that Aboriginal people get more rights than other Australians?” – if they said yes, we then asked why (only open question I asked in 4 years of market research).

    Let’s just say there was nearly a mutiny in the ranks that week.

  102. steve_e said

    #64 I am funding the purchase of my champagne from my winnings in bennelong. I have put some hard earned on maxine at a good price.

  103. Rod said

    canberra boy writes:

    “Leopold (#81) beat me to it in pointing out that Galaxy was not engaging in ‘push polling’, but it does look like biased or loaded polling.”

    I actually think the one shown at http://media01.couriermail.com.au/multimedia/2007/10/071019poll/poll2.swf was both “loaded” and “push”, canberra boy.

    By raising queries about Rudd and asking about the relevant “deserts” of the two parties the early questions seemed to me to not only seek to affect people’s responses to the “who will you vote for” question, but also to actually influence people’s longer term views. The glitzy re-publication of the poll questions themselves on the Courier Mail website adds a further dimension to this, extending the “reach” of any “push” factor far beyond the original phone respondents, too.

    So for mine its was a case of both “bias” and “push”.

  104. sean said

    A couple of points

    RE the idea expressed earlier that there can be a lag in poll response time to political events – I think this is assuming a senstitivity in the polls to poltiical events which is clearly not there. Short of something like a tampa all variations over the last 6 months have more or less been witin the MOE. That just supports Possums view that the polls have not been volatile and sensitive enough to respond to the day in day out political dynamics – including 34 billion worth of tax cuts.
    This then reflects on the labor ‘soft vote’. The idea that there are all these people who say Labor and then go to the ballot box and vote liberal makes no sense. A soft vote for Labor would be expressed through more volalatility in the polls – that was the case in the 93 election where the polls were highly variable and subject to political stunts – like Hewsons stumble with the GST Birthday Cake. This I think is why this last Newspoll is so important, since Howard lobbed his biggest poltiical bomb at the public and they didn’t blink. The Labor vote is rock solid. It also suggests that if Joe punter is resistant to a massive tax bribe he’s not suddently going to get into the ballot box and wet himself about voting for Rudd.

    THe other point is the relatively high ‘committed to voting labor vote’ in the Newspoll stats. You would have to get all the ‘undecideds’ going over to the Rodent for there to be any electoral effect. As I think Possum has mentioned the fact is that these undecided voters usually end up voting in a pattern similiar to the overall trend.

    The only way Labor can lose this is if Rudd turn out to implicated in the events of 9/11

  105. Gen said

    Dangerous, FPTP produces genuine avalanches with relatively modest shifts in vote (witness UK, and hence NZ’s move to MMP).

    Our majoritarian system can do similarly, but the effect is dampened by greater nuance. Eg if I shift from Labor to Green in protest against Rudd vs Gay Marriage, I’m not ‘swinging’ half a vote to Coalition, as would happen on the main UK measurement of swing. My pref going back to Labor would mean on TPP I’m not swinging at all.

    Leo, Possum, on the ancient question of bandwagon vs underdog, I suspect Possum is right, but it’s muted in Australia – we have very little of the razzamattaz/public rally/Bwano led electoral culture of the US, Philippines etc. Australian culture is a long way from the conceit that we love ‘an underdog’. There is a type of unideological voter, like an unscientific punter, who is happy to back a winner for the sake of it.

    The underdog concept is a doubtful here for other reasons. It’s better considered as a ‘protest’ vote phenomena. But even then, its a misnomer. My Gay Marriage favouring Laborite who switches to Greens is ‘protesting’ against Labor, but only with their primary vote. Anyone who swings their TPP vote from Lab-Coalition or vice versa is not protesting, they’re consciously opting for a different government, even if for ‘negative’ reasons.

  106. stevet said

    Underlying inflation has just come in at 1% which means a rate rise is almost a certainty. If the RBA raises rates the Government is toast.

  107. George said

    Agree stevet – an interest rate rise during the election would be another nail in the coffin.

  108. Gen said

    Rod 67. Howard or any other Liberal having good support in Chinese speaking communities won’t stop them playing the race card.

    Against Africans. Andrews trialled this one. Hardgrave in Moreton has used it several times (former multicultural affairs minister! This despite Sudanese/refugee integration in nth Moreton having been as untroublesome as could be expected) Moreton has a large and sprawling suburban chinatown.

    Many Chinese have prejudices to Africans. Unsurprising, given China’s closed traditions. Hopefully that’ll change as China opens to the world, including using its power to influence and engage Africa.

  109. Bruce said

    FPTP is a disaster for 2 reasons:
    1) It makes it much harder for 3rd parties to become viable.
    2) In the presence of a viable 3rd party the final result may significanmtly distort the democratic process.
    An example of this is when ralph Nader ran for the Greens in the US 2000 presidential election. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ralph_Nader) His 2.7% may well have contributed to the debacle in that election where the only sign of democracy was the vote by the US Supreme Court to award the elction to Bush (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bush_v._Gore)

    My ideal system is the NSW optional preferentinal system (OP). Rather than having to give a numerical preference to all candidates you can stop numbering anytime after allocating yourt first preference and your vote is still valid. This means if you are disgusted with both major parties (as I was in the last NSW election) you don’t have to preference either. This gives you the most flexibility to show your true preferences.

    Unfortunately too few people in NSW are aware of the power of this system to 1) deliver protest votes and 2) get 3rd parties into the picture. Most people treat it just like the ferderal voting system and assume you must number every square. No doubt the Majors have no interest in advertising the advantages of the NSW OP system.

  110. steve_e said

    November Increase in Interest Rates

    So complete is the consensus in the market that there is no longer anyone on the other side of the bet and money market traders are reduced to betting on Maxine McKew futures – $2.50 for the win in Bennelong, “a snip” said one trader: “everybody’s getting on Maxine”. [Alan Kohler 24/10]

    If you want to pay for your champagne, you can fund it by the above mechanism. Think of it as winning at least twice.

  111. The Doctor said

    going to an optional preferential system merely makes the voting system closer to FPTP – which you have correctly stated is a disaster – therefore it cannot & should not be regarded as an improvement.
    If you are disgusted with parties, you place them at the bottom of the list – it has exactly the same effect as ignoring them!

  112. Eric said

    Bruce 109: Imho OP is a disadvantage to the 3rd parties.

    With compulsary preferences, the majors often put each other last, so if a minor can get ahead of one of the majors, they can come home on the prefs of the major. With OP, a lot of those would exhaust, and the major in front wins more easily.

  113. Dangerous said

    I’m not sure that the argument that FPTP makes third parties unviable is an argument for the preferential system we have here. I don’t see too many third parties in the HOR. The only reason they are in the senate is because we have STV with multi-member electorates.

  114. Ratsak said

    eh Poss, now Morgan are quoting you as a reference.

    Note: The recent discussion on Possum Pollytics regarding Morgan and Newspoll is well worth reading.

    The following included comment says it all: “I find it interesting that for the only poll in the last five years for which there is any ‘real’ figure with which to compare, i.e. the polls immediately before the 2004 election, Morgan (45.5%) was closer to the actual Coalition Primary (46.7%) than Newspoll (45%) or Nielsen (49%), and Morgan (38.5%) was also closer to the ALP actual primary (37.6%) than Newspoll (39%), and only marginally further away than Nielsen (37%). Since we have no idea of how far away the ongoing polls are from ‘reality’ (whatever that means), surely we should just go with what we know, that in the most recent testable case, Morgan was better at forecasting the actual primary vote than Newspoll. On what possible basis should we decide that the Newspoll or Nielsen primary vote estimate is ‘better’ than Morgan’s.”


    New Morgan analysis of September F2F

  115. Andos the Great said

    Busy day, Possum?

  116. Kirribilli Shredders said

    Possum can you dig out the graphs for 1916?
    Alseimer Rodent has just been on nine news and ABC news committing large bulks of money for the ADF right up to 1916.

  117. Kirribilli Shredders said

    Could be gearing up for Gallipoli again and not Iran!
    TPP votes would be slow to roll in then Poss.

  118. Alan H said

    Ratsak, The quote on Morgan’s site is by me, submitted as a comment on Possum’s piece about the famed ‘Morgan 2% to Labor bias’. It was answered very clearly by Possum at the time, pointing out that the ‘accurate’ Morgan poll I quoted was in fact a last minute telephone poll, not their usual ‘face to face’. Morgan is being disingenuous using Possum’s fame to try to bolster his reputation.


    Alan H

  119. Lord D said

    Does anybody know whether Newspoll is rounding their 2PP to the nearest 0.5% now instead of the nearest 1%? I’m pretty sure they started rounding to nearest 0.5% in previous campaigns.

  120. Possum Comitatus said

    Andos, yeah it’s been a bit like that – doing 400 things at once.

    But tomorrow – multiple posts! (well that’s the plan)

    Kirribilli, unfortunately the only polls I can get go back to 1946.

    That’s a bit too postmodern for Howards latest time warp.

  121. Ian said

    Wonderful but slightly unbelievable news. I just completed the Australian’s current poll and 100% of the respondents in my postcode are voting Labour.

    Also 51% of the respondents in my electorate (MacKellar) are voting Labour – nothing like this hs happened before.

    The ex-Minister for Caged Hair is a goner.

    Why wait – let’s crack the champagne now.

  122. jo said

    hey possum, been visiting from LP for awhile. excellent work.

    as a wentworth gal, well phillip really, when you look back at 2001 and not 2004, – it’s more like a 5% swing required – even taking in the 3% re-distribution. on current polling anything is possible…but with malcolm’s personal vote up washing up against the national tide against him…i personally wouldn’t be banking on the voters of wentworth to help make up the 16.

    i posted this at LP, what do you reckon???

    ……..the margins they are quoting in wentworth are fcuked up from the king split lib vote in the 2004 election – but the reality is that the ALP only polled 26.3% primary vote in 2004. the greens polled 11.2% that’s umm. 37.5% – the ALP 2pp ended up being 44.5% and libs 55.5 the combined king/turnbull primary vote was 59%.

    in 2001, King got 52% primary, ALP got 29.52%, greens 9.77% dems 6.15%..- the 2PP was 57.86% for King and the ALP got 42.14%.

    taking into account the re-distribution of apparently 3%, that’s still nearly 5% in some real liberal heartland.

  123. Possum Comitatus said

    Hi Jo,

    I’m with you.

    I think Mal is sitting on a real margin of between about 5 and 7%.

    The problem though is the Greens are apparently polling stronger there than one would ordinarily think would be the case, along with the plethora of independents taking a few points here and there.

    I think Mal will have to go to preferences and it will be pretty close, but I don’t think he’ll lose the seat.

    I’d actually be pretty surprised if he did.The big caveat is the high number of 18-30 year olds in the seat.Apparently both sides have been having a few problems getting a confident handle on how that group is intending to vote.Lot’s of mobile young professionals in the seat that cant be reached via the usual polling mechanisms, and a fairly large student population as well.

    And the Lobs have been closely looking into what they need to do to get preferences for that seat.So it’s close, but I’m still doubtful that Mal will be turfed out.

  124. jo said

    you’re right possum, the green vote in the 07 state election in march was huge.

    in coogee seat – which is a huge hunk of southern wentworth – the greens polled 21%, with 3% – 2pp of those going to the liberals.

    in vaucluse seat – the northern half of wentworth – the greens outpolled labor with 20%….peter debnam increased his 2pp 6% off the back of labor preferences.

    i can’t get my head around people who vote greens 1 and liberal 2, but they exist, and live in wentworth.

    …..the very idea of the ALP representing Woollahra LGA is too funny!!

  125. Peregrine said

    Sounds like the PM’s channeling Billy Hughes now. I always thought the two had a lot in common…

    Nice job on dismantling the narrowing myth, which seems to be a product of the Liberals’ born to rule mentality.

    I recall the Pollycide series listed some high profile ministers facing the scrapheap – do you think the true liberal revolt will hold up to polling day?

  126. I love the PPM graph with the “Howard Check Rudds March” line. That point around July 07 shows up as a turning point of sorts (qualified by not many samples) in most of your graphs here. I have been trying to remember if there was one event that could be linked to that turning point but my memory is failing me (I’ll plead sleep deprivation with a new baby at home). Any thoughts on what that event might have been?

  127. jamesj said

    A day or so late on the topic of voting systems, but will opinions change if Howard pork-barrels marginals at a rate not seen before in the democratic(?) world. To date the millions mentioned every day seem to pass without comment. I expect this to be stepped up considerably.

    From as early as his GST campaign Howard has used large scale bribery for purely political reasons. He faces now a challenge which is way beyond anything he has encountered before and clearly has nothing to lose. And Howard is not one to hold back. Voters in marginals DO respond to promises on local projects – just look at the Mersey nurses. It doesn’t have to be good policy – just give em the cash.

    Howard is more desperate than any politician I can remember and I do fear for our stable political system if he pork-barrels marginals as never before and gets away with it.
    It is possible for him to retain enough of his marginals to win, but massively lose the popular vote.

    This could re-define Australian politics – and would be yet another grotesque first for Howard.

  128. Mark said

    Ok, ok Anorak wearers. Maybe it isn’t a “push-poll” in the smear-the-queer US sense. So maybe we can Australianise it. How about “Bastard Poll”. I couldn’t give a rats-arse about MOE etc etc. But I do give one about how $30 billion + of public funds is to be spent.

  129. Soon said

    A motivating discussion is definitely worth comment.
    There’s no doubt that that you need to write more on this issue, it may not be a taboo matter but typically people do not talk about these topics. To the next! Kind regards!!

  130. Quality articles or reviews is the crucial to invite the users
    to visit the web page, that’s what this site is providing.

  131. Admiring the commitment you put into your site and in depth information
    you offer. It’s nice to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same old rehashed information.
    Great read! I’ve bookmarked your site and I’m including your RSS feeds to my Google
    account. Much appreciated!

  132. Hey, I need to spend some time researching much more about topics like this.
    Thanks for great info I was looking for this information for one of
    my school assigments. I will com back to enjoy more. Thanks.
    Very much appreciated information!

  133. Great blog here! Additionally your site so much up fast! What
    host are you the use of? Can I get your affiliate link
    for your host? I desire my website loaded up as quickly as yours lol

  134. homepage said

    Everyone loves what you guys are up too. This kind of clever work and reporting!
    Keep up the superb works guys I’ve incorporated you guys to my blogroll.

  135. Clifford said

    Hmm it looks like your site ate my first comment (it was extremely
    long) so I guess I’ll just sum it up what I had written and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying
    your blog. I too am an aspiring blog blogger but I’m still new to the whole thing. Do you have any tips for novice blog writers? I’d genuinely appreciate
    it. Very much appreciated information!

  136. My coder is trying to persuade me to move to .net from PHP.
    I have always disliked the idea because of the costs.
    But he’s tryiong none the less. I’ve been using
    WordPress on various websites for about a year and am worried about switching to another platform.
    I have heard great things about blogengine.net. Is there a way I can import all
    my wordpress posts into it? Any kind of help would be really appreciated!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: