Possums Pollytics

Politics, elections and piffle plinking

Newspoll November 6

Posted by Possum Comitatus on November 6, 2007

Newspoll Tuesday and we have another bouncy poll. ALP leads on primaries 47-42, and on TPP 53-47.

As we’ve been discussing lately, and as we warned at the beginning of the campaign, the TPP numbers get pretty volatile. Today is no exception.

To highlight the trend, let’s look at primary vote figures since May using all Newspolls.




The Coalition appears to be making steady, but extremely slow progress in the primary vote, but at the expense of the minor parties. Yet what is peculiar here is how this plays out with the TPP numbers. As minor party voters have switched to the Coalition, the Coalition share of preference distributions of the remaining ‘others’ continues to increase. That’s the problem with using 2004 preference distributions, while they might generally get a pollster in the right ballbark figure on any given day within a few percent, they are usually wrong in terms of how the small compositional shifts (say 2-3%) between the voting support of all the parties plays out. Apparently, if we were to take these polls literally (which is a naughty thing that shouldn’t be done), 130 000 or so people changed their vote from the ALP to the Greens over the last week and none of them preferenced the ALP, even though greens prefs usually run about 75% to the ALP. That’s why the minor party noise does funny things to the TPP vote.

Those preference flow levels looked a little undercooked as well.

If I take the average primaries for the last four big polls, and do the same with the Greens and “others”, we have a less noisy measure of what is going on. If we then send Greens prefs 75% to the ALP and then split the rest 50/50 (about what usually happens), we get the average result of the last 4 polls being 54.8/45.2 two party preferred to the ALP.

But so saying, its just more insignificant movement from one poll to the next. With that ALP primary being 47, and with only Galaxy ever showing it being under that for any significant period of time, we might not have a good idea of the TPP spread from one poll to the next, but we know that an ALP primary of 47 will deliver a landslide regardless.

George, as always, has sent in the primaries with the band.


AddThis Social Bookmark Button


36 Responses to “Newspoll November 6”

  1. Greeensborough Growler said

    Once again, frenzied inactivity is the underlying theme.

  2. Rod said

    It is all within the limits of error, of course, but I see that the Newspoll figures actually show a FALL in the Liberal primary vote (compensated for by a rise in the Nationals vote to their highest % for quite some time).

    Given that most of the coalition seats in danger seem to currently be in the hands of the Libs I wouldn’t imagine they are taking too much comfort from this result!

    I guess the change in the comparative balance of the two parties might suggest that the sample demographic is a bit different from the pervious ones, too.

  3. johng said

    I think we have to admit the narrowing is on. I don’t expect it will continue in the next 10 days, and I don’t think its enough to save the Coalition, but the moving average graphs from Bryan Palmer and the Mumble mix clearly show a signficant narrowing of the Coalition/Labor gap in the last 4 weeks.

  4. CL de Footscray said

    Thanks Possum. Alarmed at the headline when announced on lateline. But alertly looking back to September 14-16; lib primary of 37 plus nat primary of 4 gave coalition primary of 41; ALP primary 47 plus greens on 4. This was translated by newspoll into 55-45 2PP. This time around we have Libs 37, nats 5, ALP 47, greens 5, which translates into 53-47. This doesn’t seem quite right, and indeed if you do the sums (as you have illustrated above using the 3:1 green pref flow and 1:1 for the others) the result in Sep would have been 54-46 rather than 55-45. Do you think they tweak the preference flows? Or is this all rounding error? Or should we stop reading tea leaves and bet on horses for today?

  5. Don Wigan said

    […130 000 or so people changed their vote from the ALP to the Greens over the last week and none of them preferenced the ALP, even though greens prefs usually run about 75% to the ALP.]

    I think that is the most telling thing. Just because the Greens got a bit huffy about the Tas ALP sell-out to Gunns, and about the gagging of Garrett, it doesn’t mean they’re all going over to team Howard. Very likely business as usual, especially after the Senate preference deal: 75:25 bordering up to 80-20.

    In any event a 47% primary doesn’t suggest much cause for alarm. If it gives the Liberals hope, all the better for the remaining weeks.

  6. Kramer said

    I agree that we have witnessed a definitive narrowing since the election was called. Yet, that doesn’t stop me from being skeptical about today’s TPP numbers. Other polls with the exact same primary figures have put Labor on 55 to the Coalition’s 45.

    I think that Footscray is on the money. Something dodgy has happened to the TPP. I’m saying Master O’Reilly by a length over Purple Moon!

  7. Mark said

    Yep looks to be a rounding issue. Johng, it’s possible to discern a bit of 2PP narrowing on the aggregated polls but not on the primaries. Just more flatlining, I’m afraid. Think of the LNP as a corpse (not a big stretch of the imagination) and this would be the early stages of rigour mortis. It’s not a pulse.

  8. Enemy Combatant said

    Ahhhh, reassurance from the voices of psephological reason.
    Psych-wise this poll is good for Team Ruddster as it will keep them focused and minimise any impulse to perform Icarine loop-the-loops and barrell rolls during the next 17 days.

    George, I notice your Rainbow Serpent is fair fangin’ for a good feed. It is constricting its tummy muscles in anticipation of shaping an internal lumen large enough to encapsulate the perenially elusive, quintessentially cunning and congenitally shifty, Kirribilli Rest Room Rodent.

  9. Bruce said

    Thanks Poss,

    The analysis I posted in #42 in the thread https://possumcomitatus.wordpress.com/2007/11/02/state-of-the-polls/ showed no trend in Labor primary vote and very strong evidence of a trend away from Labor in 2PP, suggesting a decline in primary votes for third parties, although this was not directly analysed.

    I’m curious how the 2PP is determined in polling, especially Newspoll. Do you know the question asked? Or is it just inferred from primary votes and the distribution of preferences at the last election? Have you posted a detailed explanation somewhere?



  10. Peachy said

    Bruce @ #9 – I think that Newspoll stated on the poll that they had distributed prefs in the same proportion as the 2004 election.

  11. Leopold said

    The point with the preference flows is that with minor party support at 11, Newspoll would give around 6.7 to Labor. The logical conclusion is that either a) Labor primary is less than 46.8 (but more than 46.5), leading to a figure of 53.4 or less rounding to 53; or b) the Coalition primary is 42.4 or greater, leading to a lower preference flow. Actually, most likely Labor slightly below 47, Coalition slightly above 42.

    Either way, it’s all within the margin of error. Two party preferred is about 53-54 for Labor and has been since the first week of the campaign IMHO.

    I don’t buy the ‘approval means votes’ theory, but you do Possum, so Howard’s job approval reaching its highest level since Rudd took the leadership be of interest to you. Looking at the attitudinal figures in ACN and Newspoll, it looks like the campaign is essentially having no effect on perceptions of Rudd, but doing Howard some (small) good. Esoteric, but interesting.

  12. Bruce said

    Thanks Peachy,

    From the poll pdf:
    They list all their questions and it is clear they do not specifically ask about preferences.

    It also includes the sentence, “Based on preference flow at October 2004 federal election”.

    This is a very dubious assumption and a potential source of bias, so the statement, “The maximum
    margin of sampling error is plus or minus 2.5 percentage points” should only apply to the questions asked.

    My feeling is environment is a much more important issue this time around and Green voters will have a greater tendency to preference Labor over the Coalition.

    I agree with Possum on this.


  13. George said

    Some interesting analysis at the Poll Bludger by Hemingway on the Newspoll and Sky:

    The Newspoll chief has just been interviewed for 10 minutes on Skynews. His explanations for the swing in “momentum” for the Coalition came across as more a justification why he had “swung” the 2 PP vote to create this bogus momentum.

    Here’s the reasons I have drawn this conclusion from his comments:

    1. He refused to mention that Primary Vote exists, let alone that the Primary voter numbers for both Coalition and Labor are unchanged from his last poll. Only at the end, when the issue of the young vote was questioned, did he acknowledge that Labor’s under 35 Primary vote has been rock solid since Workchoices came into effect. Of course, absolutely no mention of the formula or criteria with which preferences were allocated.

    2. He made a huge fuss about Mr. Howard’s personal satisfaction numbers improving to 49%, but failed mention that those not satisfied were down only 1% to 45%. Of course, absolutely no mention that Mr. Rudd’s satisfaction is rock solid (down only 1% to 61% with not satisfied up only 1% to 26%). Made an equally huge fuss about the preferred PM numbers improving for Mr. Howard up 2% to 43, even though Mr. Rudd is only down 1% to 47 which is exactly what he was getting in September.

    3. Only after the interviewer suggested that it has been a normal historical trend for polls to draw a bit closer during during the campaign, was he willing to admit this has invariably been the case.

    4. He obviously had his focus groups working overtime to support Team Howard’s newest spin campaign in the event of a likely interest rate. This guy repeated 3 times the phrase: “safe hands at the tiller”, so we can expect to hear and see that a lot from the Coalition and its media cheerleaders if the Reserve Board is fair dinkum tomorrow. No mention of Mr. Rudd’s spin that the Reserve Board has repeatedly warned Team Howard about inflation but that nothing was done to improve our skill shortage or infrastructure to increase productivity and lower inflation pressures.

    5. Also, he used fulsome words to describe the Coalition’s magnificent economic management creating this magnificent economic growth, while conversely pointing out that voters have become so savvy now that they understand why the Coalition is only responsible for this magnificent growth, but definitely is NOT to be blamed for the interest rate rises.

    6. He made no mention of whether this Coalition “momentum” is in safe seats or marginals. In fact, marginals barely got a look in until the final 15 seconds of the interview, despite the fact that the Skynews election campaign item showed both Leaders yesterday campaigning at Erina Fair Shopping Mall in a Liberal held NSW seat normally not considered a marginal (Anthony Green classifies the seat of Robertson as “Safe Liberal 6.9%”), but now this in danger due to its being a new houses/ large mortgages area.

    I’m not surprised, but extremely saddened that the conservative media has so little opposition to its pushing the Coalition campaign narrative along by the blatant device of a conservative newspaper owning its poll, jigging its methodology to suit the Coalition, and then integrating their poll analysis with Team Howard’s campaign themes. Alas, other major media conglomerates and the ABC Evening News swallow Newspoll spin hook, line and sinker, so thank heaven that websites like this exist, even though, as yet, this is far, far less influential than the traditional media and their Newspoll.


  14. follow the preferences said

    Its interesting that these polls are not willing to give out their raw data?
    Secondly the Minors things almost makes these polls look a farce, when the error on the Greens vote happens every time you have to wonder about Newspoll, Clearly they never manage to phone all the young people who only use mobile, and don’t have a traditional Phone Number,are ‘out’ having a life.
    47 % primary solid, up nearly 10% since 2004.

  15. KC said


    The pdf on the Oz site says 1700 voters in one place and 1125 in the other, did they just ask the other questions of only some of them.

  16. Harmless Cud Chewer said

    I think it is probable that the ‘true’ 2PP has narrowed a percent or so since early Oct. I guess we could debate how much of that effect is the calling of the election itself, and how much is the fear campaign.

    What interests me though is the timing of the ALPs tactics. In particular, why are they keeping their powder dry?

    The underlying question is. Those voters influenced by a fear campaign. Are they now ‘soft’ votes. And what are the time constants involved? How long do you have to wait until a nagging doubt becomes a rusted on vote?

    The other thing Im curious about is given the squeeze on minor parties, is that squeeze being felt more by the right wing parties, or more by the greens?

  17. josh lyman said

    Let’s be up-front about this: there is no way that a 1% move from ALP to Greens will have any impact on the ALP TPP vote. Newspoll is fudging.

  18. KC said


    I think too often the importance of the MSM in influencing voters is overstated, rarely do the MSM encourage a vote for labor. If the MSM had a significant influence we would have liberal governments everywhere.

    All of the MSM went absoutley feral on Iemma, as they should have, yet he was swept into office.

    People are not fools and they will make up their own minds without newspapers screaming scarey headlines at them each day.

    If labor presents a good alternative they will vote for them, the spin the MSM puts on it is generally ignored, but what is not is the politicians statements.

    When Howard says you have never had it better, there a lot who think “what the f*ck are you talking about”. Sure some have benefited from Howard but a lot more are going backwards or seeing their kids and grandkids going backwards and opportunites for them looking bleak.

    The effect of the MSM is minor, the big effect comes from personal experience and knowing when someone is spinning you another one.

    People are more influenced by what happens to them, their family and their friends on a personal level than what is reported in the MSM.

    And that is why the libs will lose, there are many affected by Work Choices and housing affordability, and is does not have to be direct, the parents and grand parents know what housing and employment was like in their days and though they may be secure they want a future and a chance for their kids.

    How many actually watch and absorb what the MSM have to say, yet you will always remember if a relative or friend tells you a hard luck story or how they were done over.

  19. Helen said

    Not on topic, but I’m feeling desperate.

    Just read the following scary unsubstantiated tip in today’s Crikey. Anyone know anything that could calm my fears?

    ” The Daily Telegraph is sitting on a big story on Kevin Rudd that will make the Scores story seem irrelevant by comparison. The Tele will run with the story this Friday”

  20. Bruce said

    Hi Harmless Cud Chewer, in my earlier analysis I presented the 2PP trend away from Labor incorrectly as 1.9% per month – this was actually the trend in the “odds ratio” that is used for the underlying model. In common speak that translates to a decline in Labor’s 2PP of 0.47% per month since the March peak of about 59%. The MOE on this is 0.2% and 0.67%, so the actual rate of change would probably lie between 0.27% and 0.67% per month.

    There is no evidence of a change in trend, certainly not from this additional Newspoll. Over 8.5 months this gives about a 4% change (range 2.3% to 5.7%) in 2PP. Over a 6 week election campaign, I would expect a 0.7% change (range 0.4% to 1.0%) in 2PP if the current trend continues.

  21. Bruce said

    Sorry that sentence in post 20 should read, “The MOE on this is 0.2%, so the actual rate of change would probably lie between 0.27% and 0.67% per month.”

  22. Kirribill Removals said


    Hello? Oh yes, hi Hyacinth, how’s things? You want to book the truck for the 25th? No probs, thought you might.

    What’s that? You heard something about that horrible man? The one that’s been walking on the water, the one they call St Kev?

    Yeah, I’ve heard of Piers, and he saw St Kev doing what? With a goat you say?

    Whoa, that’ll sink him when Piers passes that on to his crony mates. Can’t wait to read all about it, it sounds fantastic. Steve Price was there too? He’s verifying the story?

    Still want the boys to come around with the truck on the 25th? Yes?

    Thought so. See ya then. Bye.

  23. follow the preferences said


    If the Daily telegraph is daily I would be surprised any newspaper would ‘sit on’ anything.

  24. Bruce said

    Someone could always gazump the Terror with, “Daily Telegraph to launch malicious smear campaign in final effort for Howard”

  25. Helen said

    “follow the preferences”, if the Tele has anything they think could damage Rudd, unsubstantiated or not, they’d run with it on Friday to influence the weekend polls. Think Nielsen and Newspoll will both be polling this weekend. A pre-emptive strike by Rudd sounds a good idea,Bruce, assuming he’s got the faintest idea of what muck they’re raking.

  26. The Intellectual Bogan said

    Anybody know what Crikey’s strike rate for unsubstantiated tips is? My guess (and it is a guess) is not high.

    We’ve had several smears that have been touted as delivering a knockout blow. They’ve failed to work so far. Why should this one (if it exists at all) be any different?

  27. Apparently 130,000 people also changed their vote from Liberal to National according to Newspoll. The narrowing is more like the yawning at present. Still I’ll be stunned if the ALP gets over 51.5% TPP on the day but still expect some big swings around the country.

  28. Harmless Cud Chewer said

    Bruce #20

    Yes I can see that trend over the past months, and perhaps all we’re seeing now is a continuation of that trend. If so it makes you wonder why Howard didn’t opt for January. There’s no mathematical proof or disproof that the trend has accelerated since the campaign, but what I was doing was playing a what-if.

    And my real interest is in human behavior. Those people (and there must be some) who are truly influenced by a fear campaign. That is, those that see the ads and go ‘oo there must be something in that’. How long does it take for baseless fear mongering to become real? A week? A year?

    There’s a whole new PhD out there for you guys. And it doesn’t just happen in political campaigns. Microsoft became a master of FUD tactics. My gut feeling though is that there are ‘time constants’ involved that have to do with human physiology as much as social networks.

    Ah.. hyoomans.. who needs em 🙂

  29. Beach Ball said

    I dunno, but this morning I woke up with a different vibe about the next 2 weeks and how it will play out. KRudds voice is souding like he’s about to be hit with Laryngytis and the “sore hand” thing just isn’t a good thing to admit to – very reminiscent of a scene from the West Wing with Alan Alda.

    I have a bad feeling in my bones

  30. Peter Fuller said

    I’d be highly surprised if the mooted “scandal” derailed the Rudd campaign, even making the heroic assumption that there’s actually something there.
    Given the way the Liberals were all over the Garrett “cat out of the bag” non-story, it’s hard to imagine that they would have bothered to so blatantly over-egg that pudding, if (supposedly) there’s something big yet to be revealed.

  31. Kirribilli Removals said

    No doubt the goons from the MSM are desperate to have a diversion after tomorrow’s call from the Reserve Bank.

    They really are transparent little t*rds, aren’t they?

    But it won’t do them any good, so chins up, and get ready to see the back of the Rodent forever on the 24th.

  32. Bruce said

    Hi Harmless Cud Chewer,

    Just to answer your question about why Howard didn’t opt for January.

    The model I’ve been using is essentially an extrapolation of existing trends. The current trend started in March this year, when Labor’s support peaked. The model clearly isn’t valid before that.

    The model assumes an extrapolation of the existing trends. This is a very important assumption. It’s consistent with many past election campaigns (esp. Howards), where there has been little change during the campaign itself.

    It is not consistent with major event that changes public mood. Another Tampa, a terrorist attack, etc. It would be inconsistent with Keating’s 1993 campaign, when Hewson lost the campaign badly.

    Now imagine the effect on public opinion (not to mention retailers) if the campaign ran over Christmas. As well as your Christmas pudding you’d have to digest the antics of two clowns trying to impress you when you want to relax with the family. On holidays you’d have to organise a postal vote – a logistic nightmare for the whole country. You’d either switch off or punish the person responsible. There was never any prospect of a January poll and the big retailers forced Howard to avoid December.

    Howard knew he had a trend going his way and he wanted to ride it as long as politically possible, even risking a rise in interest rates during the campaign. He’s quite desperate and he has good reason to be so.


  33. Harmless Cud Chewer said

    fairy nuff

  34. CK said

    While we’re on the topic of 2PP and marginal seats (at least earlier in the thread, Simon Jackman has posted an interesting piece over at the Bulletin: http://thebulletinelection.ninemsn.com.au/the_swing_is_on_the_question_is_where.htm

    “Think about it this way. Suppose that I randomly pick “seat X” from the set of 147 seats for which we have 2PP swings in 2004. Assume also that I am An Omniscient Psephologist, and that I tell you that the national swing (across seats) is 1.87 percentage points. At this point you might reasonably guess that the swing in seat “X” is 1.87 percentage points. Some seats swing more than that, some swing less, and averaging over the possibilities for “seat X”, your average error would be 2.3 percentage points.

    Now suppose I tell you, “seat X is in state S, where the average swing is/was Y”. With this new information you now replace your first guess with “Y”. But how much better off are you? Generally, not much. The average error drops from 2.30 percentage points (using the national average), down to 2.23 in SA, 2.16 in NSW, 1.99 in Qld, 1.74 in Vic, and down to 1.56 in WA (the mainland state with the most uniformity in its swings in 2004). Using the language of one-way analysis of variance or regression analysis from statistics, we’d say that in 2004, 75% of the total variation in swing is within-state variation, while 25% is between-state variation (analysis here).”

    He concludes:

    “I’d add just one caveat to all of this. A big swing is on the cards, where as my analysis here is based on just one election, 2004, where the average swing wasn’t particularly large. It could well be that when average swings are large (or dare I say massive), there is greater uniformity or even less uniformity than when average swings are relatively small. I haven’t looked at data from previous election to know the answer to that, but it be helpful to know the answer to that.”

    Thoughts anyone?

  35. Bruce said

    Hi CK,

    A few comments. Firstly, something you didn’t qute from the article:
    “Put differently, if the assumption of uniform swing is a dumb idea at the national level, then it is only a slightly less dumb idea at the state level.”

    While that might be true when trying to predict an individual seat outcome, it is actually the reverse when trying to predict the national result. In one analysis I predicted an ALP win with 87-97 seats (based on several assumptions, including a uniform swing).

    Predicting where the seat gains will be is much harder than predicting the total number – i.e. predicting state results based on a predicted uniform swing will result in more error. However, as the number of seats in play rises, the prediction becomes more accurate due to the law of averages.

    As to there being more variation within than between states, that reflects the nature of Australia. A mortgage-belt seat in WA is much more similar to a mortgage-belt seat in Sydney than a rural seat in WA for instance. That fact that swing sizes follow this principle is no surprise.

    If any state defies a national trend it is likely to be WA due to it being the largest beneficiary of the resources boom.

    I agree with him that, “the actual way the necessary seats are likely to fall remains unclear”. As Simon Jackman is, I’d also be highly wary of using past swing patterns to predict ones in this election, especially since he has only analysed one election where quite different issues were in play – Work Choices and interest rates were not issues in 2004.


  36. dosi said

    pic of howard and the fallen woman at the shopping center with him saying:

    “listen b*tch, you’ve never been better off, so get up because i’m not going to aplologise.”

    v. funny……

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: