Possums Pollytics

Politics, elections and piffle plinking

State of the Polls – Old School

Posted by Possum Comitatus on May 4, 2008

It’s been an awfully long time since we last had a good look at the broad state of the political polling like primary votes, satisfaction ratings and their trends rather than the simple headline TPP and Brendan Nelson’s limbo with preferred PM ratings.

So to start off, some music to listen to as we go through the poll roll – the Halo Friendlies doing “Sellout”… quite apt for the poor old Nightwatchman of late.

Looking first at the primary votes of the two majors, we’ll plot how Newspoll, Morgan Phone Poll, Morgan Face-to-Face and the Phone Poll Average have been going since the election. The time scale at the bottom of all these graphs is “Week in Term” meaning week one was the first week after the election, week 2 the 2nd week and so on and so forth. To help convert the weeks in term into dates, this little table might come in handy:

Week Ending Week into term
22 December 2007 4
29 December 2007 5
5 January 2008 6
12 January 2008 7
19 January 2008 8
26 January 2008 9
2 February 2008 10
9 February 2008 11
16 February 2008 12
23 February 2008 13
1 March 2008 14
8 March 2008 15
15 March 2008 16
22 March 2008 17
29 March 2008 18
5 April 2008 19
12 April 2008 20
19 April 2008 21
26 April 2008 22
3 May 2008 23
10 May 2008 24
17 May 2008 25
24 May 2008 26
31 May 2008 27
7 June 2008 28
14 June 2008 29
21 June 2008 30

For the ALP we get:

The Morgan face to face poll went wandering out to the fringes of plausibility here for a bit but has lately started coming back to earth – essentially repeating what it did last year. What’s worth noting here is that the two phone polls have pretty much been moving in sync, with the old pattern of Morgan usually being a few points higher for the ALP than Newspoll coming through just like it did last year. Since the end of February there appears to have been a slight growth in the primary vote for Labor which, as we’ll see a little later on, is consistent with the way the uncommitted voters are splitting over other metrics like satisfaction and preferred PM ratings.

Next up, the Coalition primary vote:

Again, the Morgan Face-to-Face poll is the odd one out, being a fair bit more volatile than the phone polls, but also lately showing the highest primary vote for the Coalition. The minor party vote in Morgan’s face to face seems to be a good chunk less than the phone polls are measuring – one would think it’s a bit of a methodological issue going on there.

Using the phone poll average as the comparison between the two parties we end up with:

We can see some slow, consistent movement to the ALP in primaries over time, but only partially at the expense of the Coalition vote – with the rest coming from a decreasing minors vote.

Moving on to the TPP vote estimates – we’ll again compare the pollsters for the two majors.

Apologies for that dogs breakfast – blame the pollsters!

Worth a giggle is the Morgan face to face poll showing an ALP TPP of 65%. Were an election held where that result came about, the ALP would have 139 of the 150 seats in Parliament :mrgreen:

The ALP TPP vote seems to have been slightly growing over the last few months yet without being able to say so with any level of statistical significance.

So now we’ve done the primaries and the TPPs we can have a squiz at the Votegap – which is the difference between the vote levels of each party.

This must be more than just a little bit disturbing for the Coalition. As time goes by, the difference between the vote levels of the ALP and the Coalition in both primary votes and TPP share is increasing. That suggests that ALP support is not only coming from minor parties, but directly from the Coalition as well. The ALP seems to be incrementally grinding away into the Coalition base vote – which is exactly what happened in QLD state politics. If a party starts losing its base they are in deep shit.

One blessing for the Coalition is that there aren’t yet enough observations in the data to be able to say this with any real level of statistical certainty – but if it keeps happening like it is at the moment, by the time we get enough observations it will probably be too late for the Opposition to be able to recover before the next election which will put them in a dire position for the election following that – especially in terms of resources.

We’ll keep an eye on the Votegap measures over the next year and see if that longer term trend to the ALP continues – however slowly. If it does, Australian federal politics will change fundamentally.

Moving on to the more qualitative metrics, we’ll start off having a squiz at Nelsons limbo dance with the preferred PM ratings:

This has just about been done to death in the MSM so we’ll leave it pretty much alone except to say that as the uncommitteds have started to crystalise out and get an opinion, they’ve clearly decided that they don’t much think Nelson is up to the job.

That uncommitted pattern is also something worth looking at in the satisfaction ratings:

As Rudds uncommitteds have been crystallising out, they’ve been roughly breaking even since February, moving in equal proportions to satisfied and dissatisfied with his performance. Nelson on the other hand had a big chunk of uncommitteds move in February straight into the dissatisfied column that has remained at a pretty consistent level since March. Since the end of March, the uncommitteds that are crystallising out have actually been moving to the “satisfied with Nelsons performance” column which is pretty interesting considering the beating he’s been getting of late.

The size of Nelsons uncommitted number is also large at over 1 in 4 voters.

So that’s where we are all currently at in the polling. Anyone have any theories or insights over how the data is playing out with the politics?

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17 Responses to “State of the Polls – Old School”

  1. gam said

    i don’t, but i do think you should run a competition to come up with a new adjective to describe the size of the gap in ppm ratings. there are more australians with genital herpes than think dr brendan would make a better pm than rudd.

  2. […] Labor are much better positioned at this point of the cycle than John Howard was in his first term. Possum, returning from his own honeymoon period, has the numbers. Rather than expecting the budget to […]

  3. I am unsure about the politics, but everyday life is like waking up from a dream – the Howard years were a scary nightmare, but a couple of deep breaths and it’s all right now.

    There seems nothing left – they turned to dust and blew away.

    Shamahan calling Rudd a “phenomenon” and the Libs not really knowing who they are or what they stand for.

    And Kruddy leaving all the lib departmental heads intact and insisting they perform or get out – it’s all rather refreshing…

  4. paul said

    My quip that the liberals will not exist as a party at the next federal election, Said to my right wing buddies as I was sipping a nice verdelho (could never stand chardonay, despite my inner city socialist leanings), is starting to firm as a possibility, shame then that the UAP brand has been stolen by Pauline, and due to Howard’s electoral law, UAP of the Forests is unavailible to Turnbull’s rabble.

    Perhaps another naming competition, Possum, is in order?

  5. Grace said

    It looks like apology to the Stolen Generation on 12th February increased the popularity of the current Government … we are indeed waking from the nightmare of the Howard years

  6. Grace said

    Correction to my first post – I meant that the apology occurred in the 12th week of the Rudd Government (13th February) corresponding with increasing support for this Government.


  7. Peter said

    Can we just call them “The Conservatives” and be done with it? Spade a spade, and all that. A left-wing party can’t now use the word “liberal”, really, which I think is unfortunate.

    Would “Australian Conservative Party” run into any trouble from the ACP of the media?

  8. Thomarse said

    Grace I can offer some anecdotal support for that.

    I had brought my 12″ TV into the shop that day, Rudd just started speaking when a customer came in, young guy. Anyway, I invited him to watch the apology and we stood there for the 30 minutes of Rudd’s speech.

    Later that day I mentioned the apology to another customer, a Lib voter who had not thought much about making the apology but he nevertheless told me he had been moved and impressed.

  9. Great to see the graphs making a comeback – I was going through number plotting withdrawals!

  10. Trixibelle said

    I’ve enjoyed the graphs too, and I realise that the main point of it all is that the Libs are in deep, record-breaking trouble. Nevertheless, I just can’t help but wonder why a third of voters still say they would give this rabble their first prefernce. Who are these people? Seriously, who are they? Are they truly the “rusted-ons”? Are they the old Menzies generation? Will they stick with the Libs through thick and thin, or could this support collapse, if a messiah does not appear soon? Possum, do you know how the previous conservative incarnations collapsed, especially the UAP?

    By the way Thomarse, I met someone from Switzerland recently who told me that one night in March after the news, the apology was suddenly announced and shown live on Swiss TV. He was most impressed. This made me feel proud to be an Australian after all those years of shame and cringing.

  11. Trixibelle said

    Woops, the apology was in February, of course.

  12. Andos said

    Trixibelle: instead of ‘rusted on Liberals’, how about ‘anyone but Labor’?

  13. marrickville mauler said

    Anyone else think that “are you satisfied with Nelson’s performance” this year might have similarities to “is Australia moving in the right direction” last year? Other than his dreadful effort on apology day I’d certainly answer yes if asked am I satisfied with Dr Nelson’s performance, precisely because I want to see Labor in power for a long time. In a couple of years time I might be able to adopt a principled position of wanting to see a strong Federal opposition for the sake of accountability and all that, but for now I’m just enjoying the show. (Different at State level of course particular NSW where the lack of a decent opposition does seem to be making a bad government worse.)

  14. David Richards said

    In light of Nightwatchman’s recent comments on inflation, and Rudd’s invocation of the Ostrich metaphor – perhaps a new moniker for Brendo could be Edna (as in Edna Sand). As far as the name for a Phoenix-like nonLabor party rising from the ashes of the obliterated coalition goes – the BCA Party?, The Demonic Lawyers Party?, The Bible and Ultra-Right Party (BURP)?

  15. Possum Comitatus said

    Trixibelle – the remaining Coalition voters seem to be “the base”, those people that for whatever reason, would probably never vote for Labor over the Coalition. A lot of them are in the 55+ age bracket (about half), and a good chunk of them are rural voters. I’ll have a post up later today called “Nelson The Future Eater:Dining on the base vote A La Carte” that goes into some of this and looks quite bleak for the Coalition.

    Previous conservative collapses were mostly driven by party conflicts rather than anything the voters really thought – so what’s happening now (and has been for the last few years at the State level) is a pretty unique thing in the general history stakes.

  16. Possum Comitatus said

    MM – it makes you wonder!

  17. Thomarse said

    [This made me feel proud to be an Australian after all those years of shame and cringing.]

    Me too!

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