Possums Pollytics

Politics, elections and piffle plinking

Nielsen vs Newspoll – budget deathmatch edition

Posted by Possum Comitatus on May 20, 2008

This was me in Crikey earlier today.

The two things you can guarantee from any federal budget are whinging special interest pleaders and, of course, polls – no budget is complete without a poll or three. Yet, as is generally the case with these things, the noise level of the complaining parties is often a world removed from the underlying electoral reality the polls attempt to measure.

Newspoll and Nielsen Budget Editions, those surveys that tell us who thought what about all things budgetary, were both released today in a head to head clash that produced nearly identical results.

Around 30% of the electorate believes that the budget will make them better off; around 30% believes it will make them worse off and the rest thought it would either make no difference, didn’t know or couldn’t give a toss.

Which makes me wonder what the answer would be should a pollster ever have the courage to ask “How much attention did you pay to the budget” – I suspect the answer would be heart breaking to us commentators everywhere.

After you waded through the “Don’t remove the carriages from our gravy train” pleas by the Australian Health Insurance Association, there were essentially two big gripes that came out of the budget reaction wash-up as it was reported; pensioners were miffed and $150K households were staring down the barrel of economic destitution because of means tested welfare.

On the former, neither Nielsen nor Newspoll specifically measure budget opinion amongst pensioners with both preferring to use age cohorts instead. Newspoll tells us that of the folks aged 50+, 17% thought the budget would make them better off, 43% believe they’d be worse off and 33% neither. This compares to Nielsen’s 55+ cohort where 19% believed they’d be better off, 30% would be worse off and around half thought it wouldn’t make a difference.

Interestingly, the proportion of all people in the country over the age of 18 that are aged 50+ is 40.8% according to the census, whereas the same proportion of people aged 55+ is only 32%. Taking these numbers at face value, that 8.8% of the voting aged population between 50 and 54 would seem to be extremely depressed about the impact of the budget on their well being. Maybe they’re luxury car buyers.

So while it seems that pensioners in general weren’t particularly impressed with the budget in terms of self-interest, there doesn’t appear to be the widespread level of pensioner rage that talk-back radio and the tabloids would have us all believe. Especially since Nielsen, with their older cohort that more closely resembles the demographic of the aged pension, had a substantially reduced negative reaction to the budget compared to the younger Newspoll cohort.

But the real test of political grievance is always the vote estimate – and that didn’t move over the budget period with the ALP still leading the Coalition 57/43 in two party preferred terms according to both pollsters, coming off the back of primaries running the ALP’s way 47/37 with Newspoll and 46/38 with Nielsen.

If there was political grief out there over the budget in Voterland, it wasn’t substantial enough to move political support an inch – which puts all the budget commentary into perspective. Also makes you wonder about some of the silly headlines floating around today.

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20 Responses to “Nielsen vs Newspoll – budget deathmatch edition”

  1. Doublespeak said

    Yes that is all very nice and interesting but what about the important issue facing our great nation?

    Who leaked Turnbull’s email?

    (Tony Abbott?)

  2. Possum Comitatus said

    How about Christopher Pyne? – he doesn’t get blamed for nearly enough:mrgreen:

  3. O6 said

    On a personal level, I come into either the ‘couldn’t give a toss’ or the ‘as a professional statistician I refuse to answer’ category. However, I do think that a budget that gave as much to the coal industry for R&D as to the nascent renewable energy industries and which cut the subsidy to households for PV installation was a poor budget in terms of global warming.

  4. Jason said

    Great initiative Poss! You are enjoying a budget bounce!

  5. Jason said

    Oops that was meant to go on the Pollytrack thread!

  6. Doublespeak said

    Possum,

    If Christopher Pyne leaked the email he would have held numerous press conferences by now denying that he leaked the email. He hasn’t and he didn’t.

    The person who leaked gained an advantage from Nelson and Turnbull being ruled out (further) as leader. I don’t think it was Costello as he lacks the blood scent to do such a thing and besides enough Liberals would support him without him having to beat up on Nelson or Turnbull. I reckon that leaves Abbott. Pyne? He would have to kill all other members of the federal Liberal party to be sure of getting a majority. Even then he’d spend too long preening and probably forget to vote.

  7. George said

    “..Also makes you wonder about some of the silly headlines floating around today”

    Agree with you Poss – had a quick read of the online Oz this morning, with the following at the beginning of a negative piece by, yes you guessed it, our very own Shama-honey-glazed-spam:

    “WAYNE Swan’s first budget has failed to deliver a poll bounce to the Rudd Government, with more people than not believing they will be worse off and that inflation will increase.”

    When I got into the city I thought I’d stop at the GPO and have a … ahem.. late… and picked up The Age – on the front page, was the headline “Mr 70%”, a direct reference to Rudd’s 70%-17% lead over Brendan-call-me-Brendan. What on earth was Shama smoking this morning?

  8. B.S. Fairman said

    It is funny how Swan was so busy trying to put a spin on things about the budget being tough, he managed to take a the gloss of the tax cuts and other goodies in the budget. Pensioners got a boost in the Utilities Allowance of about $380 a year, but it barely got mentioned.

    But the best bit of budget was of course the idea of putting the surplus into investment funds. I guess nobody wants to buy US treasury bonds at the moment. Costello was so fond of these he sold almost all our gold at $270 an Oz and bought US bonds instead. Gold tonight is about $900 an Oz and the bonds are worth about the same as what we bought them for when currency values are included.

  9. janice said

    Possum, I suspect that the reason there is little ‘pensioner rage’ out there over the budget is because we pensioners have learned not to expect much. Some of us are hopefully and patiently waiting for the review Rudd has promised which we think (and hope) will have a better outcome to improve pensioner living standards for the long term. Some of us do not ask for a pension that allows us to live in the lap of luxury but enough to enable us the ‘luxury’ of food, clothing and housing and, perhaps, the occasional trip to the hairdresser.

    I, for one, am content to struggle on for a bit knowing full well that the Rudd Government cannot mend the ills of this nation in it’s first year of governance.

  10. Dockerman said

    HI POSSUM – RE: INEFFICIENT PRIVATE HEALTH AND SOLAR INDUSTRIES

    The above industries have obviously established their entire business plans around the wrongful premise that the Australian public would prop up their private business operations ad infinitum through rebates from the Federal Government.

    I bet these same complaining industry groups are voicing income loss concerns to industry representative bodies i.e. Chamber of Commerce and the media etc who continually espouse the benefits of and greater efficiency of privatised commercial business.

    Rebates to private enterprise business, represent real taxpayers money (fact) and in todays competitive world, such industries cannot justify ongoing dependence on taxpayer funding to remain viable – if so, their directors are totally remiss in their duties and responsibility and care.

    Such industries need to modernise their operations, become competitive in the marketplace or fail like other business houses who become complacent and irrelevant in their industry – if they cannot stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.

  11. Dockerman said

    HI POSSUM – RE: INEFFICIENT PRIVATE HEALTH AND SOLAR INDUSTRIES

    The above industries have obviously established their entire business plans around the wrongful premise that the Australian public would prop up their private business operations ad infinitum through rebates from the Federal Government.

    I bet these same complaining industry groups are voicing income loss concerns to industry representative bodies i.e. Chamber of Commerce and the media etc who continually espouse the benefits of and greater efficiency of privatised commercial business.

    Rebates to private enterprise business, represent real taxpayers money (fact) and in todays competitive world, such industries cannot justify ongoing dependence on taxpayer funding to remain viable – if so, their directors are totally remiss in their duties of responsibility and care.

    Such industries need to modernise their operations, become competitive in the marketplace or fail like other business houses who become complacent and irrelevant in their industry – if they cannot stand the heat, they should get out of the kitchen.

  12. josh lyman said

    B.S. Fairman Says:
    May 20, 2008 at 9:27 pm

    It is funny how Swan was so busy trying to put a spin on things about the budget being tough, he managed to take a the gloss of the tax cuts and other goodies in the budget. Pensioners got a boost in the Utilities Allowance of about $380 a year, but it barely got mentioned.

    I agree entirely – funny how tens of billions in tax cuts later, all anyone noticed was means tested baby bonus/FTB. Affluenza is alive and well, it seems.

    I read somewhere that households over $150k were, in dollar terms, still by far the biggest winners in the budget, it’s just that nobody is reporting that (and presumably, Swan is not selling that fact).

    Ross Gittins also pointed out today that since the $150k means tests effectively apply only to the primary income earner, you’d have to be in the top 3% of income-earning households to miss out – and obviously, a baby on the way too.

  13. Nigel said

    @ Dockerman,

    I agree entirely with your sentiment about private health insurance, given their profits, the fact they are complaining that they may have to actually give their customers a reason to stay, other than being pushed that way by a tax, smells somewhat odious. However when it comes to the solar industry I feel that a bit of tax assistance is only reasonable considering that tax payers footed virtually the entire bill to set up the coal industry. It is one of those odd things when people keep saying that alternative energy should stand on its own 2 feet ifit wants to compete with coal, forgetting that the government paid mostly for the roads, and rail lines that, that transport the coal, that the government built the powerstations and then the delivery infrastructure near the coal sources. So let us make it an even playing field and devote the billions towards ‘clean’ technology, that tax payers spent on coal.
    By the way there is no such thing as CLEAN COAL- the amount of CO2 produced can never be effectively sequestered or converted, why do we keep throwing money at this???

  14. Dockerman said

    Hi Nigel

    Ok will concede your relevant point about the solar industry

    Wasn’t Stan Howard, Pinnochio Howard’s brother who received a substantial Government grant to extricate his “coal industry” interests out of difficulty – some 8-9 years ago?

    Dockerman

  15. Aspirational Aspirationalist said

    Dockerman did you mean National Textiles ?

  16. B.S. Fairman said

    13- Why do we put money towards clean coal? The answer is simply: Australia sits on top of something like $10 to $20 trillion worth of the stuff. Plus the world is going to use coal no matter what we do, so we might as well try to clean it up.

  17. Danielle said

    If the budget refers to people on the age pension (i.e. over 65 for the majority), then why are the pollsters looking at the 50+ group? Seems like lies and damned statistics to me.

  18. Possum Comitatus said

    Danielle – ACN and Newspoll have used those 55+ and 50+ age group classifications for years. I agree – without a specific 65+ aged cohort looked at, the whole thing gets extremely iffy to make really solid judgements, especially since there’s 2.6 million people aged over 65, but 3.5million aged 50-64 and 2.2 million people aged 55-64.

  19. Greensborough Growler said

    “So while it seems that pensioners in general weren’t particularly impressed with the budget in terms of self-interest, there doesn’t appear to be the widespread level of pensioner rage that talk-back radio and the tabloids would have us all believe”.

    As soon as they nuded up, you knew there was a co-ordinated stunt team in action. I think FF produced and directed.

  20. David Richards said

    Australian cricket team’s Nightwatchman scored 22 – Nelson is lucky to score 9… LOL

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