Possums Pollytics

Politics, elections and piffle plinking

Posts Tagged ‘morgan’

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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Posted in Polling, Voting behaviour | Tagged: , , , , , | 17 Comments »

Political Advice By The Column Inch

Posted by Possum Comitatus on April 1, 2008

crikeylogo.jpg This was me earlier today in Crikey.

In a headline that rivals “Strange Man on Public Transport!” for its sheer obviousness, Opposition is a Tough Business. With new governments come new oppositions which generally struggle to cope with the large decrease in relevance associated with the opposition benches. But after eighteen weeks, most Federal oppositions have at least developed some veneer of political strategy, some understanding of the job required in opposition which the polling starts to reflect. The day to day demand of having a 5 second grab on the great suite of topics that make up the news cycle starts getting complimented with more strategic approaches to the long term business of opposition.

What seems to separate the current opposition from their forebears is that the political strategy in its entirety appears to have been outsourced by the column inch to a set of News Limited journos that give Hawker Britton a run for their money in terms of pure spin. We’ve had the carers payment “crisis” which was little more than journalistic speculation gone feral, we’ve had the Aurukun/Macklin nonsense, we’ve currently got the Australia/Japan relationship “crisis” where the list goes on and on and on. The problem is that these stories sit somewhere between manufactured outrage and mocumentraries on the quality spectrum, allowing the government to easily adapt to whatever crisis they’re apparently facing this week by throwing some small bone to kill the story – an early budget clarification on the one hand, organise a quick Japan meet and greet on the other.

While it’s to be expected that oppositions follow the news cycle, and its to be expected that this type of sensationalist tabloid journalism that drives eyeballs to advertisers will make up a large part of that news cycle, regardless of the size of the paper the stories are printed on – the problem for the opposition is that it’s mostly vacuous fluff that that the public either sees through, doesn’t care about, or worse – they do believe it was an issue and then watch as that nice man Mr Rudd far from caving in to pressure, simply does what’s right and ends up looking in touch with the voters.

If we create a rolling two pollster average using Newspoll and Morgan and compare the first eighteen weeks of the Rudd and Howard governments, something stands out:


By this time in the term of the Howard government, the Beazley opposition had started to move on from the easy pickings of the news cycle and began to compliment that by applying greater strategic pressure about the new government’s policy program, which resulted in Howard’s polling honeymoon being slowly eroded. Yet the current opposition with its scatter gun style and lazy strategic approach is, if anything, falling further behind the ALP as time goes on.

If we want to place it in an even starker context, we can compare the vote gap that existed between the government and opposition of the day in 1996 and 2008 – again using this rolling two pollster average.


Whether this is the result of Rudd being a better political manager than Howard, Beazley being a better opposition leader than Nelson, the nature of political circumstance at the time or some mix of any and all of these things – what is inescapable is that Nelson is failing and that’s not good for the quality of governance.

What might be worth a shot is for the opposition to spend a little more time focusing on real policy issues that the public actually gives a hoot about and a little less time following the droning choir of News Ltd spruikers that are taking tabloid politics to whole new shallows of gravitas.

Unless of course the Libs really like turning the previously unheard of 20 point vote gap into a regular theme of federal politics. They should look north and see how that’s played out in Qld to disabuse themselves of any notion that such a thing would be impossible.


In other news – Steve Dickson, one of the 8 State Parliamentary members of the Qld Liberal party has threatened to quit over the proposed party merger not being taken to the vote in the party membership. The good news is that such a move would break the 4 all deadlock over the regular Lib leadership tussles, avoiding the need for future coin tossing to solve this most difficult of issues.

Still on Qld matters, Lawrence Springborg has threatened to take his pineapple and go home if the Libs and the Nats continue to refuse to take his proposed new party seriously. Meanwhile Mal Brough has decided to storm the barricades of the Liberal organisation in QLD and put a sword to the evil forces of Count Santo Santoro and his dark army of mediocrity.

Not to be out done in the loony-tunes stakes, NSW Liberal State MP Ray Williams has been accused of getting all hairy chested and challenging a branch president (as well as anyone said president could muster for help) to an old fashioned round of fisticuffs. And just in case you thought that this outbreak of the sillyseason was limited to State politics, the NSW Libs at the local council level have started recruiting One Nation hacks to help them run their local government campaign in the Baulkham Hills area.

Meanwhile, away from Tory central and over at the comrades in Victoria, Andrew Landeryou has uncovered some nuttery going on in Higgins at the local ALP branch level that pretty much explains why most people couldn’t be buggered to join political parties.

And finally, Andrew Bolt plays an April fools day prank on his readership, demonstrating via the comments section what most of us have known about his particular audience for a long time.

On something completely different – this is why they made Youtube.

Ooops – sorry. That was just Nightwatchman threatening to get “in and out of everyday Australians”. If you’re heading to a servo or shopping center over the next week or two, try not to get violated.

This is why they made Youtube!

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Posted in Crikey, Polling | Tagged: , , , , , , | 15 Comments »