Making sense of the polls

Making sense of the polls

A 50-50 Newspoll, but Coalition’s position better in other polls

This week we had a shock 50-50 Newspoll result, a 3% gain for Labor since the last Newspoll three weeks ago. However, other polling this week has been better for the Coalition. Here is this week’s poll table.

polls late Feb.

All polls taken this week and last week have the Coalition primary vote between 43 and 44%, and the difference in Two Party Preferred (2PP) is mainly because of variation in the Labor/Greens/Others primary votes; Newspoll has Labor at 35%, while Morgan still has them at only 29.5%.

Since Newspoll became managed by Galaxy in July last year, it has been far less bouncy from poll to poll than the old Newspoll series; this makes it unlikely that this result is a pure fluke for Labor. Other evidence is that Essential showed Labor dropping two points on primary vote last week, then regaining that loss this week, even though last week is still in the two-week fieldwork period.

This Morgan was the second consecutive Morgan to show no Coalition advantage on respondent allocation vs previous election methods. All Morgans since Turnbull became PM, up until the last two, had an average Coalition advantage of about 1% with respondent allocated preferences.

Newspoll had Turnbull’s satisfied rating slumping five points to 48%, while his dissatisfied rating climbed seven points to 38%, for a net approval of +10, down from +22. Shorten’s net approval improved six points to -29. Newspoll also found that voters approved of Labor’s negative gearing policy by 47-31.

Although the Coalition is still narrowly ahead when all polls are considered, it has definitely lost some ground over the last few weeks. The key question is how long the slump will continue; just because the Coalition is trending down now does not mean it will continue to slide.

Kevin Bonham’s poll aggregate is now at 51.8% to the Coalition, a gain for Labor of 1.1% since last week, and 2.5% in the last five weeks. The Poll Bludger’s BludgerTrack is at 52.0% 2PP to the Coalition, a 0.8% gain for Labor since last week. Primary votes are 44.4% for the Coalition, 32.6% for Labor and 12.6% for the Greens. Since last week, the Coalition’s primary vote is down 0.9%, and this has gone to Labor and the Greens.

Newspoll leaders’ attributes and issues ratings, plus a probable error

Newspoll asked about leader attributes of both Turnbull and Shorten, and about which leader was best able to handle particular issues. Turnbull led Shorten on all positive attributes except “cares for people” (60-60 tie), but he also led on the one negative attribute, being arrogant, by 55-49. Turnbull led Shorten on all issues except industrial relations, where Shorten led by a point. These leads ranged from one to four point leads on Labor-favouring issues, such as health and education. to 34 to 36 point leads on Coalition-favouring issues, such as the economy and national security.

Turnbull is still quite popular, while Shorten has been deeply unpopular for a long time, and this explains some of the massive gulf. It would be interesting if Newspoll asked which party is best able to handle particular issues, as opposed to which leader.

According to the tables, Turnbull led Shorten 51-23 on climate change. I would not have expected climate change to be anywhere near as strong for Turnbull as it appears in this poll. And in fact, the party breakdowns have Coalition voters favouring Turnbull by 59-10, while Labor voters favour Shorten 63-14. Unless Greens and Other voters favoured Turnbull on this question by a much bigger margin than even Coalition voters, there is no way the overall 51-23 result for Turnbull is correct.

More on Essential

In this week’s Essential, respondents were pessimistic about a range of economic indicators, with only company profits believed to have improved in the last 12 months. Half of the sample was told that changes to negative gearing were a Labor party policy, and the other half was not told this. The Labor policy half supported the changes by 38-28, and the rest by 37-32. Voters disapproved of cutting Sunday penalty rates by 54-31, virtually unchanged on August 2015.

Trump’s huge win in Nevada Republican caucus

Donald Trump yesterday won the Nevada Republican caucus with 46% of the vote, 22 points ahead of his nearest rival, Marco Rubio with 24%. Ted Cruz followed with 21%, Ben Carson at 5% and John Kasich at 4%.

While this was a massive win for Trump, I disagree with the notion that it means he has broadened his base. It is more probable that Nevada was just a relatively strong state for Trump, in the same way that Iowa was relatively weak for him

Next Tuesday (Wednesday Melbourne time), primaries or caucuses will be held in 12 states, making up about a quarter of both parties’ delegations. Trump appears to be ahead in all of these states except Cruz’s home state of Texas, and should win the biggest share of delegates.

On the Democratic side, the final February contest will be held this Saturday (Sunday Melbourne time) in South Carolina, and Hillary Clinton is expected to win easily, mainly due to black voters’ strong support for her. She also leads by big margins in most of the Super Tuesday states, and should win far more delegates than Bernie Sanders next Tuesday.

Until 15 March, Republican states are required to allocate their delegates roughly proportionally (note “roughly”). If Trump is to be stopped, it needs to happen by 15 March, when states can be winner takes all. Democrats allocate all delegates proportionally with a 15% threshold. I will have a detailed post on delegate allocation on Sunday following the South Carolina Democratic primary.

Expert Database

Want to write?

Write an article and join a growing community of more than 54,400 academics and researchers from 2,115 institutions.

Register now