Making sense of the polls

Making sense of the polls

Abbott’s Newspoll ratings continue rebound; UK final polls still very close

This week’s Newspoll had Abbott’s satisfied rating up 4% to 37% and his dissatisfied rating down 3% to 56%, for a net approval of -19. It is the fifth consecutive Newspoll to show an improvement in Abbott’s ratings since his nadir in early February when he had a -44 net approval. Shorten’s net approval is -16, up 2 points, and the gap between the net approval of the two leaders is as close as it has been since before the 2014 budget.

On voting intentions, the Coalition dropped a point from three weeks ago to now trail 52-48. However, the last Newspoll was better for the Coalition than other polls suggested, while this Newspoll is on trend. Here are this week’s polls.

polls early May.

Note that Morgan leans to Labor by about 1.5% relative to other pollsters. Thus subtracting 1.5% from this Morgan gives Labor a Two Party Preferred (2PP) of 51.5%, which is very close to Newspoll. Morgan’s respondent allocated preferences this week gave Labor a 53.5-46.5 lead, a 0.5% gain for Labor on this measure.

Previous polling that gave Labor a narrow lead had a disconnect between Abbott’s ratings and the Coalition vote, and I thought that either Abbott’s ratings would improve or the Coalition vote would fall again as the Federal Coalition’s NSW election boost faded. Abbott’s ratings have now improved to the point where Labor only holds a narrow lead. If there is further improvement, the Coalition could regain the lead.

Last week a ReachTEL poll had Labor leading by 54-46, unchanged from late March. While the headline 2PP was 54-46, a 2PP calculated from the decimal primaries had Labor ahead by 53.5-46.5. Abbott’s total good rating was 25% and his total poor rating 52%, for a net approval of -27; his net approval is up 7 points on March, and up 15 points on February. This poll was conducted 23 April with a sample of 2500.

Kevin Bonham’s poll aggregate is now at 52.3% 2PP to Labor, a 0.6% gain for the Coalition since last week. The Poll Bludger’s BludgerTrack is at 51.7% 2PP to Labor, a 0.7% gain for the Coalition. Primary votes are 40.5% for the Coalition, 37.0% for Labor and 11.3% for the Greens, with Labor losing 0.7% since last week, mainly to the Coalition. Graphs clearly show the rebound in Abbott’s ratings, and the slump in Shorten’s.

From July, Newspoll will be performed by Galaxy Research, after the company that currently does Newspoll is wound up. Galaxy is much less bouncy than Newspoll, so this may lead to more reliable Newspolls.

Notes on These Polls

In ReachTEL, Malcolm Turnbull was preferred as Coalition leader by 41%, with 28% for Julie Bishop and 25% for Abbott. Since March, Turnbull is down 2%, Bishop down 1% and Abbott up 1%. Among Coalition voters, Abbott has 51%, Turnbull 24% and Bishop 18%. A Morgan phone poll, conducted 21-23 April with just 590 voters, has Turnbull on 38%, Bishop on 27% and Abbott on just 12% among all voters. This Morgan also asked about possible Labor leaders, and found that Tanya Plibersek was marginally preferred to Shorten (23-21), with Anthony Albanese on 13% and Wayne Swan on 10%.

According to ReachTEL, 54% thought the Federal budget would make them worse off, and only 5% said they would be better off. By 57-22, voters supported an increased tax take on superannuation contributions for high-income earners. A crackdown on negative gearing was narrowly opposed 32-31. 56% supported imposing the GST on overseas products, with only 22% opposed.

Essential found little change in the importance of relations with various countries since February; 44% said it was very important for Australia to have a close relationship with the US, and 39% said the same for China and the UK. By 58-35, voters had none or little trust in the government’s handling of international relationships, an improvement from the 62-33 margin in February. By 42-26, voters thought the government’s handling of Indonesia was poor, virtually unchanged on February’s 42-24 margin. By a narrow 42-40 margin, voters opposed punitive action against Indonesia following the execution of two Australian drug smugglers.

United Kingdom election final polls

The UK election will be held today. Polls close at 10pm UK time (7am Friday Australian Eastern), and you can read about how the votes are counted here.

Some final polls will not be released until tonight Australian time, but those that have been released so far are very close between the Tories and Labour. The good news for Labour is that the phone polls are no longer showing a lean to the Tories relative to the online polls; both phone and online polls are now very close to a dead heat between the two major parties.

The May 2015 poll aggregate gives the Tories 33.6%, Labour 33.4%, the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) 13.1%, the Liberal Democrats 9.1% and the Greens 4.6%. In Scotland, the Scottish National Party (SNP) still leads Labour by 48-28 in the latest YouGov poll, with 14% for the Tories.

If the current polls are right, Labour and the Tories will probably be nearly even in seat terms, and Labour and the SNP will be able to form a government. However, there has been much speculation that a “shy Tory” effect could mess up the polls; the best example of this was at the 1992 election, and this forced pollsters to change their methodology from face to face to phone and later online polling methods.

Personally, I think that “shy Tories” are more likely to be “shy Ukippers” at this election, as UKIP is the more anti-establishment party. Those who are still undecided at this election are more likely to be either 2010 non-voters or 2010 Lib Dems, and both groups favour Labour over the Tories.

Netanyahu forms Israeli coalition government

At the Israeli election held in mid-March, the right wing parties won a combined 57 of 120 seats, to 42 for the left and 21 for centrist parties. Yesterday was the deadline to form a government, and Likud’s Benjamin Netanyahu has formed a coalition of 61 of the 120 Knesset seats. This coalition includes Likud (30 seats), the nationalist Jewish Home (8 seats), the religious Shas (7) and UTJ (6) and the centrist Kulanu (10). The coalition does not include the nationalist Yisrael Beytenu (6 seats), which has attacked Netanyahu from the right.

A key question is how stable a five-party government with only a bare majority of the seats will be. It has taken 42 days since the official results were declared to assemble this coalition.

Tasmanian upper house election results

There are 15 single member seats in the Tasmanian upper house. Every May, two or three seats are up for election for six-year terms. This year, the seats up for election were Windermere (held by a conservative Independent), Derwent (held by Labor) and Mersey (held by a left leaning Independent). On Saturday night, all three incumbents easily retained their seats. Windermere was the closest, with Independent Ivan Dean defeating Labor by about 56-44. Kevin Bonham has more details.