Making sense of the polls

Making sense of the polls

Coalition Poll Recovery Stalls

Last fortnight two polls had the Coalition behind by only 51-49, the closest since prior to the May budget. This week Newspoll has Labor gaining ground. While Morgan had the Coalition gaining, his last poll was well above trend even considering his 1.5% lean to Labor, and his current poll is in line with Labor having 51.5% of the Two Party Preferred (2PP). Here is this week’s poll table.

polls early Sept.

In Newspoll, Labor had a 1% primary vote increase, and the Greens a 3% increase, while the Coalition dropped 1%. With the left parties increasing their primary vote by 4%, it seems strange that the 2PP only moved 1% to Labor. This is explained by rounding, not so much in this week’s poll as in last fortnight’s. Newspoll gives integer primary votes, so the actual Coalition primary vote in this week’s Newspoll could have been in the range 38.5% to 39.49%. The 2PP is calculated from the exact primaries, and then rounded. According to Kevin Bonham, if the primaries in last fortnight’s Newspoll had been exactly as reported, Labor’s 2PP would have been 50.3%, which rounds to 50%. So Labor was somewhat lucky last fortnight NOT to have a 50-50 result given the primaries. This week’s poll would be 52.4% 2PP to Labor if calculated from the reported primaries, which rounds to the reported 52%.

There is not enough evidence yet to say that Labor has started to recover ground lost in the last two months, but it is clear that the trend back to the Coalition that started with the MH17 disaster in mid-July has stalled. Kevin Bonham’s aggregate is now at 51.7% 2PP to Labor, barely changed on last week’s 51.6%. The Poll Bludger’s BludgerTrack gives Labor a 52.0-48.0 lead, up 1.2% on last week. Primary votes are 39.6% for the Coalition, 36.2% for Labor, 11.9% for the Greens and 4.6% for Palmer United Party (PUP). There has been a clear shift towards the Greens, perhaps due to the major party unity on Iraq.

Question wording of polls can make a huge difference in results. This week we had both Newspoll and Essential asking about Australia’s military involvement in Iraq. In Newspoll, the question focused on providing aid to forces opposed to ISIS, and this was supported by a wide 62-25 margin. Essential focused on the Kurdish forces, without mentioning ISIS, and found that aiding the Kurds was slightly opposed 39-38.

Notes on These Polls

  • Newspoll had Abbott’s satisfied and dissatisfied ratings both down 1% to 35% and 54% respectively, for a net approval of -19. Abbott’s ratings have been stable since the MH17 disaster. Shorten’s net approval fell back to -7 from -1 last fortnight, after a bounce that was probably due to sympathy over the rape allegations.

  • Morgan’s respondent allocated preferences were 54-46 to Labor, down from 55.5-44.5 the previous fortnight.

  • Essential had Abbott’s net approval at -17, unchanged from August. Shorten’s net approval was -1, up from -6 in August. Voters opposed Australian airstrikes in Iraq by 42-38. If the US asks for Australian troops, sending them would be opposed by 54-27. However, if the United Nations asks, voters would now support sending them by 45-36. Despite national security concerns, only 36% have a lot or some trust in the Coalition’s handling of international affairs, while 55% have little or no trust. The repeal of the mining tax was supported by 44-31.

There have also been two ReachTEL robopolls in Queensland. A union-commissioned poll for Campbell Newman’s seat of Ashgrove found that, if Labor’s candidate was Kate Jones, she would lead by an emphatic 58-42 margin. A media-commissioned Queensland state poll found the Liberal National Party ahead by a 51-49 margin, down from 52-48 in August.

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