Making sense of the polls

Making sense of the polls

Coalition regains ground in Newspoll

This week’s Newspoll, conducted Thursday to Sunday from a sample of 1630, has Labor leading by 52-48, but this is a one point gain for the Coalition. Primary votes are 39% for the Coalition (up 1), 36% for Labor (down 2) and 10% for the Greens (steady). This Newspoll is likely to be the final Newspoll for the year.

Despite the Coalition’s gain, 32% were satisfied with Turnbull (down 2) and 55% were dissatisfied (up 1), for a net approval of -23. Shorten’s net approval was -17, down two points.

Turnbull’s net approval and the Coalition’s vote have not been as closely related as other recent PMs. The rise for the Coalition may be part of a general right-ward trend caused by Trump’s win, or it may be that the Coalition is getting some credit for “getting things done”.

Regarding Trump, the Essential question below on climate change is evidence that his victory is impacting on perceptions of issues championed by the “elites”.

The slip in Turnbull’s ratings could be due to the hard right’s disdain for his compromises to steer the ABCC bill through the Senate.

The better result for the Coalition in Newspoll has been reflected in other recent polling. Kevin Bonham’s aggregate is now at 51.9% Two Party Preferred to Labor, a 0.5 point gain for the Coalition in the last fortnight.

An additional Newspoll question has the economy and jobs rated the most important issue by 36%, followed by the budget deficit on 16%, asylum seekers on 12%, same sex marriage and national security both on 11% and energy prices on 8%.

Essential at 52-48 to Labor

This week’s Essential, conducted over the last two weeks from a sample of 1830, has primary votes of Coalition 38%, Labor 36%, Greens 9%, One Nation 8% and Nick Xenophon Team 3%. It is another record high for One Nation in this poll, now only one point behind the Greens. Additional questions are based on one week’s sample.

Essential asked which of the two major parties was best able to handle various issues, finding small improvements for Labor on most issues since August. Economic issues also moved towards Labor from March.

Julie Bishop was the most popular government minister, with a net approval of +29. Christopher Pyne, Barnaby Joyce, Greg Hunt, Peter Dutton and Scott Morrison had net approvals between +1 and -3, with George Brandis last on -8.

69% thought voluntary euthanasia should be allowed, and only 14% disagreed. 54% disapproved of the government’s proposal to end Gonski after 2017, and only 18% approved. Over 50% thought abuse or violence against people because of their race or religion had increased over the last few years.

54% (down 3 since August) thought climate change is happening, and is caused by human activity, and 27% (up 1) thought it was a normal fluctuation in the climate. 49% (down 3) thought Australia was not doing enough to address climate change, 22% (steady) thought we were doing enough, and 11% (up 3) thought we were doing too much.

NSW ReachTEL: Coalition regains solid lead

A NSW ReachTEL poll, conducted 1 December from a sample of 1620, has the Coalition leading 53-47, a 3 point gain for the Coalition since August. Primary votes are 40.6% for the Coalition (up 1.1), 32.4% for Labor (down 2.5), 8.0% for the Greens (steady), 11.6% for Others (up 2.0) and 7.4% undecided. When undecided are excluded, primary votes become 43.8% Coalition, 35.0% Labor, 8.6% Greens and 12.5% Others.

Premier Mike Baird leads opposition leader Luke Foley as better Premier 51-49, a reversal of the August result where Foley led 51-49. ReachTEL’s forced choice better PM/Premier questions are far less incumbent-friendly than other polls such as Newspoll.

49% supported the decision to back down on a greyhound racing ban, and 32% were opposed.

The Orange by-election had a 34% primary vote swing against the Nationals, and seems to contradict this poll. However, Labor and the Greens were also well down in Orange, and it was a right-vs-right contest between the Nationals and the Shooters.

Austria rejects far right Presidential candidate; Italy’s constitutional referendum defeated; NZ PM John Key resigns

In April, the far right Norbert Hofer won 35% of the first round Austrian Presidential vote, followed by Green Alexander Van der Bellen on 21%. The two usual major party candidates won only 22% between them. A runoff in May resulted in Van der Bellen winning by 50.3-49.7, but this was annulled by the courts owing to improper handling of postal votes. The re-election was held on Sunday.

Van der Bellen won the re-election by 53.8-46.2, a 3.5 point swing to him from the original results. In a world where the far right has been on the march with Brexit and Trump victories, this result is a relief for those who do not want a far right takeover.

In Italy, a referendum was held on Sunday, proposing that the power of the Italian Senate be reduced to make governing easier. The referendum was defeated by an emphatic 59-41, resulting in the resignation of left wing PM Matteo Renzi.

While the right is claiming victory in Italy, this was a predictable outcome. In Australia, there have been several referenda on reforming our political system, and they are virtually certain to lose by big margins unless they have support from both major parties. In Italy, Renzi and his party were the only strong advocates for the proposed reforms.

On Monday, John Key announced his resignation as New Zealand PM, effective 12 December. Under Key, the conservative Nationals have easily won three successive elections, and polls have them well placed to win a fourth term next year. Labour will be hoping that Key’s replacement is not as popular.

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