Making sense of the polls

Making sense of the polls

Coalition Regains Ground Lost After Budget

Two of this week’s polls only have Labor leading by 51-49, the closest Labor lead any poll other than Essential has shown since before the budget speculation began in early May. Here is the usual poll table.

polls late Aug.

Morgan and Essential show better results for Labor, even taking into account Morgan’s 1.5% lean to Labor. However, these two polls were conducted over two weekends, and it is possible that the weekend before last was more Labor-friendly, due to Joe Hockey’s remarks about poor people and cars.

Kevin Bonham’s poll aggregate now shows Labor ahead by 51.6-48.4. The Poll Bludger’s BludgerTrack has a Labor lead of only 51.0-49.0, on primary votes of 40.4% for the Coalition, 36.1% for Labor, 10.5% for the Greens and 5.4% for Palmer United Party (PUP). Since the MH17 disaster, BludgerTrack has moved towards the Coalition by 3.1% in two party terms.

There are two plausible explanations for the shift back to the Coalition. One is that the recent terrorist outrages in Iraq have made people more likely to vote for the Coalition on the grounds of national security, which is still a Coalition strength. The other explanation is that people are now not so worried about the budget because they realise that the Senate will very probably block many of the more controversial measures.

In the latter case, it would still not be in Labor’s interest to allow the controversial measures through, as, once implemented, the majority of people lose their fear of most measures. However, it could well be in Labor’s interest at the next election to say: if the Coalition is re-elected, we will allow all their measures to pass.

Joe Hockey had some dreadful polling numbers this week. ReachTEL had 59% saying he was out of touch, with 26% disagreeing. Essential asked who had been the best Treasurer out of Paul Keating, Peter Costello, Wayne Swan and Hockey, and Costello led Keating 30-23, with 8% for Swan and only 5% for Hockey.

Notes on These Polls

  • ReachTEL had an equal 38% who said that the economy was headed in the right and wrong directions. 66% thought that Clive Palmer was having a negative impact on foreign relations, and only 12% a positive impact. 64% opposed allowing government agencies to access browsing history, with only 20% supportive.

  • Morgan’s respondent allocated preferences were 55.5-44.5 to Labor, a 0.5% decrease from last fortnight for Labor.

  • Shorten had a big sympathy bounce in his Newspoll ratings after the rape allegation revelations. His net approval rose from -8 to -1, and he now leads Abbott by 40-39 as Preferred PM. Kevin Bonham says that this is the first time since 1998 that an opposition leader has led an incumbent as preferred PM when the opposition two party share is 51% or less. Abbott’s ratings were virtually unchanged, his dissatisfied rating up 1% to 55%, and his satisfied rating steady at 36%, for a net approval rating of -19. 77% agreed with the proposal that Australians returning from countries with terrorist problems should be required to prove they had no contact with terrorists.

  • Essential had 79% who still believed that social classes exist in Australia, and 31% said they were in the working class, 49% middle class and 2% upper class. Labor was thought to represent the working class by 41%, the middle class by 14% and the upper class by 8%. The Liberals were thought to represent the upper class by 47%, the middle class by 17% and the working class by 4%. Chinese company investment is thought to be good by 38% and bad by 36%.

State Polling

There have also been several state polls published in the last few weeks for Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland. Elections will be held by early next year in all three states.

In Victoria, the July-August Newspoll has Labor leading by a 55-45 margin, up 1% on the May-June Newspoll. A Galaxy poll conducted in mid-August has Labor’s lead at 52-48. It appears that the Nielsen in late July that had Labor only leading by 51-49 was below trend for Labor, and this Newspoll is probably above trend. Labor probably leads at the moment by about 53-47. It is likely that Labor will win the Victorian state election on 29 November, but not as likely as it appeared in my last state polling report.

In Queensland, a Galaxy taken in mid-August, and a ReachTEL taken in early August both give the Liberal National Party (LNP) 52-48 leads, though the primary vote gap between the LNP and Labor is 6.5% in ReachTEL, but only 3% in Galaxy. It appears that ReachTEL and Galaxy are using different assumptions for the distribution of PUP’s 12% vote in Queensland, with Galaxy’s assumptions more favourable to the LNP. For several months, Queensland has been stable, with Labor close, but not actually ahead in the polls. Labor still has a chance at the next election, due by early 2015, but the LNP is more likely to win, though with a greatly reduced majority.

In New South Wales, a Galaxy taken last week has the Coalition leading by 55-45, a 2% gain for the Coalition since a May Galaxy. This Galaxy comes despite two Liberals being forced to resign after Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) investigations. I think the Coalition is doing well because ICAC reminds people of Labor’s time in office, and so Labor does not benefit. This is borne out by Galaxy’s question on which leader would best fight corruption: 43% said NSW Premier Mike Baird would be better, and only 15% selected Labor leader John Robertson. The Coalition will probably easily retain power at the election in March 2015.