Making sense of the polls

Making sense of the polls

Coalition, Turnbull flop in Newspoll despite talk of ‘good governance’

This week’s Newspoll, conducted Thursday to Sunday from a sample of 1660, gave Labor a 52-48 lead, a 2 point gain for Labor, and their biggest lead since Turnbull deposed Abbott. Primary votes were 38% for the Coalition (down 3), 37% for Labor (up 1) and 10% for the Greens (up 1).

Turnbull’s satisfied rating was 32% (down 2), and his dissatisfied rating was 55% (up 2), for a net approval of -23, a new record low. Kevin Bonham tweeted that Turnbull has lost 61 points of net approval in just 10 months, a record collapse in Newspoll history. Shorten’s net approval was -15, up two points.

On Saturday, Chris Kenny, an associate editor of The Australian, said that Turnbull had had his “best week in Parliament”, and praised Turnbull for holding firm on asylum seeker policy at the UN. Kenny said, “nothing succeeds in politics like competence”. Other columnists at The Australian also praised Turnbull’s last two weeks.

Clearly, voters did not agree with Kenny’s assessment. While Kenny and other conservative commentators regarded the new superannuation package as a pragmatic compromise to unify the Coalition, the alternative interpretation was that Turnbull had buckled to the arch-conservative George Christensen. As Essential and Newspoll below show, the left is making progress on its arguments against a same sex marriage plebiscite; this was also a key focus of the last parliamentary week.

As to immigration and asylum seeker policies, while voters agree with the right on these issues, they are far less important in deciding elections than the right thinks. Abbott kept talking about how the Coalition had “stopped the boats”, but his ratings were generally very poor, and he was deposed because of those ratings.

Kevin Bonham’s poll aggregate is back, and is now at 51.5% Two Party Preferred (2PP) to Labor, up from 50.9% last week.

Essential at 52-48 to Labor, and same sex marriage Newspoll questions

The two-week Essential sample of 1800 had primary votes of Coalition 39%, Labor 36%, Greens 9%, Nick Xenophon Team (NXT) 3% and One Nation 6%. In this week’s sample, Turnbull lost ground on most positive attributes and gained on negative attributes since May. Shorten gained on most attributes, whether positive or negative. Double digit differences in perceptions of the leaders are on “out of touch”, intelligent and arrogant.

68% thought voluntary euthanasia should be allowed, and 13% disagreed. By 61-18, voters disapproved of changing media laws to allow a single player to own all 3 of a TV station, radio station and newspaper. By 58-15, voters said they would vote in favour of recognising Aborigines in the Constitution. 36% said holding a same sex marriage plebiscite was important, and 56% said it was not important.

In last week’s Essential, 60% supported allowing same sex couples to marry, and 30% were opposed; this was 57-28 in August. By a huge 68-22, voters disapproved of taxpayer funding, including large majorities of both “yes” and “no” supporters. 48% were concerned about hate speech as a result of a plebiscite, and 39% were not concerned. 53% thought there should be a parliamentary vote if the plebiscite legislation were blocked by the Senate, and 29% disagreed.

30% thought the economy was good, and 27% thought it poor, much the same as in July. 27% expected their job to be less secure in the next two years, and 14% expected it to be more secure. 31% thought free trade deals were the biggest threat to job security, with 23% selecting companies using labour hire and contracting out.

Update Wednesday morning 28 September: Additional Newspoll questions have been released today regarding same sex marriage. 39% now support a plebiscite, with 48% in favour of a vote by politicians to decide the issue. The Australian‘s article says that Newspoll had found 70% in favour of a plebiscite earlier this year. If a plebiscite were held, 62% would vote in favour of same sex marriage, and 32% would be opposed.

49% support a ban on Muslim immigration

An additional finding from Essential, from a survey conducted in late July, is that 49% agree with Pauline Hanson’s proposed ban on Muslim immigration, and 40% disagree. It was not just Coalition and Other voters supporting the Muslim immigration ban; 40% of Labor voters, and even 34% of Greens voters also supported the ban. While One Nation is only polling 6%, some of their policies can be popular.

Peter Brent is surprised that support for a Muslim immigration ban is not higher; he says about 75% supported John Howard’s proposed Asian immigration slowdown in 1988. Annabel Crabb writes that Australia has a long history of being hostile to new immigrants, but a generation or so later, the new immigrants are accepted, and Australians start bashing the next immigrants. When Hanson was first elected, in 1996, she was against Asians, now she is against Muslims.

Left wingers who question this poll because it sampled only 1000 people are engaging in poll denialism. This poll’s sample size was not very much smaller than most Federal election voting intentions polls, and these were accurate at the recent election. At the time it was taken, the Essential 2PP was at 52-48 to Labor, so it cannot be accused of extreme right wing bias.

The poll asked those who supported a Muslim immigration ban the main reason for their support. 41% said Muslims did not integrate into Australian society, 27% cited the terrorist threat and 22% said they did not share our values.

Respondents were asked whether they agreed or disagreed with various statements about Hanson. 65% agreed that she talks about issues other politicians are scared of, and 62% agreed that she is speaking for a lot of ordinary Australians. Hanson also did fairly well on the other statements, with her only loss on “I agree with a lot of what she says, and it’s good to see her back in Parliament” (45-42 disagree).

More on the two party preference distributions

In case you missed it, I updated last fortnight’s article following the release of the distribution of minor party preferences between the two major parties. Labor won 82% of Greens preferences, 60% of NXT preferences, 57% of Independent preferences and 49.5% of One Nation preferences.

One Nation is regarded as a far right party, so why did their preferences split almost evenly between the major parties? It appears that most One Nation voters dislike the establishment, and make no distinction as to which major party they dislike most. Many One Nation voters would be blue collar types who would normally vote Labor.

Labor winning 57% of Independent preferences is explained by the four most prominent Independents - Cathy McGowan, Andrew Wilkie, Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor - either being on the left, or winning much support from Labor and Greens voters. Had prominent Independents being supported by right wing voters, the Coalition would have done better on Independent preferences.

SA Galaxy: Liberals apparently lead 53-47, but question about 2PP

A Galaxy poll of South Australia, conducted 12-14 September from a sample of 870, has the Liberals leading 53-47, a 2 point gain for the Liberals since February. Primary votes are 35% for the Liberals (up 2), 27% for Labor (down 1), 22% for the NXT (down 2), 7% for the Greens (steady) and 5% for Family First (steady).

Labor held government in SA at the 2014 election despite losing the two party vote 53-47, so if this poll was replicated at an election, Labor could retain office. Furthermore, Kevin Bonham says that if Federal election preference flows were applied to this SA poll, it would be a 50-50 tie, mostly because Labor won 60% of NXT preferences at the Federal election.

Premier Jay Weatherill’s ratings declined since February; 14% thought his performance was good (steady), 34% fair (down 7) and 44% poor (up 7). Opposition leader Steven Marshall’s ratings were 11% good (up 3), 40% fair (down 1) and 36% poor (down 1).

Corbyn retains UK Labour leadership with a crushing 62-38 win

Results of a vote-by-mail were announced on Saturday, and Jeremy Corbyn retained the UK Labour leadership, defeating his only challenger Owen Smith 61.8-38.2. The leadership election was called because the parliamentary Labour party thought Corbyn was unelectable, and that a Corbyn-led Labour party would suffer a landslide defeat.

Total turnout was about 506,000, up from 422,000 at last year’s leadership election, but still only 5.4% of Labour’s 2015 general election votes. While Corbyn has expanded Labour’s membership by recruiting the hard left, performing well at a general election is another matter entirely. With Corbyn remaining as leader, the Conservatives are likely to easily win the next general election.

This tweet from a UK polling analyst shows some of the weaknesses of Jeremy Corbyn.