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Early Polling for the Abbott Government

The early polls make it clear that there has not been a post-election honeymoon for the Abbott government. A honeymoon is the expected aftermath of a change in government election, and the Hawke, Howard and Rudd governments were all polling better than their election result at this stage of the political cycle.

Here is the table for this week’s four national polls. I have removed the “Change” column, and have replaced it with an “Adj 2PP” column. This column represents what the Two Party Preferred (2PP) for that poll would probably be given that poll’s primary votes if 2013 election preference flow data were available. The Australian Electoral Commission had not published this data when the polls were conducted, and so polls were forced to use other methods to calculate their 2PP. Essential and Newspoll are still using 2010 flow data, which disadvantages Labor. Neilsen used respondent-allocated preferences, and ReachTEL used its own estimate of 2013 preference flows; both these methods were too generous to Labor.

poll table early

The Coalition won 53.5% of the 2PP vote at the election, so all the polls show a decline for the Coalition from their election win. The Neilsen poll showing Labor in front was the big surprise this week; this was the first major phone poll to have Labor in front since early 2011. While this poll is an outlier, it is not as big an outlier using the Adjusted 2PP as it appears on the headline 2PP result.

The phone polls (Newspoll and Nielsen) were the most accurate pollsters at the election, and so I would rely on their results more than other pollsters. Final election figures have at last been provided, and I will soon assess the performance of all pre-election polls.

The Coalition has suffered a sharp decline over the last week, with Kevin Bonham’s poll tracker model going from 52.5 to the Coalition to 51.1 now, while the Poll Bludger’s BludgerTrack has moved from 52.7 to the Coalition to 50.8 now. This decline is probably due to the Indonesian spy scandal.

While the lack of a honeymoon and the sharp decline for the Coalition over the last week have made polling interesting, this does not mean that Labor will keep rising, and take the lead soon. The next election is still almost three years away, and Labor cannot be considered favourites for that election unless they can take the lead and hold it for a sustained period of time across multiple polls. History favours the Coalition, as no Federal government has been ousted after only one term since the Great Depression.

Notes on These Polls

  • According to online pollster Essential, the general sentiment is that Australia’s relationship with most countries will stay much the same under the new government. However, on Indonesia, 49% say our relationship will get worse, and only 11% think it will improve. While the public supports spying on Indonesian leaders by a 39-23 margin, the government is thought to have handled relationships poorly by 42-29. 27% think the government has been worse than expected, and 18% better than expected.

  • Neilsen had Abbott’s approval rate at 47% and his disapproval at 46% for a net approval of +1. On repeal of the mining tax, support was split, with 46% saying Labor should support the repeal and 47% opposed. However, repeal of the carbon tax is still popular; 57% say Labor should vote for repeal, with 38% opposed.

  • Newspoll had Abbott’s approval rating at 42% and disapproval at 42% for a net approval of zero. His net approval was down from +7 last fortnight.

  • Robopollster ReachTEL had only 28% thinking Abbott’s policies to stop the boats were working, while 49% disagreed. 38% support spying on mobile telephones of foreign leaders, while 39% do not.