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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.

Join the conversation

31 Comments sorted by

  1. Stephen Ralph

    carer at n/a

    Whilst I was not a fan of the LNP, when in opposition, I was of the opinion that we needed a change of government mainly due to the abysmal performance of Labor.

    I was ready to give the LNP the benefit of doubt, and hoped that we might see some responsible and inspired governance and leadership.
    Let's face it, we needed it so badly after the shambles Labor presented.

    Unfortunately we now have a government that lacks practically any sense of leadership and real purpose. It is a government by numbers approach, and one that seems to stumble it's way through the corridors of power.

    Perhaps they will improve, who knows.

    Surely even the LNP diehards must have some sense of disappointment at the way it has gone.

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    1. Ronald Ostrowski

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      While the Labor Minority Government was not perfect it was far from being a shambles as describe by the likes of the hysterical Pyne. The media propped up negative Opposition under Abbott really offered little other than a dismantling of good Labor policy initiatives. Other promises were clearly unrealistic such as the one to turn boats around despite Indonesian protests. For this reason I and others vocalised our objection anywhere the media outlets permitted us to without censorship to protest…

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    2. Greg Edeson

      PhD candidate at School of Geography and Environmental Studies, University of Tasmania

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      "Government by numbers" implies that they are able and willing to respect numbers, or indeed any form of evidence, when formulating policy. Sadly that has not been the case to date.

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    3. Stephen Ralph

      carer at n/a

      In reply to Jerry Cornelius

      Hi Jerry

      I'd agree that in terms of legislation there were highlights for the government, and as you say they deserve credit for their GFC performance.

      But in my opinion all that is overshadowed by their arrogance and almost stupidity in the way they conducted themselves as a party.
      It wasn't the media, but the politicians themselves.

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    4. Stephen Ralph

      carer at n/a

      In reply to Ronald Ostrowski

      That was my point, that after a pretty shambolic period from labor, we NEEDED a government to come in and take control, and give us leadership.

      It hasn't happened.

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    5. Ronald Ostrowski

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      Ralph this is where we disagree. The previous Government was globally recognised as economically sound despite the best efforts of the LNP and their media mates to talk the economy down. It was Labor that saved us from the GFC and no amount of shrill, hysterical denials from the LNP diehards can change that fact. Under Labor we saw equity in the labour market and investment in education, health and nation building infrastructure. All that has been blithely discarded by the Australia voter who did not even consider what the alternative was. As I said in my post above Labor was not perfect, but most definitely not shambolic. The term 'shambolic Labor' comes from the LNP and their scream radio hate jock allies. It was repeated over and over 24/7 in the medias outlets. Despite this I, like almost 50% of Australian voters, saw through that obvious, malicious lie.

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    6. Henry Verberne

      Once in the fossil fuel industry but now free to speak up

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      I think the biggest issue was the perception of disunity as exemplified by the changes in leadership. And disunity is widely abhorred by voters. (If you can't agree among yourselves how can we be confident in you?). But Abbott's relentlessly negative campaign was also a big factor in my opinion.

      On that analysis the LNP won but it was hardly a ringing endorsement!

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    7. Stephen Ralph

      carer at n/a

      In reply to Ronald Ostrowski

      We must have been looking at two different parties.

      I saw a government intent on tearing itself apart over internal disputes.
      I saw more time arguing among themselves, and less time concentrating on government.

      The party itself agrees that they were in disarray.

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    8. John Newton

      Author Journalist

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      so Stephen you voted for several lies from a party whose leader was going beyond mere opposition to undermine and demoralise the prime minister. The lies? Well, the main one Australia's huge debt which in these pages was debunked several times.

      I'm no fan of the ALP but under the minority government, more good legislation was passed than many governments p[ass in two terms. Including Gonski. Talking of lies... no, sorry, that's just a policy backflip

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    9. Ronald Ostrowski

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      Yes, I looked at policies and not the political soap opera pushed relentlessly by the media since the Minority Government came into being. I saw Rudd and Gilliard bring in good policy despite the internal ALP wranglings. I voted for the policy platform regardles of who the ALP leader was as that made no change to my life. But an Abbott Government brought on more by overwhelming media lies than internal Labor strugglings has changed my life for the worse. And thanks to the Greens a price on carbon in this country is now dead. Now they look like letting the Abbott Government off the hook on debt ceilings if Hockey's latest comments are anything to go by. I don't know which dumb extremists I despise more, the LNP or the Greens.

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    10. Robert McDougall

      Small Business Owner

      In reply to Jerry Cornelius

      the dramas were mainly political in my opinion, we can call it the Rudd factor combined with the Murdoch machina. They still managed to achieve more progress in their short time than the entire Howard era.

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  2. Andy Cameron

    Care giver

    This is the last time I will click on anything to do with "polls", until the next election is announced.

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    1. Stephen Ralph

      carer at n/a

      In reply to Andy Cameron

      Why?

      This only the beginning.

      Let's face it, if the LNP had got off to good start it would be a redundant exercise for a while.

      And I think everyone expected a honeymoon period, but it never eventuated - hence the very early polls.

      Everyone loves a poll.....well nearly everyone.

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    2. Andy Cameron

      Care giver

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      Because the only people who care about polls are political tragics and desperadoes, who are not skilled at reading the pubic mood. Every single article reading the poll tea leaves is invaraibly reified ignorance.

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    3. Stephen Ralph

      carer at n/a

      In reply to Andy Cameron

      Well then as a so-called tragic desperado I love polls.
      But only when they go the way I hope.
      Then they are the rubbish you so rightly condemn.

      And there are many people not skilled at reading the public mood, including any number of politicians.

      So they need to consult the polls to see how they are doing.

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  3. Peter Wilkin

    Australian Realist

    Honeymoons only work your new spouse doesn't trash the hotel room and leave you weeping in the wreckage.

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    1. Peter Wilkin

      Australian Realist

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      It's a metaphor Steven, a metaphor.

      Since two point one nanoseconds after arriving at the hotel room the gleeful japing vandals of the liberal party have been smashing stuff for no good reason.

      The forestry accord in Tasmania, Gonski, Carbon tax. Marriage equality... they should be wearing evil clown suits. It's like Frank Spencer had a baby with that guy from Clockwork Orange.

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  4. Peter Ormonde
    Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Farmer

    Adrian,

    Look I realise that polls are really exciting for some folks ... they tell us "what we all think" - "how we would all vote if an election was held tomorrow" they reflect "public perceptions and attitudes" ... or are we dealing with the science of nonsense?

    I'm still waiting for your promised assessment of the "accuracy" of the polls conducted during the recent campaign with the eventual outcomes. Old news sure ... nowhere near as exciting as the latest breathless data ... but worth…

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    1. Adrian Beaumont

      PhD Student, Department of Mathematics and Statistics at University of Melbourne

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Now that the AEC has released final results (they only did this yesterday), I will soon be reporting on the accuracy of the polls. In this regard, Newspoll and Nielsen were indeed very accurate.

      As to Essential, I mentioned how it conducts its polls in an early post. It didn't do well at this election.

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    2. Robert McDougall

      Small Business Owner

      In reply to Adrian Beaumont

      maybe you can clarify something for me. in the polls in your article (newspol and Nielsen) seem to say the opposite of each other. how does this work? or do you refer to the August polls?

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    3. Fabian Sweeney

      Agronomist

      In reply to Adrian Beaumont

      Adrian is the polling methodology of Nate Silver and also the Princeton Uni Statisticians useful in polling in Oz. Granted USA citizens don't have compulsory voting but that should make randomized sampling here easier.

      Both Silver & Princeton changed sampling to USA State level in the last two Federal polls years and were then able to make accurate predictions of Obama's success from State level up. That makes their system almost a Law once you can predict accurately.

      I thought Newspoll was murdoching us but you show they have a better method and therefore information. Thanks for that info and good luck with the boring trolls who remain above editing.

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  5. Ian Alexander

    Reader

    These guys redefine 'amateur hour'

    Destroyed relatonship with Indonesia
    Destroying relationship with China
    Destroyed more meaningful progress in climate talks in Warsaw
    Lied about education funding
    Lying about refugees by calling them 'illegals'
    Lied about buying boats from Indonesian fishermen
    Lied about the alternative to the NBN
    Hiding refugee boat arrivals and politicising the military
    Lied about increasing debt

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    1. Robert McDougall

      Small Business Owner

      In reply to Ian Alexander

      interesting record considering the emphasis on honesty the LNP has held over the last 6 years.

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  6. trevor prowse

    retired farmer

    The reason for the extended debt limit is the intended spending that the Rudd government committed in the forward estimates . The fact checker could enlighten us as to the forward projections that the Abbott government will have to find. My feeling is that no one really knows if the Abbott government will be able to balance the books because of the Rudd governments spending.

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    1. Robert McDougall

      Small Business Owner

      In reply to trevor prowse

      or if any government could balance the books after the Howard property, tax and superannuation larks.

      Interesting how the rising costs of the Howard election buying program co-incides with the structural deficit.

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