Making sense of the polls

Making sense of the polls

Greens Surge to Record 17% in Nielsen Poll

Monday’s Nielsen poll had the Greens at 17%, up 5% on the March Nielsen. This is apparently the highest level of Greens support that either Nielsen or Newspoll has ever recorded. The Nielsen poll also had the Coalition dropping 4% to 40% and Labor down 1% to 34%. With Labor getting 83% of Greens preferences at the 2013 election, the Two Party Preferred (2PP) estimate was 52-48 to Labor, a 3% move to Labor since the March Nielsen. Here is the usual poll table showing results of polls released this week and last week.

polls Apr.

While there has been some volatility in recent polling, the overall figure is still at a narrow Labor lead. Kevin Bonham’s poll aggregate currently has Labor leading by 50.8-49.2, and is little changed since Labor surged to a lead last December. The last Nielsen was a poor result for Labor relative to the overall poll trend, so this one can be seen as a correction. The Poll Bludger’s BludgerTrack is at 51.3-48.7 to Labor, with the Greens on 15.4% primary, a 5% move to the Greens since last week.

On face value, this Nielsen suggests that the Greens took 4% from the Coalition and 1% from Labor to reach their current 17%. However, it is unlikely that the Coalition was really on 44% primary at the time of the last Nielsen, so the Coalition’s loss is not as big as it first seems. It is far more likely that the new Greens voters are progressives who were very disappointed with Labor’s choice of Joe Bullock as its No. 1 WA Senate candidate. The WA component of this Nielsen bears this theory out; in WA, the Greens are on 27%, ahead of Labor’s 20%, though this subsample would only have around 140 respondents.

In my opinion, it is unlikely that this Greens’ surge can be sustained. I believe that the Bullock effect will fade from most voters’ memories, and that Labor will regain most of this progressive vote. The Greens do very well on environmental issues, but do not perform well on issues that are of greater importance for most voters, such as the economy, health and education.

Notes on These Polls

  • Morgan had Labor leading 51.5-48.5 on respondent-allocated preferences. Unlike recent Morgan polls, the Coalition was doing slightly better on respondent-allocated than previous election preferences.

  • Newspoll had Abbott’s satisfied rating unchanged at 40%, and his dissatisfied rating down 3% to 47% for a net approval of -7, up 3 from three weeks ago. Shorten’s net approval rating fell to -11 from -7.

  • Essential had Abbott’s leader ratings down slightly on positive attributes and up slightly on negative attributes. Shorten’s ratings became solidly worse. When comparing Shorten and Abbott’s attributes, Abbott leads on most; this would be because he is better known. Voters were against suggestions that the minimum wage should be abolished by a 77-15 margin. Around 80% supported a limit on political party and third party advertising in elections. 49% support free trade agreements generally, with only 11% opposed. On Palmer United Party (PUP) holding the Senate balance of power, 27% said it would be good for democracy, and 32% bad. Last week’s Essential found that 56% thought that climate change was caused by human activity, and 34% who thought it was a natural variation. This split is up from a 51-39 split in January.

  • Nielsen has Abbott’s approval rating down 2% to 43% and his disapproval up 1% to 50% for a net approval of -7. 88% opposed the contention that it should be lawful to insult or humiliate on the basis of race, and 59% said that people should not have the right to be bigots, with 34% supportive. 50% opposed restoring knights and dames, with 35% supportive. 51% now oppose Australia becoming a republic, with 42% supportive; these republic findings are much changed from 1999, when 57% supported a republic. According to the Poll Bludger, Nielsen’s respondent-allocated preferences had Labor leading by 54.5-45.5, indicating that virtually all of the 17% Greens are preferencing Labor.

NSW Premier Resigns

Today we had dramatic news that New South Wales Premier Barry O'Farrell has resigned following an Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) investigation that found that O'Farrell had failed to disclose a $3,000 bottle of wine gift from Nick Di Girolamo of Australia Water Holdings (AWH).

In the lead-up to the 2011 NSW State election, Labor was portrayed as being highly corrupt. I think that O'Farrell’s sudden resignation over shady behaviour will be damaging for the NSW Liberals, and could affect the Federal Liberals too. Until we have more polls both Federally and for NSW, I cannot quantify how damaging this resignation will be.

(Update Thursday morning 17 April: This article has had a few additional results and edits added since it was first published Wednesday.)