Making sense of the polls

Making sense of the polls

Ipsos gives Turnbull a massive approval rating

After last week’s Newspoll and Essential were reasonable for Labor, this week’s Morgan and Ipsos polls both gave the Coalition a big lead, while Essential stayed at 51-49 to the Coalition. Ipsos gave Turnbull an approval rating of 68% and a disapproval rating of just 17%, for a net approval of +51, while Shorten’s ratings were 32% approve (down 7) and 56% disapprove (up 7) for a net rating of -24. This Ipsos poll is the first since August. Here is this week’s poll table.

polls late Oct.

If there is any comfort for Labor in this Ipsos poll, it is that the Coalition’s 53-47 lead is relatively modest considering Turnbull’s stratospheric ratings. When Kevin Rudd had these kinds of ratings as PM, Labor’s Two Party Preferred (2PP) vote was in the high 50’s. Thus the Coalition can still be seen as a handicap on Turnbull, in that the Coalition should be even further ahead given his ratings.

This poll will increase pressure on Shorten. However, if Turnbull really is as popular as this Ipsos implies, no Labor leader would do well. When governments are unpopular, the opposition has a chance, but a popular government will be re-elected regardless of what the opposition does. Labor can only hope that these ratings for Turnbull are not sustainable in the long run. Clearly, Labor’s campaign against Turnbull over his Cayman Islands investments has failed to have any immediate impact.

We also had a Morgan phone poll, conducted 13-15 October with a sample of 600. This poll was 54-46 to the Coalition, presumably by respondent allocation, but Kevin Bonham thinks it is 53-47 by 2013 election preferences. Respondent allocation for the Ipsos was also 54-46, and the normal Morgan had 56-44 using this method. So the Coalition is currently doing 1% better on respondent allocated preferences than on previous election preferences.

Morgan’s normal poll, which uses face to face and SMS polling, used to be about 1% better for Labor than other polls, but now has the Coalition doing 2% better than other polls. Live phone polls, such as Ipsos, are also strong for the Coalition, but polls that use robopolling and online methods (Newspoll and Essential) have been relatively subdued. Perhaps there is currently a “shy Labor” effect in Australian polling.

Kevin Bonham’s poll aggregate gives the Coalition 52.1% 2PP, a 1.0% swing to the Coalition since last week. The Poll Bludger’s BludgerTrack has the Coalition on 51.9% 2PP, a 0.7% swing to the Coalition. BludgerTrack primary votes are 43.7% for the Coalition, 31.9% for Labor and 12.9% for the Greens, a drop of 1.6% for Labor since last week, with most of that going to the Greens and Others. Both BludgerTrack and Bonham are adjusting for Morgan heavily favouring the Coalition.

Notes on these polls

  • Ipsos’ leader attributes unsurprisingly showed Turnbull way ahead on all ten positive attributes. Shorten was only competitive on social policy (Turnbull led 60-55), and was crushed by over 30 points on “competent”, “economic policy”, “strong leader”, “ability to make things happen” and “vision for Australia’s future”. 54% supported the China Australia Free Trade Agreement, with 33% opposed.

  • Morgan’s phone poll found that 57% supported a population above 30 million in 50 years, a 22% increase on a similar poll in 2010. By 32-26, respondents thought immigration should be increased, a big reversal of a 40-11 split in favour of reducing immigration five years ago. 65% supported Muslim immigration, up from 54% in 2010.

  • In Essential, political parties, trade unions, business groups and religious organisations were the least trusted institutions, while police, the High Court, the ABC and the Reserve Bank were most trusted. By 56-17, voters approved of Turnbull’s handling of terrorism, compared with 46-33 approval for Abbott in March. 42% thought that governments need access to personal information for protection from terrorist and criminal groups, and 41% disagreed with this statement.

NSW and WA Federal redistributions

In late 2014, the Australian Electoral Commission determined that WA was entitled to an extra seat, with this gain coming at the expense of NSW. Draft boundaries have now been published for both states, with Labor MP Joel Fitzgibbon’s seat of Hunter to be abolished in NSW. The Poll Bludger has analysis of the NSW redistribution here and the WA one here. It looks as if Labor has benefited in NSW, but the Coalition did better in WA.

A quirk of Australia’s electoral law is that once a state’s seat entitlement changes, it must have the number of seats it is entitled to at an election, even if a redistribution has not been completed. If an election is called before the NSW and WA redistributions are finalised, there will need to be a “mini-redistribution” in both states that will involve splitting two seats into three in WA, and merging two seats into one in NSW. The WA redistribution is expected to be finalised by 19 January 2016, and the NSW one by 25 February 2016.

Morgan state polls have the Coalition parties up across the board

The replacement of Abbott with Turnbull has also boosted the Coalition parties in all states. Morgan’s SMS state polls, conducted 9-15 October, have the Coalition leading by 60.5-39.5 in NSW, a 3.5% gain for the Coalition since late August. In Victoria, Labor leads by 55.5-44.5, a 1.5% gain for the Coalition. In Queensland, the Liberal National Party (LNP) leads by 51-49, a 3% gain for the LNP. In WA, the Coalition leads by 51.5-48.5, a 1.5% gain for the Coalition. In SA, the Liberals lead by 51-49, a 1.5% gain for the Liberals. Sample sizes ranged from 470 to 995.

Joe Biden will not seek the US Democratic Presidential nomination

US Vice President Joe Biden has today announced that he will not seek the Democratic Presidential nomination. This makes Hillary Clinton the overwhelming favourite to win next year’s nomination. Clinton’s poll numbers had already improved to near 50% as a result of a strong performance in last week’s Democratic presidential debate, and most of Biden’s supporters preferred Clinton to populist left winger Bernie Sanders.