Making sense of the polls

Making sense of the polls

Labor maintains big lead in Newspoll, but not in other polls

Dyson Heydon, the Trade Union Royal Commissioner, has been in the political spotlight in the last week over claims that there is a reasonable apprehension of bias, and that he should resign as Commissioner. This week’s Newspoll has Labor maintaining a strong 54-46 lead, but the other polls this week from Morgan and Essential have the Coalition regaining ground lost over the Bronwyn Bishop expenses scandal. Here is this week’s poll table.

polls late Aug.

Morgan’s primary vote changes implied a bigger than 1% gain for the Coalition, but the last Morgan was rounded to the Coalition, while this one appears to be rounded to Labor. After blowing out to 57-43 to Labor last fortnight, Morgan’s respondent allocated preferences were 54.5-45.4 to Labor this week, a 2.5% gain for the Coalition on this measure. Morgan leans to Labor by about 1% relative to other polls.

State breakdowns from this Morgan poll have Labor ahead in all states except NSW by at least 54-46; in NSW the Coalition leads by 51.5-48.5. This could imply that an aberrant NSW sample is holding back Labor in this poll. On the Poll Bludger’s BludgerTrack, the Coalition’s Two Party Preferred (2PP) vote is highest in NSW, but only just ahead of WA and Queensland.

Newspoll’s primary votes implied that Labor’s 2PP vote was up, but not by enough to shift the headline figure. The big story in Newspoll was the change in the leaders’ approval ratings: Abbott’s satisfied rating was down 3% to 30% and his dissatisfied rating was up 2% to 63%, for a net approval of -33. Shorten’s net approval was up 10 points to -18.

This is Abbott’s lowest net approval since March, and Shorten’s highest net approval since May. However, these approval numbers may be because this Newspoll is more Labor-friendly than other comparable polls, and not because of a real change in perceptions of the leaders.

Essential did not perform well at the last Federal election, and it has a reputation for not following the trends set by other pollsters.

We will need to wait for more polls to have a clear idea of what is actually happening, but a plausible reason for a Coalition recovery is that the Bronwyn Bishop expenses scandal has faded from people’s memories.

Kevin Bonham’s poll aggregate is now at 53.1% 2PP to Labor, a gain of 0.3% for the Coalition since last week. The Poll Bludger’s BludgerTrack is also at 53.1% 2PP to Labor, a gain of 0.7% for the Coalition since last week. Primary votes are 38.6% for the Coalition, 36.6% for Labor and 13.2% for the Greens, with the Coalition gaining 0.6% at the direct expense of Labor.

ReachTEL update Friday night 28 August

A ReachTEL robopoll of 3,300 respondents, taken last night, shows no 2PP change since a Fairfax ReachTEL taken in early August, with Labor’s lead steady at 53-47. Primary votes are 40.3% for the Coalition (down 0.3), 37.5% for Labor (down 0.5) and 13.4% for the Greens (up 0.5); the changes are compared with a late July Channel 7 poll, rather than the early August Fairfax poll. This poll tends to support the non-Newspoll polls this week in having Labor’s lead at about 53-47.

Abbott’s (total good) minus (total poor) rating continued a slow decline, falling two points to -28; he peaked after the 2015 budget at -22. Shorten’s ratings recovered somewhat from damage inflicted by the Royal Commission; he is now at -21, up 5 points on July’s poll, but well below his May ratings.

Malcolm Turnbull continues to easily lead among all voters as preferred Liberal leader with 44%, to 23% for Julie Bishop, 21% for Abbott and 12% for Scott Morrison. However, this lead is because over 59% of Labor and Greens voters support Turnbull; among Coalition voters, Abbott dominates with 45% to Turnbull’s 25%, 16% for Bishop and 14% for Morrison.

More on Essential

Regarding Dyson Heydon, 38% said there was a conflict of interest, and he should step down as Commissioner, while 25% thought he should stay on; a high 37% were undecided on this question. On the Royal Commission itself, 39% thought it a legitimate investigation of union practices, 27% thought it a political attack on Labor and the unions, and 34% were undecided.

On same sex marriage, 60% thought people of the same sex should be allowed to marry, and 31% disagreed; both support and opposition are up slightly from a 59-28 split in June. 66% thought the issue should be decided by a national vote, with only 22% selecting Parliament. However, only 11% thought such a vote should be held after the next election, the option currently favoured by the Coalition. 43% supported a vote on the same day as the next election, and 35% thought it should be held before the next election.

When asked about carbon reduction targets, 50% supported the Climate Change Authority’s proposed 40-60% reduction by 2030. 23% supported the Coalition’s 26-28% reduction, and 10% saw no need to reduce carbon emissions.

ReachTEL Canning poll a good result for Liberals

A ReachTEL poll has been reported as having Labor ahead by 50.1-49.9 in Canning. However, the primary votes were 44.4% for the Liberals, 30.2% for Labor, 8.6% for the Greens, 2.3% for Palmer United, 5.6% Others and 8.6% undecided. When the undecided were asked which way they leaned, the Liberals had 47.3%, Labor 33.0%, Greens 9.6%, Palmer United 2.7% and Others 7.5%.

ReachTEL used respondent allocation of preferences to get the thin Labor lead, but in practice such a flow of preferences is highly unlikely to happen, though this poll does indicate that the preference flows will be stronger for Labor than in 2013. On 2013 Canning preferences, the Liberals would be winning by about 56-44. This poll was conducted for the United Voice union, and had a sample size of 768.

Queensland Galaxy poll has Labor ahead 52-48

A Queensland Galaxy poll has Labor on 40% (steady on May), the Liberal National Party (LNP) on 39% (steady) and the Greens on 10% (up 1). Because Galaxy does not believe the very pro-Labor 2015 preference flows will happen at the next election, they are using a mixture of preference flows from previous elections to derive their two party estimate. As a result, Labor’s lead in this poll is more like 54-46 under the 2015 preference flows, but Labor would clearly win an election even on less friendly flows with these primary vote figures. This poll was conducted late last week from a sample of 800.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk continues to have a strong approval rating; her approval is down 2% to 57% and her disapproval is up 1% to 28%. Opposition leader Lawrence Springborg has a net approval of +2 (steady).

This Galaxy poll is the first credible poll of Queensland since May, but Morgan’s monthly polls have Labor only narrowly ahead using 2015 preferences. As a result, Labor’s lead is probably not as strong as it appears looking only at this poll.

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