Making sense of the polls

Making sense of the polls

Labor Maintains Poll Lead

Last week’s Nielsen had the Coalition leading Labor 51-49, but this week’s polls have Labor ahead. Here is the usual poll table. Note that Essential is not well regarded after a poor performance at the 2013 election.

polls Mar.

The first Nielsen following the election gave Labor a 52-48 lead, which was higher than other polls at the time suggested. However, the last two Nielsen polls have been worse for Labor than other polls implied. I am unsure whether Nielsen is now leaning to the Coalition, but if this inclination persists, it would be correct to penalise Nielsen for a pro-Coalition lean.

Once again Nielsen has had a major impact on the poll aggregators. The week before Nielsen, the Poll Bludger’s BludgerTrack had a Labor Two Party Preferred (2PP) of 51.7%; this went down to 49.9% after Nielsen, and is now back to 51.8%. Kevin Bonham’s aggregate has shown less volatility, and currently has Labor at 51.0% 2PP. The BludgerTrack Greens vote is at a post-election high of 11.3%.

A narrow lead for Labor should not be enough for them to be considered favourites at this stage. This is because governments tend to make up ground in the election campaign, and also because Labor needs many seats to regain power. Seats that the Coalition won from Labor at the 2013 election will be harder for Labor to regain than the on-paper margin owing to the “sophomore surge” effect, where new incumbents boost their party’s vote.

Since the Labor surge to a poll lead in late 2013, the poll trend lines have not moved very much. For Labor to be considered the favourite for the next election, the party needs to sustain a 2PP in the mid-50’s or higher for months. This has not happened yet.

Notes on these Polls

  • Nielsen had Abbott’s approval rating steady at 45%, and his disapproval rating up 2% to 49% for a net approval of -4. Nielsen’s respondent-allocated preferences actually had Labor ahead 51-49; Labor’s performance on respondent-allocated preferences was thus 2% better than using the previous election’s preferences.

  • Morgan’s respondent-allocated preferences gave Labor a 54.5-45.5 lead, 1% higher than using the previous election’s preferences.

  • Since a November Essential poll, Labor’s “divided” rating has fallen 14% to 58%, but they still lead the Coalition by 26% on this negative measure. However, Labor leads the Coalition by 17% on the positive attribute of “looking after the interests of working people”, and trails by 28% on the negative attribute of being “too close to the big financial and corporate interests”. By a 50-31 margin, voters opposed Australia holding a referendum on changing our flag.

  • Newspoll had Abbott’s satisfied rating up 2% to 40%, and his dissatisfied rating steady at 50% for a net satisfaction score of -10. Shorten’s ratings also improved, breaking a downward trend.