Making sense of the polls

Making sense of the polls

Labor Takes Convincing Poll Lead

This week we have had five polls, released from Saturday night to Tuesday afternoon. All show Labor ahead by at least a 52-48 margin, and all except Essential show a swing to Labor.

polls May.

The Coalition primary is consistently between 37.5% and 40% in all these polls, while Labor’s primary varies from 34% in Newspoll to 40% in ReachTEL. However, the combined Labor/Green primary is between 48% and 51%, with the Greens getting between 10% and 14%. Since Abbott has given the Greens no reason to vote for the Coalition, I would expect Greens preferences to once again heavily favour Labor at the next election. It is unlikely that the Coalition can win an election with a primary vote below 40%.

Kevin Bonham’s poll aggregate now has Labor at 52.4% Two Party Preferred (2PP), up from 51.3 last week. Update Thursday morning 8 May: The Poll Bludger’s BludgerTrack is also at 52.4% 2PP to Labor, up from 51.2% last week. Primary votes are Coalition 39.3%, Labor 37.1%, Greens 11.5% and Palmer United 6.0%. According to BludgerTrack, Labor is getting 53% 2PP in Queensland, a state where Labor has struggled to win a 2PP majority Federally, even when they win Federal elections. You can see graphs of how each state has changed in BludgerTrack since the election here; these graphs are two weeks old, but still informative.

The poll movement against the Coalition is very probably due to the announcements of Budget measures over the last two weeks. However, while the deficit levy issue may have tarnished Abbott’s image, it is probably not the main driver. When asked if the deficit levy was a broken promise, an overwhelming majority agreed, but opposition to the levy itself was far more tepid. Other measures such as raising the pension age to 70 and the Medicare co-payment attract far stronger opposition.

As Peter Brent says, the carbon tax broken promise hurt Labor because introducing a price on carbon was a major reform. Major reforms, such as a GST or a carbon price, offer oppositions plenty of ammunition for scare campaigns. Once the reform is introduced, people get used to it, and scare campaigns become less effective. The deficit levy is not a major reform, and will not affect people who earn less than $80,000 per year.

The current poll lead would mean a Labor win if an election were held now, but an election is not due for 2.5 years. Peter Brent thinks the Coalition will easily win that election by saying that they are the party of economic security, but I disagree with him here. While the Coalition has an advantage on overall economic management, Labor has an advantage on looking after people like you. In my opinion, the Coalition is still the favourite for the next election, but if Labor can slightly increase its current support, and then maintain that increased support for months, it will be hard to deny them favouritism.

Notes on These Polls

  • Galaxy had 72% rating the deficit levy a broken promise, against 21% who thought otherwise. 55% opposed the Medicare co-payment with 35% supportive. A massive 69% opposed raising the pension age to 70, with just 21% supportive. This poll was taken both online and by phone.

  • Robopollster ReachTEL had 41% opposing a 1% levy on incomes of over $80,000, with 34% supportive. Asked about a 2% levy on incomes of over $180,000, 59% now supported the levy, with 23% opposed. 57% oppose the Medicare co-payment, with 34% supportive. 27% gave Abbott a good or very good rating, and 57% a poor or very poor rating. Kevin Bonham has argued that ReachTEL’s middle rating of “satisfied” includes those who are weakly satisfied, and those who don’t know. If half of ReachTEL’s 16% satisfied is added to Abbott’s total good rating, there is little difference in approval ratings between ReachTEL and Newspoll.

  • Morgan’s respondent-allocated preferences were much worse for the Coalition than the previous election preferences used in the poll table. Respondent-allocated preferences were 55-45 to Labor, compared with 53.5-46.5 using the previous election.

  • Newspoll had Abbott’s satisfaction rating down 5% to 35%, and his dissatisfaction rating up 9% to 56% for a net approval of -21, down from -7 at the last Newspoll. This is not Julia Gillard territory yet, but it is certainly not good for a Prime Minister to have these ratings only eight months after an emphatic election victory.

  • According to online pollster Essential, the Coalition has a 40-26 lead on overall handling of the economy, but Labor has leads ranging from 10 to 27 points on representing the interests of people like you, working families and the middle class. The Coalition has a 41% lead on the negative attribute of representing large corporate interests. Voters were split on the deficit levy when it was not presented as being a broken promise, with 34% both opposing and supporting it. 19% supported the government’s modified paid parental leave (PPL) policy, while 36% supported the current PPL policy introduced by Labor.

Tasmanian Upper House Elections

The Independent-dominated Tasmanian upper house has 15 single member electorates. Elections are held on a rotating six year cycle, so two or three electorates are up every May. Last Saturday 3 May, the electorates of Huon and Rosevears held elections. In Rosevears, the Liberals won 59% of the vote at the recent state election, and had high hopes of unseating a Green-leaning Independent. However, last Saturday night the Independent trounced the Liberal candidate by a 60-40 margin.

Huon gave the Liberals 50% of the vote at the state election, and was a vacant seat following the retirement of Liberal “Independent” Paul Harriss to successfully contest the state election. The Liberals’ candidate was the high profile Peter Hodgman, the uncle of the current Premier. Hodgman had previously represented Huon and Kevin Bonham expected him to win easily. However, he only won 26% of the primary in a crowded field, and was defeated easily by an Independent mayor after preferences, 57-43.

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