Making sense of the polls

Making sense of the polls

Little MH17 Bounce for Coalition as they Lose Economic Advantage

There have been five polls taken in the last ten days, following the shooting down of MH17 on Friday 18 July. Prior to MH17, polls showed Labor leading by about a 54-46 margin. In the immediate aftermath, Kevin Bonham reports that the one-week Essential (18-21 July) had a Labor Two Party Preferred (2PP) of 51%, and ReachTEL was 51.5% 2PP to Labor when calculating the 2PP from the decimal primaries. However, results from polls taken later last week, such as Galaxy and Newspoll, show a better picture for Labor, with only a small movement in Galaxy and none at all in Newspoll. It thus seems that the MH17 effect may already be wearing off. Below is the poll table.

polls July.

A fortnight ago, Kevin Bonham’s poll aggregate was at 53.9% 2PP to Labor, and it has now dropped to 52.8%. There has been some modest movement to the Coalition after MH17, but that movement is far less than what the Coalition would have liked.

Update: The Poll Bludger’s BludgerTrack has Labor’s 2PP at 52.1%, down from 54.1% a fortnight ago. Primary votes are 39.5% for the Coalition, 37.5% for Labor, 10.4% for the Greens and 6.7% for Palmer United Party. Abbott’s approval has bounced up from a low base.

Even worse for the Coalition is the polling on economic questions. An August 2013 post from Peter Brent has graphs of Newspoll’s “Best party to handle economy” question going back to 2005. The graphs show that the Coalition is generally perceived as better on the economy, particularly under an incumbent Coalition government. Even in 2007, with Labor usually in front by massive margins on voting intentions, the Coalition still led Labor by over 20% on economic management.

While comparing other polls directly with Newspoll is generally not good practice, Newspoll has not asked an economy question since the budget, while three other polls have asked economy-related questions in the last fortnight. Here are the results of those questions.

  • A Nielsen better Treasurer question had Joe Hockey only leading Chris Bowen 43-42, down from a 51-34 Hockey advantage in March.

  • A ReachTEL “best party to manage economy” question had the Coalition only leading Labor by 43-42, with 5% for the Greens and 10% for Palmer United Party (PUP). This poll did not have a “don’t know” option, which may have forced weakly committed voters to choose Labor.

  • A Galaxy “best leader to manage economy” question had Shorten leading Abbott by a 43-36 margin.

The economy is one of the Coalition’s traditional strengths in electoral politics. Since Labor tends to be better regarded on health, education and social policy, the Coalition needs to retain a large lead on economic management to be competitive.

Notes on These Polls

  • Galaxy had a silly question comparing Abbott’s MH17 performance with US President Barack Obama and UK PM David Cameron. Since the focus of the Australian media has been almost entirely on Abbott’s response to MH17, most voters would have no clue what either Obama or Cameron were doing. Unsurprisingly, 48% picked Abbott as having shown most leadership after MH17, 17% Obama and 7% Cameron. However, on best leader to represent Australia overseas, Shorten led Abbott 41-39. By a 45-36 margin, voters would support Abbott banning Russian President Vladimir Putin from the G20 summit at Brisbane in November.

  • Morgan had Labor leading 54.5-45.5 on respondent allocated preferences, a slightly better result than the 54-46 lead on previous election preferences. Relative to other polls, Morgan is leaning to Labor by about 1.5%.

  • Despite the lack of movement in voting intentions, Newspoll had Abbott’s satisfied rating up 5% to 36%, and his dissatisfied rating down 7% to 53% for a net approval of -17, up from -29 last fortnight. However, Abbott is still unpopular, and voting intentions are more important than approval ratings. Shorten also had a small boost, going from a net approval of -9 to -3.

  • In Essential, 49% thought Putin should not be allowed to attend the G20, with 29% saying he should be allowed to attend. By a 67-13 margin, voters approved of Abbott’s handling of the MH17 disaster. 43% say that, following the carbon tax repeal, electricity prices will stay much the same, while 33% think they will decrease and 16% say they will increase.

I discussed the ReachTEL poll in my previous post. That post was updated on Thursday 24 July to also include some discussion of recent Queensland and Victorian state polling.