Making sense of the polls

Making sense of the polls

Queensland Individual Seat Polls

Today we have had nine individual seat polls for the Queensland election on the 31 January. A Newspoll survey of Ashgrove shows Premier Campbell Newman only trailing Labor’s Kate Jones by a 51-49 margin. There are also eight Galaxy seat polls, six from North Queensland. The Galaxy polls on average show a 10.7% swing to Labor, with low variance between the individual seats. If a 10.7% swing is applied to the result from the last election, which was a Liberal National Party (LNP) win of about 63-37, we get a LNP lead of about 52-48. This would be likely to result in a clear LNP majority, and not the hung Parliament that The Courier-Mail report suggests. No sample sizes or fieldwork dates have been given for the Galaxy polls, but, if previous experience is any guide, they were probably all taken by robopolling on Thursday night with samples of about 550 per electorate.

The Ashgrove Newspoll was taken on Tuesday and Wednesday with a sample of 600. Primary votes were 47% each for Newman and Jones, and 5% for the Greens, with Jones leading by a narrow 51-49 margin after preferences. By a 51-42 margin, Ashgrove voters approved of Newman’s performance as their local member, but Jones had a 65-22 approval margin in March 2012, and was still defeated. 74% of Ashgrove voters were strongly committed to voting for their chosen candidate.

This Newspoll is somewhat better for Newman than the ReachTEL poll that showed him behind 53-47. The ReachTEL had a sample size of 850, compared with 600 for Newspoll. Assuming the polls are unbiased, the true picture is likely to be closer to ReachTEL than Newspoll.

It is possible that Newman could win, despite a big swing to Labor that should in theory overcome his 5.7% margin at the 2012 election. Sitting member effects should be limited as both major party candidates were well known at the 2012 election, but Newman could benefit if some Ashgrove voters want to keep the Premier to ensure their electorate gets more attention and largesse at elections than would otherwise be the case. If those people think the LNP will win the election, they may vote for Newman.

The Galaxy seat polls are better news for Labor than the Ashgrove Newspoll, but last week’s statewide polls had Labor behind by about 52-48, and the swings in Galaxy are consistent with that picture. A 52-48 to the LNP result would probably see the LNP retain a majority, so Labor still needs some improvement.