Making sense of the polls

Making sense of the polls

State Polling and NZ Final Results

Last week we had state polling from Essential, Newspoll and Morgan for all states, with Morgan surprising by releasing SMS poll results for all states conducted from 26-29 September. In Victoria, Labor led 52-48 in Essential and 54-46 in Morgan. In NSW, the Coalition led 53-47 in Essential, and by at least 55-45 in Morgan. In Queensland, the Liberal National Party (LNP) led 54-46 in Newspoll, and by effectively 52-48 in Morgan.

Morgan’s Federal polls, conducted by a mixture of SMS and face to face (F2F) polling, have leaned to Labor by about 1.5% relative to other pollsters. This pro-Labor lean is likely to be due to the F2F component, as Morgan’s old F2F only polls used to heavily favour Labor, and were clearly out of step with both other polls and election results. We have not had many SMS only polls from Morgan, but the Two Party Preferred (2PP) vote in Victoria is in agreement with what other pollsters have found in the past. Morgan’s SMS polls in Queensland and New South Wales were both good news for the Coalition.

The next Victorian election will be held in eight weeks on the 29 November. The Victorian Morgan poll, which used a sample of 1700, has Labor leading the Coalition by a 54-46 margin. Primary votes are 37.5% for the Coalition, 34% for Labor, 18% for the Greens and 3% for Palmer United Party (PUP). I think the 18% Greens vote is too high, but the excess Greens votes will very probably be Labor votes on election day. An Essential poll conducted in September has Labor ahead by 52-48. In my opinion, Labor is a clear favourite to win the Victorian election.

In New South Wales, the Morgan sample of 1800 gave the Coalition a published 53-47 lead. However, it is clear from the primary votes that the Coalition leads by a far wider margin. Primary votes were 46% for the Coalition, 32.5% for Labor, 12% for the Greens and 3.5% for PUP. I do not know what Morgan’s problem is, but it is clear that a mistake has been made with the 2PP figure. Under optional preferential voting (OPV), there is no way that a 13.5% primary vote lead for the Coalition could become only 6% after preferences. Kevin Bonham thinks this poll is effectively 55-56% 2PP to the Coalition. An Essential poll in September has the Coalition ahead by 53-47. I think the Coalition will comfortably win the next election, due in March 2015.

In Queensland, the Morgan sample of 1200 gave the LNP a published 51-49 lead. The July-September Newspoll gave the LNP a 54-46 lead, a 5% swing to the LNP from the April-June Newspoll. Morgan’s primary votes were 42% for the LNP, 35.5% for Labor, 9% for the Greens and 6.5% for PUP, suggesting that the 2PP in Queensland under OPV should be 52-48 to the LNP. Newspoll had 39% for the LNP, 32% for Labor, 10% for the Greens and 19% for Others; PUP was not separated out. It is clear that the LNP is benefiting from PUP’s loss of support in Queensland; previous Queensland polling had PUP well above 10%. It is now likely that the LNP will win the next Queensland election, due in early 2015, though Campbell Newman could lose his seat of Ashgrove, where he trails Labor candidate Kate Jones 56-44 according to the latest ReachTEL.

In South Australia, the July-September Newspoll has Labor leading by 51-49, a 4% swing to Labor from the election which they won with a minority of the 2PP. The small sample of 500 from Morgan has the Liberals ahead by 50.5-49.5. In WA, a small Morgan sample of 500 has the Coalition ahead by 52.5-47.5; the July-September Newspoll for WA should come soon. In Tasmania, Morgan’s sample of only 300 has the Liberals on 39.5%, Labor on 33.5% and the Greens on 19.5%; this would be a massive swing against the Liberals since the March election, but Kevin Bonham is highly sceptical of this poll.

There will be no Federal Newspoll this weekend, as Newspoll is not polling due to a Monday public holiday in several states. However, a Federal Galaxy poll was released today, and is in agreement with the trend in finding Labor narrowly ahead 51-49, with primary votes of 42% for the Coalition, 36% for Labor, 12% for the Greens and only 4% for PUP. 62% supported air strikes against Islamic State, with only 21% opposed, and 75% considered the threat of a terrorist attack on Australia to be “real”, with only 16% thinking otherwise. This poll was conducted from the 30 September to 2 October with a sample of 1200.

New Zealand Election Final Results

Over the last two weeks, extra votes have been counted, and polling place votes have been rechecked. The final results have made a significant change to the provisional results, with National losing 1.0% from the election night count to end with 47.0%. The Greens benefited most from post election counting, as their vote increased 0.7% to 10.7%, with Labour also gaining 0.4% to reach a still dreadful 25.1%. In seat terms, the Nationals lost their 61st seat to the Greens, meaning they fall short of a majority of the 121 seats. However, they will govern with ACT and United Future giving them 62 of the 121 seats. Antony Green has full results of the NZ election.

Morgan has the final NZ polls here, though they are benchmarked against the provisional election results, and not the final figures. The best final poll was the Herald Digipoll. Most pollsters overestimated support for the Greens, and underestimated NZ First support.

Note: Two paragraphs in this article come from an article I wrote for the University of Melbourne’s Victorian Election Watch.

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