Making sense of the polls

Making sense of the polls

Terrorism fails to boost Coalition in Newspoll, despite increased popularity for Turnbull

This week’s Newspoll had the Coalition ahead by 53-47, unchanged from last fortnight. This was despite Turnbull’s already stellar approval ratings increasing again; his satisfied rating was up 4% to 60%, and his dissatisfied rating down 2% to 22%, for a net approval of +38. Shorten’s net approval rating dropped a point to -31. This poll was conducted 19-22 November from a sample of 1570.

In my opinion, Turnbull’s ratings have not lifted the Coalition as much as would be expected because many of those who like Turnbull are left wingers who have no intention of actually voting for the Coalition. Turnbull has responded to the Paris terrorist attacks more moderately than Abbott would have, and as a result his popularity has increased with left voters without boosting the Coalition’s vote.

Turnbull’s current appeal to the left also explains why he utterly dominates Shorten 64-15 as better PM. Left wing voters have never embraced Shorten in the way that the hard right embraced Abbott, so Shorten simply does not have a core support base when times are tough. Under Abbott, Shorten often led on the better PM measure as the left hated Abbott, and preferred Shorten to Abbott even if they did not like Shorten very much; this situation has now greatly changed.

Dismal better PM polling has cost several opposition leaders their jobs, but Shorten will probably survive. This is partly because Labor’s rule changes, instituted by Kevin Rudd, make it more difficult to change the leader, but also because neither Anthony Albanese nor Tanya Plibersek is seen as a strong alternative. In the longer term Labor can only hope that Turnbull’s ratings drop.

This week’s only other poll was the weekly Essential, which was unchanged at 52-48 to the Coalition; the two week Essential sample was 1770. In the last two weeks only one poll (Ipsos) has shown a big move to the Coalition, with all other polls unchanged. It now looks as if Ipsos was an outlier.

Kevin Bonham’s poll aggregate is now at 53.4% Two Party Preferred (2PP) to the Coalition, a 0.3% gain for Labor since last week. The Poll Bludger’s BludgerTrack is at 53.7% 2PP to the Coalition, a gain for Labor of 0.7% since last week. Primary votes are 46.0% for the Coalition, 31.1% for Labor and 11.9% for the Greens. Since last week, there has been a 1.1% combined swing to Labor and the Greens, mainly at the expense of Others.

Update Friday night 27 November: A ReachTEL robopoll of over 3100 respondents, conducted Thursday night, has the Coalition leading by 55-45, a 2% gain for the Coalition since October. Primary votes are 48.8% for the Coalition (up 2.1), 31.1% for Labor (down 1.9) and 11.2% for the Greens (down 0.1).

On ReachTEL’s (total good) minus (total poor) approval ratings, Turnbull’s rating rises to +33, a 2 point gain; this would be even higher if some of the 37% who say they are “satisfied” were counted as positive ratings. Shorten’s rating falls to -27, a drop of four points. Labor and Greens voters approve of Turnbull, while Greens voters give Shorten dire ratings.

Turnbull leads Shorten 71-29 as better PM, with Greens favouring Turnbull 59-41, and even Labor voters only favour Shorten 59-41. On national security, voters feel safer with Turnbull by 74-26 over Abbott, including a 68-32 margin even among Coalition voters.

Notes on these polls

This Newspoll asked several questions related to ISIS, Syrian refugees, terrorism and Muslims in general. By 45-42, voters opposed committing ground troops to fight ISIS. 44% thought Australia should take fewer than 12,000 Syrian refugees, against 22% for more than 12,000, and 27% who thought 12,000 is about right. 41% thought priority for refugees should be given to Christians, while 52% thought equal consideration should be given to all groups.

24% thought it inevitable that ISIS would carry out a large scale terrorist attack in Australia, while another 52% thought this either very likely or likely. 65% thought the Muslim community in Australia had not done enough to condemn the terrorist attacks, and 66% thought that Muslims were not doing enough to integrate. The “currently doing enough” response was respectively 20% and 21% on these two questions.

In Essential, 76% thought the threat of terrorism had increased over the last few years, with just 2% for decreased; there was little change from October on this question. 32% thought Australia should increase its military involvement in Iraq and Syria, with 19% for decrease and 28% for make no change. 45% thought increased military involvement would make Australia less safe, with 17% for more safe. 29% thought the reason for terrorist attacks was hatred of western culture and freedoms, with 11% selecting the reaction to western influence in the Middle East; 46% selected both these reasons.

56% thought climate change is happening, and is caused by human activity, while 32% thought that we are just witnessing a normal fluctuation in the earth’s climate; these numbers are little changed from July. A question was asked on whether Australia is doing more, less, or about the same as specified countries to address climate change. With European countries, less led more by 39-14, and with the US less led by 29-20. However, with China, more led less by 41-21.

Finally, 56% thought that technological change is making people’s lives better, with 22% for worse.

LNP takes Queensland poll lead

The Liberal National Party (LNP) has taken the lead in Queensland according to a Galaxy poll conducted 17-18 November with a sample of 800. The LNP leads by 51-49, compared with a 52-48 lead for Labor in August. Primary votes are 42% for the LNP (up 3), 37% for Labor (down 3) and 9% for the Greens (down 1). Despite the LNP’s lead, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk increased her approval rating three points to 60%, and her disapproval fell four points to 24%, for a net approval of +36. Opposition leader Lawrence Springborg also improved his net rating six points to +8.

The Federal sample from this Galaxy poll was 58-42 to the Coalition in Queensland, and, since Palaszczuk’s ratings have improved, it is likely that state Labor’s slump is a side effect of Turnbull’s honeymoon. If 2015 preferences had been used, Labor would probably be just ahead, but Galaxy is using a mixture of previous election preferences.