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Making sense of the polls

Analysis of Latest Federal Polls

This Week’s Polls

As before, the table below will show the poll’s two party result, shift from the last release of that poll, fieldwork dates and approximate sample size (click to enlarge).

poll table.

While Essential’s two-party result was unchanged, the Coalition was down a point on primary votes, Labor was steady and the Greens were up 2. Rounding issues meant that the Coalition’s two party lead was unchanged.

We also had a ReachTEL poll taken last Thursday night of the Tasmanian Labor-held seats of Bass, Braddon and Lyon, with over 600 sampled for each seat. In these seats, the Liberals were crushing Labor 57-43 in Braddon, and 54-46 in Bass and Lyon; all 3 seats recorded double digit swings to the Liberals as compared with the 2010 election. The poor state economy and the unpopular Labor/Greens state government could explain why Labor is doing badly in Tasmania. Although ReachTEL favours the Coalition by about 1% vs other polling, this result is not good news for Labor, and they would need to gain many other seats if these three Tasmanian seats are lost.

The Poll Bludger’s Bludgertrack poll aggregate has moved to dead level, 50.0-50.0, a 0.5% shift to Labor on last week, and Labor is a seat ahead of the Coalition on the Bludgertrack seat projection. This week Morgan’s state breakdowns show Labor’s slide continuing in Queensland, but they gained back some ground in WA. On the current polling, the result would be very much up in the air. One way or another, things will probably change before the election.

Notes on these Polls

  • Galaxy is published in the News Ltd tabloids irregularly, and uses phone polling. This Galaxy had Rudd leading Abbott 51-35 as preferred PM, but Malcolm Turnbull would lead Rudd 46-38, clearly indicating that the Liberals would be better off under Turnbull. Rudd is tied 41-41 with Abbott on economic management, and leads Abbott 40-38 on asylum seekers and 45-31 on climate change.

  • As noted previously, Essential does voting intentions over a 2-week period, but has topical issues every week. This week’s issues have 61% supporting the PNG solution, and only 28% against, with clear majority support from supporters of both major parties. 35% rated the asylum seeker issue either one of the most important, or the most important issue. The Coalition now leads Labor by only 26-25 on handling this issue, down from 38-13 under Gillard; of the 35% who rated the asylum seeker important, Labor leads 35-29. On best leader of the Liberals, Turnbull leads with 37% to 17% for Abbott and 10% for Joe Hockey.

  • Morgan is now at its closest to the other polls since Rudd was restored as leader. Whether this indicates that Morgan’s lean to Labor is fading, or that this week’s sample was simply weaker than usual for Labor, only time will tell.

Election Timing

Many pundits think that Rudd should have called the election already to take advantage of his honeymoon before it wears off. However, this is what was tried under Julia Gillard in 2010, and it resulted in Labor only barely clinging to power after a disastrous election. Peter Brent has posted many times on this, and was one of the few pundits who advised Gillard to wait in 2010. In Brent’s opinion, the only good reason for calling an early election is to prevent Tony Abbott from being replaced as opposition leader, and delaying the election helps Prime Minister Rudd build up his authority as the incumbent. Here is Brent’s latest column, which I concur with. If the Rudd surge is indeed just a honeymoon effect, it will not hold up on election day, no matter how soon the election is.

Are Asylum Seekers Really a Critical Issue?

Last week’s Essential asked opinions on many issues, with voters asked to rate their top 3 issues. Economic management had 45% rating it one of their top 3, while asylum seekers only had 14% rating it a top issue. While this week’s Essential had 35% rating asylum seekers important, that question was asked in isolation, without other issues to compare to.

Many pundits opine that if Labor doesn’t stop the boats by the election, they are doomed. My opinion is that the asylum seekers are a distraction from other issues, and that Labor will benefit from the reduced media coverage if they are stopped or slowed by the election. However, the issue Labor actually has to do well on to win the election is the economy, which affects the lives of most Australians in a way that the emotional asylum seeker issue does not. The most encouraging result from this week’s polling for Labor was that Rudd and Abbott are tied on economic management, although, as Peter Brent points out in the link above, polling has shown that Labor as a party does worse on this issue than its leader.

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