Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Poll Roundup and Seat Betting Watch July 16

2PP Aggregate (Tuesday 16 July): 50.0 TIED (+0.2 for ALP since last week)
Individual Seat Betting: Labor favourites in 63 seats (+2 this week - Lingiari, Brisbane)
Seat Total Market: Labor 68 seats (+2)

This is instalment three in what seems to be becoming a regular weekly series in the leadup to the election.  The first Seat Betting Watch is here and last week's Poll Roundup and Seat Betting Watch is here.  As stated before, the aim of this exercise is not to claim that seat betting markets have predictive value, but to test whether they do, and to see which of the markets and the aggregated polls see the ultimate outcome of the election first.

This Week's Polls

As well as the 51-49 to Labor from AMR late last week, we've now had a 50-50 from Nielsen, a 52-48 to the Coalition from Essential and a 51.5-48.5 to Labor by last-election preferences from Morgan Multi-Mode.  (I did cop an "AGGGGHHH!!!!" and a "stupid" on Twitter for continuing to prefer last-election preferences to respondent-allocated but I'll believe KAP voters have turned into lefties only when data show they have.)

The net impact of these on my aggregate has been small and I currently have the two parties dead level on two-party-preferred vote share.  Essential and Morgan don't seem to be behaving the same way compared to other pollsters as they did before Rudd was reinstalled, and Mark the Ballot has a nice wrap of what a pain in the neck this all is for modellers here. (Also see the comment by Julian King on that article.)  Fortunately, the probably false assumption that neither has a significant house effect results in them largely cancelling each other out in my very simple model, but it's a bigger problem for those who take Morgan's large sample size into account.  It may turn out that either of these pollsters has struck it lucky and all the rest are too high or too low, but I'll keep assuming that that isn't the case.  Something to keep an eye on here is that Rudd is doing very well with young voters, and young voters are the most difficult to sample accurately for conventional polls, even with scaling.

Overall, the net story is that the bounce didn't go down this week, it didn't go up significantly either, and we're still waiting to see whether Labor can make progress or whether the bounce will just fade leading to a close to middling Coalition victory.  It's possible (though it doesn't seem likely based on the past history of bounces) that it will sit like this with minor wobbles all the way to the flag.  I'll be surprised if that occurs.

Aggregators are all getting results somewhere inside 51-49 for whoever (if anyone) they have ahead and it's notable that the Pottinger model (which uses past election history and betting odds) now thinks there is very little in it despite having Labor on only 49.2%.

The Nielsen poll was overall very similar to the previous week's Newspoll.  It too showed Kevin Rudd with a slightly positive net satisfaction rating (+8) and Tony Abbott with his worst since Labor went downhill in February (-15), though as with Newspoll Abbott's result is nothing like as bad as at the end of last year.  (Newspoll and Nielsen ask their approval questions with significantly different wording and this often results in Nielsen's results being less harsh.)

Among the most interesting goodies with the Nielsen was its set of attribute results.  As with Essential last week, Nielsen's attribute results showed Kevin Rudd outperforming Tony Abbott by large margins on virtually every question.  What is especially interesting is that Abbott's ratings on these questions have got worse by an average of 4.3 points since April, although his approval score is only down two since then.  It seems that now that voters have the choice of Rudd and Abbott, they are less forgiving of Abbott's failures.  It is notable that Rudd thrashes Abbott 73-39 on "Has a firm grasp of foreign policy" (Gillard led Abbott by just seven points on this.)

It's also interesting that Abbott does lead substantially on one question.  40% of voters think Rudd is "easily influenced by minority groups" while only 28% think this of Abbott.  This suggests to me that there are a lot of voters who, when they hear the pejorative term "minority groups", think quickly of greens, gays and lesbians, unions, asylum seekers and Aborigines, but are not so quick to find room in the same classification for climate deniers, "marriage defenders", religious moralists, talkback callers, industry lobby groups and so on.

Despite Essential's low estimate of the impact of the leadership switch, its leader attributes cover similar ground to Nielsen and Newspoll.  Rudd's Essential netsat of +15 was last matched by Gillard in a single poll in January 2011, and only exceeded in three polls in July 2010 during her own bounce phase.  Abbott, meanwhile (-12) is down a little on last month but still only routinely unpopular.  Essential also has Kevin Rudd with a PPM lead (+15) that exceeds any Gillard achieved since the carbon-tax backflip in Feb 2011.

Another important feature of polling this week is that the Greens are not travelling well.  They polled only seven in Essential and Morgan and nine in Nielsen, so the seven from the AMR poll last week seems like no accident now.   And yet Christine Milne was trying to play power games concerning when Kevin Rudd should call the election?  Well, that just worked magnificently.

It's All About Queensland - For Now

The main point of interest in the Morgan is their continued supplying of state breakdowns, which is much appreciated.  When these come out, the figure almost everyone wants to see first is Queensland. While things remain near 50-50 nationally, Labor is up against it in terms of the difficulties of winning seats from the opposing party (because of the dreaded sophomore effect) and so pretty much the only path to victory being talked about is to win a brace of seats in Queensland with a big swing and not lose too many in other places.  I don't actually think the polling that is coming out of Queensland in the last week has been all that marvellous for Labor, in terms of the seat gains they really need for this to work (most likely six or more).  They're in the ballpark of a sufficient swing, but it would not have to deflate very far for the Queensland theory to expire.

For instance, a union-commissioned ReachTEL was trumpeted as projecting a gain of six seats off a rather low 2PP swing of 3.2%. That's all well and good if you just read them off the pendulum.  However, five of these six seats are occupied by Coalition first-termers in that electorate, four of whom won them from Labor at the last election.  A sixth is occupied by a Coalition returnee who recaptured it from Labor at the last election. 

A bonus to the Coalition based on personal vote issues should be expected in all these seats, and four of the six are what are called "double sophomores" (the seat is artificially close because of the impact of the Labor sitting member's personal vote on the result last time, and the impact of the Coalition sitting member on the swing this time.) In practice, a statewide 3.2% swing that was fairly evenly distributed would probably not win as many as six seats because sophomore effects would save more below the swing line than were lost above it.  That is probably why BludgerTrack has also been showing six seats in Queensland, but off a higher projected swing of 4.6%.

Further up the pendulum, there are other issues.  One of these is the seat of Fisher, held by Peter Slipper, which appears to be marginal.  But it is actually a fake marginal because Peter Slipper's unpopularity dragged the party down at the last election, as demonstrated by Mumble.  Unless Ashby-saga revelations blow up on Mal Brough in a way they have apparently failed to do up til now, Fisher is really a few points safer than it looks, and not such an easy target.

Market Moves

Here's the chart as of 1 am Tuesday. The markets have had a full day to react to the Nielsen although there may still be more significant movements this week.

The colour-coding again:

Medium blue: A seat in which the Coalition is favoured in all betting markets.
Pale blue: Coalition favoured in some markets, level in others.
Grey (none this week): All markets tied or both parties ahead in some markets and behind in others.
Orange: Labor favoured in some markets, level in others.
White: Labor favoured in all markets.

Bold shows a seat that has changed in colour on the graph from last week, including Brisbane and Lingiari moving to Labor (though Brisbane is tied on one exchange), Page ceasing to be tied on one exchange and Reid becoming tied on one exchange.  All these moves are in Labor's favour making the party favourite in 63 seats, for the first time including one held by the Coalition.

The close-seat picture is also kinder again to Labor.  The number of seats where Labor are close favourites (both sides inside $3) is ten including Melbourne, but this includes two seats that crossed over from the Coalition.  Meanwhile Labor is now inside $3 in thirteen seats where the Coalition is favourite, despite becoming favourite in two of last week's eight.  All the expected NSW losses except Dobell are now in this category, and other additions include Hasluck (WA) and Bonner and Flynn to the Queensland pack.  Only the Victorian trifecta, Dobell and Bass (Tas) still have Labor outside $3 among their own seats, and Bass is not considered the write-off that it was.  It is not surprising in these circumstances that the seat total market is running well ahead of the number of seats where Labor is actually favourite, and it (I'm using the Centrebet/Sportingbet "correct election result" market) is now expecting about 68 Labor seats.

So this is another week in which the polls did not move much, but the markets moved, and the markets moved even though it shouldn't be surprising that the polls didn't.  The fact that the markets have been moving suggests that either the markets expected the Rudd poll bounce to start fading immediately (although bounces usually do not do that), or else that the markets collectively are not surprised by the polling, but are surprised in a positive way by other aspects of the national scene that they think are predictive of a result. 

For all that, the Coalition remains favourites on the headline betting rate, with Labor just below $3.

There may or may not be updates added this week (I'll be pretty busy and patchily online.)

PS (17 July): The new Bludgertrack update is out with a reading of 50.1 for Coalition (cf last week's 50.5 to Labor) and 75 Labor seats even including 3 in Tasmania.  William notes that in his model:

"Sophomore surge effects are currently reducing Labor’s Queensland total by about 1.3 seats, which means they will be down one seat for about two-thirds of the time, and down two seats for the remainder."

So that gives a rough idea of the scale of the general problem when Queensland seat estimates are read straight off the pendulum.   Depending on the size of the swing, it's likely to be at least a seat.

I should belatedly acknowledge the term "double sophomore" was ripped off Peter Brent's usage (example here ).

Abbott Shocker, Turnbull Shines (18 July) 

Last week I mentioned the AMR poll that claimed that the Coalition would be on track for an eight-point 2PP pickup (57-43 cf 49-51) if they replaced Tony Abbott with Malcolm Turnbull.  For most of the last few years no-one in the Coalition had much reason to care if Turnbull would supposedly win the election more easily than Abbott, but whenever national 2PP polling casts doubt on whether Abbott will win at all, such findings become more interesting.

Now, Morgan has released one of its sporadic smorgasbord polls of voting preference.  While the sample size of these polls (in this case 549) is rather small, the general picture is clear:

* With the return of Kevin Rudd to the top job, support for him as PM has increased, mainly at the expense of Julia Gillard.  Substantial remaining support for Gillard as PM, if it exists at all, may be confined to Green voters (though the sample size of Green voters would be tiny).

* Rudd is the overwhelming choice of Labor voters.  Labor voters previously backing Gillard have either accepted the Caucus's decision or stopped supporting the party.  There may well have been small-scale desertion of Gillard supporters to the Greens.

* Turnbull is not only the preferred choice as Coalition Leader of voters generally (51% to 16% for Abbott, 14% for Hockey and single figures for the rest) but is preferred even by Liberal Party voters (39% to Abbott 30% Hockey 26%).

* Excepting current Coalition supporters, almost nobody thinks that Abbott should be Coalition leader.   It may even be that some of those who do think he should retain the position are thinking tactically.

* These figures are almost, but not quite, as bad for Abbott as those recorded in the same poll in late November 2012.  Given the small sample size, the differences between that poll and this one are meaningless.

Morgan has also released a preferred prime minister poll comparing Abbott-vs-Rudd and Turnbull-vs-Rudd. This is also a small phone poll and given that Morgan phone polls usually display no significant house effect it would be expected the 2PP would be around 50:50.  Therefore a Rudd-Abbott lead of 16 points is about par for the course - in Newspoll, such a lead would be the normal lead for this 2PP picture.  The poll also shows net satisfaction levels that are consistent with the picture from other polls - Rudd at +5 and Abbott at -16.  And the poll finds only 1% of ALP supporters preferring Abbott to Rudd while 14% of Coalition supporters prefer Rudd to Abbott.

When the Rudd-Turnbull question is asked, Turnbull has a 14 point lead (52-38).  And while Turnbull is a sufficiently polarising figure among supporters of his own party that 13% prefer Rudd to him (a similar figure to those preferring Rudd to Turnbull) the amazing stat here is that 28% of those currently intending to vote ALP think Turnbull would be a better PM than Rudd.

It is very rare for actual Opposition Leaders to receive such rosy PPM figures.  They have occurred historically only in cases in which Oppositions enjoyed healthy if not massive 2PP leads, and usually (but not always) in cases where the actual PM of the time was unpopular.

So this poll is completely consistent with the AMR finding from last week.  And the usual disclaimer that what it represents is a potential "bounce" for a leadership change and nothing durable hardly applies here - because the PM to whom Turnbull is being compared (Rudd) is himself in bounce phase!

It seems that Kevin Rudd is by no means a phenomenally popular figure, and only seems so by comparison with Tony Abbott and Julia Gillard, who the electorate considered to be duds; both his netsats and the Turnbull comparison suggest he is merely judged acceptable.  For all the popular appeal of Turnbull's moderate-liberal positions (see Simon Jackman on this here) I do not entirely understand how his "cult appeal" survives, for instance, the stewardship of what seems to be a dud broadband policy.  It does, however, appear that his cult is not a cult at all - it now has several million members.

ReachTEL as well: The findings above are confirmed by a new ReachTEL that has the Coalition ahead 51:49 at present (bearing in mind that ReachTEL federal results seem to have a slight Coalition lean), but potentially 58:42 if Turnbull becomes leader (assuming that voters actually responded to such a change as they said they would).  ReachTEL's method of surveying Preferred Prime Minister apparently leads to a much lower (if any) incumbent advantage than other methods (primarily because indecision isn't an option); it has Rudd ahead 52.4:47.6 over Abbott, but trailing Turnbull by a massive 65:35.  It is possible that ReachTEL's PPM method may be superior to that used by other companies for this reason, but this will need a lot more data to examine thoroughly.  Even 1.5 points of Green voters (which is quite a lot of Green voters in the context of their current polling) say they would switch to the Liberals if Malcolm Turnbull was Opposition Leader. 


  1. your sidebar link to Pottinger is broken. I think you need a colon.

  2. I hope you get more readers as you deserve them

  3. Thanks for assembling all the seat betting data, it's a valuable service.

    Do you know who's favoured in the Greens/independent-held seats?

    1. Wilkie has been consistently favourite in Denison; he's currently around $1.20 with Labor $3.50 or $4 and the rest long. When betting opened I think he was around $1.40.

      Katter has been around $1.04 favourite to retain ever since I've been looking.

      Labor is favourite in Melbourne, currently about $1.40 to $2.70 for the Greens. When betting opened it was closer.

      With Windsor and Oakeshott both not recontesting the Nats are $1.01 favourites in both.


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