Friday, November 29, 2013

2013 Federal Election: Best And Worst Pollsters

Ideally I would have written this article a few weeks after the election, while debates about the quality of polling before the election were still fresh in everyone's minds.  It seems a world away now but earlier this year there were actually plenty of people arguing that the day of the landline was done, that online and mobile polling were the way to go and that Palmer and Katter supporters would preference Labor in droves thus making the election much, much closer than all those pesky polls said.

But now ...

This was, in general, a pretty good election for the pollsters (most of them anyway) and a bad election for those who wanted to outguess them.  

For basic information about the different polls and their methods, and a lot of general stuff about polling methods and debate surrounding them, you may find the recently updated Field Guide To Australian Opinion Polls useful. 

I'll consider pollster quality in three categories:

Thursday, November 28, 2013

2013 Federal Election Results Finalised ... Finally!

The AEC has finally released the 2PP results for the various non-classic divisions at the 2013 election and hence the final 2PP result nationally.  Results can be seen here.

The final 2PP result is 53.49% to the Coalition and 46.51% to the ALP.  This is lower than projections based on expected results in the non-classic divisions (something like 53.6 to 53.7 was considered most likely).  It's probable that a reason for the difference from what was expected was that more National Party votes were distributed in three-corner contests than in 2010, especially because of the loss of O'Connor to the Liberals.  Nationals votes leak more to Labor ahead of the Liberals (24.6%) than Liberal votes leak to Labor ahead of the Nationals (9.2%).  In the case of O'Connor, this produces a swing "to" Labor in the 2PP result, caused solely by the Liberals rather than the Nationals winning the seat. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Paul Harriss To Contest Franklin

A grenade has been tossed into the already explosive race for Franklin at next year's Tasmanian state election with the announcement that Paul Harriss MLC will (if preselected) resign his Upper House seat and run for Franklin for the Liberals.

The Electorate

Generally the signs from polling have been that the Liberals are on track to win three seats at least in each of Bass, Braddon and Lyons, are likely to only win two in Denison and may win either two or three in Franklin.  What makes Franklin so tight is that if the Liberals do win three seats they will need to unseat at least one of Premier Lara Giddings,  David O'Byrne or Greens Leader Nick McKim.  Yet my interpretation of recent polling is that the Liberals are running at very close to the support level needed to dislodge one of these three.

The difficulty for the Liberals in Franklin is leakage.  Will Hodgman polled 1.90 quotas in his own right out of a party total of 2.47 in 2010.  He may well poll even more this time around.  I will be surprised if any of Jacquie Petrusma, Paul Harriss or Bernadette Black poll close to a quota.  If two of them are going to win then they will be doing so from Will Hodgman's surplus, plus the votes of the unsuccessful Liberal candidates.  Between them the two potential Liberal winners might well be needing well over a quota in preferences to win.  This compares with McKim, Giddings and O'Byrne, who between them will poll nearly all the votes for their tickets, with probably very little opportunity for leakage.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Early Abbott Era Polling Roundup

(Note: an update has been added at the bottom following the surprising first Nielsen result and other signs of narrowing in late November.  Another has been added for the release of official 2PP preferences.)

We are now just over two months into the lifespan of the first Abbott government and it is time for a brief summary of its polling history so far, and that of its leader. 

The following polls have been published since the 2013 election: nine Essentials (one of them including a week of pre-election data), four Morgans, two Newspolls and one and a half ReachTELs.  (The half ReachTEL was a poll of NSW and Victorian voters only, that canvassed voting intention along with Shorten-vs-Albanese ALP leader polling.)

Two-party preferred

Compiling a meaningful two-party preferred picture from this polling has not been easy, for the following reasons:

* The performance of Essential and Morgan in the period between the return of Kevin Rudd and the 2013 election.  Essential tracked in a contrary manner to other pollsters (below them for Labor after Rudd returned but then above them for Labor as the election drew closer).  Morgan (using preferences modelled by the last election) initially tracked favourably for Labor but once the election was called tracked neutrally.

* A method change by Morgan to drop online surveying from their most recent survey. 

Saturday, November 2, 2013

ReachTEL: Giddings' Northern Problem

ReachTEL (State): Lib 49.2 ALP 23.2 Grn 14.8 Other 6.2 Undecided 6.6
Interpretation: Lib 48.2 ALP 29.4 Green 15.9 Other 6.6
Outcome based on this poll: Liberal Majority Win (13-8-4 or 14-7-4)
Caution: PUP not named in poll; PUP support level unclear.

New aggregate: 13 Liberal 8 Labor 4 Green

Another Mercury/ReachTEL poll is out (see David Killick's report here), with the Saturday release canvassing voting intention and preferred premier scores.  There will also be some questions rating the state government's performance on various issues.  You probably don't need me to tell you what the results of those look like. 

The poll comes as the Labor-Green government, which has to go to an election by June next year, is plagued by rumours of infighting, although these result mainly from the actions of renegade backbench lifer Brenton Best.  It might have been thought this situation would send the Labor vote to new lows, but in fact it has made very little difference.  Compared to the last ReachTEL in August the Liberals are down 1.9 points, Labor down 1.2, the Greens steady, and the winners are Other (+2) and undecided. The impression is that the latest internal tensions are not driving Labor's vote much lower because it was probably scraping along the bottom anyway.