Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 site review

This site started in October 2012 after I left Tasmanian Times*.    This is my second "annual" list of the most popular articles of the year and other stats trivia, but obviously the first one to cover a full year ... and what a year in Australian elections and poll-watching it has been!  

For the first half of the year I was using the Stats function in Blogger to keep track of site activity.  However, the Stats function has a number of drawbacks.  Not only is it very prone to hits from automated, non-authentic traffic (including pulses of up to 300 hits at a time), but there is a thing called vampirestat that swamps your post visit stats as a claimed source of site visits.  Sites where articles are frequently edited (as mine are to add updates) seem to be unusually prone to getting their site stats clogged by vampirestat.  

Another drawback with the Blogger Stats function is that it actually misses (or loses) genuine hits.  In late July I started using Google Analytics.  I'd read before that because Google Analytics does a better job of not counting non-genuine traffic, it tends to return lower hit totals (to the dismay of some blog-owners' egos).  But in my case the totals returned by Analytics have been substantially higher, even if only counting unique user hits.

In future I expect to only use Google Analytics for tracking site stats.
The ten most popular articles this year (sorted by number of visits) have been:

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Unpopular State Premiers Have Dire Historic Fates

An updated version of this article is available: see Unpopular State Premiers Still Have Dire Historic Fates (2020)

Today's post is brought to you by the letters C and B and the magic number -20.  Newspoll finally released the first state polling for Western Australia of any reputable kind since Colin Barnett emphatically won a second term in the state election way back in March.  Given the magnitude of Barnett's victory earlier this year, with an 8.8% swing and a net gain of seven seats (plus two for the Nationals), it might be expected the Barnett government would still be on cloud nine nine months later.  But no, the poll (taken between October and December) shows the government with a feeble 51-49 lead.  It also shows Colin Barnett with very bad personal ratings (34% approve, 54% disapprove) and that Labor's Mark McGowan is now rated better premier by six points, 43-37.

There has been speculation recently that Barnett is on the skids, but some of it has seemed, in theory, questionable.  For instance, should anyone really care  that Standard and Poors has downgraded WA's credit rating when that agency has a recent history of predictive failure?  And if the answer is really Troy Buswell, one would hope that the question was pretty stupid.  Now, however, we have something concrete: Colin Barnett is not well liked.  It came as some surprise to me to find that his -20 is in fact the worst netsat by a WA Premier in the admittedly spotty and discontinuous 27-year history of Newspoll ratings.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Legislative Council Voting Patterns Revised (2010-2013)

Advance Summary

1. This article presents a revised analysis of voting patterns in the Legislative Council (the upper house of Tasmanian Parliament) based on contested divisions since the last Lower House election in 2010.

2. Although there is a degree of independence in Legislative Council voting, the Council now has a clearly defined "left wing" consisting of Craig Farrell (Labor), and independents Mike Gaffney, Ruth Forrest, Kerry Finch and Rob Valentine.

3. Excluding Tony Mulder (who is unpredictable) and Adriana Taylor (typically left on social issues, right on "moral issues"), the remaining MLCs can be considered to lean to the right to varying degrees.

4.Despite this, there is a great diversity of positions on the "right" side of the Council and a lack of strong clustering in voting patterns there.

5. Only one MLC, Rob Valentine, occupies a position to the left of the sole endorsed Labor representative.

6. As a result of the high percentage of contentious high-profile issues in the last year, differences between the various "centre-right" MLCs and Liberal Party positions have become clearer.

7. The result is that the revised analysis now shows most of the conservative MLCs to be between Liberal and Labor positions, albeit closer to the Liberals, rather than to the right of the Liberals as appeared to be the case based on the more limited data available last year.

8. The perception that the Council is a plaything of the Liberal Party on major issues generally is not supported by this analysis.  Indeed Liberal positions have been defeated on most divisions in the past year.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Abbott Fastest Ever To Lose Poll Lead

Note: updates after Monday 16 Dec may or may not be slow for a while - other commitments.

 Advance Summary:

1. Following the recent Newspoll, the new Abbott Government has lost the two-party preferred polling lead.

2. This does not necessarily mean the government would lose an election if one was held now.

3. The Abbott Government has lost the 2PP polling lead much faster than any other new government elected from Opposition in federal polling history.

4. Tony Abbott has also recorded negative personal ratings much faster than any new PM elected from Opposition in federal polling history.

5. While polling taken at this stage has very little if any predictive value, governments that have lost the lead very early in their terms have a historically greater risk of defeat at the next election.

6. Bill Shorten's polling as Opposition Leader appears good, but is nothing unusual by the standards of other Opposition Leaders at the same stages of their careers.

7. Furthermore the strength or otherwise of an Opposition Leader's personal polling after only two months in the job has no relationship with their success at later elections.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Federal 2PP Aggregate Methods (44th Parliament)

This post describes the revised aggregation methods used to produce the two-party preferred aggregate (unofficially nicknamed "Aggedor") that appears in the sidebar of this site.  Although slightly more detailed than the version used before the 2013 election (which predicted the election 2PP of 53.5 as accurately as possible, albeit with quite some luck) or the transitional model used in the months after the election, it is nonetheless designed to be mathematically simple and computable quickly by hand at any time.  I've also tried to increase the proportion of the model that is objectively defined, though there will still be subjective judgement calls from time to time.

The aggregate is essentially a weighted average of two-party preferred polling derived from all recent polls that are considered of sufficient standard.  2PP figures from each poll (see "The 2PP score that is used" below) are multiplied by various weightings based on their recency, accuracy and other issues, and then the sum of the multiplied poll scores is divided by the sum of the weightings.

Pollsters Included:

Polls by the following pollsters are included when available: Galaxy, Newspoll, Nielsen, ReachTEL, Morgan, Essential, AMR, Ipsos.  Other pollsters may be added subject to their completion of three polls of national 2PP voting intention by the same methods, and adequate methods documentation.  Even if a poll is by an included pollster, the poll is not included if it is an "internal poll" (defined as a poll commissioned by a political party, union, business or lobby group).

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

EMRS: Another Shocker for Labor

EMRS: Lib 49 ALP 22 Grn 19 PUP 5 Ind 4 Others 1
Interpretation (provisional): Lib 49.5 ALP 26.5 Grn 16 PUP 5 Ind/Others 3
Outcome of this poll if election held now: Liberal Majority Government (13-14 seats, possibly 14-7-4) 
State polling aggregate: Liberal 13 Labor 8 Green 4

A new EMRS poll of Tasmanian state voting intentions has been released and it's a pretty similar story to what we've been seeing in state polling for the whole of the last three years.  But at least it's the first one to explicitly canvass support levels for the Palmer United Party (PUP).

Every single poll since the start of 2011 has pointed to a Liberal majority government if an election was held now, and this one is no different. There has been variation between polls in the strength of the Liberals' lead and the division of the punishment between the minority government parties but not one of these polls has yet pointed to another hung parliament. Even when these polls are tweaked to adjust them for the well-established anti-Labor pro-Green skew of EMRS and the apparent anti-Labor pro-Liberal skew of ReachTEL (at least in its local-level federal polling) it makes no difference; all roads point to 13 seats, at least.  You can see the tracking for the headline rates on the EMRS website here but bear in mind the red and green lines are likely to be much further apart in reality than shown.