Sunday, February 16, 2014

Polling And The Proposed Pulp Mill

What's big, doesn't exist and eats Tasmanian Premiers?

The release of Mercury-commissioned ReachTEL polling about the proposed Tamar Valley pulp mill and its impact on state election voting seems a good time to write something I've been meaning to put up here for some time.  There's a view doing the rounds, among some of the green and gullible, that the last time this proposal was about, a huge body of credible polling showed very strong opposition to it.  As well as discussing the current poll, this article takes a little trip down memory lane and points out why we never knew as much about public views of the pulp mill as some of its more ardent opponents told us that we did.  It also includes a few of my own thoughts on the "issue" of the proposed pulp mill.

Anyway, here is the new pulp mill poll result:

Saturday, February 15, 2014

ReachTEL: The PUP Surge Has Landed

ReachTEL: Lib 47.3 ALP 24.6 Green 17.1 PUP 7.5 Other 3.7
Outcome if election was held now based on this poll: Liberal Majority (approx 13-6-4-2 or 13-7-4-1)
New aggregate of all state polls: Liberal 14 Labor 6 Green 4 PUP 1
My current forecast: Liberal 13 Labor 7 Green 4 PUP 1

If the new ReachTEL poll is completely accurate, the Greens could even be the Opposition after the next state election.

Well, that was a rather startling introduction, wasn't it?  The idea of the Greens winning more seats than Labor (or even as many) has been one I have until now regarded as an almost totally crazy beast from outer space. (See my reply to a question from Matt Lyons in comments here where I say there is "virtually no chance" of the Greens gaining seats and give them about a 2% chance of winning more seats than Labor).  But  along comes a poll with a quirky electorate breakdown that, if real, would put the Greens within range of fluking six seats to Labor's five - yes, despite a 4% swing against them and Labor outpolling them by 7%. 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

EMRS: Divorce Tactic Falling Flat As Liberals Dominate

EMRS Lib 50 ALP 23 Green 17 PUP 5 Ind 4
Interpretation (provisional): Lib 50 ALP 26 Green 15 PUP 6 Others 3
Outcome if election held now: Liberal Majority Win (approx 14-7-4)

The February EMRS poll is out (PDF Link) and shows no significant change from the poll released late last year, as can also be seen on the trend tracker.  The Liberals and Labor are up one point each on the headline measure with the Greens down two.  The number of respondents initially claiming to be undecided did rise sharply from 17% in the previous poll to 23% in this one, but once those respondents were prodded for a response, the true undecided rate comparable to that polled by other pollsters rose only three points from 10% to 13%.  So let's please not have too much nonsense about almost a quarter of the voters being "undecided".

EMRS have a history of underestimating the Labor vote and overestimating the Green vote at elections, while their final result for the Liberals was very accurate last election.  Based on this poll, if an election was held now the Liberals would certainly win outright and would be likely to win around 14 seats. I initially thought the Greens' support base was only enough for three but I now think a 15% result would probably just get them four (as a 16%-ish result did in 2006, by a whisker).  There's not much in it though and it would come down to the breakup of votes between different parties in different electorates.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Griffith: Sound And Fury, Signifying Little

(With federal polling comments added Feb 11)

Of all the comments about the result of yesterday's Griffith by-election (won by Labor's Terri Butler but with a small swing to the Coalition) the one I liked best was the comment by Antony Green - that we would probably talk about the result for a day and then move on.  It might be just a bit longer than that, but in case it isn't, today's that day and here's my contribution.

By-elections are noted for often producing crazy swings and aberrantly strong results for minor-party candidates but this one is notable for the modest nature of all the party swings.  Not a single party contesting the election saw a swing exceeding 2% in either direction in its primary vote.  The LNP has currently gained 1.35% (although I expect this figure to increase slightly), Labor has currently lost 1.38% (this may also increase) and the Greens have currently gained 0.01% (this could become a small loss).  These small swings are against the backdrop of a slight change in the opposing candidate mix - the Palmer United Party which polled over 3% in the general election did not contest, while the Pirate Party is sitting in fourth place on 1.55%, having not contested this (or any other lower house) seat at the general election.  (A note in passing on the various fourth party attempts: while none were able to crack even 2%, it's interesting that the Pirates more than doubled their Senate vote from the same electorate last year while Katter's Australian Party could barely improve on theirs, even in the absence of Palmer United.)

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

PUP's "Internal Polling" Claims Are Ludicrous

Porcupine Fish Award for Ultra-Fishy Polling (image credit)
Advance Summary:

Clive Palmer has claimed to have internal polling showing the Palmer United Party on track to win the Tasmanian election.  The claim that PUP polling shows any such thing should not be taken even remotely seriously because:

1. The level of detail concerning this "poll" that has been released is grossly inadequate.

2. The poll was not carried out by a neutral polling firm or even one with any demonstrated record of competence.

3. Many Palmer United "internal polling" claims in the leadup to the federal election were shown to be wildly excessive by the actual results.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Libs' ReachTEL: Not Completely Over The Line

Liberal-Commissioned ReachTEL: Lib 48.8 ALP 25.8 Green 15.3 PUP 4.8 Nat 0.7 Other 4.6
Outcome based on this poll if election held now: Probable Liberal Majority Win (13-14 seats)

(Note added 15 Feb: While this poll was interesting at the time in apparently showing the Liberals in a not clearly winning position (adjusted for apparent house effects) I now have reason to doubt the adjustments and to suspect that this poll should in fact be taken on face value or nearly so.)

The first thing to bear in mind when considering the Liberal Party commissioned ReachTEL that was released in the Mercury today is that it is a party-commissioned poll, and all party-commissioned polls should be treated with some caution, since parties only release them when it suits their purposes to do so.  You can bet your proverbial bottom dollar that if this poll had shown the Liberals on 37%, Labor on 35 and PUP and the Greens on 14% each, it would have been rapidly buried under a bush somewhere.  Likewise a poll showing the Liberals on, say, 57%, would have been a risky thing to release, because it might have caused voters who were wary of the Liberals but wanted majority government to believe the latter was in the bag and therefore there was no need to vote Liberal.  Robopolls are less expensive than operator dialling and this has led to a flood of internal polling in elections since they became commonplace.