Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Poll Roundup: Small Bounce, Deeper Issues For Coalition

2PP Aggregate: 52.8 to Labor (-0.3 since last week, -0.9 in two weeks)

Available polling results for this week on average show the Coalition in its best 2PP position since before the Budget, with Tony Abbott's personal ratings substantially improved.  So it may be a surprise to readers to see me offer this right from the outset: that the last two weeks of polling should be actually the most troubling the Coalition has so far seen in its time in office.  The reason I say this is that the recent MH17 disaster was an event that allowed the Coalition to play to one of its supposed strengths - national security - but the voting intention gain has been so small, and such gains tend to be temporary anyway.  When we look past these event-driven aspects of current polling, the government still has a lot of work to do to turn around the early negative perceptions.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Poll Roundup: A Brief History Of Disaster Bounces

2PP Aggregate: 53.1 to ALP (-0.6 since last week)

"I actually think Tony Abbott is doing us proud.  I didn't think he would, I didn't think he had it in him, but he's put his foot down and now other countries are supporting him".

The above was one of a number of vox-pop style voices in a Tasmanian ABC radio segment about reactions to the MH-17 air disaster.  Interviewees, all or nearly all of them female, spoke about the way the disaster is being seen in the community and the issues involved in talking about it to children.

MH-17 coverage is inescapable in media of just about any kind, and some of the more lurid excesses of disaster-porn (Daily Telegraph and Herald Sun, that would be you) have just about had me reaching for the JG Ballard collection in disgust.  But what effect does this sort of thing have on polling and perceptions of the government?

When I put to various left-leaning online political circles the idea that this might see a rather large improvement in the Abbott government's fortunes, the consensus reaction was pretty sceptical: no bounce, or if any bounce lost in the noise.  After three polls out this week, we're seeing what looks like some movement back to the Coalition, but it's modest so far and far from conclusively real.  Untangling what is going on is made more difficult by the government having succeeded in repealing the carbon tax in the same polling cycle.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Poll Roundup: Post-Budget Recovery Stalls

2PP Aggregate: 53.7 to ALP (+0.5 since last week, -0.3 since Budget)

Welcome to the first instalment of the newer and notionally shorter approach to federal polling roundups on this site (see admin note at bottom of article).  The previous instalment Turnbull PM: Not Likely Any Time Soon followed federal polling over the last four weeks.  In this time the Coalition showed modest signs of recovery - perhaps by a humble point - from the 46:54-ish 2PP results recorded in the aftermath of one of the worst received federal Budgets ever.

Polling this week has scotched that and left it unclear whether the Government's polling has even recovered at all, eight weeks on from the Budget.  This week's 2PP results were 54:46 to Labor from Newspoll (down one, but from an off-trend base, so effectively more bad news), 56:44 (+1.5) from Morgan by last-election preferences (the respondent-allocated figure was down one to 56.5) and 53:47 from Essential (unchanged).  These three have added half a point on to Labor's aggregated lead and even the smoothed tracking graph now hints at movement back towards the ALP:

Monday, July 14, 2014

Uneducated Preferencing: NTEU/UMR Robopoll

Wirrah Award For Fishy Polling (image source)

This article initially covered the report in the Examiner today of a poll commissioned by the National Tertiary Education Union and said to show first-term incumbent Andrew Nikolic trailing in the federal seat of Bass.  However it has since become clear that this poll is part of a national bulk robopoll of 23 marginal (and in some cases not so marginal) electorates and raises enough issues that I've deemed it necessary to rewrite the article and give it a national focus.

The NTEU is not a slavish supporter of the ALP (for instance endorsing independent Andrew Wilkie at the last election) but it is obviously an opponent of the current government's education proposals.  The poll was conducted by UMR, which is best known as the Labor Party's standard pollster for internals (yet is described by the NTEU as "independent"), as part of a large series of national seat robopolls. The NTEU has now published a full data set for all seats (download from link).  The poll claims to find an average 2PP swing of 11% to Labor in the 23 surveyed seats, from 52:48 to Coalition at the election to 41:59 now.   Simultaneously the NTEU has released a message testing poll taken nationally via online panel sampling also by UMR and taken in late May to early June.  The 2PP in that sample is given as 56% to Labor.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Queensland Polling: Careful With That Pendulum, Eugene

ReachTEL (Queensland): 51:49 to LNP (LNP 38.7 ALP 34.4 Greens 6.1 PUP 15.4 Other 5.4)
Interpretation based on this poll "if election held now": LNP would probably win; majority status touch and go.
Widespread claim that poll implies c. 40 seat losses and defeat for LNP is wrong.


I'm currently conducting a poll on the sidebar on whether readers want more shorter federal polling articles instead of longer ones with updates tacked onto the end. The results will also be used to inform how I cover state polls for states other than Tasmania.  This piece (not that it's that short) is a bit of a trial run for the more-but-shorter option and will not be endlessly updated.  One of my main concerns about the shorter option has been how to keep the titles snappy, rather than having an endless procession of pieces called "Poll Roundup Week 37" or "Essential: 51:49 For The Sixth Week In A Row While The Universe Burns". Anyway, I hope that the title for this one passes muster, with apologies to early Pink Floyd and to all readers whose name is actually Eugene.

For an extreme example of how I've approached state polls up til now, see my previous Queensland article Is Campbell Newman Actually In Trouble?, which started in April and ran through to the end of June.  The comments on the recent quarterly Newspoll aggregate (51-49 to Labor) bear repeating: while the result was more generous to Labor than everything else about in recent months, it did put a dampener on weak signs that the LNP were recovering from the low-50s 2PPs they were getting in previous months.  The poll also showed Campbell Newman at a new personal low: a -24 Newspoll netsat, giving him the worst result for any Queensland Premier bar Bjelke-Petersen and Bligh.  I noted that if Newman can win the next election he will equal Bob Carr's record for the worst netsat from which any Australian state premier in the last few decades has been re-elected.  That said, given that the poll was worse for the LNP than others around the same time, it may be exaggerating Newman's plight.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

What Kills State Governments: Age Or Canberra?

Note (2020): An updated sequel to this article has been published, see Age And Canberra Are Still Killing State Governments


Advance Summary:

1. This article examines the influence of two factors on the fates of state governments at elections: the age of the state government and whether the same party is in office federally.

2. Results since 1969 show a moderately strong influence of which party is in office federally, but only a very weak impact of age of government.  A state government that is of the same party as the federal government is generally strongly disadvantaged.

3. In the 1970s and 1980s two very old state governments were repeatedly re-elected.

4. Since 1989, both the age of a state government and whether or not the same party is in office federally have been strongly connected to state results.  

5. It is rare, perhaps increasingly rare, for a state government that is the opposite party to the federal government at the time to lose.  When this happens there are very strong reasons for it, with leadership instability a common factor.

6. The strength of the impact of federal politics on state politics can predict otherwise surprise results like the 2014 South Australian election win by Labor.

7.  Furthermore, if the federal government is of the same party as the state government then there is a strong relationship between the popularity of the federal government and the fate of the state government.

8. Even without any knowledge of events or polling in this parliamentary term, models based on the history of these two issues still imply that a change of government in Victoria is likely.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Victorian Liberals: Going, Going ...

This is an overview of the state of play in the leadup to the Victorian election, prompted by recent polling.  I expect to make more detailed modelling attempts much closer to that poll.  In summary, this article argues that the Baillieu-turned-Napthine government's first-term status provides no argument against the reasons why it could lose.  While the defeat of this government is not yet a done deal, psephologically, it has at least one foot in the grave.  There is still time to climb out, but it won't be easy.

One of the themes I've been following on this site is the way in which federal politics contaminates state voting intention.  As noted in Is Campbell Newman Actually In Trouble? life gets much harder for state governments when they have a party of their own persuasion in power in Canberra, especially if the federal party isn't polling well.  This is also well covered in Peter Brent's current piece, Dog Days For State Conservatives.  Of the four conservative state governments elected while Labor was in office federally, all are showing signs of wear and tear.  We still have astonishingly sparse state polling from Western Australia since Colin Barnett polled a very poor personal result, but it wouldn't be at all surprising to see Labor in the lead there soon.  The NSW polling picture is still re-sorting itself after the shock loss of a Premier, and in Queensland the LNP have only a narrow lead (Queensland polling updates added) and are still struggling greatly to build their vote share to the level needed to make their unpopular Premier's own seat safe.