Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Wonk Central: What Do We Do With The Poll Rounding Problem?

This supplement to this week's Poll Roundup concerns recent results comparisons between my poll aggregate and BludgerTrack, and explains a small methods change I've brought in to my aggregate this week, and also how the hell Newspoll might have got a 51 to Labor 2PP off this week's primaries.  I was firmly expecting this to be the least read article on this site all year (but 24 hours after release it is beating the main roundup), and it's the only one I've ever published with a jump break included from the start. Click on the "Read more>>" below the warning sign (if you didn't arrive here via a direct link) to read on if you dare.

(Image lambied from a widespread internet meme of unknown (to me) origin, example here)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Poll Roundup: Terror Focus Improves Abbott's Ratings

2PP Aggregate: 51.5 to Labor (-0.4 on last week, very little change in past five weeks)
Election "held now" would be very close 

This will be one of my longer fortnightly roundups, there is quite a lot to get through!  I've decided to split the mass into two halves; this is the main part and the really wonky stuff (about aggregate methods, rounding, Newspoll black magic and such) is being split off into a separate Wonk Central supplement and released to mass critical excitement later tonight.  I've made a small methods change to my aggregate, that will rarely if ever make more than 0.3 of a point difference and often make none at all. The change is documented on the methods page and all will be explained soon.

This week has seen a ramping up of anti-terrorist rhetoric and action centred on perceived threats from Islamist extremists connected to everybody's least favourite Sunni jihadists ISIL.  Massive terror raids resulted in the arrest of a man accused (and entitled at this stage to the presumption of innocence) of conspiring to order the execution of a random non-believer, plus a few other charges.  Security alert levels have been raised, military actions prepared, and a range of other measures (some of them contentious from a civil liberties viewpoint) introduced.  There's even been some rhetoric from the PM about how Australians would have to sacrifice freedom for security, although polls this week suggest voters think we're sacrificing both, and like it.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Jacqui Lambie And The British Thug Far Right

Recently Palmer United Party Senator for Tasmania, Jacqui Lambie, shared an anti-burqa image first posted by a group called Britain First on her Facebook page.  The widely reposted image showed a woman dressed in a burqa and pointing a gun.  It was accompanied by the words "Terror attack level: Severe - an attack is highly likely" and "For security reasons it's now time to ban the burqa".  The text clearly showed the intention behind posting the image "Do you agree the burqa is a security risk?"  Much attention has been given to Lambie's use of the image but not so much to the group who originally supplied it.

The Photo

The first problem, as reported by many outlets (ABC,, is that the woman dressed in a burka and pointing the gun, portrayed by the posted image as a terrorist security risk, was in fact a leading policewoman from Afghanistan, Malalai Kakar (1967-2008), who was assassinated by the Taliban.  An image of a woman who fought for women's rights in a country that always desperately needs such people has been ripped off without the original photographer's consent or even attribution of the source, to make an implied claim that burqa-wearing women are a security hazard to the west, a view that neither the photographer nor subject (whatever their views on the burqa) would have shared.  To make matters worse, Lambie has since said that she knew the back-story before reposting the image.

Jacqui Lambie is a former soldier who says that putting your life on the line for your country is a great thing.  Here, in pursuit of an anti-burqa agenda, she demeans the memory of a very brave woman who died doing exactly that and was killed by much the same enemy Lambie rails against - the Taliban, a group whose attitudes are such a big part of the "burqa problem" in the first place.  This is not about Lambie's view that the burqa should be banned, but is about her way of expressing it. It's hard to tell whether Lambie is too stubborn, too determined to create sensation at any cost, or too malignantly clueless to understand this.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Hobart City Council Elections Candidate Guide and Preview 2014

This election is now being counted - go here for counting commentary.

Introductory Waffle

I hope this piece will be a useful resource for readers in the Hobart (Tasmania) area.  Along similar lines to my state election and Legislative Council candidate guides, this guide is intended as a list of candidates running for Hobart City Council in 2014.  It includes a description of their past electoral form (if any known) and an assessment of prospects.  Obviously there is far more known form for the incumbents.  For this reason I've decided to split the guide into three sections - firstly the candidate list, then the form guide, then an assessment of prospects.  All these will be updated regularly.

During the campaign period voters have received official statements by the candidates, with photos supplied by them.  An online version includes web links.  This piece was initially published for the interest of those who didn't want to wait for the candidate statements, but I hope it will still be useful in presenting a less filtered view of candidate backgrounds.

If there is one suggestion I would send to voters, it is to not just automatically vote for all the same old names. By all means if you think an incumbent is doing a good job, vote for them.  But some voters just pick all the names they've heard of whether they have any good impression of that person's performance or not, and this makes it a little bit harder for new entries than it should be. 

This year we have a new election system with all sitting aldermen (except John Freeman, who has retired) facing the people at once and hence a much lower quota but also a much more competitive election.  We're also electing a Mayor and Deputy for the next four years instead of two.  These changes will mean the election is harder to predict, and I aim to post a lot about the counting when it happens.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Polling on the Mt Wellington Cable Car Proposal

The only cable car I expect to be going up any time soon - Fjellheisen, Tromso, Norway (image: Franklin Henderson)

This article is updated with new cable car polls and claimed polls as they arrive.  

Advance Summary (2014)

1. A new poll - the first to examine the issue credibly - shows statewide figures of 59% support 24% opposition for the proposed Mt Wellington cable car project.

2. Although these figures represent strong support statewide, they are weaker than those claimed for the proposal on the basis of a previous opt-in survey and a previous commissioned poll.

3. The likely main reason for weaker support in this poll is that it did not use a one-sided preamble likely to have skewed the poll results.

4. While the poll shows support in all electorates, opinion is most divided in Denison.

5. Modelling taking into account differences in party support across Denison suggests that within the crucial Hobart municipal area, public sentiment on the proposal is likely to be very closely divided.

6. On this basis while the project is generally welcomed statewide as a potential job creator and tourism opportunity, it will continue to encounter significant opposition in the area in which it is to be built.


Sunday, September 14, 2014

ReachTEL: Liberals With Solid Lead

ReachTEL (Tas State) Lib 48.1 ALP 28.7 Green 16 PUP 3.7 Other 3.4
Interpretation Lib 49.2 ALP 32.2 Green 13 PUP 2.7 Other 3
Outcome if election held now based on this poll: Liberal Majority (approx 14-8-3)
Current state "nowcast" aggregate of all polling: Liberal 14 Labor 9 Green 2

Since the Hodgman government's emphatic majority victory six months ago, two Tasmanian state polls have been seen.  The first EMRS (No Honeymoon For Liberals) showed very little difference to the election result, while the second (Closest Gap In Four Years) was underwhelming for the Liberals, though it still showed them in majority-winning territory.

Now a new ReachTEL robopoll published in today's Sunday Tasmanian, with a sample size larger than the two EMRS polls combined, provides some further evidence that Labor support is rebuilding, while suggesting the second EMRS could have been an outlier.  The poll is rosier for the Government than the second EMRS - on basic voting intentions - and suggests that much of the ALP rebuild is coming at the expense of Palmer United.  The poll also provides fairly good results for the Government's first Budget, but an indifferent response on job creation.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Poll Roundup: One Year On / The Magic Of Newspoll Rounding

2PP Aggregate: 51.7 to ALP (+0.1 since last week after no change in previous week)

The Government's First Year In Polling

This week's polling marks the end of the Abbott Government's first year in power.  In summary, the Government has spent most of that year behind in the polls.  Of the seven first-term governments for which polling exists, it is the first to spend most of its first year trailing in the 2PP vote, and only the second known to have been behind at all.  However, it ends its first year in arguably better shape than the Whitlam government did.  At the end of its first year the Whitlam government trailed 43-50 on primaries (equivalent to about 46:54 2PP) in a single Morgan poll, and while there was probably a bit of bouncing in that particular poll, it had been behind for a couple of months prior to that too.  Less than six months later, Whitlam's government went to an early election and was returned.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Hobart City Council Voting Patterns 2011-2014

Advance Summary

1. Traditionally, the Hobart City Council is loosely divided between "pro-development" aldermen and aldermen who stress environmental issues and/or the interests of impacted residents. 

2. The current term of Council was expected to be dominated by the "pro-development" grouping which I refer to as the "blues".

3. The first half of the current Council term supported this expectation, with seven aldermen displaying a blue voting pattern and an eighth displaying a tendency to support them.

4. An ordering of aldermen from "greenest" to "bluest" up til the end of 2012 was: Cocker, Burnet, Harvey, Ruzicka, Foley, Freeman, Thomas, Sexton, Hickey, Briscoe, Zucco, Christie.

5. In the 2013-4 half of this term of Council voting behaviour changed, with both the Green and the blue voting clusters becoming much less cohesive, so that it is not even accurate to classify some aldermen as still in the blue cluster.

6. An especially notable shift in this period was that both Jeff Briscoe and Ron Christie moved away from the "blues" and became much more Green-friendly than before, while John Freeman became more hardline.

7. An ordering of aldermen from "greenest" to "bluest" since the start of 2013 is: Cocker, Burnet, Harvey, Ruzicka, Foley, Christie, Briscoe, Sexton, Hickey, Thomas, Freeman, Zucco.

8. Some of these changes are explained by changes in the issues mix, but by no means all.  Positioning for the upcoming Mayoral contest may explain some of the others.

(This article is long and some bits are technical.  However the really scary stuff has been shuttled off to a PDF link buried in the dark recesses of Tasmanian Times.)

Monday, September 1, 2014

EMRS: Closest Gap For Four Years

EMRS: Liberal 46 ALP 33 Green 16 PUP 1 Ind/Other 4
Interpretation: Liberal 46.5 ALP 35.5 Green 14 Others including PUP 4
Likely outcome based on this poll "if election held now": Liberal majority win (approx 13-10-2)
Note: If swing distributed unevenly, these figures could produce hung parliament (12-10-3).
New aggregate of all Tas polling: 13-9-3

A new EMRS poll of Tasmanian state voting intention has been released today.  On the headline rate the Liberals are down three to 46 (a 5% swing since the election), Labor are up eight to 33 (up six points on the election), the Greens are down five to 16 from a highly suspicious reading of 21 in the last poll (but still up two on the election) and it doesn't look like Jacqui Lambie's recent antics have produced any joy for Palmer United, with the party polling only 1%.

EMRS has a long history of producing results that overpredict the Green vote and underpredict Labor's, so it is possible that the improvement in Labor's position is even greater than shown and the Greens have not made any real gains since the election.  However, while my "interpretation" score sees the Liberals down five points since the election and the ALP up eight, if such a swing was anything like evenly distributed then the Government would cede only two seats to Labor (one in Braddon and one in Franklin) and retain government with a one seat majority (about 13-10-2 with Labor also taking a seat in Bass from the Greens).  However if such a swing was disproportionately focused in Lyons, and went more to the Greens than Labor, then a 12-10-3 hung parliament would also be quite possible on these figures (as would a range of other figures in these sorts of ballparks).