Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 site review

That's just about the end of the second full year since this site started; so it's time for the annual stats review.  Obviously with a Tasmanian state election to cover this has been an even bigger year than last year, with about a 58% increase in site traffic.

In my 2013 annual review I noted that in late July 2013 I switched from Blogger Stats to Google Analytics to keep track of site activity.  Just as well, as early this year Blogger Stats started getting swamped by bot hits to the point that it would often rack up several hundred overseas hits a day even when there had been nothing new posted for a week.

This year I released 86 articles of which 19 concerned the Tasmanian state election and 17 were federal polling roundups.  As usual I finished almost everything I started - but I never got around to doing a final wrap for the Tas state election.  Also languishing incompletely in the Drafts vault thus far are:

* a full debunking of some ludicrous social-science rubbish re Tasmanian Devils unwisely published by The Conversation (I gave it plenty in the comments section; also see a rebuttal from scientists working on the species.)

* a critique of a Bob Brown Foundation skew-poll about the proposed revocation of part of the World Heritage Area (had this not come in the heat of the state campaign, or had the revocation had a snowflake's chance of success, I may have finished writing up that one.)

* a glossary of all the big words used on here.

In compiling the list of top ten articles for the year I had a decision to make.  Some articles get lots of hits from visitors refreshing for live coverage or revisiting for updates.  At the same time, an article that gets lots of repeat visits often does so because it is a long article with updates that could have been split into multiple posts if I felt like it.  When in doubt, aggregate, so ...

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Victoria: Final Results, Poll Performance And 2PP Post-Election Pendulum

With results well and truly finalised here's a final wrap-up of various matters from the Victorian election.  This article includes a 2PP pendulum.  I've decided to publish one as a complement to Antony's 2PP pendulum here and I've done so for a reason.  In coverage of the Queensland election it's been common to see estimates of seat gains that are read off non-2PP pendulums, without considering who the seat contests are between.  I can't stop people wrongly concluding that a smallish swing to the Liberals will win them Richmond and Brunswick, but at least it won't be my fault.

I already covered a number of big-picture issues about the Victorian result in my day-after wrap.  This article covers all those aspects that depend on the final results.

Final vote share results

The final primaries for the Lower House were Coalition 41.99%, Labor 38.10, Green 11.48, Others 8.43.  By 2013 election preferences, this would have been a 2PP result of only about 50.7% to Labor, but the 2PP result ended up being 52%. (Officially, 51.99% - that 0.01 will matter a lot to some of those who betted on the 2PP range).

Many pollsters (including the final Newspoll, ReachTEL and Galaxy) got the 2PP more or less spot on (52) by last-election preferences in their final poll.  However as with the 2013 federal election this was a case of errors cancelling out: they had the Coalition primary too low but the preference flow to Labor strengthened markedly.  In all Labor went from getting about 64% of all third-party preferences to about 69.5%. (Ipsos respondents said they would gave Labor about 75%).

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Poll Reporting Unfair To Hockey

A few knives are out for Treasurer Joe Hockey, who is repeatedly rated one of the government's poorest performers, and whose political fate seems very much tied to a Budget that received the second-worst ratings in the past 29 years. Hockey this week announced revised forecasts with deficits over the next four years nearly two and a half times what was expected little over half a year ago.  Not just his economic competence and consistency (given that in Opposition he railed against Labor's supposed debt addiction but seems powerless to escape it himself any time soon) but also perceptions of the Treasurer as a surly communicator are coming into the spotlight.  Admittedly, he has had a difficult time with many savings measures being blocked by the random rabble of crossbench Senators, but most Senates of times past would have done the same thing.

It may seem difficult to argue then that Hockey deserves much sympathy at all, or that any pain he experiences in the role is anything but self-inflicted.  But today I've got to do it.  This report in the Australian by Troy Bramston declares Hockey is regarded by the public as "the worst Treasurer of the last 40 years".  The poll on which the article is based shows absolutely no such finding.  The sensationalised and fallacious reporting of the poll is quite surprising - Bramston, unlike some at said paper, is far from a serial offender for this sort of thing. It is in no way the pollster's fault - rather it is just a case where a journalist uses a poll to say something it doesn't actually say. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Poll Roundup: 2014 Year Review

2PP aggregate: 53.7 to ALP (+0.3 since last week)
ALP would easily win election "held now"

We're just about at the end of the federal polling season, an end which for the government can't possibly come soon enough.  If last year's polling is any guide, we may get one more ReachTEL at the end of this week and then that would likely be it until Morgan and Essential started up again in mid-January with the rest following a few weeks later. I thought I'd summarise some stats about this polling year, but first a quick look at this week's polls so far.

I should note first that a significant event this week - the Martin Place siege - could affect voting intention to some degree, and that incident was not reflected in any of this week's polling.  The past history of this government is that its polling improves temporarily and modestly when national security is in the spotlight.  Because of the scarcity of polls over the holiday season there may not be a lot to look at by way of evidence, and it remains to be seen whether this disturbing incident will be perceived as a terror issue as much as a run-of-the-mill failure of the domestic justice system. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Poll Roundup: One Year Behind

2PP Poll Aggregate: 53.4 to ALP (+0.4 in a week)
ALP would easily win election "held now"
Coalition has trailed on smoothed aggregate for one year

Usually this would be an "off week" for the poll roundup series as it is not a Newspoll week, but the presence of Ipsos and Galaxy justifies squeezing in an article amid all the postcount chaos going down in Prahran and Fisher.  Another reason for putting something up now is that this week the Abbott federal government celebrates an unwanted anniversary.  It is one year since it lost the 2PP polling lead to the Labor opposition. 

Aggregates have now and then fleetingly shown the government back in front or nearly so.  My own showed it leading narrowly (50.3%) for a single week in mid-February, and Bludger Track has produced a weekly reading of exactly 50:50 three times (mid-Feb, early April, early October).  But when any kind of smoothing is applied to weekly figures to tone down the effects of the odd stray inaccurate poll, these blips have disappeared.  Both the smoothed version of Bludger Track and my own more primitive smoothed version now show the Coalition to have been behind for one year.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Fisher, State By-Elections and Federal Drag

Nat Cook (ALP) provisionally won, defeating Dan Woodyatt (Ind) by 226 votes at the critical exclusion point then Heidi Harris (Lib) by 23 votes.  This is currently being recounted, with Cook defeating Woodyatt by 219 in the recount and defeating Harris by nine votes. Cook will now take her seat and Labor will have an outright majority.

The win may well be challenged in the Court of Disputed Returns.  In this case Labor will hold the seat until such time as the court decides the case.  The court could confirm the win, order a by-election or declare the Liberals to have won the seat.  

Postcount Introduction

This article follows late counting in the South Australian Fisher by-election.  As at the close of counting on the night this seemed like a very likely win for the ALP who had a 52.1% two-party preferred lead against the Liberals.  Even with a very large percentage of prepolls such leads are very rarely caught.  Although there was still some threat from the independent Dan Woodyatt, I thought I should place the at that stage apparently likely ALP win in its historic context.  That was the theme of the original article. 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Poll Roundup: "Deeply Unpopular By December"

2PP Aggregate: 53.1 to Labor (unchanged in two weeks)
Labor would easily win federal election "held now"

This week's federal poll roundup title is brought to you by an AFR article entitled Abbott on the nose in regions. The article was published in mid-April, just before the Budget, at a time when the government had recorded a 48% 2PP in a Nielsen poll (remember those?) and was just starting to head south from a borderline winnable 49:51 position it had been locked in for five months.  The final paragraph of the article was:

"Those who are aware of the severity of some of the budget decisions that have been made, are warning that the [polling] situation is likely to get worse before it gets better. The Coalition is bracing to be "deeply unpopular by December" said one source."

It's December now!  So how did that prediction go?

Monday, December 1, 2014

Victorian Election Postcount: Lower House

Seat Total ALP 47 L-NP 38 Green 2 Ind 1
(Green win of Prahran subject to recount)

This post (work in progress) will follow the remaining Lower House seats that are of interest.  In all of them the lead is currently substantial and I do not expect any of the leads to be overturned on late counting, but maybe one or two will.  The most interesting seat is the three-cornered contest in Prahran which has its own post (Postcount: Prahran).

Note that Pollbludger has some figures on number of remaining votes.

In the other seats there is probably a perception that large leads on Saturday night could be pulled down on post-poll counting given the vast number of prepolls and the tendency for postal voting to favour the conservatives.  The flaw in this logic is that many of the postals are already counted so on average the postcounts should be more similar to the main game than usual.  But we are already seeing some surprising differences to 2010, and also that the differences are varying by seat.