Friday, September 25, 2015

Slow Crawl On The Senate Reform Front

Advance Summary

1. This article discusses various aspects of the Senate reform debate, which currently appears to be progressing slowly and badly.

2. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's claim that Ricky Muir is as democratically elected as he is is false, because had enough voters wanted to ensure Senator Muir was not elected, it would have been unreasonably hard for them to do so.

3. Micro-party threats to run candidates against the Coalition and Greens in key seats are toothless.

4. Claims that the performance of the current crossbench in blocking Coalition policies vindicates the current system are wrong, because the crossbench elected under any alternative system would also have done so.

5. Senator Sam Dastyari continues to claim the proposed reforms are a recipe for Coalition control of the Senate but has presented no detailed evidence for this claim. 

6. Attempts by Senator Bob Day to claim that left and right parties preferencing each other is not a problem are disproven, among other things, by the preferences that flowed to him.

7. While many crossbenchers support the current system because it elected them, that does not mean they would have a high chance of re-election under it; indeed, crossbenchers who develop a stronger primary vote following should support reform.

8. This article suggests a minimum acceptable model for Senate reform (which is not the author's preferred option).  At minimum, even if group ticket preferencing is retained, below-the-line voting must be liberalised so that voters have a reasonable alternative to following party preferences.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Poll Roundup: Turnbull Shift Puts Coalition Back In Front

2PP Aggregate: 51.3 to Coalition (+4.9 in a week)
Coalition would easily win election "held now"

It's one of those weeks where we start things off with the graph (and especially notice the far right side of it):

So far we've had five voting intention polls since former Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull neatly disposed of Tony Abbott and became Australia's 29th Prime Minister.  ReachTEL came out with a 50:50 2PP immediately after the change.  Galaxy last week and the Galaxy-run Newspoll this week came out with 51:49 to Coalition.  Morgan in its usual fashion when something happens, threw an outlier, 53.5:46.5 by last-election preferences (though given the primaries, that was generous to Labor), and Essential put out a one-week sample at 50-50.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Canning: The Anticlimax Live (Plus Post-Count)

CANNING (Lib 11.8%) - called, Hastie (Lib) retain.


On-the-day votes and most prepolls counted.  Current 2PP 55.3% (-6.5% swing) to Liberal. Unlikely to change greatly after remaining postals and other votes.


Thursday 1st Oct: There has been very little movement in the 2PP as remaining votes are added (I believe there are now only a few hundred left).  The major interest now is in the internal polling claims mentioned below.

We finally have more detail of these in a report from The West Australian, that says not only that the Liberal Party had Hastie on 57% the weekend before Tony Abbott was rolled, but also that Liberal tracking throughout never dipped below "about 53-47".  However, if the internal poll series really included both a 53 and a 57 then the most likely explanation is random noise, rather than voting intention actually changing that much.  Usually internal polling is less reliable than public polling, but public seatpolling has been so bad in recent years that it's hard to dismiss competing internal poll reports entirely.

Thursday: There hasn't been a lot to add here, but 755 prepolls split 58.4% to Liberal (a 7.5% swing). Although this is a point larger than the overall swing, it's not especially meaningful as the number of non-PPVC prepolls is much smaller than at the general election.

Tuesday:  Not much extra progress to report in the postcount.  However an article in The Guardian incorrectly reports that postal votes are showing only a 2.3% swing to Labor.  This figure is derived by calculating the swing on postals from the 2013 overall result for the electorate, and ignores the well-known trend that postals favour the conservatives.  The correct baseline for calculating the swing on postals is the result on postals last time, ie 65.1%.

The other thing to bear in mind is that the postals added so far will mostly include the early postals, and while these are more likely to have been cast in the Abbott era, they are also more likely to have been cast by slightly more conservative voters. All the same by whatever measure the impact of the leadership change on the by-election was small: my reading of the polls is that they were pointing to it being only a couple of points overall, and such an impact (if it happened) can easily be lost in the noise of shifting voting method patterns or strengths of postal campaigns in an actual election.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Turnbull Challenges Abbott

This post should have a very short shelf-life indeed, so I'll try to make it short!  Communications Minister and former party leader Malcolm Turnbull has today resigned and challenged Prime Minister Tony Abbott for the party leadership, and by implication his position as PM.  Many reports are suggesting the Turnbull camp believes they easily have the numbers although I have seen one contrary report that they are less confident than a few hours ago.  There may be a fair amount of foxing going on.  Julie Bishop is believed to be running with Turnbull, and Scott Morrison to be supporting Abbott and doing his numbers (but not running for deputy).

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Wonk Central: The Track Record Of Last-Election Preferences

NOTE: Updates for elections from 2016 on appear at the bottom of this article


Advance Summary

1. This article uses historic data to examine how good preference flows from the previous election are at predicting preference flows at any given federal election.

2. Last-election preferences have been an industry standard following various failures by and problems with the respondent-preference method, especially its total failure at the 2004 election.

3. Using a model of minor-party breakdowns similar to that used by most pollsters, this article looks at expected versus actual preference flows at all federal elections since 1955.

4. The quality of data available on preference flows is better for elections from 1983 onwards.

5.  Since 1983, last-election preferences have predicted preference flows remarkably well at most elections.

6. However, last-election preferences substantially understated the flow to Labor at two elections in this time: 1990 and 2013.

7. The historical record of last-election federal preferences is so strong that claims that last-election preferences in polling are wrong should generally be treated with great caution (including now).

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Poll Roundup: The Dog Ate My Recovery

2PP Aggregate: 53.4 to ALP (+0.3 since last week)
ALP would easily win election "held now"

It's over a month now since Bronwyn Bishop resigned as Speaker, more or less ending an entitlements scandal that had provoked a polling blowout of about one and a half points against the Abbott Government.  It might have been expected (and indeed I rather did expect) that this was a blip and that once all the shouting had died down the government's polling would improve.  However this week's results show that it hasn't improved at all, and again we see bad, but not quite panic-station, results for the government continue to hang around. Ahead of the Canning by-election (which is covered on a separate rolling thread) this is not what the government wants to see.

A significant debacle for the government in the last fortnight was the Border Force press release which stated that Border Force intended to stop people more or less randomly for visa checks.  This was apparently never the actual intention but social media outcry resulted in the intended joint operation with Victoria Police having to be cancelled.  This epic stuffup can't have helped the government's latest attempts to repair its image.