Friday, November 29, 2019

The New Newspoll And The 2019 Polling Failure

This week has seen an important development in the Australian polling industry's response to the polling failure with the release of the new-format Newspoll.  Two months ago YouGov Australia announced that it would soon abandon the mixed robocall/online format that it (including under its former name Galaxy) has used to conduct Newspoll since mid-2015, and switch to exclusively online polling.  Not only that, but the new online polling methods were to use additional weighting methods and "the synthetic sampling procedures we use globally so that our samples are as representative as possible before analysis."

Following that announcement, a further three Newspolls were released using the same method mix that succeeded spectacularly in 2016 but failed badly in 2019. This appeared to be an exercise in going through the motions while the new poll was set up and there was no reason to take those polls all that seriously.  Now the new version is out, together with some new comments about the poll's direction.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Commissioned uComms Tasmanian State Poll

uComms (commissioned by Australia Institute): Liberal 39.0 Labor 29.4 Green 16.8 Ind 11.7 Other 3.1. 
Tasmanian state polling overstates votes for Greens and this poll is likely to overstate "independent" vote
After adjusting for likely skews, poll would be borderline in majority/minority terms for government in an election "held now" (seats c. 13-9-3 or 12-9-4)
Poll is difficult to interpret because of high "independent" vote, inadequate transparency and lack of uComms track record
Poll taken on October 22


“But look, you found the notice, didn’t you?”
“Yes,” said Arthur, “yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard.”
- Douglas Adams

I often feel like Arthur Dent when it comes to finding the most very basic details of Australian commissioned polling.  The Australia Institute Tasmania's uComms poll from nearly a month ago first surfaced in the form of a uselessly skewed result about support for a Tarkine National Park.  Voting intention results were withheld from publication at the time, apparently because releasing them would have diverted media attention away from the supposed Tarkine findings, and it is only this week, 27 days after the poll was conducted, that they have finally been released.  Not prominently though - after seeing more uncritical media reporting of another issues question (regarding the proposed repeal of medevac legislation), I was finally able to find the voting intention results lurking unheralded in a PDF linked off a release of the medevac findings on the TAI website.

TAI claim to be in the business of research, but depriving the audience of the data needed to analyse polls closer to the time they are released suggests they are more interested in using polling to make political points than in allowing their data to be critically examined at the time at which it is current.   For an organisation that claims transparency as one of its interest areas, and makes over 100 references to transparency on its website this is, to put it mildly, hardly a consistent way to operate.

One might ask why look at Tasmanian polling at all in the wake of the national polling failure.  But the national polling failure was in a marketplace with a history of exceptional performance, and the error was one that involved having one major party a few points too high and the other a few too low.  In Tasmania, such errors have always been common, and the nature of Hare-Clark is such that they're not the difference between one side winning outright and the other doing so.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Braddon And Bass 2019: Another Rec Fishers Preferences Beatup

One of the eternal tropes of Australian media electoral reporting is the breathless expose of how the preferencing behaviour of some obscure party or candidate could swing or did swing an important contest or in cases an entire election.  And, on a day when there was quite enough going on for election buffs to look at in the Chisholm and Kooyong signs challenge (see my updated coverage of that on the link) it has unfortunately broken out again with the sensational headline "CFMMEU-funded independents helped Liberals steal two key seats".  (CFMMEU = Construction Forestry Maritime Mining and Energy Union).  The article goes on:

"The CFMMEU helped the Coalition win two key seats back from Labor at the May election by funding the campaigns of two independents who sent 1757 votes between them to the Liberal Party."  It then refers to independent recreational fishers Todd Lambert (Bass) and Brett Smith (Braddon).

The piece has been widely criticised on the Twitter psephosphere, but not everyone uses Twitter, and especially as the seats in question are Tasmanian I think it's worth posting a detailed explanation here of why this piece is incorrect.  I note that no psephologist was interviewed for the article.

Friday, November 1, 2019

Not-A-Poll: Best State Premiers Of The Last 40-ish Years - Final Stage 3

Over a year ago I started a new series of Not-A-Poll voting for this site's choice of Best State Premier in every state and, eventually, the whole country.  It's been going so long that some of the original contestants, including the current leader, are no longer in the original 40 year window, but just retitled it and ignored that.

For the last round in an attempt to cull the field faster in what looks like an inexorable run to the crowning of Don Dunstan, I set a threshhold of 15%.  It turned out that for this round the threshhold was 17 votes, and the also-rans were very tightly packed around it, with Neville Wran and the last surviving current Premier Daniel Andrews just falling short.

Having been miraculously saved from elimination in the previous round, Jim Bacon came second in this one and goes through to the next stage, together with Dunstan and the Coalition run-off winner Greiner.  Voting on this stage (possibly the final stage) is open in the sidebar and goes to 6 pm New Year's Eve.  If one candidate gets an absolute majority this round that's the end, otherwise there will be a final between the top two (after any necessary tiebreaks).

Result 31 Dec: Don Dunstan has won with an outright majority in this round.  Results were:


Total Votes: 110