Friday, December 31, 2021

2021 Site Review

This post presents site data for 2020.  The activity graph tells the story of the year (the units are unique pageviews per week):

Most of the activity in the year came between late February and early June, including the WA election, the Tasmanian state election and the Braddon recount.  The peak for the Tasmanian state election in early May was the fourth most visited week in site history (behind 2016 federal, 2018 Victoria and 2019 federal) and May overall was the fourth most visited month (behind the months of 2016 federal, 2019 federal and 2014 Tasmania/South Australia.)  

Monday, December 27, 2021

2021 Federal Polling Year In Review

 At the end of each year I release a review of federal polling results for the year.  See the 2020 edition here, or click the "annual poll review" tab for articles back to 2014. 

How many polls?

Again the business of counting poll results for 2021 has been complicated by Morgan releasing eight 2PPs as dots on a graph only, and by not yet having anything from Essential since mid-November. (Essential drops its voting intention results in a batch every three months though has said it will be releasing them faster as the election approaches).  

This year saw 16 federal Newspolls released, tying 2020 as the sparsest year since 1991.  Essential has so far released 23, with probably one more to come.  Morgan released 15 as full poll reports, plus another eight that have so far appeared solely as dots on a graph.  New player Resolve Strategic graced us with eight.  That's a total of 62 fully released and eight as 2PPs only, putting us up again to around a level of poll frequency last seen in 2018, but well below the years before.  

Saturday, December 25, 2021

Psephology And The Palace Letters



It's a nearly annual tradition on this site to release something every Christmas Day.  (Click the Xmas tag for previous examples.) It's also an annual tradition when I write the annual review, to list pieces that languished in the draft section, some barely started, others more or less complete but never quite seeing the light of day.  When I did this last year there was an unusual level of interest (a whole three enthusiastic requests!) in one of the unreleased items, about "psephological themes in the Palace Letters" and I decided to make it this year's Christmas present to readers.  This article mostly focuses on the 1974-5 cycle although the letters cover the 1975-7 cycle as well.   By the way, I am not the only psephologist dropping down chimneys with offerings this year.

The Palace Letters are a series of correspondence (not all of it related to federal politics) between the Queen's Private Secretary Sir Martin Charteris and Governor-General Sir John Kerr in the leadup to and the aftermath of the November 11 1975 sacking of the Whitlam Government.  They also include a large number of media articles that are public documents but would not be well known to a modern audience and that are fun to read over.  The letters were released after a very prolonged legal stoush, especially thanks to the persistence of Whitlam biographer and political historian Jenny Hocking.  

Saturday, December 18, 2021

The Overrated Impact Of Party Preferencing Decisions

Advance Summary

1. For all the noise about preferencing strategies and preference flow changes, changes in the relative primary votes for the major parties are a much bigger factor in most recent federal election results.

2. The widespread claim that United Australia preferences caused the Coalition to win the 2019 election is false.

3. Labor is much more dependent on preferences than the Coalition and routinely wins many seats from behind.

4. No party's preferences will ever flow 100% to any other party and there is nothing anyone can do about that - whether it is Greens or Labor being excluded, some preferences will always go to the Coalition.

5. The preferences of climate-concerned independents in city seats tend to flow to Labor, although not quite as strongly as the other way around.

6. In many cases the preference flows from climate-concerned independents are irrelevant, since they will rarely be eliminated in seats that are closely contested between the majors.  

7. How to vote cards mainly exist to protect against informal voting.  Their impact on outcomes is minor.

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Thursday, December 9, 2021

EMRS: Voting Intention Pretty Stable In Tasmania

EMRS Tasmania (state) August: Liberal 49 Labor 26 (-2) Green 13 Others 12 (+2)
Results very similar to 2021 election (seat result 13 Liberal 9 Labor 2 Green 1 IND)

A new EMRS poll of Tasmanian state voting intention is out and it shows very little change since the previous poll or for that matter the 2021 snap State Election result.  The only change in voting intention since the last poll is a shift of two points from Labor to Others.  In all the Liberals are up 0.3% compared to the state election, Labor down 2.2%, the Greens up 0.6% (though EMRS has form for overstating the Green vote) and Others up 1.3%.

The only close seat at party level this year was the final seat in Clark, in which Madeleine Ogilvie (Liberal, formerly ALP and then Independent) defeated Sue Hickey (Independent, formerly Liberal) by 2.2%.  A 1.1% swing from Liberals to Others would in theory elect a second Independent.  However in this poll the swing on primary votes is 0.5%, and the swing after preferences would be slightly smaller because of the swing against Labor.  The circumstances of the 2021 election with two fairly evenly matched high-profile independents running will probably not be repeated.  The two-point move to others might be seen as reflecting success for Johnston in making an impact since her election, but it could be random sample noise or anything, and EMRS has seen larger surges for Others in the past without anything coming from them,

At the time of the previous poll there had been a lot of chaos affecting Labor between the poll being taken and its release.  Had the departures of David O'Byrne and Bastian Seidel from the party hurt it?  This poll suggests either not by that much or if so it was temporary.  Nonetheless Labor's primary vote of 26% remains inadequate.  The party has only recorded four lower primary votes during what is now nearly eight years in opposition - two polls back in 2014-5 and two at the height of the government's pandemic bounce last year. 

It is a very long way til the next election and perhaps if the federal party manages to sort the state party out it will start to poll better.  In the meantime, members are free to keep freelancing and branches continue to rumble about it - as seen with preselection threats against Josh Willie over the recent poker machines bill.  Since there's nobody really in charge of the mess, whether these threats represent a handful of members or a more serious number, who can say. 

The poll's leadership ratings continue to show Peter Gutwein with a large lead over Rebecca White, up one point to 31 points (59-28) though such indicators skew to incumbents.  Something has changed since the days when White used to compete remarkably strongly with Will Hodgman and an early Gutwein on this measure, even when her party's primary vote was not that strong. However we don't have ratings for the leaders individually, so it's not clear if this is about White being less personally popular personally than she used to be (which was at one point very popular), or about Gutwein being personally very popular. I suspect that it's a lot of both.  Think that's all I have to say about this poll.