Friday, August 25, 2023

Voice Referendum Ticks And Crosses Beatup

I thought I should make some quick comments on the matter breaking yesterday (following a Sky News interview) regarding the use of ticks and crosses in the Voice referendum.  There was sudden outrage on various right-leaning outlets and from politicians including the Leader and Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party when it was noticed that the AEC's ballot formality guidelines advise that ticks in referendums are treated as formal votes for Yes while crosses are treated as informal.  This has led to a fairly large outbreak of clueless wheel-reinvention and simple-minded outrage on social media.  It is doubtless worse on talkback.

I should note clearly near the top that the ballot paper will instruct voters to vote "Yes" or "No", and they will also be instructed thusly verbally if they are voting in a booth.  This debate only concerns the tiny minority who fail to follow the instructions.

Thursday, August 24, 2023

EMRS: Government Polling Steadies After Crossbench Defections

EMRS: Liberal 38 (+2) Labor 32 (+1) Green 14 (-1) IND/Other 16 (-2)
Election held now would deliver some kind of hung parliament
Jeremy Rockliff retakes slim Better Premier lead

This is just some quick comments at this stage about the August EMRS poll which has just been released.  The last poll came in the wake of the shock defection of Liberals John Tucker and Lara Alexander to the crossbench, and saw a six-point hit to the Government's vote.  The government has had a bumpy ride in the Parliament ever since, losing several votes on the floor and frequently having proceedings held up by tactical motions, but there has so far been no threat to confidence and supply.  It seems nobody much wants an election at this moment and if one is to happen this year that would probably be a result of some kind of standoff gone wrong.  The stadium controversy has abated for now and while there are plenty of others taking its place (most recently Marinus cost blowouts and mass Hobart bus service cancellations) the latest EMRS poll suggests that the damage is at least not getting worse.  In fact the government has gained two points, though the gain is not statistically significant.  There was a chance here for the rot to set in in public views of the Government, but it clearly hasn't occurred in this quarter.  

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Voice Polling: The Sleeping Double Majority Curse

Yes trails about 45.0-55.0 in aggregated public polling (as of 13 Aug, pending new data)

No now leading on aggregate in every state, but Yes still ahead of national total in four states

Time for another Voice polling roundup.  There has been relatively little new data in the four weeks since the last update and this article includes some historic analysis that suggests that the current state polling picture for the Voice is actually highly unusual.  At the moment the state polling picture is irrelevant because No is ahead nationwide, but a benign state distribution is one thing Yes does have going for it should the national picture improve or if polls are underestimating Yes for some unprecedented reason.  What I find here is that it is almost unprecedented historically for the state picture not to be a drag, so it will be interesting to see if that holds up.  Is the double majority a sleeping curse that will wake up in the months to come or in the final results, or is it really going to be a non-issue this time around?  It turns out that if it is a non-issue, there's a reason for it, and that reason is Queensland.

Friday, August 18, 2023

Poll Roundup: The Honeymoon Still Isn't Over But Could It Be Check-Out Time Pretty Soon?

Federal cross-poll average 55.2% to Labor

(Cross-poll average expected to overestimate Labor's actual standing by c.1%)

It's been a long time since I released a federal polling roundup (several attempts have been commenced then lost in the longer weeds of why Resolve gets such different results from other pollsters) but I thought this would be an appropriately random time to put one out.  A new Voice roundup is also likely in the next week or two, but to save the suspense, the No lead is continuing to build (Yes is now behind about 45-55 on cross-poll aggregate).  There are weak signs that the rate of decline may have stopped accelerating and might even be slowing but that's not enough for Yes which unless the polls are very wrong needs to start making real gains.  

Tuesday, August 1, 2023

Do Greens Do Badly At By-Elections When Both Major Parties Run?

(This article has been graded Wonk Factor 3/5.  It contains plenty of number-crunching and the odd statistical concept.)


Today's article is a test of a hypothesis I thought was worth looking at.  In the recent Fadden federal by-election, the Greens were among the obvious losers, copping a 4.56% swing against them and falling to fifth on primaries behind Legalise Cannabis.  Then came the Rockingham state by-election in which the Greens were again smoked by the dope party despite having outpolled them at the previous upper house contest for the seat. The Greens did pick up a swing there (currently standing at 1.7%) but that was nothing but crumbs given that Mark McGowan's departure left a 33.4% swing for other parties to feast on.  On the other hand, there was a significant local-government based independent, Hayley Edwards, running.

Social media has been awash with Labor stans and the occasional op ed or media hack claiming that one poor result and one ambiguous result are clearly all about the party's stance on the Housing Australia Future Fund bill and are a portent of incandescent doom for the Greens at the next Senate election!  Given the variability of by-election outcomes and the fact that the Green vote is stable at its election level in national polling, those involved could as always improve the standard of Twitter psephology by desisting from this untestable game and deleting their accounts.   

On the other hand, I have seen a theory that the Greens will often do badly in by-elections because their by-election campaigns tend to be token attempts in seats they can't win and without the accompanying upper-house focused campaigns to drive up the vote.  So is there any truth in this overall, or is it really just the case that the Greens vote easily goes soft when there is even modest new competition?