Friday, September 29, 2023

Elise Archer Resignation And Recount

Recounts (Nov 13)

I somehow didn't update at the time with the news that Simon Behrakis had comfortably won the Archer recount (defeating Coats 55.2-44.7).  Behrakis resigned his council seat immediately, which has been won by Coats in a very lopsided countback.  Coats polled nearly 30% of recount primaries to Briscoe's 12.6% and went on to win with an absolute majority against three remaining opponents; at this stage Coats led Briscoe by just over 500 votes.  

Archer Resigns (Oct 4)

As you were ... after the Premier issued a 9 am Monday deadline for Elise Archer to make a decision the news has come out that Archer is quitting after all - I expect this means at least a week of Parliament will be prorogued unless the government is past caring whether it falls.  A number of Labor predictions that the Parliament would not sit again appear to be false barring further twists.  

Update: The Government is indeed past caring, there's no prorogue! In theory the Opposition could now renege on the pair and cause chaos (this has been known to happen in such situations) but even if it did it would not be able to form a workable government on the floor, especially as the Speaker can always cause a deadlock by resigning.  So even if a no confidence motion was to be passed the Premier would simply advise the Governor either to call an election (where we could have been anyway) or to wait a week when confidence would be restored.    I am still a bit surprised by this because of the potential risks of an Opposition party floor majority on other votes, though this is somewhat limited by the two-thirds majority rule for suspending standing orders.  

The recount is expected to happen on Oct 23.  

Alexander Noises:  The Australian now reports that Lara Alexander both says that her promise of confidence and supply stands but also that she would "evaluate it and see" if a no-confidence motion was passed - thereby in effect saying both that she guarantees confidence and doesn't guarantee confidence.  

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Not-A-Poll Reset: Andrews Resigns

After a brief appearance that there could be a challenge from Ben Carroll, Jacinta Allan has been anointed unopposed as the new Premier of Victoria, replacing Daniel Andrews who announced his resignation yesterday.  It's therefore time for another reset of the Next Leader To Go Not-A-Poll, voting for which has commenced in the sidebar.

Andrews has given little reason for resigning other than that he just felt that it was time to move on after nearly nine years as Premier and before that four as Opposition Leader.  Andrews led his party back to Government in 2014 in a single term after a narrow shock loss in 2010.  He was massively re-elected in 2018 despite polls that had a merely comfortable victory, and won again in 2022 with a modest swing against him and no net seat loss.  The opposition might not have beaten him in 2026 either and will be greatly relieved that he has gone.

Monday, September 25, 2023

Voice Referendum Polling: Nothing Has Stopped This Trendline

Two-answer estimate Yes trails 41.7-58.3 (rate of decline is slowing)
No still leads in every state in model but leads in Tasmania in recent tiny breakdowns
Estimate includes data to October 1

Major updates added at bottom: Morgan (Sep 25), DemosAU (Sep 28), Essential (Oct 3), YouGov (Oct 4), Morgan (Oct 5)

Key to colours: Green  - Newspoll, Dark Green - YouGov, Magenta - Resolve, Grey - Essential, Dark blue - JWS, Light blue - Freshwater, Black - Morgan, Red - Redbridge, Orange - DemosAU

This is my seventh Voice polling roundup; I expect there will be one more in the final week, but if polls are sparse over the next fortnight I will probably just add those that do arrive in that time to this article.  We have only three weeks to go til referendum day and remote voting has started as I write. 

Friday, September 15, 2023

Losing The Republic Like It's 1999: The Polling

The current Voice referendum with its rapidly declining support has brought back memories of referendums past.  Surprisingly, given that it's our most recent referendum, there has been little information available about the polling trajectory of the 1999 Republic defeat.  The received wisdom is that support for the Republic started off very high and ended up low, as happened with several other referendums (especially the 1988 quadruple failure) and as is so far happening with the Voice.

It turns out to be not so simple.  The story of the 1999 Republic referendum polling is one where only the last few months of data are all that usable, and in public polls at least, Yes was never all that much in front.

A summary of Republic polling is available in one paper available online but I thought, surely there was more?  I could not find any usable online archive of Republic referendum polling but what I did find, to my surprise, was some polling commentary in an article I published in Togatus April 1999.  1999 model me - not then a polling analyst so please cut some slack for misusing "push-poll" for a seriously bad polling question - wrote this:

"Poll results are confusing. In the last week of January the Age/AC Nielsen showed a national 41% yes vote, but Newspoll showed 58%.[*] The latter was a virtual push-poll because it included the statement 'this will most likely mean that the head of state will not be a politician' and ARM won't get even that simple message through to a thick republican public that mistakes an extra election with people-power."

[* 59% actually. This Newspoll wording was said to have been sourced from the ARM, and was roundly and rightly condemned by opponents as out of step with other polling at the time.]

In fact, question wording was a major issue in 1999 polling, and a case where public polling itself influenced the ballot paper design for the better.

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Does Losing Mid-Term Referendums Help Australian Governments To Win The Next Election?

Short answer: there is no evidence it does.  

During the Voice referendum campaign a common view has emerged that a success for the No campaign will be bad news for the federal Opposition and its leader Peter Dutton for the next federal election.  The theory is that the Coalition's opposition to the Voice is already tying it to some strident political positions and that it will wear the blame for the defeat.  An example of this was a recent George Megalogenis article that initially claimed there was no precedent for an opposition leader taking down a referendum and winning the next election or the one after (which was edited after I and perhaps others pointed out Menzies winning in 1949 after defeating the Rents and Prices referendum in 1948).   Similar themes have also been present in the commentary of Professor Matt Qvortrup (who has incidentally long predicted that the Voice would lose, albeit recently with what looks like an optimistic Yes vote of 48 +/- 2.5%). Prof Qvortrup, who has great experience with overseas referendums, may well have evidence that referendum-defeat boost is a big trend overseas, though at a quick look I did not find any study to this effect.  

So, is there anything in this for Australia?  The paradigm case is supposed to be the 1951 defeat of the Communist Party ban referendum, in which Labor won the battle but lost the war: things said on the referendum trail made it easy for Prime Minister Menzies to tie them to Communism for many years after.  This narrative, however, seems simplistic to me, because the Opposition Leader (Evatt) not only said and did things on the referendum trail that made it easy to tie Labor to communism for campaigning purposes, but kept saying and doing such things forever after.

Sunday, September 10, 2023

Voice Referendum Polling: How Low Can Yes Go?

Two-answer estimate Yes trails 42.3-57.7 (as of last data September 8)
Yes still behind in every state.  Fourth state now behind national average

(Update added at bottom for Resolve September 11)


Key to colours: Green  - Newspoll, Magenta - Resolve, Yellow - Essential, Dark blue - JWS, Light blue - Freshwater, Black - Morgan, Red - Redbridge.  

Time for another Voice roundup following a flurry of polls in the past week.  In the three weeks since the previous edition there's been another chance for the trend line to do something, anything, other than simple accelerating decline, and again this hasn't happened.  

This week's offerings have been the first Pyxis Newspoll at 38-53-9 (yes-no-undecided), a Redbridge forced choice at 39-61, a Freshwater poll at 35-50-15 and 41-59 forced choice, and Essential at 42-48-10.  The field dates for Freshwater were Sep 2-5.  

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

Australian Polling Denial And Disinformation Register


Following a Newspoll finding the Indigenous Voice to Parliament Yes side trailing by a horrendous if not all that surprising 38-53 this week, the website arguably still known as Twitter has been even more awash with polling denialism than at other stages in the Yes side's slide down the slippery slope.  The number of people recycling and reciting the same unchecked viral false claims has become so large that it is almost impossible to manage a response to them.  Inspired by the AEC's electoral disinformation register, I have decided to start a register of commonly encountered false claims about polling that are spread on social media, mostly from people claiming to be on the left.  A few right-wing claims are included too, but I don't see those so often at the moment.  (I do see a lot of right-wing electoral disinfo, especially the "3 out of 10 voted Labor" preferential-voting denial.)