NEWS AND VIEWS
Political opinion polls
Not much conservative joy
Monday 2 November 2009 - The Federal and State Newspolls have little joy for the Conservative Coalition of the LIberal and National parties except for NSW.
Labor finishing the year in comfortable position
Sunday 21 December 2008 - Federally the Labor Party has ended its first 13 months in office well ahead of the Liberal-National Coalition. On a two party preferred basis the support for the Government as measured by Newspoll is 59% to 41% for the Coalition. At the election of November 2007 it was Labor 53% to 47% for the Coalition.
In the States there have been some signs of an improvement in the fortunes of the Coalition parties. They won office in Western Australia during the year and came close to victory in the Northern Territory. In the Australian Capital Territory Labor los majority government but the Liberals made no gains with the only improvers being the Greens.
In Queensland, Victoria and South Australia there appears to have been very little change during the year with those three Labor Governments still being comfortably in front in the polls.
Only in New South Wales does Labor appear to be doing really badly but an election in that state is several years off.
Little joy in this opinion poll
Tuesday, 3 June 2008 - If the Coalition is kidding itself that there is good news in this morning's Newspoll then it will clearly catch at any straw. The Rudd Team's honeymoon clearly continues with the two party preferred vote still at 57% - 14 percentage points higher than that of the Coalition. more
The sorry state of Liberals
Wednesday, 30 April 2008 - It would be hard to imagine how a State Government could be more laughed at by its people than that of Morris Iemma in New South Wales but the Newspoll published in The Australian this morning shows not only that Labor would win an election but its lead over the Liberal-National Coalition is actually higher now than it was three months ago. more
A terrible start
Tuesday, 22 April 2008 - The Newspoll out today sent me scurrying through my records to look at how defeated parties have fared in past opinion polls four or five months or so after their losing election. The picture is hardly a pretty one for the Coalition as the combined Liberal and National primary vote of 34 per cent is by far the lowest I can find going back to 1961. more
No improvement for George
Wednesday, 23 April 2008 - President George W. Bush now has the highest disapproval rating ever gained by a President in the US Gallup Poll. more
A poll a minute
Monday, 21 April 2008 It sometimes seems as if there is a poll a minute in the United States where every major media organization has its own pollster out in the field. more
No Coalition polling joy
Tuesday, 8 April 2008 - The bad news just keeps coming for the Coalition of Liberal and National Parties. As if the Newspoll on Federal voting intentions out this morning in The Australian was not bad enough, the latest Newspoll state figures show that only in New South Wales is the Coalition even at 50:50 with Labor. Everywhere else the pollster is pointing to a continuation of the Labor monopoly on power.
Will the Last Movement be Towards Labor?
Thursday, November 22, 2007 - The last Reuter's Opinion Poll trend plotting Newspoll, AC Nielsen and Morgan shows no sign of a Coalition revival. The news is distinctly gloomy for the Government.
Possible But Not Probable
Friday, November 09, 2007 - The graph below of the Reuters Poll Trend for the last three elections shows the extent of the task before the Government in the last two weeks of this campaign. At the moment the performance of the Coalition (shown by the green line) as measured by the trend of the three major polls - Newspoll, AC Neilsen and Morgan - is just a tick over 45% of the two party preferred vote. At this stage in 2007 (the purple line) the figure was just under 49% and in 2001 (the blue line) above 52.5%.
At first glance the necessary improvement seems an impossible task but, as they say, looks can be deceiving. To retain office the Government does not need to reach the magic 50% mark. Given a reasonably even distribution of votes a figure of 48.7% would be enough. The gain needed this time is thus almost exactly the same as actually achieved in the last two weeks of the 2004 campaign - shown in the graph by the red lines. more
The Story of Four Polls
Friday, November 02, 2007 - There's nothing like a little volatility in the opinion polls to keep us all interested but when you look at the four national ones together it is hard to dispute the finding of the market that Labor is a firm favourite to win on 24 November. more
Our Federal Election Poll
Readers of The Owl are predicting a Labor Party win in the 24 November election. Nearly 80% of those who have so far ventured an opinion expect Labor to win 75 or more seats. The favourite response is Labor ending up with between 81 and 84 seats.
Making Sense of the Opinion Polls
A few more weeks of this and we will be all polled out. Every day seems to bring a new measure of public opinion. Rather than comment on all of them I have settled on the Reuters Poll Trend which is an analysis of the three main polls - Newspoll, published in The Australian newspaper, ACNielsen, published in the Sydney Morning Herald and Age newspapers, and the Morgan Poll, published on line.
The latest one shows the Coalition well behind its Labor rivals one week into the six-week election campaign, despite offering tax cuts on day one on the hustings. The Howard government trails the Labor Party by 13.2 points on a two-party basis. Labor support was 56.6 percent, while Liberal/National Party coalition government support was 43.4 percent and little changed from the 43.5 percent recorded on 10 October before the election was called.
The big task ahead of the Coalition to retain office is shown by a comparison of the Reuters Poll Trend during the 2001, 2004 and 2007 elections.
Translating Polls to Seats
Friday, September 21, 2007 - Readers of The Australian this morning could be forgiven for thinking that the polling evidence is pointing towards this election being a close run thing. " Key states, bush warm to Howard " proclaimed the headline above Political Editor Dennis Shanahan's commentary on a state by state breakdown drawn from three months of Newspolls.
To give you an understanding of the real position indicated by Newspoll, the Owl has used the swings to Labor by state shown this morning to assess ALP and Coalition chances in each of the 150 seats to be contested. Where Newspoll did not give a figure for Tasmania and the two Territories because of the small sample size I have used the national figure.
The predicted outcome is Labor winning 101 seats and the Coalition 49. Hardly warm, I would have thought. more
The Battle of the Private Polling
Thursday, September 20, 2007 - Prime Minister John Howard used what he called private Liberal Party polling in the electorate of Eden Monaro to rally his troops a week ago when there was talk of asking him to step down from the job. Liberal research, he told the members of his parliamentary party, showed that sitting member Gary Nairn still had his nose in front of his Labor opponent and if the Liberals could win this bellwether seat it could remain the government. Mr Howard gave no details of the Liberal research. more
Waiting for Newspoll
Sunday, September 16, 2007 - The speculation about a change in the Liberal leadership refuses to go away no matter who denies it is possible in what terms. Today it was the only question journalists seemed to want to ask Prime Minister John Howard as he wandered around pressing the flesh at a school fete in his electorate of Bennelong. Treasurer Peter Costello was thwarted in displaying the importance of his new found promotion to "Prime Minister in Waiting" by being asked to explain what would happen if Tuesday's Newspoll showed the Coalition doing even worse than last time.
No Trend but Bad News Any Way You Look at It
Today's Newspoll showing a rise in support for Labor continues to dash the hopes of anyone looking for a trend in public opinion back towards the Coalition. The best that can be said for John Howard's team is that things as recorded by the pollsters still are volatile. Yet for Labor to lose from here would take a change over three months twice the level achieved by any party in that time over the last 20 years. more
Doing the Election Form
Monday, 10 September 2007 - One of the problems about doing the form for elections is that there are so few events to study for precedents. There have only been, for example, 16 federal polls since 1966 in what we could call the television age where a majority of Australian homes have had a set. more
Labor is doing much better this year (the purple line) than at this stage of the last election year of 2005,
An Insight in to an Election Campaign: What the Pollster Told the Party
10 September 2007 - Mark Textor is the Liberal Party pollster with his research forming the basis of most of John Howard's campaigns since 1996. Sometimes his findings and recommendations are hinted at. Rarely are even parts of them made public. more
The Trend of Polling
The Reuters Poll Trend tracks the three major Australian polls and produces a moving average showing the election trend. details
A Good Week to Let Him Say Goodbye
Tuesday, 4 September 2007 - Let the man say goodbye to his international friends this week and bid him farewell as Prime Minister the week after. That surely would be the thought of sensible Liberal and National Party members this morning as they contemplate another disastrous set of opinion poll numbers. more
Pay Your Money and Take Your Choice
Monday, 13 August 2007 - Subscribe to Crikey and you read on Friday that the latest Morgan Poll has the ALP two party preferred vote at 58.5 to 41.5% for the Coalition; a drop of 0.5% for the ALP since the last Morgan telephone poll. Fancy the Sunday Telegraph as your journal of record then how about a move of seven percentage points to Labor's Maxine McKew shown by Galaxy in the seat of Bennelong giving her a lead over John Howard of 53% to 47%. Put your trust in the Fairfax papers and you find this morning that the Coalition, while still well behind, has improved its position by three points to only be behind 45% to 55% with Michelle Grattan telling us that in Western Australia the positions are reversed with the Coalition on 56% to Labor's 44%. That must be confusing to believers in the Westpoll published in the West Australian on Saturday which had the numbers on Saturday as Labor 54% to the Coalition's 46%. In despair perhaps you would prefer to revert back to last Tuesday's Newspoll in The Australian and settle for the Labor national figure of 44% for the Coalition and 56% to Labor. more
The Price is Right
Tuesday, 24 July 2007 - Matt Price writing in The Australian this morning had things spot on. "Newspoll's prognostications", he commented, "are becoming so predictable it must be tempting for the bean counters to avoid the expense of actually ringing people up and instead simply re-publish last fortnight's results." Or they could just give away a dozen bottles of wine to encourage their readers to predict what Newspoll will show as the Owl does. For once again our Pick the Newspoll contest is round about the mark. more
Secret Polls and Not So Secret Loyalty
Monday, 23 July 2007 - Whatever else people might accuse Glenn Milne of; a lack of loyalty is not one of the things he is guilty of. The giant of the Sunday tabloids has stuck with his man Peter Costello through the thin and thinner moments of recent years. He was at it again at the weekend with a story so fanciful that I wanted to laugh until I realized that tears were a more appropriate way of marking the retreat of standards in the Murdoch press. For this particular attempt to boost the leadership credentials of Peter Costello supposedly was based on "secret Labor Party polling." more
Howard Needs to do a Keating
Monday, 16 July 2007 - The AC Neilsen finding this morning that Labor maintains a comfortable lead over the Coalition Government will have surprised no one except perhaps The Australian's Denis Shanahan. more
A Neck and Neck Affair?
Wednesday, 11 July 2007 - The latest results from the four national opinion pollsters all have Labor in a comfortable winning position with their estimate of two-party-preferred support for the Opposition ranging from Morgan's 59% down to Galaxy's 55%. AC Nielsen puts Labor at 57% with Newspoll showing 56%. more
The Battle of the Pollsters
Tuesday, 10 July 2007 - Competition between newspapers in the News Limited stable is alive and well in what is becoming the battle of the pollsters. On one side is The Australian with its long established Newspoll and on the other the brash tabloids which are featuring Galaxy.
This morning the rivalry became very public when the Oz published a comment piece by Newspoll chief executive Martin O'Shannessy accused Galaxy of obscuring the truth with the way it framed a recent poll question. more
No Surprises in this Morning's Polls
Monday, 18 June 2007 - A double whammy of poll results this morning but no real surprises amongst them. Owl readers, in fact, seem to be getting the hang of this polling business because their prediction of what Newspoll would contain was almost spot on - the forecast two party preferred vote of 44 for the Coalition to 56 for Labor was identical with Newspoll. Entrants in the Owl/Glug/Crikey contest predicted that the Liberal and Labor primary votes would be one point higher in each case than reported in The Australian with the difference being accounted for by Newspoll putting the vote for others at 10% to the Owl's 8%. As the following table shows, the Owl predictions for the approval ratings of the leaders were again remarkably accurate as was the answer to the better prime minister question.
What Would Reagan Do?
15 March 2007 - The accuracy or otherwise of the assertion by market researcher Rod Cameron on ABC Lateline last night - that attacks on Kevin Rudd have rebounded on the Coalition and it will soon stop them - will quickly become obvious. According to the man who was such a key contributor to all the Labor victories during the Hawke years, focus groups conducted by his ANOP company have left Australians puzzled. more
Pollsters Always Find Johnny Mercer Fans
Monday 12th March 2007 - Ask voters anywhere what they think about politicians slinging off at each other and the answer invariably is that they hate it and wish it didn't happen. People always say their representatives should accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative. And the politicians keep right on ignoring Johnny Mercer's lyric and continue to make disparaging remarks about each other which pollsters like ACNeilsen in today's Fairfax press find angers and annoys those they question. more
A Very Good Pollster
Monday 5th March 2007 - Even if I say so myself, I used to be a very good opinion pollster. I was able to make up internal Labor Party polling with the best of them. First of all work out the answer. Then Richard would provide the research. Everything tailor made to give a gullible journalist a very good yarn. more
The Next Round of Leadership Speculation
Tuesday, 6th February 2007 - We will all know to start taking opinion polls showing Labor comfortably in front seriously when the next round of Liberal leadership speculation begins. The subject has been off the agenda since Peter Costello accepted that John Howard would not be retiring but there is no one like a back bencher fearful of losing to bring it back again. more
Pollsters Say Senate Race a Cliff Hanger - Markets Favour Republican Majority
Thursday, 26th October, 2006 - The pollsters and the political pundits reckon the Senate outcome after the 7 November election is too close to call but the markets are still predicting the Republicans will narrowly retain their majority status. more
No Parking at ACNeilsen
Monday, 9th October, 2006 - To ACNeilsen's John Stirton the relatively low rating in his poll for Opposition Leader Kim Beazley is clearly not holding back Labor when it comes to who people would vote for. There is no mention in The Age or the Sydney Morning Herald this morning of people parking themselves temporarily away from the Coalition which is the hypothesis of Sol Lebovic from the rival Newspoll.
For the seventh time in a row, ACNeilsen has Labor in front on a two party preferred basis – this time by eight points, 54 to 46. "Despite some commentators believing that this is a typical pattern, the Simon Crean-led ALP was consistently behind the Coalition in 2003," pollster Stirton told the Herald. "Thus Labor's lead cannot be simply written off as due to a typical mid-term slump for the Government." A veiled swipe at pollster Lebovic but a swipe nonetheless.
And it is interesting to see which other political questions the respective pollsters ask so that the political writers for their respective papers can pad out the findings about voting intention with an attempt at explaining why the numbers are as they are.
For the Herald and the Age today, ACNeilsen provided numbers on the attitude of Australians to being involved in the Iraq war. The finding that opponents out number supporters 55 to 38 was given as a reason for Labor doing so well.
Accompanying the last Newspoll with its supposed parkers, The Australian had the Government getting considerable support for its pledge to introduce a formal test, which could include an English test, for migrants wanting to become Australian citizens.
The pattern of both polls over the last six months is shown below:
A Sensitive Sol
Wednesday, 4th October, 2006 - The Australian has wheeled out Newspoll boss Sol Lebovic this morning to try and explain what we should make of findings showing Labor comfortably in front in his polls while the accompanying commentary dismisses Labor's chances. more
Pollsters Textor & Lebovic
One pollster who does know the significance of his findings
Mark Textor is one pollster who does know the significance of his findings, and government difficulties with the trade union campaign against the new industrial relations laws is clearly coming up as a big negative for his client the Liberal Party. Hence the recent humiliation of Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone by her Cabinet colleague Kevin Andrews. more
The Clear Thinking Liberal Man
Tuesday, 5 September 2006 - The health fanatics are virtually screaming for curbs to be placed on television advertising of popular fast foods and State Health Ministers, who do not have the power to control what appears on television, are very willing to go along with the bans. Yet the Federal Health Minister, Tony Abbott, remains firm in resisting these increasing calls that the “government oughta do something” and reading today's Australian helps explain why.
On the paper's main features page Mark Textor, the joint managing director of Crosby/Textor which happens to be the Liberal Party's pollster, outlines the findings of some research that followed him first thinking about the great fat debate with his parent's hat on. more
The Slight Trend To Labor Continues
Tuesday, 29th August, 2006 - The slight trend towards Labor evident in the opinion polls throughout this year continues with Newspoll again this morning having the Opposition in front 51 to 49.
Labor Doing Better
Thursday, 27th July, 2006 - With this Parliament now well past the half way stage, Kim Beazley should be happy enough with how his Party is faring. Labor is comfortably ahead of where it was at the same stage of the last electoral cycle. more
The Morgan Verdict
Friday, 14th July, 2006 - Voters think John Howard makes a better Prime Minister than Kim Beazley would by a margin of 61 to 34. Ask the question with the choice being between Peter Costello and Kim Beazley and the Labor Leader hits the front by 48 to 41. more
Let's Call a Bias a Bias - The Australian is Biased
Tuesday, 30 th May, 2006 - Labor behind, then front page headlines proclaim Beazley's leadership is in bother. Labor leading, then a brief page one pointer to a story inside explaining that tax cuts "do not appear to have translated into an electoral boost for the Coalition." more
The Market the Best Guide
Tuesday, 2nd May, 2006
I am not sure what Newspoll published in The Australian actually measures but it is very little help in trying to establish who will win the next election. Public opinion is just not as fickle as the newspaper would have us believe. more
Not Believing the Evidence
Tuesday, 25th April, 2006 - The McNairAndersen poll in the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age yesterday has joined Newspoll in having Labor as being in an election winning position. more
Before We Get Too Excited
Monday, 24th April, 2006
The list of most read articles that appears on The Age and Sydney Morning Herald websites provides an interesting daily insight in to what really interests people. Political stories rarely rate a mention even though these newspapers pride themselves on having well educated and intelligent readers. It is a worthwhile reality check before trying to interpret the impact events might have on public opinion. The only political entrant in today's top 10 is a report of the McNairAndersen opinion poll. more
Government and Opposition Level Pegging in Queensland
Monday, 3rd April, 2006 - Newspoll has had the Labor Government and the Liberal/National coalition opposition sharing the two part preferred vote for the last eight months. more
LABOR SURGES AHEAD
Beazley Opens Huge Lead
Support for Howard Collapses
Liberal Vote Falls by 5%
THEY are the headlines you did not read on page one of The Australian this morning but if the paper was even-handed in the way it reported opinion polls you would have. A fortnight ago when the Newspoll recorded Labor was on the skids because its support dropped four percentage points the stories about doom and gloom were all over page one. Kim Beazley was as good as finished. Today with the same pollster showing Labor comfortably back in front there is a little pointer at the bottom of page one with the story relegated to page eight.
If you ever needed evidence of the stupidity of reading newspaper stories about opinion polls this is it.
For the record I reproduce what I wrote a fortnight ago:
Good Result for Pollsters in SA and Tasmania
Tuesday, 21st March, 2006 - The pollsters should be happy with their performance in predicting the result of the two state elections held on Saturday. more
Labor Landslide Predicted for South Australia
Saturday, 18th March, 2006
Newspoll normally aggregates figures from three months of its regular national polling to get a figure for voting intensions at the SA state level. The figure released this morning on the eve of the poll were based on 1500 interviews on 15-16 March and Newspoll gave the margin of error as + or - 2.5%. The trend over the last year shows a clear preference for Labor and the latest poll suggests a veritable landslide. more
The last Advertiser poll shows a decline in support for both Labor and Liberal with an increased vote for the minor parties but reaches the same conclusion as Newspoll - an easy win for Labor more
Newspoll Figures Give Labor Good Chance of Tasmanian Majority
Friday, 17th March, 2006
A Newspoll of 1500 taken on Tuesday and Wednesday puts Labor on 50% of the vote for Saturday's election. While lower than the 51.9% actually achieved in 2002, the Labor figure suggests that it will be a close run thing whether it obtains a majority of 13 or more seats. The Newspoll figure for the Liberal Party was 29%, up only marginally on the record low of 27.4% at the last election. more
Minor Parties at 32% in SA Upper House Poll
Saturday, 4th March, 2006
The Advertiser poll on voting intentions for the State Upper House has minor party and independents polling an incredibly high 32%. See the item at today's date in the South Australian Election Diary.
Federal Labor Polling Well
Wednesday, 1st March, 2006 - Since Mark Latham quit the leadership the Labor Party has been rating quite well in the Newspoll. more
Liberals Lead in NSW
Wednesday, 1st March, 2006 - That opinioin polls show the Liberal Party vote in NSW is on the improve should surprise no one. The 24.7% share the Liberals gained at the election on 22 March 2003 could hardly get any worse. Newspoll has the Liberal-National coalition in front on a two party preferred basis. more
Labor Still Has Big Lead
Wednesday, 1 March, 2006 - Newspoll aggregates figures from three months of its regular national polling to get a figure for voting intensions at the SA state level. The figures released this morning were based on 868 interviews and Newspoll gave the margin of error as + or - 3%. The trend over the last year shows a clear preference for Labor which confirms the opinion of those betting on the SA election. more
They all Point to Labor
Friday, 17th February, 2006 - The trend of the opinion polls has been consistent in the months leading up to the SA election. Newspoll, which only samples a small number of people in the state and thus accumulates results over three months or so, last had Labor with a 46% share of the vote. The Advertiser poll has had Labor at a 48% share, after adjusting for the undecided and don't knows, in both January and February. If the actual voting turns out anything like these figures then Labor is in for a big win. Their predicted vote is up about 12 percentage points on the last actual election while a predicted 36% for the Liberals is down four percentage points. more
The Australian's Newspoll Has Labor Well in the Lead in SA
Thursday, 12th January, 2006 - Newspoll published in The Australian on 9 January 2006 had Labor well in the lead in polling conducted between October and December last year. Newspoll has the ALP vote up more
Waiting for a New Minor Party
Tuesday, 27th September, 2005 - Opinion polls two years out from an election are really rather pointless. Who cares about the result of a theoretical election held last weekend? ... Perhaps the most interesting aspect of what the pollsters purported to tell us is the indication that support for both the governing Coalition and Labor is on the wane. ... more
The website of this US professional organisation has a good introduction to how to interpret and understand opinion p0lls.
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