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Federal Election 2013

Aug 27, 2013

BludgerTrack: 53.1-46.9 to Coalition

Poll aggregation suggests the momentum against Labor has slowed, but with the rocks now too near for the ship to be turned around. Their last hope: the polls are wrong.

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Yesterday’s Essential Research release concludes what I’d normally regard in the off season as a weekly cycle of poll results, making this an appopriate moment for a situation report. News reports yesterday were full of talk of a shift back to Labor based on a three-point lift in their primary vote from Newspoll, which neatly encapsulates what’s wrong with mainstream journalism’s reportage of opinion polling. For all The Australian’s success in marketing it as the gold standard, Newspoll is not – and indeed, does not claim to be – any more immune to statistical noise than any other poll. This particular shift was undoubtedly more noise than signal, coming as it did off a below-par result in the previous week’s poll.

For a more meaningful read of the situation you should refer to a poll aggregate, of which the one most readily to hand is of course BludgerTrack. However, you can find much the same story being told by Julian King at Pottinger (who has the Coalition at 53.6%), Simon Jackman (53.5%), Mark the Ballot (52.7%), Kevin Bonham (52.3%) and the AFR’s Poll of Polls (51.8%) (with apologies to any I’ve missed, like Andrew Catsaras’s which only appears on Insiders). Much of the variation comes down to the weight given to Essential Research, which is excluded altogether by Mark the Ballot and downweighted by BludgerTrack for having gone off trend.

Mark the Ballot’s charts offer a better visual representation of what emerges from the numbers coming out of BludgerTrack, which is that the rate of Labor’s decline slowed this week. The current output of the BludgerTrack model has Labor down 0.4% since this time a week ago (note that this isn’t exactly the same thing as the “last week” comparison on the sidebar, which reflects the model’s result at that time rather than its current retrospective evaluation) compared with 0.7% in the week to August 17, 0.7% in the week to August 10 and 0.5% in the week to August 3. As Mark the Ballot and BludgerTrack concur, the rot set in around mid-July, perhaps a fortnight before the election was called.

Of course, it’s a little too late in the game for a mere slowing of the momentum against them to do Labor much good. It would take a black swan event to return Labor to parity in the 12 days still available to them, the potential nature of which is by definition impossible to foresee. Labor’s other hope of course is that the polls and the aggregates derived from them are fundamentally wrong. A favourite argument of those predisposed to this view is that the online polling of Essential Research is telling a different story from polls using other methods, having had Labor at a post-Gillard high of 50-50 for the past two weeks. Nate Silver, it is noted, gave online polling the highest collective score in his post-match report after the presidential election, finding an average error of 2.1% compared with 3.5% for live interview phone polls and 5.0% for “robopolls”.

However, I would observe that the pollsters at the top end of Silver’s list are a mix of live phone interview and internet polls, with the live phone interview average dragged down by a number of poor performers at the bottom end (the most spectacular example being Gallup). Given the strong performances of Newspoll and Galaxy at recent state elections, at least on two-party preferred, it would require a leap of faith to conclude that either belongs in the latter camp. If anything, the risk appears to be on the downside for Labor. Essential Research aside, the big anomaly of the polling picture is that national polls have been kinder to Labor than electorate-level ones, a phenomenon by no means unique to the robo-polls (and it should be noted that the disparity seems to be lower in the case of Galaxy’s automated polling, suggesting that “house” as much as “method” bias has been at work here).

Now to some observations on the state-level projections. Labor received a large bounce in New South Wales and Queensland after Kevin Rudd’s return, bringing them into parity with the 2010 election result in the former case and well in front of it in the latter. However, in Victoria the move to Labor was more subdued. Three weeks after the Rudd comeback, BludgerTrack had the Coalition’s national lead at 50.5-49.5 and pointed to swings in Labor’s favour of 0.6% in New South Wales and 2.4% in Queensland, while going 3.7% in the other direction in Victoria (remembering that the 2010 election gave Labor its best result in Victoria since the Second World War). So far as BludgerTrack is concerned, the decline in Labor’s fortunes since has been driven by New South Wales, where the swing has now caught up with Victoria’s. That being so, one could perhaps hypothesise that it’s the Daily Telegraph wot’s winning it.

As for Queensland, that 2.4% swing to Labor is still there as far as BludgerTrack is concerned, inconsistent as that may be with reports of internal polling, the weekend Newspoll showing Labor going heavily backwards across eight Liberal National Party marginals, and a series of grim results for Labor coming out of Griffith and Forde. I keep waiting for new data from Queensland to square the circle by showing the other recent results to have been anomalous, and it keeps not happening. Of the last nine data points available to me from Queensland, which go back as far as August 7, only one fails to show a swing to Labor. The one exception is the sturdiest result of the bunch – an 800-sample Galaxy poll conducted late in the first week of the campaign. The rest are sub-samples from national polls, some (but not all) with very small samples.

The samples are smaller still for Western Australia and South Australia, although there are enough of them that it would be hoped that aggregating them would get you fairly close to a real world figure. On this basis, Labor’s once promising position in Western Australia relative to the 2010 result seems to have deteriorated significantly. In South Australia, Labor is rating a little better than media chatter (not to mention the weekend’s Hindmarsh poll) suggests they should be, though not to the extent of indicating an improvement on the 2010 status quo in terms of seats.

One final thought. With Labor holding 72 seats out of 150, it seems very likely that they will need a swing in their favour if they are going to win the election. Out of 17 national and 39 electorate-level polls conducted during the campaign (not counting a small number of electorate polls involving Greens or independent sitting members), not a single one has shown such a thing.

William Bowe — Editor of The Poll Bludger

William Bowe

Editor of The Poll Bludger

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, is one of the most heavily trafficked forums for online discussion of Australian politics, and joined the Crikey stable in 2008.

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1322 comments

1,322 thoughts on “BludgerTrack: 53.1-46.9 to Coalition

  1. Edward StJohn

    Only 11 more sleeps till fundamental injustice day mk 2.

  2. meher baba

    Excellent analysis, William, as always.

    Of course, the missing piece of the jigsaw puzzle is Tassie, where – according to my sources – things have gone downhill for Labor which is now fearful of losing all four of its. seats. A neutrsl observer would hope that Julie Collins who, while not being a star, is a solid performer, will just hang on. I suspect she just might.

    But the Tassie situation accentuates the problem for Labor. Even if they can keep their losses here down to two seats, that means they need to win four off the L-NP on thr mainland even to get to a hung parliament (I think I’ve got that right). On the basis of your analysis here, they haven’t got a snowball’s chance in hell. Even if the current standing is 50-50 nationally as ER would have it, the likely Tassie results would still give Abbott a slim majority.

    I do believe that the PPL policy is continuing to damage Abbott, although I would speculate that this might have a bigger impact in safer Liberal seats (where there are more people who understand/care about sensible policy) than in the marginals. We’ll see.

    The other interesting question will be how the Greens will go. I felt that they were really struggling, but got a pretty big boost by Rudd coming back and disaffecting women, Victorians, bleeding hearts (with the PNG solution) and people who care about global warming (Rudd making it pretty clear that he doesn’t care much). But, then again, left-inclined voters tend to rally round Labor when a really scary-looking Coalition government is on offer (although I would suggest that right-inclined people have really got more to fear from an Abbott government: at least, those of us who care about well-run, free market economies in which governments run sensible fiscal policies: although the suggestions that Sinodinos will be Finance Minister are somewhat reassuring).

  3. Meguire Bob

    if labor win it is going to make poll bludger and the so called opinion polling experts credibilty shot

    There is no excuse

  4. Meguire Bob

    They have not learn from 1993,2001,2004

    Hopefully when labor wins the opinion polling as we know it will be history

    and the media will have little influence

  5. Meguire Bob

    Labor on 38% wins government

    The coalition can not get a majority with labor having 38% or more

    the coaliiton primary vote will eb under 45%

  6. meher baba

    Meguire Bob: and if (when), the Libs win, what will be your excuse?

    You have spammed this forum for months with many thousands of posts of analysis-free assertion. I appreciate that most other posters on here seem to think it’s cute, but I find your stuff repetitive and somewhat embarrassing.

    To each their own, I guess.

  7. Meguire Bob

    meher baba

    Im confidence they wont get a look in but

    if the libs win, it will be on the back of the media nothing more and nothing less

    newsltd/abbott coaltiion didnt win the election on merit.

  8. Meguire Bob

    Meher baba

    every time there are postive for labor

    Predictable

    you come one on everytime and embarassing spin negatives

  9. Meguire Bob

    When the focus is on Abbott or the pro coalition media , when they dont report abbott lies

    Meher Baba comes along and try to get the focus back onto labor , with negative spin

  10. castle

    abbotts own carbon tax, will jones and bolt call out tone as milnes bitch.

    [Some electricity and coal companies would have had to pay for their rising emissions last year under the Coalition’s direct action climate change policy despite the opposition stressing they would not be penalised.

    It found the direct action policy would have raised $158.8 million – more than the hotly contested mining tax – under a clause that promises companies would have to pay only for greenhouse gas emissions above ”business-as-usual” levels.

    The analysis was based on the emissions figures reported to the federal government under the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting system.

    It assumes penalties would be levied at $10 per tonne of carbon dioxide emitted.

    It found about 220 companies met the criteria for penalties under the direct action scheme by increasing their emissions in 2011-12.

    Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/federal-election-2013/coalitions-carbon-plan-a-secret-tax-20130826-2sma7.html#ixzz2d6t09CXd

    The hunts explanation is hockeyesque and comical.

    Mr Hunt said the analysis was ”wrong, fabricated and false”.
    Asked to expand on how the figures were wrong, Mr Hunt said: ”The reason is that we have booked no revenue from direct action and therefore those figures are completely wrong.

  11. BK

    Good morning Dawn Patrollers.
    Abbott’s black hole is getting deeper and blacker by the day. When will he be held to account?
    http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/federal-election-2013/huge-cuts-needed-to-fund-abbotts-new-spending-20130826-2sm9w.html
    WOW!!! Tim Colebatch calls Abbott out as an untrustworthy liar.
    http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/federal-election-2013/why-we-should-not-trust-tony-abbott-20130826-2sm4q.html
    Looks like Big Tobacco has put the fix in with Thailand.
    http://www.smh.com.au/world/bigger-thai-cigarette-packet-warnings-up-in-smoke-as-tobacco-giant-philip-morris-applauds-20130827-2smqi.html
    Melbourne hit with an outbreak of ignorance.
    http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/measles-outbreak-fear-as-virus-spreads-20130826-2skyo.html
    Oh dear. Surely not a secret carbon tax from the Opposition!
    http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/federal-election-2013/coalitions-carbon-plan-a-secret-tax-20130826-2sma7.html
    Yesterday the marine parks went overboard and today the pokie barons get the green light. The guy Abbott is simply dangerous!
    http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/federal-election-2013/abbott-frees-gambling-industry-from-reform-20130826-2smct.html
    And here is Abbott pandering to ignorance.
    http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/federal-election-2013/abbott-prepares-to-reel-in-fishing-vote-20130826-2smcu.html
    MUST SEE! Alan Moir on the Coalition’s “costings”.
    http://www.smh.com.au/photogallery/federal-politics/cartoons/alan-moir-20090907-fdxk.html

  12. castle

    next announcement is the coalition will rely on the tobacco industry for measures to curb smoking.

    [The Coalition will rely on the clubs and gaming industry to develop support and counselling services for problem gamblers if it wins government.

    Under the Coalition’s plan an industry advisory council, comprising representatives of clubs and gaming venues, will report to the minister quarterly.]

    Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/federal-election-2013/abbott-frees-gambling-industry-from-reform-20130826-2smct.html#ixzz2d6uqI8ZW

  13. Kinkajou

    Amazing Labor stays so close given the avalanche of media opinion for such an extended time. Must be some real actual support out there which should not be ignored

  14. Meguire Bob

    it is too risky to call elections on what the opinion polling averages say.

    Again it only takes something to happen in the election campaign , people can and have changed thier vote as quick as you can blink

    1993 – before the Hewson birthday day cake gaffe , the coalition was touted as the next governemnt because they were leading the opinion polls 65/44 two weeks from the election

    2001- children overboard lie – Beazley was touted as the next pm, because he was leading the opinion polls during the election campaign

    2004 – Latham wasnt an real alternative , despite the opinion polling touting him as the next pm

    2010 – Abbott lost the election for the coalition- no ifs or buts

  15. Meguire Bob

    BK
    Posted Tuesday, August 27, 2013 at 6:53 am | PERMALINK
    Good morning Dawn Patrollers.
    Abbott’s black hole is getting deeper and blacker by the day. When will he be held to account?
    http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/federal-election-2013/huge-cuts-needed-to-fund-abbotts-new-spending-20130826-2sm9w.html
    WOW!!! Tim Colebatch calls Abbott out as an untrustworthy liar.

    ————-

    Yep 100% agree bk

  16. Meguire Bob

    1993 – before the Hewson birthday day cake gaffe , the coalition was touted as the next governemnt because they were leading the opinion polls 56/44 two weeks from the election

    ——

    correction

  17. Socrates

    Morning all. William, your analysis of the polls is hard to argue. I think Labor’s campaign is going better now, but not enough to bridge the gap.

    At this point there should also be real interest in the Senate. I assume it would be difficult for Abbott to gain control without a wipeout?

  18. BK

    Tom Watson on ABC24 now.

  19. Geoff Lambert

    Grrr

    “For all The Australian’s success in marketing it as the gold standard, Newspoll is not – and indeed, does not claim to be – any more immune to statistical noise than any other poll.”

    Quite true. ALL polls are subject to “sampling noise”

    “This particular shift was UNDOUBTEDLY more noise than signal, coming as it did off a below-par result in the previous week’s poll. ”

    Quite untrue. That’s the trouble with “noise” which, for TPP polling means the likely size of the sampling deviation from the population value, given a certain probability level (all pollsters use 95%).

    The shift in the Newspoll result might be ALL due to sampling or it could be a perfectly accurate sampling of the “true” TPP.

  20. Socrates

    Rudd’s plan to move naval bases north from Sydney angers Barry O’Farrell. So it must be a good idea.
    [Kevin Rudd is poised to announce a rethink of Australia’s naval bases which could see the Garden Island base in Sydney Harbour shifted north to Queensland.
    New South Wales Premier Barry O’Farrell is already up in arms about the proposal, which he says has more to do with shoring up marginal seats north of the border than with Australia’s security.]
    I would have thought it alo opens up possibilities to redevelop the base for more valuable uses near the Sydney CBD. Economically this might be a win win.

    Unless I hear the defence force associations complain, I presume this could work. Living in Sydney on defence wages must be difficult.

  21. meher baba

    meguire bob. What are the positives for Labor ATM? If you are talking about the Newspoll results, I thought you didn’t believe in Newspoll.

    I’m struggling to see to many. Bill Shorten was more or less waving the white flag on Q&A last night. I assume he has some insight into how Labor is travelling.

    I think Labor is doing well in the policy debate ATM – largely because of the PPL – but I’m always more inclined to go with the polling that with my impressions of how each side is performing. I’m old enough to remember Malcolm Fraser’s abysmal campaigning in 1977 (compared to which Abbott looks like John F Kennedy and Obama rolled into one). But Fraser won in a landslide, because voters couldn’t stomach the idea of Whitlam coming back.

    I sense a similar vibe ATM. People are sick to death of Rudd vs Gillard vs Rudd. They don’t think anything much of Abbott, but that’s largely irrelevant to them. The opinion polls back my view up.

    I guess we’ll see who is right and who is wrong in 12 days time. I reckon I’m right. It’s not true that this is the result I want to see: I’m not spinning for anyone or anything. I’m just an armchair political commentator. I’m right-wing on economic matters, but my main concern at the moment is addressing climate change, which should give you a clue as to how I’m likely to vote.

  22. Socrates

    John Quiggin has a good post on Rudd vs Abbott’s economic policy. It is not flattering of Swan’s obsession with a surplus, but warns that the risk of an Abbott recession is real.
    [The stimulus package introduced in 2009 included, quite appropriately, a strategy for a return to surplus as the economy recovered. Unfortunately, after committing to an optimistic timetable, former Treasurer Wayne Swan treated the return to surplus as an end in itself, not a tool of macroeconomic management. This effectively conceded the ground in the macroeconomic debate to Abbott and the opponents of Keynesian stimulus.

    To win the election Rudd needs to move beyond attacks on the specifics of Abbott’s policies (or the lack thereof). He must explain why the Keynesian and social democratic policies he espoused and implemented in his first term as PM are the right way forward for Australia, and why the Howard government policies of consistent surpluses, regardless of economic conditions, represent a recipe for disaster next time there is an economic crisis.]
    http://johnquiggin.com/2013/08/20/reading-the-economic-theories-of-rudd-and-abbott/

  23. castle

    O’Farrell thinks a base in Sydney to protect us against threats from the south is better than a base in Brisbane to protect us from threats from the north.

    Did any journos ask him Socrates what he sees as the biggest threat from the south.

  24. Socrates

    Have a good day all. I’m off interstate for a few days since, once again, there is not enough work in Adelaide. Good thinking on the surplus Swannie, not.

  25. meher baba

    BTW, if you are wondering how someone with right-wing economic views could contemplate voting for the Greens (and I acknowledge it’s difficult), my answer is that I revile the sort of jingoistic imperialism that Winston Churchill stood for, but I would have been one of his most fervent supporters back in the 1930s when he was right about Hitler while everyone else was wrong.

  26. castle

    [Amazing Labor stays so close given the avalanche of media opinion for such an extended time.]

    given they have put several self interest groups offside such as mining billionaires, tobacco industry, cable tv and the gambling industry the media onslaught was to be expected.

    any controls though on the media in todays age are unworkable , you start trying to restrict news in what it does and you would have to include all media sites including poll bludger.

    best solution if you don’t like a site ignore it, news is no more than an infomercial site now and the abc offers a parallel view of what news reports without the ads.

  27. jeffemu

    Castle … The biggest threat from the south is the AFL

  28. Simon Baker

    Meguire Bob – Well Essential Research has it 50-50, if it is anything close to the actual result then Essential Research, not Newspoll, would have to be the new gold standard in polling. But of course, as you say, anything can still happen in the election campaign

  29. River

    Like I said before, I’m going to be on here on Sep 7th to see how violently Bob goes through the remaining 4 stages of denial. It will be amusing to watch.

  30. shellbell

    [I would have thought it alo opens up possibilities to redevelop the base for more valuable uses near the Sydney CBD. Economically this might be a win win.]

    We need a third casino

  31. Simon Baker

    Essential Research is of course online polling, if it has a big success on 7/9 in terms of accuracy, expect most other pollsters to move their surveys predominantly online

  32. River

    [quote]Meguire Bob – Well Essential Research has it 50-50, if it is anything close to the actual result then Essential Research, not Newspoll, would have to be the new gold standard in polling. But of course, as you say, anything can still happen in the election campaign[/quote]

    Essential media is a union friendly PR firm. Believing essential research while at the same time rubbishing newspoll is the height of hypocrisy.

  33. sprocket_

    The ALP has been trying to sell #FraudBand to overseas customers. No one is buying apparently.

    http://abbottsinternet.com.au/

  34. Simon Baker

    River – Of course based on past record you have to believe Newspoll is most accurate, I was just saying if it was 50-50 on 7th September Essential Research would clearly have been proved right

  35. sprocket_

    River

    [Essential media is a union friendly PR firm. Believing essential research while at the same time rubbishing newspoll is the height of hypocrisy.]

    somewhat disingenuous to discount Essential due to union ties, whilst lauding NewsPoll with its Murdoch ties.

    I would be the utmost irony if Murdoch’s over the top Jihad against the progressive side pissed off so many Australians that they decided to vote No to L-NP.

  36. AussieAchmed

    castle

    Posted Tuesday, August 27, 2013 at 7:24 am | Permalink

    O’Farrell thinks a base in Sydney to protect us against threats from the south is better than a base in Brisbane to protect us from threats from the north.

    Did any journos ask him Socrates what he sees as the biggest threat from the south.
    —————————————————-

    Penguins, followed by Tasmanians and Victorians

  37. River

    [quote]somewhat disingenuous to discount Essential due to union ties, whilst lauding NewsPoll with its Murdoch ties.[/quote]

    I don’t laud Newspoll.

  38. sprocket_

    Tony Abbott just announcing for the 15th time compensation for Bali bombing victims.

    Looks like it small, microscopic target for the rest of campaign – they can’t afford anymore stinker polices.

  39. dave

    [ Western Warplanes Begin Arriving In Cyprus

    Warplanes and military transporters have begun arriving at Britain’s Akrotiri airbase on Cyprus, less than 100 miles from the Syrian coast, in a sign of increasing preparations for a military strike against the Assad regime in Syria.”

    ….

    Also –

    …{ the Russian} task force currently includes the large anti-submarine ship Severomorsk, the frigate Yaroslav Mudry, the salvage/rescue tugs Altai and SB-921 and the tanker Lena from the Northern and Baltic Fleets, as well as the Ropucha-II Class landing ship Azov from the Black Sea Fleet.

    The task force may be enlarged to include nuclear submarines, Navy Commander Admiral Viktor Chirkov said last Sunday.]

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2013-08-26/western-warplanes-begin-arriving-cyprus

  40. Simon Baker

    For the record, Essential Research’s final poll in 2010 had it 51-49 to the ALP, and 38% to the ALP on primary and 43% to the Coalition ie almost exactly the final result
    http://essentialvision.com.au/category/essentialreport/page/118

  41. Meguire Bob

    meher baba
    Posted Tuesday, August 27, 2013 at 7:22 am | PERMALINK
    meguire bob. What are the positives for Labor ATM? If you are talking about the Newspoll results, I thought you didn’t believe in Newspoll.

    —————-

    There is nothing wrong with the country at all , the coalition will not make it better, they will take it into recession

    Abbott is spending like a drunken sailor , how gullible can people be

    no i do not believe newsltd newspoll, labor is around 37-39 % for quite a while

    the coalition it around 42-44%

  42. meher baba

    My sense of ER is that, due to their methodology which is biased towards the more politically engaged (which is possibly the explanation for their good performance in the Land of the Free and Low Voter Turnouts) they tend to run a bit ahead of trends in voter opinion. Hence they were marking Gillard down more than other polls last year and Abbott down now more than other polls as Abbott begins to struggle quite badly with the PPL.

    On that basis, we must assume that a bit of a late swing to Labor is on. But it’s hard to believe it will be enough: given that Labor might well be starting four seats behind (Lyne, New England, Bass and Braddon).

  43. Meguire Bob

    simon Baker

    Thats likely to happen again , its not looking likely as the coalition going to get a majority government

  44. Roxanna

    Penguins, followed by Tasmanians and Victorians

    =========================

    I guess that means we can stand down now. What a relief. 😛

  45. Simon Baker

    Newspoll underestimated the ALP total slightly, Nielsen and Galaxy overestimated it, Morgan slightly underestimated the Coalition, Essential Research got it almost spot on

  46. Meguire Bob

    meher baba
    Posted Tuesday, August 27, 2013 at 8:14 am | PERMALINK
    . But it’s hard to believe it will be enough: given that Labor might well be starting four seats behind (Lyne, New England, Bass and Braddon).

    ———

    ? they will start even or 1 behind come election

    if you going to give ne, lyne and some others to the coalition
    t melbourne , labor is liekly to win that

    and some seats in qld

  47. meher baba

    Meguire Bob. You ask how gullible can people be? Have you ever heard of pyramid selling, religious cults or the fad for owning gas-guzzling and dangerous 4 wheel drives among millions of people who rarely venture off the expressway?

    Anyway, I’m not even sure it’s gullibility. Labor is asking us to vote for a man than most of Caucus reviled until recently (and mostly still revile, I suspect) and who has trashed the achievements of the last three years of the government he purports to lead and who is now promising a “new way”.

    It’s not an easy sell, even to the gullible. As Tony Windsor said last night, if the Libs had a half-decent leader (he nominated Turnbull, who is only a moderate performer at best IMO) they would romp it in.