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Oct 26, 2010

Polling at the moment

You may have noticed that we're not paying much attention here at the moment to political polling. The reason for that is that since the polling machines started winding back up, the re

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You may have noticed that we’re not paying much attention here at the moment to political polling. The reason for that is that since the polling machines started winding back up, the results they’ve produced have been a bit odd. Not necesarrily wrong mind you, but just odd. We’re seeing Satisfaction/Approval ratings and Better/Preferred PM changes not being particularly consistent with voting intention changes and some of the relationships not being particularly consistent with history.

Mumbles highlights one of these odd things with a difference popping up between respondent allocated preferences and 2010 election preferences for instance. Another couple of examples can sort of be done visually, where we can look at how the government’s two party preferred and primary vote leads stack up against the PM net satisfaction and Better PM ratings for the first 3 polls after every government re-election since 1993 (so we knock out 1996 and 2007 as they were new governments, and we can’t use 1998 because of the One Nation effect stuffing up the polling – as it always does with these things, which is why I always leave it out).

First, the table of the data being used (it’s Newspoll data where the early years are my calculations of TPP from election preferences, as Newspoll didn’t publish many TPP results back then)


Now the charts:

bpmtpp1 primbpm


As you can see, the current polling results are a little isolated compared to previous years of a returning government. There’s some more complex relationships between them as well that are also a bit odd at the moment, like how changes in one metric aren’t flowing through into changes in other metrics at a rate and consistency that we generally witness – but that isnt unusual for polling taken early in the term of a government. It usually takes three months or so for the public to start paying political attention again after an election, snapping the dynamics back to their usual spectrum of behaviour.

So we’ll kick back into gear on the polling side maybe the next polling cycle or so – but we shouldn’t be surprised if it’s not until next year that the polling dynamics go back to normal.

There was also a poll in the field over the last few weeks that should hopefully be published somewhere soon, which suggested that much fewer people are paying attention to Federal politics at the moment than they were at this same point after the last three elections.

So take ’em all with a bit of a grain of salt for a while, though the non-voting intention questions like “what do you think about policy X” stuff should still be worthwhile – just don’t be surprised if we get the odd result with a relatively higher number of ‘don’t know’ responses than usual.

Possum Comitatus — Editor of Pollytics

Possum Comitatus

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33 thoughts on “Polling at the moment

  1. JamesK

    Well it’s certainly clear what’s “simple”………..

    Lefty big government is beloved of established big business whose interest is in maintaining the status quo and entrenching their advantage in the marketplace which of course is the antithesis of capitalism and free markets and (unlike the ALP of late,) Coalition policy.

    It can get even worse, with sh1t like General Motors in the USA becoming Government Motors.
    I wonder what Ford and Toyota think of that? Well we’ll find out what the American taxpayers think of it next Wednesday when the Democrats will suffer their biggest shellacking in a century.

    Just look at Oz’s recent example of the big government treatment of the big three multinational miners versus the small and formerly up and coming new Aussie entrepreneurial miners such as Andrew Twiggy Forrest who to the delight of the multinationals now faces a radically different future under the dangerous lefty twit Ken Henry’s grand schemes.

    Henry of course is our real if unelected Treaurer.

    Furthermore the legal status of corporations and the regulations and penalties that govern them are of an altogether different order of magnitude than that of unions or indeed government ministers. The board of corporation would go to jail for the type of sh1t Rudd and Swan did on a monotonously frequent basis.

    JP sounds like a caricature of the Arthur Scargill of the late 70’s whilst Unjust S/He is a caricature of a partisan twit who clearly believes an argument (let alone one supported by facts) is quite unnecessary to support his brilliant insights…..

  2. freecountry

    JP, in another thread there’s a discussion about the big four banks being mates with Labor and scared of the Libs. Anyway to me, a union is just another kind of corporation, which in some cases delivers fair services (representation for safety and decent conditions) in return for a fair price, but in other cases are simply privilege clubs by way of enforced monopolies of a labour supply, so to me it’s Labor that stands up for corporations over individuals. It’s all a question of perspective.

  3. freecountry

    I can also understand you saying I’m “confused because (I) believe Labor and the Liberal parties are on opposite sides of a spectrum. They are not.” Many people are confused in that way.

    I’ve come to see governments on a different spectrum. On the one end, those who favour systemic solutions which enable rational solutions to evolve over time; on the other, those who kowtow to voters who want them to “just fix it,” whatever “it” is, by the most direct and immediate intervention available. Or to put it another way, limited government vs “I don’t care how you do it, just do it” government.

    I think we’re likely to agree that Kevin Rudd is of the latter type, the worst we’ve ever seen, in some ways even worse than Whitlam. And Gillard shows little sign of being any better.

    Where we seem to disagree is on Abbott. While he talks the talk about limited government and systemic solutions, he doesn’t walk the walk. Look again at the third quote I printed above … Why did state health ministers become so critical of the commonwealth government, and how on earth do those criticisms justify greater expansion of commonwealth power?

    He is a populist at the helm of an ideas party, he’s not the right man for the job, and he’s not capable of winning an election. Widespread disenchantment with the government, and the record number of Greens and independents elected mainly by way of protest, suggests that there’s no excuse for the Coalition not to have won the recent election.

  4. JamesK

    The purpose of the parental leave scheme is precisely for the two reasons I described.

    It replaces Costello’s baby bonus whilst encouraging employers to employ women who at job application might be deemed likely to become pregnant and thus partly relieve any impediment to their employment and investment whilst encouraging the same worker to return early to the workforce.

    There are good sensible fiscal and social arguments for the scheme Abbott set forth. It may be easily argued against but it pointedly is not un- nor anti- conservative.

    Furthermore it is a frankly ridiculous assertion that it is a Rudd-like policy.

    Rudd is a progressive. He wants as many dependent-types predictably voting their supplier as possible. He spent public monies accordingly.

    Professional women in particular don’t fit the profile.

    This is a centre-left country with a political class running things.

    Hawke and Keating introduced Thatcherism and Reaganism here under the auspices of ‘pragmatic policies’.

    They accomplished what no Coalition government would ever have been allowed do by our leftist MSM and the unions.

    Good to see that you admit your confusion; you are confused because you believe Labor and the Liberal parties are on opposite sides of a spectrum. They are not.

    ‘Conservative’ is a relative term. Medicare is as close to a single payer government healthcare as you could find after Canada. It works because of tight State government control of costs and a pseudo semi private scheme works in tandem which maintains income for specialists and their competition for private practice and thus maintains high standards.

    The private system funds 40% of the nations hospital infrastructure with care paid mostly by the federal government and a minority by private health insurers

    “Middle-class welfare” allows Medicare to exist alongside a viable semi-private system. It’s in the public health system’s interest. Pity the dangerous Nicola Roxon doesn’t appreciate the fine balance.

    Freecountry’s suggestion that “the solution is to restore the fiscal autonomy and responsibility” is meaningless.

    The federal government we have had has been essentially mostly sensible since Whitlam and until Rudd. It’s run by the cream of professional pollies who mostly are able and who have had the best pragmatic interests of the country at heart.
    Conservative and liberal here in Oz doesn’t mean much.

    Or…. not until we had a loon like Rudd with no Ministers of the Crown worthy of the name and a capricious tyrant as PM with a kitchen cabinet of 3 others 2 of whom hold the most responsible positions in the land presently.

    Abbott’s not much different from Howard who’s not much different from Keating who’s not much different than Hawke.

    I had thought at one point in time that Gillard was in this grouping but I think otherwise now…..

  5. freecountry

    Doug Cameron recently referred to …
    [New party rules introduced by Mr Rudd, which were designed to present a united front by stopping MPs from speaking against a Caucus position.]
    I’m taking Cameron’s and the SMH’s word for it. I’d be interested to see these new rules if anybody knows where to find them.

  6. freecountry

    Tony Abbott on conservatism:
    [This, (British conservative Roger Scruton) says, ‘is the first maxim of conservative politics: self-respect requires respect for institutions; to the extent that we learn a habit of mockery towards our inheritance, to that extent do we mock ourselves’. The second task of the conservative, he says, is to ‘give up this breast-beating, guilt-ridden desire to throw away our inheritance’. (Battlelines, p6) ]
    Tony Abbott on limited government:
    [I believe in a limited government and unlimited opportunity. (Battlelines, p19) ]
    Tony Abbott on unlimited government (a.k.a. “Just fix it” government):
    [More recently however, rather than acting as laboratories for policy innovation or competing among themselves to deliver the best possible services, the States have tended to act as de facto members of the Federal Opposition. In 2003, for instance, 18% of the NSW Health Minister’s and 15% of the Victorian Health Minister’s press releases were attacks on the Commonwealth Government. Paradoxically enough, under these circumstances, the best way to ensure that “local decisions are made at the local level” and to preserve support for the federal system might be to expand the Commonwealth’s role in it. (The Conservative, Sep 2005, Issue 1) ]
    Confused? I am. Perhaps this can help explain it … Tony Abbott on the use of reason:
    [To a conservative intuition is as important as reasoning; instinct as important as intellect. (Battlelines, p72)]

  7. freecountry

    The purpose of granting parental leave at all, is to encourage workforce participation.

    The purpose of pegging the rate of leave payments to prior income is quite different:that’s to encourage banks to lend bigger mortgage loans without fear of interruption by babies, and thus to feed the unproductive house price boom, which is causing an unsustainable net foreign debt of $400 billion. That one is just Abbott trying to out-Rudd Rudd.

    You, or Abbott, may believe what you will about the merits of abolishing the states. God knows there are plenty of radical Lefties who agree with him. But it’s a bit hypocritical to call oneself “conservative” while advocating such a demolition of the very foundation expressed in the Constitution’s preamble that Australia is a “Federal Commonwealth”.

    You ask what’s my solution. If it’s a serious question, the solution is to restore the fiscal autonomy and responsibility without which any government, anywhere, eventually becomes dysfunctional. Under the Commonwealth Grants system, a state hardly benefits from any improvement in its productivity, because Commonwealth money is portioned out on the basis of estimated need after deducting states’ own revenue and Special Purpose Payments. It’s essentially the communist principle, applied to states instead of people, and its a sign of amazing constitutional robustness that the states continue to function at all under such a system.

    I don’t recall exactly how I voted in the Reps. The ALP was the only party that turned up to campaign in my seat, I asked the fellow what was the biggest threat, and then did exactly that. It wasn’t the Coalition, because I live in a latte-sippers’ area where they never stood a chance.

  8. JamesK

    £1 billion (since ‘billions’ leftist international unit of currency du jour) to the penny that freecountry voted Labor or Labor-equivalent.

    It is quite remarkable just how many leftists seem to deeply care just how the Liberal party might best be served to effect electoral victory….

    Perhaps, even more remarkably, the selfsame leftists carry on doing what all leftists do in lieu of an argument, namely, to slime the conservative they fear most whether it be Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, George Bush, Sarah Palin, John Howard, Peter Costello or lately Tony Abbott etc after nauseating etc……

    Apparently, no conservative leader should face a typical loony left audience of unctuous inner-city self-serving moralists without a pair shoes being fired at them….

    Good manners and good morals are sworn friends and fast allies as the saying goes. And ‘progressives’ (aka looney leftists) repetitively demonstrate the corollary…….

    In fact, they slime whosoever is the leader of the Liberal party of the moment.
    The truth is that being more conservative is hardly necessary…..

    Both the Malcolms, when in fact, each was leader of the Liberal party were smeared by the selfsame inveterate mud slingers.

    It’s the lefty way……..

    I suspect the polls reflect uncertainty. Many on the left are hopeful with Gillard’s lies/backflip on the carbon tax whilst many more are concerned with the inept management of the Murray-Darling.

    The policies on both are in an uncertain Labor haze and only time will tell whether the Gillard government will be any less inept and any less radical than Rudd’s.

    So far, the signs ain’t good…..

  9. freecountry


    First of all, how long does an opposition leader usually last after losing an election? The time for Abbott to be overthrown (or “assassinated” in journalese) would normally be overdue, wouldn’t it?

    Except that common wisdom has it that Abbott is a “Coalition hero” (Warren Truss’s words) for pushing a first term government to within a historic margin of defeat. There are three things wrong with Abbott being a “Coalition hero” for this.

    1. Whitlam’s government should really be counted as a single term (three year) government, even if he did call an early election after two years to lock in the peak of his popularity–ironically at the same two-year point that Rudd was at his peak and could have called a DD. So first-term defeats are not so extraordinary.
    2. Abbott was never as popular as the Coalition in the polls, which should have sounded warning bells to the Coalition: Abbott may have been the only reason they lost the election.
    3. In an election focussed almost entirely on the party leaders, Turnbull would have been the real majority choice. He polled even worse than Abbott, but that was because of a campaign by the Australian to bury him. He became popular only after losing the leadership and backing the CPRS.

    My conclusion: the anomaly is caused by the mismatch of parties and leaders. People are tired of Labor and prefer the Coalition, but they detest Abbott even more. A leadership spill is required before the polls can return to normal.

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