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Federal Election 2013

Sep 3, 2013

Two new polls out today from Queensland, one being another of Newspoll’s composite marginal seat jobs, the other a statewide Nielsen survey of 1014 respondents. Taken together, the two continue a confounding pattern throughout this campaign of localised polling from Queensland painting a grimmer picture for Labor than polling conducted statewide. The Newspoll survey targets 800 respondents in seven of the state’s eight Labor-held seats – Moreton (1.1%), Petrie (2.5%), Lilley (3.2%), Capricornia (3.7%), Blair (4.2%), Rankin (5.4%) and Oxley (5.8%) – the odd man out being Kevin Rudd’s seat of Griffith (8.5%). The combined primary vote results are 38% for Labor (down from 42.4% at the 2010 election), 42% for the Coalition (up from 39.8%), 8% for the Greens (down from 11.0%) and 12% for “others” (up substantially from 6.8% – hold that thought). On two-party preferred, the result is 51-49 in favour of the Coalition, a swing of 4.7%. Importantly though, this has been determined based on preference flows from the 2010 election. Hold that thought as well.

The Nielsen poll as published in the Fairfax papers comes with a headline two-party preferred figure of 53-47, which is at least superficially encouraging for Labor in that it suggests a swing of 2% from 2010. Unlike the Newspoll result, this comes from respondent-allocated rather than previous-election preferences (hold that thought still further). However, the real story the poll has to tell lies in the primary vote figures. Labor is at just 31%, down from 34.6% in 2010, but the Coalition is also down slightly, from 46.5% to 45%. The Greens are on 8%, down on 10.9% at the 2010 election but at the high end of what they’ve been getting generally in Queensland in recent times (perhaps reflecting an improving trend nationally which is perceptible on the BludgerTrack charts). However, the really interesting result is that the Palmer United Party is on 8%, putting into the shade Katter’s Australian Party on 4%.

This cannot dismissed as one freak result, as it has been corroborated by other polling. Roy Morgan has twice had occasion over the last week to trumpet this phenomenon going on beneath the surface of its “others” result. The first poll, published on Friday, had the Palmer United Party at 4% nationally and 6.5% in Queensland. The second, published yesterday, maintained the 4% national result while finding the Queensland figure up to 7.5%. I’m advised that Essential Research also had the party at 4% nationally in its polling this week and at 9% in Queensland, after it barely registered in previous weeks. In fact, the three sets of Queensland polling I have seen over the past few days have all turned in remarkably similar results for Labor, Coalition, Greens and “others” alike.

A clearer picture emerges if the totality of polling from Queensland is plotted out since the return of Kevin Rudd. The chart below maps out the trend from 37 such polls from seven different pollsters, with the usual BludgerTrack accuracy weightings and bias adjustments applied. Black represents the combined “others” vote.

The starting point is a landslip in Labor’s favour after Gillard was deposed, which appeared to consolidate for a fortnight before entering a long and steady slide. Then came the announcement of the election date at the start of August and a two-week period where Queensland appeared to buck the national trend of the time by moving to Labor. This may very well have been a dividend from the recruitment of Peter Beattie, however much media reportage and individual seat polls might have suggested that there wasn’t one.

A new phase then appeared to begin a fortnight ago with the sharp rise of the “others” vote. This has coincided with an onslaught of television advertising from Clive Palmer which has seemed almost to rival that of the major parties. Whereas Palmer’s earlier advertising looked like it belonged on Vine rather than network television, his current efforts appear rehearsed and properly thought out – perhaps even market-researched. Most importantly, the substance of their message – tax cuts which pay for themselves and pension schemes that boost the economy by $70 billion – may well be striking a chord in offering voters the ever more scarce political commodity of “vision”, hallucinogenic though it may be in this particular case.

The other point to be noted about the surge in the “others” vote over the past fortnight is that it looks to be coming more at Labor’s expense than the Coalition’s. For one thing, this has significant implications for the party’s prospects of actually converting votes into seats. Mark Kenny of Fairfax’s take on the Nielsen result is that while it is “almost certain Mr Palmer’s party will not win a seat in the House of Representatives, it is in with a chance of gaining a spot in the Senate”. However, I’m not so sure about this on either count.

Clive Palmer himself is running in the smartly chosen Sunshine Coast seat of Fairfax, where the retirement of Alex Somlyay relieves him of the burden of having to take on a sitting member. The first task facing Palmer is to outpoll Labor, who scored 27.3% in 2010. Gouging votes directly at their expense will make that task a lot easier, as presumably will the fact the Greens (who polled a weighty 18.0% last time) are directing their preferences to him. Palmer’s next hurdle (inappropriate as athletic metaphors might be in his case) would be to overcome Liberal National Party candidate Ted O’Brien, which might not be so easy given Alex Somlyay’s 49.5% vote in 2010. Some credible seat-level polling from Fairfax would be very interesting to see. As for the Senate, lead candidate Glenn Lazarus faces the complication that James Blundell of Katter’s Australian Party has done better out of preferences, standing to directly receive (among other things) Labor’s surplus after the election of its second candidate.

The other point to be made regarding a movement from Labor to the Palmer United Party relates to the issue of deriving two-party preferred results from primary votes in opinion polls. This is always a slightly vexed question, as for most voters the act of vote choice runs no deeper than simply deciding “who to vote for”, be it a party or its leader. If that choice is for a minor party, the question of preference allocation – secondary though it may be for the voter concerned – is the thing that really matters with respect to determining the result. Since the decision is often driven by a how-to-vote card the voter does not see until they arrive at the polling booth, and is in many cases entirely arbitrary, there is limited value in an opinion pollster asking the voter what they propose to do.

For this reason, it has become standard practice over the past decade for pollsters to instead allocate minor party preferences according to how they flowed at the previous election. Only Morgan persists in favouring respondent allocation, with Nielsen conducting both measures while normally using the previous election preferences for its top-line results. Not coincidentally, the primacy of this method has emerged over a period in which the minor party landscape has remained fairly stable, with the dominant Greens being supplemented by a shifting aggregation of smaller concerns, most of them being right-wing in one way or another. However, it was always clear that the utility of the method would be undermined if substantial new minor parties emerged, particularly on the right. For example, the result of the 1996 election would have offered no guidance in allocating votes for Pauline Hanson’s One Nation when it exploded on to the scene a year later.

So it is with the Palmer United Party, at least so far as Queensland is concerned. It might have been anticipated that the party’s conservative provenance would have caused its preferences to behave much as other right-wing minor parties to emerge out of Queensland have done over the years, but the Nielsen poll throws that into doubt by finding that 62% of Palmer United Party voters (together with 55% of Katter’s Australian Party voters) intend to give their preference to Labor. It should be borne in mind here that these sub-samples are extremely small, and consequently have double-digit error margins. Eighty-six per cent of Greens voters said they would preference Labor, which is well above what’s plausible. Even so, it’s perhaps telling that the most recent national Nielsen poll, published the weekend before last, had the Coalition’s lead in Queensland at 55-45 on previous election preferences, but only 52-48 on respondent-allocated preferences – an enormous difference as these things go.

Taken together with the trends observable in the primary vote chart above, it would appear that the last fortnight has seen Labor lose votes in Queensland to the Palmer United Party, and that this pool of voters contains a much larger proportion of Labor identifiers than the non-Greens minor party vote in 2010. So while the recent rise of the Palmer United Party might not be good news for Labor in absolute terms, it may cause two-party preferred projections based on the normal pattern of minor party vote behaviour to be skewed against them. This certainly applies to the BludgerTrack model in its present form, for which I might look at adding a Queensland-specific fix (with the qualification that anything I come up with will of necessity be somewhat arbitrary).

UPDATE: AMR Research has published its third online poll of federal voting intention, conducted between Friday and Monday from a sample of 1101, and it has Labor at 34%, the Coalition at 44% and the Greens at 10%.

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Refresh seems stuffed = back some later.


[What would Roger Corbet know?]

How to suck of the Govt when thing go bad.


[Fran Barlow
Posted Tuesday, September 3, 2013 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

Damn autocorrect. ]

Fran complaining about being corrected!


Compact Crank

What would Roger Corbet know?


Where was all this support for Gillard when she was PM……..


Section 2 . . .

Alan Moir has Popeye giving us a discourse on global politics.
OH DEAR!!! David Rowe uses Homer for this one. Just check out the sirens!
David Pope on Political Climate Change. Look for the lizard.
Ron Tandberg does not like Abbott’s Direct Action plan.


Ah the joys of jet-lag: awake at 6am and feeling dreadful.


what happened to the election

have we retreated in technology underground?

i am retreating if anywhere into political futures –

Meguire Bob

I still see there is no coalition supporter is confident of winning saturday

i will be back latger on, off to cofts harbour for the day


Yes because everyone on the internet is doing the same thing at the same time.

And server capability today will always remain the same.

And multicast is a myth.

Hash Convicts


Our country is not in a mess and does not have a debt problem.
Your post basically lost all credibility at at that point. As for you whinging left Labor/Greens supporters. Your inability to understand server output vs bandwidth ability based on your political agenda is hilarious. Regardless of how simple this is explained to you, you still have no idea and are stuck at the point of not understanding that there is not one server host that has the capacity to output to 1000s of people at 100MB/sec.

So here it is, name one host in the world that will give 1000s of users on 100MB/sec enough bandwidth to sustain their connections at maximum speed under load and not fail to sustain it underload and ongoing. Just one.


1541 not directed at you BC.

I guess you’re right. I still think that in theory it cold be done but obviously not in the way it is done now.


Z- I agree.

I find a common style which can be described as trying to make the last comment deliberately off topic and irrelevantly dismissive. We might have a word for it, but I think this tactic deserves its own term.


Radguy Posted Wednesday, September 4, 2013 at 3:14 am @ 1536

BC, why should they? The events can happen simultaneously, given that there is no traveling going on. No different conceptually to waving two flags at the same time.

Ok, if two particles are entangled then when one the quantum state of one particle is measured the other particle instantaneously takes on the appropriately correlated value. However, I don’t agree that anything is transported (except perhaps information).

However, quantum teleportation is still subject to speed of light limits. It’s not instantaneous.

We are now well beyond my expertise in physics. I’ll leave it to the more knowledgeable to debate further.

Wikipedia entries on the topics:
Quantum entanglement
Quantum teleportation


Hash, I point you to my comment @1475 regarding affordability. You are spruiking a false claim that the NBN is unaffordable compared to fraudband. I think NBN would work out cheaper in the long run. The transition step plus the inherent unreliability of copper are factors that don’t need to be considered for NBN. How much grief will the copper network give us?

The cost difference might as well be negligible, particularly when I expect that you derived the $90 per month figure from the $90B+ coalition projection. The value difference is substantial.



If 40Mbps is pushing it, then hash must be using a crappy server host… A good company like SoftLayer has something like nearly 200,000 servers for data centers.

Hash really needs to get out that small spot, and look at the larger picture, he’s over-thinking and over complicating the situation.


Hash Convicts Posted Wednesday, September 4, 2013 at 3:09 am @ 1533

I donโ€™t dispute the need for 100MB/sec or faster, what I am saying is there no need for it now while there are more important issues in this country to deal with. Internet is a luxury, my theory about server output vs achievable speed underload is correct, look it up if you wish to understand it.

It will take years to build a NBN, regardless of whether it’s FTTH or FTTN. If you wait until it’s needed you’re too late.

There is nothing stopping the Liberal NBN being upgraded, but this can be done when the country is out of the mess and debt that it is in. It is your prerogative to disagree just as it is mine to state my point. However, continuing to explain this bandwidth debacle that relates to the immediate future with the NBN seems pointless, I guess it depends on the crowd and political stand point of those you are speaking too.

Our country is not in a mess and does not have a debt problem. You don’t need to worry about the “budget emergency” now that Tony Abbott has adopted Labor’s economic and fiscal policy.
As for upgrading a FTTN network to a FTTH network, that will cost more long term. It’s cheaper to do it right the first time, especially given the degraded state of the copper network and the remediation cost of bringing it up to scratch.

FTTN networks are more cost effective in high density environments where you can ammortise the cost of each node over a large number of connections. That’s why VDSL has been deployed in apartments. However in low density housing, like Australia’s suburbs, it’s less cost effective because each node cannot service as many users (remembering that nodes are positioned to be within x metres distance of each customer, not to service x number of customers). So an area with 200 people per km2 will need as many nodes as one with 1000 people per km2.


BC, why should they? The events can happen simultaneously, given that there is no traveling going on. No different conceptually to waving two flags at the same time.