climate change

Nov 30, 2009

The Monster Nielsen Poll

Via Fairfax comes Nielsen with the primaries running 42 (down 3) / 37 (down 1) to Labor, washing out into a two party preferred of

Possum Comitatus — Editor of Pollytics

Possum Comitatus

Editor of Pollytics

Via Fairfax comes Nielsen with the primaries running 42 (down 3) / 37 (down 1) to Labor, washing out into a two party preferred of 56/44 the same way, the same as last month. The Greens leap into 13 (up 4) for their highest ever Nielsen result, while the broad Others are steady on 7. This comes from a sample of 1200 (200 smaller than usual as Nielsen were only in the field for 2 days rather than the usual 3), giving us an MoE that maxes out around the 2.8% mark. The full demographic breakdowns can be seen here.

This poll is a cracker – leadership questions, ETS questions both generic and specific, ETS impacts, early elections, demographic and voter breakdowns… it’s got it all!

First up, Nielsen made available Turnbull’s approval ratings data broken down by party vote.


While his total approval rating increased slightly, it was as a result of a huge 15 point gain among Labor voters running hand in hand with a huge 12 point drop among Coalition voters! Turnbull is getting increasing approval from the people he needs to win the votes of in order to perform well at an election (ALP voters), yet is bleeding approval from the Coalition base, a group that will vote Coalition anyway. We see the same pattern play out with the leadership questions, where Turnbull performs much better with ALP voters than Coalition voters.

Nielsen ran the same  Turnbull/Hockey/Abbott response options on their leadership question as Newspoll, so we’ll throw the results together to compare:


On the three option question, the results were pretty much identical. Yet Nielsen, like Newspoll, also ran a Turnbull/Abbott head to head and the results differed significantly – especially by party vote breakdown.


Make of that what you will! 😛

Next up is the bunch of ETS questions. The first one is a question on the public support for a generic ETS – a sort of “any old ETS” rather than a specific ETS question. This gives us a basic yardstick of public support for some type of ETS, as well as the relative strength of that generic support.


Huge majorities of ALP and Greens voters support a generic ETS, while even a majority of Coalition voters support a generic ETS. This is important to keep in your thought orbit, because it helps us understand the difference between generic opposition to climate change policies and opposition that derives from the specifics of any particular climate change policy like the CPRS, specifics which include the timing of the policy.

You can see the timing issue come into play when we look at another question that offered three statements where the results are broken down by generic ETS support/opposition:


Worth mentioning here is a bit on the cross-tabs from Nielsen:

Of Coalition voters, 14% oppose an ETS outright while 62% say Australia should wait for Copenhagen and 22% want an ETS as soon as possible. Among Labor voters 51% want an ETS now and 43% say wait, while 58% of Green voters want an ETS as soon as possible and 36% say wait.

So while two thirds of the public support an ETS, 44% of that generic support believes the policy should be delayed until after Copenhagen. What gets me with this result is that 8% of those that oppose an ETS want one to be introduced as soon as possible! Also interesting is that 61% of those opposed to any old ETS still leave their options open by responding that Australia should wait to see what other countries are doing. This suggests that either generic opposition to any ETS is largely political (meaning that many of those generically opposed to an ETS would change their position if their party changes their policy), or that there’s an awful lot of confusion in the community about the ETS and why people oppose what they do.

If we now move from the generic to the specific and look at public opinion on the CPRS that’s currently before the Parliament, we see significant evidence of the confusion over the ETS playing out.


That’s an extraordinary number – 72% of the public feel they don’t know enough about the CPRS. Yet, when poked further on public views – or more likely public expectations – on the impacts of the CPRS on both the economy and the environment, the numbers tighten up. People might not know as much as they’d like about the CPRS, but they still believe they know enough to have views on it’s impact: With the following, the same question was asked about the economy and the environment:


A majority believe that the CPRS would be good for the environment, while a plurality believe it will be bad for the economy – so a large number of people seem to get the trade-offs involved – at least in the transition. That’s actually a good thing.

Finally – and arguably the most important question here – Nielsen polled on an early election.


That’s the strongest level of support for an early election that we’ve seen to data from any pollster.

Finally, the usual Nielsen charts come in like this:

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22 thoughts on “The Monster Nielsen Poll

  1. Andrew Norton » Blog Archive » Tony Abbott – much to like, many reasons to doubt

    […] a significant number of Liberal and swinging voters will continue to want action on climate change. Yesterday’s Nielsen poll had Liberal voters 52-39 in favour of an ETS, and to improve from current low polling figures […]

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  4. Student T

    I wonder whether the definition of aboriginality is changing. If you look at the ABS ([email protected]/Lookup/4705.0Main+Features12006?OpenDocument) there are pretty major increases of around 10% from 2001 to 2006. It may be a matter of more criminals acknowledging aboriginal heritage.

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  6. GhostWhoVotes

    Possum, with the ‘Turnbull/Abbott head to head’ questions, did Nielsen do the same as Newspoll and only ask the question of people who favoured Joe Hockey to lead the Liberal Party?

  7. Tim Hollo

    Thanks, Possum.

  8. Possum Comitatus

    Tim – on the specific ETS question, 61% of Greens “Don’t know enough”, 20% support and 16% oppose. On the 3 statement question, the 58% of Greens want an ETS as soon as possible, 36% say wait until after Copenhagen.

  9. Possum Comitatus

    Tim, they didn’t publish them -but I’ve got the data, which I’ll crunch for another post tomorrow.

  10. Tim Hollo

    Possum, did Nielsen publish cross tabs for the question on support for / understanding of the specific ETS? Would be fascinating to see Greens numbers on that one. I’m not at all surprised that 80% of Grns want to see some kind of ETS. But would love to know what this poll said about Grns voters’ feelings on the CPRS. Last we’ve seen was that Morgan poll showing support dropping amongst Grns for the scheme.

  11. podrick

    Poss, given these poll results and the now unlikely passage of the ETS, Rudd has the option of a DD with a full Senate vote or wait out the term with a 1/2 Senate vote. I have small exercise for you with regard to Queensland and what are the likely outcomes for the all loving LNP in the Senate with the following options.

    1. Run seperate tickets along the old Lib/Nat divide?

    2. Run one LNP ticket.

    In my mind running one ticket with the old Nats still the dominant partner would put Barnaby “Joh Junior” Joyce near the top of the ticket, which I think would alienate the support of moderates in QLD.

    Any thoughts?

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    Poss, you need a brand new brand name.

    When the Liberals crash and burn with Joe the Plumb-bob, we can all say that the future was foretold by Postradamus!

    (And Turnbull, from wherever in the world he is then, can say: “I told you so”).

    The public have already decided the ETS will happen, so the Minchiviks are just heading to oblivion.

  14. JimmyD

    I know this is off topic but the Liberals should be truly terrified if this is true (according to the demo breakdowns) – baby boomers (45-54) will vote Labor 63-37. Bye Bye generational advantage, bye bye government!

  15. Aristotle

    [A majority believe that the CPRS would be good for the environment, while a plurality believe it will be bad for the economy – so a large number of people seem to get the trade-offs involved – at least in the transition. That’s actually a good thing.]

    That’s the key point in all the results that have been released today.

    66% want the ETS (ie action on climate chang, whatever that entails)

    They believe an ETS will be good for the environment, AND they believe it will cost.

    That’s it folks – it’s all over.

    The negative aspects of an ETS are already factored in, it doesn’t matter what the specifics are. There is little scope for a scare campaign, the public already it expect it to cost, but they are prepared to accept it for the benefit of the environment.

  16. jack jones

    I think the libs will replace a leader and by the time the next election is called they’ll be backing some form of ETS. Its too good a deal for their coporate masters (and labor’s it would appear) to pass up. Buckets of free money for keeping on with Business as Usual. I think the corporates are now panicking that they’ve wound up the nutters in the libs too far and they actually might risk losing the lolly bag in an new election with a greener senate. You can note the distinct change of tack in the pages of the Australian. The Lib-gazette was mad for the nutters up to last week, now its begging them to call off the dogs, clearly they’ve worked out the loonies they’ve been egging on are now out of control. Rudd and co are potentially a little worried too. The last thing they want is for the libs not to pass this legislation b/c then there is a risk that the public will want them to come up with something that actually reduces emissions and maybe deal with the Greens. I predict they’ll be happy to either water down the scheme even more for a new lib leader or they’ll get support for their useless scheme from the lib that replaces Mal. It just annoys me that all the focus is off the uselessness of the actual scheme because we are looking at Minchin’s zombies eating their own kind.

  17. Tweets that mention The Monster Nielsen Poll – Pollytics --

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  18. 2 tanners

    Well, let’s see. In the last week, Abbott has admitted a truthfulness problem re the ETS, one way or the other, all and sundry are pressing Joe to commit political suicide, one way or the other, Malcolm has finally impacted the polls amongst the people whose vote counts, and that must be bad, so obviously the best thing to do is:

    Vote 1: Peter Dutton (after all, no-one else will).

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  20. Nipper Quigley

    Turnbull cuts into the Labor supporters in a big way (approval up 15 points from Lab voters) – and what happens? He gets dumped (most likely).
    Pragmatism used to be the Libs hallmark. Today (given the loony right now seemingly in control) it’s looking like a case of…
    Pragmatism – please explain?

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    […] give him a real second look should he take over. So expect some volatility and change compared to todays polls. (When done here, you should follow that link to check Possum’s excellent breakdown of the […]

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