Jun 5, 2012

The State of Play for June

Australian federal polling trends for June

Possum Comitatus — Editor of Pollytics

Possum Comitatus

Editor of Pollytics

If you’re wondering what the hell is going on lately with the polls being all over the shop, the time is ripe to run our trend measures to get a better grip on it all and maybe knock a few myths on the heads about what is actually happening with Australian political opinion.

First up, the two party preferred results:

Over the last 3 months or so we’ve witnessed a gradual decline in Labor’s two party preferred, with that 4 month strong flatlining of 46/54 to the Coalition finally coming to an end in the last week of February. Between March and mid May the ALP experienced a 3 point fade in the two party preferred vote – running at about a 1 point loss a month – followed by a slight one point recovery over the last 3 weeks or so.

Of course, that’s not nearly as exciting as some have put it in our absence – so if you prefer your polls with a little more histrionics and generous dollops of SHOUTY farce, let’s have a quick recap (click to expand)

Ahem – quite.

On the primary vote front, the Coalition picked up nearly 3 points between March and mid May, going from around 46 at the beginning of March, up to a touch under 49 in mid May – before pulling slightly back over the last few weeks to be sitting on 48.5.

The story for the ALP primary has been a little heavier, with the primary vote sliding from 33 at the end of February down to 29 in mid May, before recovering to around 30.5 over the last few weeks.

Meanwhile, the Greens vote appears to be following some strange 5 month cosmic cycle from peak to trough, picking up a point over the last few months to be sitting on 12.

The actual trend point estimates as of today come in like this:


Also worth mentioning is that broad menagerie commonly known as “Others” are currently rounding up the difference at 9.1%, which is a 2.4% swing towards that group since the 2010 election.

So that’s where we all sit at the moment on the political polling spectrum – the ALP chewing on various flavors of disaster, the Coalition alternating between landslide and wipe out, while the Greens are doing whatever peculiar thing it is that they do to get their supporters behaving like a sine wave.

Pollytics is now back on line – I’ll be posting at least a few times a week and we have an awful lot to talk about. As a primer, I wrote a big update to The Great Unhinging for the June Edition of The Kings Tribune – they’ve thoughtfully let it escape the treeware and have posted it online. It’s worth a squiz, not only because of the underlying social and political dynamics it explores – dynamics that are driving the place and have been for a few years now (which is why the unhinging was so predictable), but it also sets the groundwork for a number of articles that will be appearing here over the next little while. So go and have a read folks.

If you enjoy that Unhinging Revisited piece, also try and grab a copy of Laura Tingles Quarterly Essay “Great Expectations” that’s currently in news agents. It covers many of the same issues associated with the unhinging, but does so over a longer time frame with a much broader context. It’s a ripper.

And welcome back.


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18 thoughts on “The State of Play for June

  1. Bruce Graham

    Great work. The best analysis of polls around. I personally suspect that the greens result is overfitted, though. Apparent low amplitude sinusoidal variation in a curve fitted to random data

  2. John Of Melbourne

    Welcome back and thanks Possum.

    Can you do a comparison of polling data between the GST introduction against todays poll and extrapolate from that what we may likely see?

    Fargo61 #15, great question.

  3. Disasterboy

    Thanks Possum for this article and your linked one too.

    I think you could be kinda right about the Green vote. There are probably enough voters who follow the polls to provide such a feedback. I suspect they are people who want the Greens there but are not super supportive. People who want the “Bastards kept honest” but don’t want the honest brokers in charge. They may well vote Others, Liberal as much as ALP generally. They may also have found the Australian Democrats or One Nation, as well as the Greens adequate political ‘insurance’.

  4. Fargo61


    Although I understand a previous statement of yours that polls are descriptive rather than predictive, I nevertheless also seem to recall another earlier statement (or perhaps a post to Pollbludger, which I can’t locate) that by a certain point, some x period of time before the 2007 federal election, the then polls could pretty well be interpreted to mean that things were just not going to improve for the then Howard government.

    Will you please advise, whether that recollection is right or wrong, and if right, at what point you consider that the ‘point of no return’ had been reached?

  5. Fargo61

    Welcome back Possum.

    Thanks for ‘The Great Unhinging’, it articulates clearly and brings together individual threads that I suspect many of us had more or less been partially identifying.

    As far as I can see however, while it can be used to further explain the failure of the last Howard – Costello budget, or any of their other irresponsible give-aways, to provide a poll bounce, it, by the same reckoning, offers absolutely no comfort to the Gillard government.

  6. dedalus

    Great unhinging article poss. The predictions were so accurate the article could have been written yesterday.

  7. spur212

    Welcome back Possum.

    7.6% primary vote required to get back to the 2010 result (not to mention the differences state by state). That’s very depressing

  8. Danny Lewis

    Welcome back, Oh Wise Marsupial!

  9. davidwh

    56/44 seems to be where we are stuck for the time being despite a slightly rosier picture painted by the last two Newspoll results. If you can believe the popular theory then the great unhinging will come to an end in around 24 days.

  10. blackburnpseph

    Possum, Welcome Back!! Glad to see that you are not part of the possum roadkill I see too much of!

  11. Socrates

    Thanks Poss for a breath of fresh, balanced, accurate air as always. I agree with Paddy on the KT article too – insightful. Labor clearly needs to change its narrative, not its leader, but how to do so is not obvious. I think it is too late.

    Would you care to clarify what eactly “other” mainly includes these days? Where would the majority of their preferences lie?

    I also wonder if you have athought about economics? Figures out today say GDP was up 1.3% to March, but that is WA mining and Qld reconstruction. Elsewhere we are effectively in recession. Here in SA, as well as Vic and NSW, things still seem pretty grim. Few new initiatives budgetted, and BHPB deferring Olympic Dam. There will be a lot of unemployed tradespeople in six months time if things don’t change.

  12. imacca

    Good to see you back Poss! Hate the polls at the moment, but at least we’ll get some decent analysis now. Greens trend is weird.

  13. Lee

    He’s alive! Welcome home! (Observation from the fatted calf: I’m not liking this….)

  14. caf

    The Greens’ primary vote looks like the response of an underdamped control system – implying that it’s driven by negative feedback with low gain.

    Highly speculative, but maybe there’s a certain class of wavering ALP supporters who switch their voting intention to the Greens when they see the Greens’ reported polling results go down, but back to the ALP if the Greens’ polling appears heathier?

  15. calyptorhynchus

    Welcome back, Pure Poison goes, Possum returns, Crikey taketh away and Crikey giveth.

  16. Liz A

    Welcome back Poss! Great unhinging article BTW

  17. paddy

    Great to see you back in your tree Poss. the KT article was a ripper and I’m looking forward to the next season’s series of The Great Unhinging.

  18. Musrum

    Welcome back!

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