Galaxy: 55-45

It seems Galaxy has settled into a three-week polling pattern, compared with Newspoll’s fortnightly, ACNielsen’s monthly and Roy Morgan’s weekly (usually – they seem to have taken last week off) UPDATE: Sorry, it’s actually been four weeks since the last Galaxy – the previous three were three weeks apart. Today’s Galaxy survey has Labor leading 55-45 – still narrower than other recent polls, but a slight correction from its quirky 53-47 of three weeks ago. Despite the flak Galaxy copped last time, respondents were again asked a question about Labor’s union connections. They were also asked if the Prime Minister was “addressing problems in Aboriginal communities because of the upcoming federal election or because he really cares about the problem”. All revealed here.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.

314 comments on “Galaxy: 55-45”

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  1. I’m beginning to get the feeling people may have begin to make up their minds. Originally I thought in March that if by Mid-June if Howard hadn’t come back he would be in trouble. It’s July now. You get the feeling the tax cuts won’t make a difference now. If all polls continue like this until the end of August, he will go in a landslide. As a neutural political watcher, I’m calling a Rudd landslide win now. Something massive will have to happen over the next four months if Howard is to win.

  2. Put in the context of the polls before and since, it’s probably fair to describe the previous Galaxy poll as an outlier.

    I do wonder how much value the other questions are though. For instance, the political ploy question might engender cynicism in the answers of the respondents; rather than that cynicism being pre-existing.

  3. It would be interesting to see the areas and cities where Rudd is most popular (or Howard is least popular.) It could see where national trends are going. All I know is, IR is the major issue. Has been since Beazley was there. And I don’t see it turning around.

  4. Labor would have to be pleased on the back of what has been a good media week for the government. %58 believing Howards “intervention” is motivated by the federal election tells me this credibility with the electorate is at an all time low and is unlikely to recover at this point. I agree withh HooHoo that something massive will have to happen for him to turn it around.

  5. 55 – 45 Interesting numbers, while I agree with HooHoo assessment but if there is a bright spot for the Government and that 55-45 is better than 60-40 which I know we all dismissed at the time as overblown.

    Poll is tipping a Swing of 8 % toward the ALP which would result in a very large landslide, but in saying this if I was Howard I would be thinking 5 point improvement if Newspoll tomorrow says the same then I’m still alive (but just)

    I’m not surprised the Aboriginal policy appears to have had no impact for its not the sort of issue that would change votes sure it might raise the level of debate in certain parts of the community but they tend to not be the swingers but with those poll numbers who is swinging.

  6. The post March 2007 trend across all polls have been a one percentage point per month movement in the government’s favour.

    Come December, this could be a very close contest.

  7. 55-45 is quite realistic but the Howard Government have made up four or five points since March. If the trend continues, they are well set up for re-election to a fifth term.

  8. Heh, it seems Galazy is trying to counter allegations of pushy bias by having pushy questions against both parties.
    Surely ‘twould be easier to simply not do shoddy polling.

  9. Fair’s fair Nostradamus, you said all those polls were 5% off therefore on your type of logic the Government hasn’t moved at all over months and is absolutely doomed.

    I don’t think anyone was silly enough to believe either end of your spin. I know where I’d rather be polling.

  10. The previous Galaxy poll (ie the famous 53-47 one) was on June 4 which was four weeks ago not three so who knows what their pattern is.

  11. I’m with HooHoo and have been saying so for a little while. The March results were probably a bit over-blown but this sort of result looks about right. We’ve had three months of furious activity as the govt tries to get back into the game and a relentless assault on rudd. If this is the best they can do …..

    Sooner or later the focus will shift back onto the reasons this Govt is on the nose. Eg see Milne’s column in the Oz this morning. And I thought the new ACTU on TV last night was their best yet – absolutely devastating.

  12. Gravity as you would expect a natual adjustment to the polls. Labor would have to be very happy that Howard’s ‘Shock and Awe’ Aboriginal invasion mostly bought scepticism and may have increased his credibility problem.

  13. Howard has been setting the agenda for the last 2 months, with the Budget, govt’s climate change response, Aboriginal child abuse. Labor has been defensive, with Therese Rein and union affairs in the spotlight. A 55-45 Labor is thus a very good result. This weekend there will be the LiveEarth concerts, which should allow Labor to get back on the front foot. Later there may be interest rate issues, criminal charges against Qld Libs, and APEC could be a negative for the govt due to Bush. All in all, things are looking very good for Labor.

  14. I think saying that the election is going to become a Rudd landslide is a little silly on the current numbers. Given the fact that the numbers have now been coming back to Howard for the last three months, it is possible, even likely that by October the numbrs are going to be 53-47, still in Rudd favour of course, but with this type of numbers that if Howard went into the election with, he could come out a winner, especially off the back of APEC (not that I believe that APEC is a magic bullet for Howard). Also be aware that any swing from the Aboriginal announcemnet probably won’t be seen for another week.

  15. Lord D makes some very good points about the political problems on the horizon for the government. Effectively, the Budget, the Aboriginal sexual assault response and the handout to carers may be the last big bullets the government fires before it starts to hit heavy weather.

    The Qld Libs criminal charges could break at any moment, APEC will be a big problem in Sydney, especially when George W turns up, and Iraq just drags on and on.

    The Reuters newsagency averages Newspoll, Morgan and Nielsen to get an overview of how the polls are trending.

    Following the latest three (mid-June), it had the three poll average on the 2PP at 57-43 Labor’s way. At 2004 poll, the average was 47.3-52.7 the government’s way. That gives you some idea of how big the change to ALP has been.

  16. AKP, just interested in the reasons why you believe the swing from the Aboriginal intervention won’t be seen for another week.

  17. Drop, that’s been the line from every Howard follower this year, that we have to wait a few polls after everything to see any real impact for the government. We’ve been waiting a long, long time on some of them…

  18. The Government is comfortably on track for election. As I predicted, the primary votes have settled into a 6 point band (40-46) and will stay there until the beginning of August. There will then be another significant reduction in the gap between the parties, after which they will be neck and neck. When Mr Howard calls the election, Labor’s vote will further drop to about 39/40 and the campaign itself will consolidate the Government’s lead.

    And, as always, astute observers don’t pay the slightest attention to the 2PP figures in these opinion polls, because they’re just fantasies cooked up by the pollsters. We just concentrate on the primaries. And there was no Morgan last week because their poll obviously favoured the Government, so Gazza scrapped it.

  19. So the unions have had no impact on Labor, and the Coalition’s discovery of Aboriginal disadvantage has had no impact on their fortunes either. Puts into perspective the value and utility of these stories.

    It’s a bizarre thing that voters have to tune into the media to find out what other voters are thinking, and how politicians are tailoring their messages to appeal to said voters as a result of said polls, etc.

  20. Steven Kaye, Coota Bulldog provides figures you can’t dispute (“Following the latest three (mid-June), it had the three poll average on the 2PP at 57-43 Labor’s way. At 2004 poll, the average was 47.3-52.7 the government’s way. That gives you some idea of how big the change to ALP has been.”)
    Puts your wishful scenario into perspective doesn’t it? Time to get real Steven.

  21. “The Government is comfortably on track for election.”

    The Government is *conceivably* on track. Not even the most ardent but rational government supporter would say the current position is comfortable.

    “When Mr Howard calls the election, Labor’s vote will further drop to about 39/40 and the campaign itself will consolidate the Government’s lead.”

    Didn’t Howard lose the 98 and 01 campaigns, and just break even in 96?

    Kevin Rudd may not be the greatest campaigner going around, but hoping for him to be as bad as Latham is a bit hopeful for Liberal supporters.

  22. There was a Newspoll a month or so back – can’t seem to find it now – that listed the relative importance of a dozen or so “issues”. From memory, aborignal issues ranked dead last in importance to the people polled; I’d expect this general apathy to extend to the latest pair of jackboots compassionate intervention by a caring government. .

  23. SK, before this year Morgan published fortnightly; he takes a sample every weekend and averages them. No Morgan last Friday suggests that the poll taken June 23/24 showed no real movement either way, and was not worth reporting separately. The issues poll had Labor way ahead in the top 4 issues and 6 of the top 7; it doesn’t seem to be reproduced at the Newspoll web site.

  24. I love following the polls – but the importance of these polls is only to be found in the interpretation, not in a single poll itself. Each poll is a statistical sample and any REAL figure can be within the margin of error. Any changes within the margin of error must mean that there is nothing we can draw out of the change.

    For example, the last four Galaxy polls show Labor with a primary vote of 49 / 49 / 44 / 46. If there is a 3% margin of error, then they are all within the margin of error. At 49% the minimum REAL level could be 46%. At 44% the maximum REAL level could be 47%. A drop of 5% could actually mean a REAL rise of 1%. Alternatively, it could indicate a REAL drop from 52% to 41% or 11%. What the constancy of the polls shows is that within the margin of error, the ALP vote is not dropping (or it has gone down slightly).

    The real interest is how we interpret the polls. The reading of the polls sets the political agenda. A few weeks ago, Newspoll showed a drop in ALP support but on the same day, Neilsen showed a rise in ALP support. The analysis in the Australian (Newspoll) was of course all about the government being back in the game.

    Bring on Newspoll tomorrow! (I hope)

  25. “Do you think Prime Minister John Howard is addressing problems in Aboriginal communities because of the upcoming federal election or because he really cares about the problem?”

    What an extraordinary question. For a start, it suggests he is actually tackling the issue, in a positive manner. I would suggest the opposite is the case. He is more likely making the situation worse.

  26. It seems to me that not agreeing with the proposition that Labor will probably win the election is the psephological equivalent of being a climate change denialist; forming a view based on prejudice, ideology or hope in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence to the contrary.

  27. Why don’t they just ask “Do you approve, or disapprove of the Prime Minister’s policy of having the Federal Government intervene in Aboriginal communities?”

  28. This poll would make the PM feel like crap. I do believe his heart is in the right place with the Indigenous thing. Bad timing, cynicism towards Howard (everything Howard does in 2007 Australians look at with raised eyebrows) and general trends have worked against it being successful. Which is a bit of a shame for people like Noel Pearson.

  29. And it seems to me those who are absolutely certain of a Labor win are like lovestruck teenagers

    “This really is the one for me, he’s never going to leave me, he’ll always love me”

    Fervent hope does not replace the reality of a) trendlines in polling, ie the election will be in October/November not July b) the benefits of incumbency and c) the refusal to countenance change in outdated ALP policy by Rudd

  30. Why don’t they just ask “Do you approve, or disapprove of the Prime Minister’s policy of having the Federal Government intervene in Aboriginal communities?”

    Precisely , Simon. Nice and neutral.

    You have to wonder if Galaxy is trying to pave the way into the brave new world of ‘push polling standards’. They can’t be that dumb that they don’t realise that their questions have begun to move towards the ‘leading’.

  31. I said “probably” – I’m not absolutely certain of anything. Though you’re right that I do fervently hope, like most people in politics I like to think that I can separate head from heart when forming a view.

    Re Edward’s points, a) I agree that it will get closer, b) surely the point is that incumbency is now at least as big a negative as a positive for Howard (the Galaxy poll numbers on the indigenous crisis say to me that many voters have formed a view and stopped listening), and c) whilst clearly Rudd has to distance himself somewhat from the unions on IR, surely it makes little sense to run a small target strategy on an issue where the govt is unpopular.

  32. C-Woo said ‘(everything Howard does in 2007 Australians look at with raised eyebrows) and general trends have worked against it being successful. Which is a bit of a shame for people like Noel Pearson.’

    1. Howard has only himself to blame for the electorate’s cynicism. He’s cried Wolf! too often.
    2. The intervention Pearson wants has the support of the opposition too.
    3. Howard is not the man for this job. New wine needs new wineskins. Bring on the election!

  33. Edward, I am not certain of a Labor win, but that with each passing month we are being asked to wait until the next month to form a view, because the Government must revive itself by then. Based on relatively stable polling in previous change of Govt years, it would seem a 55% result would be a reasonable outcome come election day. How many of you (and I think in a comment above) said in January if the numbers are still bad in July it is all over.

    But your points:

    (a) speaks for itself and you are right.
    (b) you seem to imply that the incumbency advantage hasn’t already played into the current numbers and will later? I think this is a hope more than an established truth; but if you have evidence of a sudden impact of incumbency advantage please provide it. You must also counter this with incumbency disadvantage and expect every Govt attempt to do anything to be met with “why didn’t this occur to you at any time in the last 11 years?” Fair question it seems to me – and one the incumbent can’t possibly answer.
    (c) please – it is a very personal view, it is contradicted by all the polling data to date to the extent you suggest it should poll. With actual reference to policy I don’t think you could hope to establish either that Labor Policy is ‘outdated’ pre-Rudd and I don’t think you could sensibly imagine a Labor leader more willing to dump policy with a backflip or two if you tried.

  34. Galaxy isn’t push-polling. Nor do I think the questions are necessarily leading. They posed a simple dichotomy about the intervention (‘electioneering’ or ‘humanitarian’). Is there a third option they left out?

    What makes such dualistic questions unsatisfactory is they tend to conflate many possible shades of thought.

    Does the facially neutral ‘do you approve or disapprove’ guarantee more transparent results? A respondent might say ‘no’ because they are a ‘Howard Hater’, yet be neutral on the policy. Or she might say ‘yes’, knowing little about the policy and being suspicious of what she knows, simply because she has been told ‘something must be done’.

  35. The interesting polling in recent times was in The Australian a couple of days ago, showing that a fair majority felt Howard was too harsh on unions, and only a minority thinking Labor was too soft on them.

    This rather explains the ineffectualness of the government (and media) assault on the labo(u)r movement.

    It is not counter-intuitive: data over decades has shown people increasingly less concerned about union power, as unions decline institutionally and structurally. Howard is simply hoping that as fewer people have experience with unions, he can play into fear of the unknown, but he might also be playing into fear of nothing at all. The latter is backed by data over many years now that people overall value the role of unions and would not like them to disappear.

    Whilst I don’t doubt the unions excessive political integration into the ALP is a net negative for Labor electorally, there is no evidence of widespread concern with their industrial influence.

    I suppose only Liberal central office can say for sure, but my guess is that the anti-union hysteria is an attempt to shore up their base, and win back some independent contractors, rather than a policy they expect to reap significant electoral rewards. Only an econnomic scare campaign will do the latter.

  36. anyway to add fuel to the fire i am joining the TWU this weekend as the Unions gear up for
    1.massive membership drive
    2.dedicated leaflet droppers/shopping centre volunteers to run ad infinitum
    3.The biggest demonstration of community support for unions and also the ALP
    4.and this will be maintained till the election increasing the TPP to 60% alp as earlier predicted.

  37. I don’t think it’s hard to understand why the union ‘issue’ has failed to gain much traction for the government. The strategy of bashing unions is a bit like the old generals who always fight the last war. Things have changed in the past 60 years, but as far as John Howard is concerned it’s still 1949 and he’s still fighting a union dominated, socialist labor party.

    The thing is though, that for most of us, unions haven’t been an issue for nearly thirty years. I’ve been in the workforce since 1980 and in all that time have had hardly anything to do with unions. Maybe the sort of work I do has had something to do with it, but I suspect that for most of us under 50, John Howard and his mates portraying unions as big bad bogeymen just raises a laugh of contempt – “there goes mad Uncle John again, still ranting about the Communists taking over the country”.

    As for the NT intervention, John Howard may be quite sincere in his concern, but no-one believes that he is not doing this first and foremost as a last throw of the dice to get re-elected. By looking prime-ministerial, he hopes he can get back some of the “doctors’ wives” he has alienated so badly over the years. However, the question “why have you left it until 3 months before an election to do anything about it” is pretty well unanswerable. Throw in a few more questions about why he is extinguishing land-title at the same time (or whatever it is he is doing) and any goodwill he might have gained drowns in a sea of cynicism.

  38. For the information of members and their guests.

    At this point in time, all polls (including Morgan phone polls) for June give the following totals,

    Primary votes – Coalition 39.4, ALP 46.9, others 13.7, TPP 44/56.

    At the same point in the last 4 election cycles, using Newspoll figures and utilising a three poll moving average, we get the following figures:

    1996 Primary votes – Coalition 46.5 ALP 39, TPP 53.3/46.7
    Election result – Coalition 47 ALP 38.7, TPP 53.7/46.3.

    1998 Primary votes – Coalition 40 ALP 41, TPP 48.9/51.1
    Election result – Coalition 39.5 ALP 40.1, TPP 49/51.

    2001 Primary votes – Coalition 40 ALP 42, TPP 47.2/52.8
    Election result – Coalition 43.1 ALP 37.8, TPP 51/49.

    2004 Primary votes – Coalition 43.7 ALP 41.3, TPP 49.7/50.3
    Election result – Coalition 46.7 ALP 37.6, TPP 52.7/47.3.

    2007 Primary votes – Coalition 37.6 ALP 48.3, TPP 43.2/56.8
    Election result TBA.

    Election result speculation, using the past 4 election patterns as the guide:

    1996 pattern – Coalition 37.3 ALP 48.8, TPP 42.8/57.2.

    1998 pattern – Coalition 37.1 ALP 47.4, TPP 43.5/56.5.

    2001 pattern – Coalition 40.7 ALP 44.1, TPP 46.8/53.2.

    2004 pattern – Coalition 40.6 ALP 44.6, TPP 46.5/53.5.   

    If history is any guide, it suggests a swing from 5.9% to 9.9% to the ALP.

  39. Did anyone else see the new ACTU ad last night? As I mentioned earlier I thought it was devastating because it cut to the heart of why they are on the way out.

    For those that didn’t, there’s a cliched boardroom scene where the pinstripes decide to use the new IR system to cut their wages bill by 10%. Then they move on to the next agenda item – executive bonuses.

    It works because it neatly encapsulates the fairness issue. The economy may be booming but there’s a sense that most ordinary wage earners aren’t getting their fair share. Costello, perhaps unwittingly, admits as much when he talks about the profit share of GDP being at record levels.

  40. Consistent with Newspoll last fortnight I’d say… Galaxy just do preferences better.

    Newspoll tomorrow will be interesting. Coalition supporters will be hoping for a primary vote above 39 from someone other than Galaxy. Labor supporters just need to hope the trend since March is not sustained through July and August.

    AC Nielsen have shown a tendency to change their polling dates to avoid competing with Newspoll in the last year or two… any of our more notable contributors got any idea whether they might go next weekend, or wait until a fortnight after? Or are they just going to accept the clash?

  41. Leopold Says: “Labor supporters just need to hope the trend since March is not sustained through July and August.”
    Newspoll 2-4 March 2007# 43 57
    Newspoll 16-18 March 2007# 39 61
    Newspoll 30 March-1 April 2007# 43 57
    Newspoll 13-15 April 2007# 41 59
    Newspoll 27-29 April 2007# 43 57
    Newspoll 11-13 May 2007# 41 59
    Newspoll 18-20 May 2007# 43 57
    Newspoll 21-24 May 2007# 45 55
    Newspoll 25-27 May 2007# 40 60
    Newspoll 15-17 June 2007# 44 56
    Which trend would that be?

  42. “They posed a simple dichotomy about the intervention (’electioneering’ or ‘humanitarian’). Is there a third option they left out?”

    Graeme it is the option of Howard both “electioneering” and NOT “addressing problems in Aboriginal communities”.

  43. I’m misusing the word ‘trend’ Gary.

    But I suggest a quick gander at Bryan Palmer’s site, linked below, will answer your question.

    I use a slightly different methodology meself (no Morgan, calculate my own 2PP with a consistent methodology) but the result is about the same. A clear movement away from Labor over the past 3.5 months, somewhere in the vicinity of 3-4%. As the trendlines indicate, that is sufficient to make an October/November election highly competitive.

    A point in Labor’s favour: in 2001 and 2004, the governments recovery essentially stalled after June, until dramatic events (9/11, election being called) intervened. However, I have faith in the ineptitude of Rudd and his backers (Gillard, Robertson etc) being able to generate a further decline in Labor’s position over the next couple of months.

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