Newspoll: 56-44

We’re apparently back to the routine of fortnightly Tuesday Newspoll surveys. Tomorrow’s effort shows Labor’s two-party lead steady on 56-44 and their primary vote up from 46 per cent to 48 per cent. The increase comes at the expense of minor parties and the Greens, with the Coalition vote unchanged at 39 per cent. Also featured are questions on the government’s intervention into Aboriginal communities (strong thumbs up) and whether troops should be returned from Iraq (two bob each way). The Prime Minister has at least narrowed the preferred leader deficit to 42-43, his best result since February.

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.

275 comments on “Newspoll: 56-44”

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  1. I must confess myself fascinated by the eerie succession of News and ACN polls with Coalition on 39. Only one poll by either pollster since mid-May has not said Coalition 39.

    ALP primary looks to be around 47, as I suggested 2-3 weeks back.

    Government’s recovery may be stalling here… they’d certainly want to see the gap at less than 7 points in one of the next two polls.

  2. Well, the Australian’s editorial following this Newspoll is true to form.Reading it would give the impression (as is intended) that this is a disaster for Rudd.

    Even 49% wanting Australia out of Iraq on an immediate or scheduled basis, as opposed to 31% supporting the Goverment’s line, is somehow a major victory for Howard.

    As predicted, the preferred prime ministerial imbecility is now of overwhelming significance: it apparently indicates “the momentum behind Mr Howard”.

    All this “shifts the political dynamic” in favour of the Coalition and sets “a series of future traps for Labor”.

    Pity they dont tell us what 56 – 44 two party preferred, and 48 -39 primary, shifts.

    Probably their bowels…

  3. How is it we tolerate a bias press? Shouldn’t these papers and their journalists be confronted in car-parks to explain themselves and get back to non-partisan reporting?

    If they asked the question should we stay or leave Iraq you would have got a 70/30 answer. The Aboriginal question is silly – yes of course we should help stop child abuse!

    Seems as though the Govt Gazette is trying to stir up a Terrorism fear campaign, and no doubt there is some plan with the Govt for later. Will they orchestrate the SAS to raid some poor unsuspecting freighter again?
    Possum has shown that Australians seem to be allergic to Rabbits actualy causing Howard to lose ground – so Mr Howard keep them coming.

    Hmm Newspoll stuck on 39% But I suspect it is more likely 37% But hey, they are only deluding themselves.

    We are all waiting to see how outrageous and disgusting the Howard govt and their pet press will get in trying to buy votes.

  4. I leave you with this thought:

    the most interesting part of Mr Shanahan’s article is the last two paragraphs, when he says there has been speculation about Howard inside the government and mentions the leadership discussion last year.

    A month ago, Shanahan was telling us people talking like that were ‘out of the loop’. Intriguing change of rhetoric.

  5. I think the ALP’s stellar poll levels are pretty much the result of Rudd’s popularity.

    Ergo, I wonder if Howard closing the gap in the “Preferred Prime Minister” rating really is bad news for the ALP, in the long run.

    Howard’s boost is probably due to his adventures in the Territory. It’s hardly a story that’s “media friendly” though. Ergo I doubt it will be in the news much longer.

    If it is in the news much longer, that will only be because it hits some stumbling block (political, legal, or logistic). In which case it will be more of a negative for Howard than a plus.

    Just my 2c worth.

  6. Actually, Kina, on reading the Newspoll data (as opposed to that selective part of it contained in the Oz editorial), I see that in fact 63% want an immediate or scheduled return of troops from Iraq, with 6% undecided. That’s two thirds. Some support for the Government there!

  7. As I predicted earlier, when asked whether they approve of the Government’s intervention in the Northern Territory the vast majority of respondents have answered in the affirmative, exposing the worthlessness of that last Galaxy poll.

    Meanwhile, the Government’s support continues to be understated in the latest Newspoll, once again highlighting the unreliability of telephone polling. Perhaps, when the Government is re-elected in November, the media will finally take a long hard look at their obsession with opinion polls.

  8. I am afraid Steven the real story here is that that the Liberal vote, which was in freefall had been staging a modest recovery since March. The 3 most recent polls, including Newspoll have seen the Liberal vote either stall or start to slide again. The most significant trends emerging from the latest polls are the increase in the ALP primary vote. It seems that satisfaction with Mr. Howard increases as the likelihood of his defeat increases.

  9. So Steven’s position is that all opinion polls, no matter how conducted, understate the Liberal vote. Well, he may be right, but he needs to show us an argument to support this view, otherwise it is just worthless wishful thinking. I suspect Steven’s argument goes: I know the government will be re-elected, therefore the polls must be wrong. This fails logic 101. We should reach conclusions from evidence, not vice versa.

    As for the Indigenous issue, of course most people support Howard’s actions. I support it, and I’m a card-carrying ALP member. Does it make me one whit more likely to vote for Howard? Of course not. OK so I’m a partisan, but the fact is that hardly anyone sees this as a party-political issue. As I said earlier, most Australians are pleased that “something is being done” (even if the something later turns out to be misguided, as usually happens in this matter), but equally they feel that “it should have been done years ago.” These two sentiments cancel each other out, meaning a net political effect of nil.

  10. Interesting, but not surprising is it that the Govt Gazette newspaper is all ga ga about Howards preferred PM measure improving to the highest its been since February, putting a positive spin for the Coalition up front.

    It is also interesting but rediculous that this bump up in Howards Preferred PM rating is attributed entirely to the NT Intervention- probably for want of other logical/plausible reasons than anything else-a single factor perception is ignorant at best in my humble opinion.

    I also note that the Preferred PM improvement for Howard dialogue neglected to pay any attention to the retirement issue and the Costello factor- again curious but not surprising.

    Still, if you want to take preferred PM as at least as equal an indicator of voter intent as the 2PP outcome of the poll (which I dont), Howard has a long, long way to go before he can get anywhere near the average 11.5 percentage points advantage he had over Latham before the 2004 Federal election (Wikipedia).

    However you want to spin it, 56-44 in this poll and a similar outcome in the last of the quadrella (next week ?) does not auger well for a Coalition recovery in the polls- Somewhere in between 57-43 and 53-47 is looking like the range debates about the outcome can comfortably tee off from, at least in my mind.

    I agree with those who see the NT intervention as a non issue re the outcome of the coming election, as I stated weeks ago when someone suggested this was going to be some kind of ‘rabbit’ out of the hat for Howard. Interesting weeks ahead- cant wait to see the spin the Govt. Gazette newspaper puts on the next poll if it stays around the same mark.

  11. Yay I was right on two counts… 1) Dennis’ headline in the Oz would focus on the preferred PM poll and 2) the Oz would do a second poll which it new the Gov’t would do well (indigenous policy for the NT) in to mask the bad news arising from the voting intentions. Whatever spin and gloss the Oz tries, it can’t eclipse yet another round of shocking news for the Gov’t.

  12. Oh wow … the editorial in the Oz is breathtaking … claiming that staying on in Iraq is the most popular individual option at 31% … despite a combined 48% wanting a withdrawal of troops. Of course, the luddites at the Oz requested that question be split to ask for 1) immediate withdrawal and 2 definitive timetable to allow staying the course to have the plurality of the vote. And this is all ‘fertile ground’ for the Gov’t. This is the worst editorial the Oz has yet to offer (and coming from a very low base anyway).

  13. They live in a parallel universe over at “The Australian”, on two counts:

    1. The way they interpret the polling data, has them all spinning the facts like the proverbial whirling dervish,

    2. That anyone gives a rats about what they say, or should that be gives a rabbit?


  14. “Howards matches Rudd in polls, ALP ahead
    Monday Jul 9 23:56 AEST”
    Nine have a quite funny piece where one minute J Ho is back but then the reality of the figures dampens the tone.
    oh well at least newspoll had time to fix the 58-42 result-though i would have thought 53-47 was this one supposed to read-some sub editors going to cop it now

  15. In all aspects, pay very little attention to anything but primary vote intention – this is the hardest question to assign an ambiguity to. TPP often is skewed by previous election intentions where there may have been a protest and is often educated guesswork. Preferred PM and other opinionated questions are just rhetorical drivel.

    Anything over 42% for Labor, with Greens preferences in tow, will see them have a high chance of victory. Currently it sits at between 46-51. That is possible landslide territory, with Labor picking up seats it never dreamed of in 2005.

    Also, this is a “snapshot”. Examine primary vote intentions over a trend to determine how this election will go. Currently we see them both relatively flatline. If August comes with it still flatline, this race is over.

    APEC is negative territory for Howard – standing next to Dubya is not a pretty picture at the moment. He has to pull a massive rabbit from his worn hat to get out of this mess.

    Believe me, he has one – terrorism. I will not be surprised if an incident occurs in the leadup to APEC which will focus everyone’s attention to our “safe” leaders in Howard and Bush.

  16. To mangle 1996 … everyone I know is waiting for John Howard with a cricket bat. Of course, I’m in Victoria, can’t speak for the rest of the country.

  17. I get the feeling this week the knives are being taken out but they need to cut more than Howard – who really has only been a jumped up solicitor who has lucked on each election.

    Andrews, Coonan, Abbott, Nelson and Downer MUST also go – these people are either dead wood or depised by the electorate. I would get rid of Costello too – but I guess he is the next in line for the leaders job.

    So I wonder how they will execute Howard? Will he have a sudden illnes and have to step down?

    I think dumping Howard will go half way to saving our democracy.

  18. Why is just about everyone assuming that the Liberals will pull back the Labor lead in the actual campaign? Why not consider the possibility that Kevin Rudd will win the campaign as well as the pre-campaign and pull even more votes to Labor?


    It would appear that only Bill Leak has not drunk the Kool-Aid.

    With all due respect to Leak (and a great deal is due), it’s a little sad when the most accurate interpretation of polling in a newspaper is from the cartoonist.

    I was also wondering if anyone knows about Peter Macdonald’s intentions in Warringah? If he does run, the margin would be about 5% (based on the 2001 result, the 04 swing to Labor and the 06 redistribution in favour of Abbott). Presumably that could fall.

    Finally, can someone explain to me how “bringing the troops home by mid-2008” is not the same as “setting a future definite date to bring the troops home”? The whole “mid-2008” seems pretty definite and pretty future, but maybe that’s just me.

  20. Grooski Says: “Believe me, he has one – terrorism. I will not be surprised if an incident occurs in the leadup to APEC which will focus everyone’s attention to our “safe” leaders in Howard and Bush.” Or will people blame them for putting us into this position? I think Rudd has been working on this theme.
    Thanks again Steven Kaye for today’s joke. A real ripper. I’m still laughing.

  21. Chris Curtis I think because the ALP is running at historically high levels. Looking just statistically, you are justified in assuming the high primary vote and TPP will come down. But we may be looking at a landslide, in which case of course they won’t.

    The polls tell me one thing though. Support for Rudd is very stable. One of the biggest barriers to the ALP is the hostile media. But Rudd has weathered every barrage that JWH has thrown. I think this shows that the media pro-Howard narrative, and all JWH’s tricks are not working. As Howard himself said, if people have stoped listening to the govt, they’re gone.

  22. “We should reach conclusions from evidence, not vice versa.”

    Pffft, this is the internet 😉

    “Why is just about everyone assuming that the Liberals will pull back the Labor lead in the actual campaign?”

    Because that’s what always happens. It happened in 2004 and… 2004 and…

  23. I remember a while ago on Ozpolitics, before the comments function was removed, someone (I think it was Antony Green [apologies to antony if my memory is failing]) saying that come end July we’ll have a good idea about how the Federal Election will go (if the polls stay like this – which they have). Given this poll, and a fortnightly rhythm, the next Newspoll should be fascinating for those hoping for a change.

  24. I’m curious as to the rubberiness of rounding in the TPP. Labor gains 2% from Greens and Others, but the TPP stays the same? That suggests over 75% of preferences at the last poll went to Labor. Either that or the ‘real’ figures for Labor are akin to 55.6 (last Newspoll) and 56.4 (current poll).

    Whilst junkies were waiting with bated breath for this poll, the real headline should be on p 15: ‘Poll shock: no Change’.

    The government remains in the doldrums, and any fluctuation in the figures is indistinguishable from statistical noise.

    We won’t know any different until he calls the election and really ramps up the negative campaign. Unless the RBA raises rates, which will seal the coffin. I doubt they will – the Board is stacked with businesspeople, not a few of them government-aligned (McGauchie, Morgan…)

  25. Labor’s primary vote in last 4 polls, and swing from previous poll by same organisation

    Galaxy 46 up 2
    Morgan face-to-face 50.5, up 2.5
    Morgan phone 49 up 5.5
    Newspoll 48 up 2

    That’s four polls published in a week that all have Labor’s primary vote up at least 2%. Allowing for the bias in Morgan F2F, I would say that Labor has improved from about 46-39 in mid-June to about 48-39 now. In 2PP that’s probably 57-43 Labor. To win the election, the govt needed to keep increasing its vote every month; instead, they have fallen back since mid-June. This is clearly very, very grim news for the govt.

  26. John Howard PM gets a preferred PM rating of 42% and the headlines shout he is on the way back. Doesn’t that just show how much trouble he is in?

  27. The Morgan Phone polls are of under 600 people (allowing for the 4% ‘won’t say’). That must be an MoE of nearly 4%, which would rather explain the apparent fluctuations in it. I wouldn’t call it ‘bias’, just a quasi-Mickey sample size.

  28. Critics of JWH (such as Kina) seem to think it is far more powerful to claim that JWH threatens the fabric of our liberal democratic values. Why not simply say (like other posters have on this thread) that they disagree with his policies and propose to action their disagreement by putting the Coalition last on their ballot papers at the forthcoming Federal election? Such critics can still express their opinions as “(w)rath-kindled gentle(people)” who detest “be(ing) ruled by (JWH)”, but without making (self defeating) hyperbolic statements.

  29. In Adelaide yesterday, Rudd visited not only super-marginal Kingston but also the long shots Boothby and Sturt, saying “I think we’re more than competitive in those two seats as I believe we’re more than competitive in the other three [Kingston, Makin and Wakefield].”

    The Advertiser says: “It is believed continued strong polling and internal party research has emboldened Labor strategists who now regard both seats as potential outside chances.”

    Rudd said: “In South Australia we are targeting not just three seats, we are targeting a lot more than that and we will be throwing every conceivable resource at securing as many seats as possible in South Australia, including the ones I visited today.”

    In Boothby, held by Andrew Southcott, Labor’s Nicole Cornes needs a 5.7% swing, and in Sturt, held by Christopher Pyne, Mia Handshin needs a 6.8 % swing.

  30. For those at the OZ getting their rocks off with the Preferred PM poll on the 28-29 February 1996 (one month roughly from the election) Keating lead Howard 45 40. Wow, Keating was on the way back too.

  31. The Australian’s take on this poll is way out there in la-la-land. But it is what most people have come to expect from what is probably the most pro-Howard rag in the country.

    The FACT is that the latest Newspoll is a shocker for the government. Despite the budget, despite a union scare campaign, despite a Rudd-economic scare campaign, and despite the Aboriginal saga, there has been little to no movement in the polls.

    These are desperate times for Howard and his hopeless hounds. So what next? Change of leader?

    By the way, forget about the possibility of a manufactured terrorist incident. I don’t think Australians will buy it. Over the past few years, Howard has been fighting the Iraqis, sprucing up border security, and apparently working to make us safer. Any terrorist attacks on Australian soil will only reflect badly on Howard and might even give further weight to the belief that the Iraq war has turned us into a bigger terrorist target. Howard would have to be truly desperate to go down the road of setting up an attack here – a huge gamble – and that is leaving aside the completely unethical, immoral, virtually psychopathic nature of even contemplating such a thing (not that that would be an obstacle for Howard).

  32. “Coalition in strong position for the 2008 double dissolution.

    “Labor has won only 82 seats in Saturday’s federal election, demonstrating that the Liberals have come back under John Howard’s determined leadership and are on track to winning in the double dissolution likely to be held next year. Kevin Rudd must surely realise from this disastrous result for him that he must drop the union connection and impose AWAs throughout the country.” (The Australian,? November, 2007)

  33. Leo… way back up the top.

    That Coalition primary being stuck around 40 could be a bad thing, or a really bad.

    There’s a fair bit of volatility for the Coalition primary below 40.If they’re simply stuck at around 38-40 and cant find more voters, that’s a bad thing for them in anyones language.

    But what could be worse is if that 40 mark actually shows a level of support that they fall below then push back up, testing the level before falling again.

    If it’s the former it would suggest that at this stage of the electoral cycle they need to do a lot more to get a higher primary.

    If it’s the latter, it would seem to suggest that the level of support for the ALP and large parts of the minors is rock solid, leaving the the Coalition only with the undecideds to play with.

  34. I want to see Howard gone but I don’t believe for one moment Howard would be involved in manufacturing any type of attack on Australia. I believe him to be politically devious and a truth stretcher (to be kind) but not a terrorist.

  35. The Galaxy question regarding the NT intervention was IMHO legitimate – but it would have been better if they asked people’s opinion of the policy as well. It’s entirely consistent that voters might think that, on balance, a policy is correct, but also be cynical about the Government’s motives. They may also be thinking: “what have they been doing for the last 10 years”? In any case, it was always unlikely that this issue would sway the “aspirationals”.
    As for Dennis Shanahan, I’m waiting with bated breath for his announcement that Napoleon has returned in triumph from St Helena. The Oz gets more entertaining the closer the prospect of a Labor victory.

  36. Noocat says: ‘The Australian’s take on this poll is way out there in la-la-land. But it is what most people have come to expect from what is probably the most pro-Howard rag in the country.’

    I’m sad to agree with the first part of that – I used to take the Oz daily. Now only the AFR is left as a serious or national paper.

    But ‘what most people expect’ is an overstatement. The Oz (mis)uses its position as ‘agenda setter’, and seeing other media outlets buy the spin on its Newspoll, rather than just reporting the figures and mentioning the MoE is the best example of this.

  37. “JWH threatens the fabric of our liberal democratic values”

    totally agree Kina -anyone else getting upset by that statement must have a stake in seeing it come true and be part of the huggers category

  38. Surley ‘The Australian’ would have a job for this bloke!

    Interesting menacing paragraph from the Editorial of ‘The Australian’

    The Newspoll support for the Government’s plan no doubt reflects a heart-felt desire that something be done to protect the rights of children. The Australian supports those efforts and appreciates the need to avoid unnecessary bureaucracy and introduce individual opportunity in terms of home ownership and employment to help break the cycle of welfare dependence. With NT Chief Minister Clare Martin signalling a challenge to the Government’s plans, federal Labor must think carefully before joining critics of a re-examination of the Aboriginal permit system and changes to land tenure arrangements, or risk putting itself on the wrong side of the public debate.

    So there you have it. Watch out Labor. If you dare to challenge the suspencion of land rights you will be painted as ‘pedophiles friends’ by the Murdoch media.

  39. Regarding the Newspoll results on the N.T. intervention. Surely what is shown here is that most voters think the Government should’ve stopped illegal activities from occurign ages ago. The Governmetn simply hasn’t won any new votes for doing something that they should always do – protecting adults and children from violence and sexual abuse.

  40. Sorry to temper the early Rudd celebrations somewhat, but I notice still a lot of undecided numbers appearing both in preferred prime minister and 2PP polling data coming through at this point.

    I’m interested what peolpe feel are the historical patterns of ‘undecided’s final voting flows in Federal Elections and whether this level is normal at “this stage of the electoral cycle” (Plese excuse the latest commentariat buzzword).

    Someone mentioned eariler that due to inevitable late swings and incumbency advantages to Howard that Labor will need to be going into the election with at least a 55% 2PP to have a reaistic chance of winning.

    Do people agree ? ( Wondering i should start to begin checking out oportunities on Portlandbet etc)

  41. I wasn’t so much commenting on whether it was good or bad as I was just bemused by the sheer consistency of it… you usually see some variation in polls, but 6/7 from News and ACN have had the combined Coalition vote at 39.

    Obviously it’s simply not good enough, and they need to see progress in ACN next week and the following Newspoll.

    At the moment I still favour the government, but they have to keep moving up every month. Maybe that is too big an ask.

  42. “Public endorses continued reform

    “Now that Senate results have been finalised, it is clear that the Australian public has accepted coalition control of the Senate, thus putting a stop to Labor’s notion that reform can be undone. This public endorsement of workplace flexibility should give Kevin Rudd pause for thought. If he is to remain in office, he must give up any thoughts of a double dissolution and embrace the world of the modern workplace. A double dissolution would put him, Labor’s connection with the dinosaur unions and his backward-looking IR policy under sustained scrutiny from a renewed and invigorated Liberal Party. If union pressure makes him persist in his attempts to undo reform, the Liberals are in a very strong position to have him voted out of office.” (The Australian, ? December, 2007)

  43. I agree with Dembo. The mood is increasingly hostile towards Howard in Victoria. And remember that Howard failed to get a 2pp majority in Vic at 1996,1998, and 2001. Even in 2004 the ALP got a majority in seats. Clearly shows that Melbourne has been decidely anti-Howard during his whole prime ministership. Would have liked to have seen the state by state breakdowns in Newspoll.

  44. Chris

    Labor will win 92 seats, the coalition will pick up 2 Senate seats in 2 states and one territory giving the greens the balance of power in the senate.

  45. The drop in support for minor parties is interesting.

    Usually when a change of government is imminent, the apprehension leads voters to hedge their bets with the minors. The Democrats’ vote rose in both 1983 and 1996.

    Even if the Howard government is returned, it is almost certain to lose its Senate majority – but to whom?

    None of the Greens have much of a chance. In Tasmania they are holding their own while in other states the candidates are so anonymous that their personal vote won’t count for much. Only in the ACT do they have a chance of winning, but even that is a hard ask. Greens often do well in WA, but to get a Senator up they would need Labor to be weaker than it is.

    In NSW, Peter Andren is the de facto Democrat candidate and well placed to harvest both conservative dissatisfaction in rural seats and the latte-sipping vote in Sydney last harvested federally by Ted Mack. He will beat third-placed Liberal Marise Payne, who ironically has done what she could to moderate the excesses of the Howard government.

    In Queensland, Andrew Bartlett is the actual Democrat candidate and will get preferences from third-Labor, the Green Who’s Not Drew Hutton, and other lefties. Thereafter he takes his chances against combined third-Coalition, Hanson and James Baker.

    In South Australia, Nick Xenophon’s movement and/or Family First will probably get a Senator up, but this will be at the expense of the Democrats rather than along side them. Mrs Smith has settled back into anonymity, leaving her party unable to court voters while its latter-day Mrs Rochester shrieks away from the state upper house.

    You’d hope that the major parties are awake up to Family First now that Fielding’s bait-and-switch has become so tiresome. Polling suggests that Victoria and WA will return three of each of the major parties.

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