Reuters Poll Trend: 54.9-45.1

The latest semi-monthly Reuters Poll Trend figure, a weighted composite of results from Morgan, Newspoll and ACNielsen, continues the gentle trend back to the Coalition that has been evident since May. On the primary vote, Labor is down from 47.7 per cent to 46.9 per cent and the Coalition up from 39.5 per cent to 40.4 per cent. Kevin Rudd’s preferred prime minister rating is steady on 46.4 per cent, while John Howard’s is down from 40.5 per cent to 40.2 per cent.

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.

429 comments on “Reuters Poll Trend: 54.9-45.1”

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  1. Another Morgan poll – phone, 589 sample.
    Two Party Preferred result ALP 58.5 % Coalition 41.5%

    Morgan phone polls seem to be consistently better for the ALP than face to face polling.

  2. It looks like there has been some settling down of the numbers over the last four months. Labor seemed to have moved from around 57.5% 2PP to around 55%, and on primaries from about 49% to 47%. But really, much of this is statistical noise. If we are to extrapolate these “trends” over the next four months, then an election day of 8th December (the last realistic date) will see a result of a big Labor win, with about 53% of the 2PP and 45% primary.

    Which brings us back to Howard’s basic problem – he is fast running out of time to turn things around.

  3. It’s interesting that the primary vote figures strongly reflect the preferred PM figures.

    I was just watching the 7.30 Report and apparently in Question Time today Swan asked Costello why he dosen’t have the guts to challenge the PM. Challenge the PM???

    Mate, Cossie couldn’t challenge a year 5 girl to a game of jacks. He wouldn’t have the courage to take up knitting in case he pricked himself with the needle. Why, if he ever wanted a sex change he’d only be up for the cost of a couple of implants!

    What I find astonishing is that Beazley was leader of the opposition for some seven years and in that time I don’t think I ever saw a Q Time without Costello calling Beazley weak.

    If the coalition are serious about winning this election, they should come clean to the Australian people and explain that Howard will resign midway through the next term followed by a succession to Turnbull. They would gain more respect with their honesty (not that they have any LOL) and improve their chances with the electorate no end IMHO.

  4. Should have notice the date of the poll.

    the commentary refers to a reduction in the ALP lead as we get to th election date.

    Even if that is the case historically – what i am wondering is whether we are in new territory given that we have been in an election mode for most of this year?

    An interesting qustion to be answered by events is whether previous history will be an accurate predictor of movements once the election has been called.

    for the detached observer and academic analyst this is going to be an interesting election.

  5. If you extrapolate 53-47 that into seats I wonder what we end up with , notwithstanding swings not being uniform, etc etc. I would not be surprised that 53-47 was the actual result or close to it on election night.

    The 7.30 report basically repeated the story re Costello from last night, except to add that Costello elected not to straight out deny everything that was reported in today’s media grabs.

    I wonder why Labor elected not to direct any questions to JWH, going after Costello only.

    I did note that it was Swan who did most of the squaking about it in the HOR today, leaving Rudd to retain a positive, proactive discourse/image in tact.

    Interesting to read Rudd is reportedly in negotiations with the Tasmanian Labor Government regarding some sort of health policy assistance for Braddon, sorry the Mersey Hospital or the district at least.

  6. I can half understand aggregating the primary vote figures from different polls.

    But is it sensible to try and construct a TPP given the different and largely half-baked methodologies to measure that used by each poll?

  7. This clearly extrapolates to a massive labor win. Kevin Rudd, the man of integrity, will lead Australia out of it’s slavery and failure to a glorious new future of hope and opportunity for all. There will be some liberal die-hards who object, but they will shrivel and die in the glorious light of the new leader’s radiance and truth. All who hate the truth will die. There. I’ve said it. Gosh it feels good :p

    So says Cona ^H^H^H Rob

  8. I would be very hesitant to do a straight line extrapolation from this trend, especially as the Liberals are breaking up as they go along. Not only internally, but also with the their key supporters; e.g. the legal profession over Haneef and now with their obedient media hacks (who are happy to keep government secrets for years) over Costello.

    August may be fondly looked back as the golden days!

  9. Probably not Graeme, but that’s the best they can come up with right now, or so I am told. I don’t understand their methods either. Much as I try to by fumbling around the work of Possum and others, its befuddling.

    I much prefer the more ‘objective’ approach of more exacting sciences, but I don’t have the stomach for graphs and maths and calculations and all that stuff. I leave that to the ‘experts’ and hope they know what they are talking about.

    If I had the time, I would sit my son down and get him to explain some of the concepts to me, he is clever with that stuff. But the only maths I get to discuss with him is how much is in my wallet and how much I will be able to hand over without crying.

  10. I know there are a variety of ways the major pollsters come up with their 2pp figure (based on preference flows at last election etc.) Do any of them ask the 15% or so of voters who are currently suggesting they will vote for a minor party, which of the major parties they would preference first? Surely it would make the 2pp figures more legitimate and save them from some of the embarrassing miscalulations which have occurred in the past.

  11. I think AC Neilsen and Morgan ask for majory party preference if the person interviewed nominates a minor party for their first preference. Galaxy and Newspoll use the preference flows from the previous federal election.

    Someone correct me if this is wrong.

  12. Yep. Although Morgan’s headline TPP results use the 2004 preference allocations. They report both though.

    A few months back i remember somebody posting figures here that demonstrated the method ACNielsen/Morgan uses is extremely volatile. (from memory there are sometimes up to 20+% variations in preference allocations from poll to poll.) Using the preference flows from the last election thus provides a bit of stability.

  13. Extrapolation is not a valid approach. Any survey is a subset of the population, even if it is the subset that is those that will participate in the survey. If I said we did an survey leading up to the last election of people who shop at Coles. In the lead up to the election they polled 44%, 46% and 48%……the result was 51%.

    Now I say the current results are 43% 45% with one to go ….does that mean the election result will be 47% or 50%?

    You need to compare the polls in the lead up to the elections in 98, 01, 04 with current polls.

    Morgan face-to-face will favour Labor because people don’t want to say to a young uni student that they are heartless and care more about their mortgage and employment than about the civil rights of a terrorist or the working conditions of the girl who serves their fries and coke.

    I’m betting undecided break to coalition 4-to-1 and 1% of Labor break to coalition.

  14. ifonly, it`s obviously useful to compare polls in the lead-up to previous elections with this one. It`s also very dangerous to try and base predictions on the results and polling trends of these very different and distinct events.

  15. The Morgan poll trend contribution is from July 29, not last week’s phone poll which was stronger for ALP.

    Reuters stays with the face-to-face results to avoid having comparison problems between it and the phone poll results.

  16. An important point Coota. Morgan phone-poll has remained about 3% points higher for Labor than the other big 4, including Morgan f2f. Ifonly, if your interpretation were correct, wouldnt you expect the reverse?

  17. OK for example here is Morgan polls leading up to each poll (I have guessed mid nov for this poll) and averaged over 2 polls to reduce volatility.

    98 01 04 07
    46.5 43.0 45.0 43.0
    48.0 41.5 45.3 42.5
    49.0 41.5 46.0 41.8
    47.8 43.3 47.0 41.3
    47.8 44.3 46.3 43.0
    47.8 44.3 46.0 45.3
    46.8 44.0 46.5 45.5
    44.5 43.8 47.3
    43.3 45.5 47.3
    43.0 46.5 46.5
    43.8 47.0 46.8
    45.5 49.0 45.5
    45.0 49.5 44.3
    45.5 52.5 44.8
    45.8 51.8 46.3
    44.8 48.0 48.5
    47.0 46.5 49.3
    48.9 51.0 52.8

    {wonder how this will format on this forum}

  18. I am a fan of this site and very occasional contributor. Probably showing my age not to mention naivety but what does the abbreviation LOL stand for? Reckon I’ve worked out the other commonly used abbreviations but this one has got me stumped.

  19. … and if you extrapolate, the coalition vote hits 100% in August 2012.

    All hail John Xiaoping! Spontaneous demonstrations of gratitude and joy are expected!

    Extrapolation may be fun, but its possibly not all that relevant.

  20. For mine, the big sleeper in this election year – which in my view has yet to come through in the polls – is people’s debt levels. People are in debt up to their eyeballs, much more so now than even three years ago. It’s all very well to look at the polls (I guess that’s all we’ve got to go on) however it’s my very strong belief that the electorate will not hand the keys of the Lodge to Rudd unless they trust him to do as well with the economy as they perceive the Coalition has.

  21. Thanks for the link to the ozpolitics calculator, Simon. A nice little toy to play around with, to be sure.

    The problem is, as most people around here would know, swings are almost never uniform.

    The Possum has some interesting analysis of the recent quarterly Newspoll data that suggests a lot of those deserting Howard this time around are doing so where the Government can least afford it: In its marginal and some not-so marginal seats. In such circumstances, even an average National swing of relatively modest proportions (leaving the ALP on 53 to 55 2pp) could see some real carnage in the Coalition’s parliamentary representation.

    Wasn’t the reverse part of Labor’s problem in 1998? I seem to recall it picked-up a decent swing then, but in all the wrong places (mainly in ALP marginals and safe seats).

    Looks like the reverse may well be happening now.

  22. Your recollection of 1998 sounds right. There were huge swings in seats Labor already held, but smaller swings in government held marginals, which made many even more marginal, but not enough to make them fall.

  23. Good to see some of you are starting to see the light and are questioning the 2PP figures thrown up the pollsters. Even Gary Morgan himself – in a rare moment of candour – once admitted no one could accurately extrapolate them. Just look at the primary votes, as I do.

    Meanwhile, what a mess of a Question Time today for Labor. They wasted all their questions on this latest ridiculous leadership “crisis”, and the Treasurer responded by kicking their butts all around the chamber. Poor things must all be suffering from brain damage now.

    Also, Joe Hockey revealed how Rudd’s been slithering around behind Gillard’s back and meeting with business leaders, promising to soften his IR policy. In fact, it looks like he’ll be using APEC to distract the country’s attention while he announces his new and improved platform. What a sneaky little fraud! Thank God his political career is nearly over.

  24. “Do any of them ask the 15% or so of voters who are currently suggesting they will vote for a minor party, which of the major parties they would preference first”

    Morgan face to face does or did ten years ago.

    “Morgan face-to-face will favour Labor because people don’t want to say to a young uni student that they are heartless”

    A stupid or uninformed comment. Most people who walk the beat for Morgan etc are NOT uni students. Mostly they are middle aged people who need the work. It’s not work that would suit Uni students as it is actually quite time consuming and requires a fair bit of selling skills as most people don’t want to be polled. You have to read out the questions in a clear understandable voice and be mature enough not to prompt or influence an answer. You have to be affable, confident and inspire confidence as you are trying to get invited inside so that you can ask them a great many quite personal questions over a period of sometimes more than an hour. And all they get from the pollster for all their trouble (and maybe tea and bickies) is a bloody fridge magnet.

    If you find somebody who fits a profile that will add to your quota you just “have” to get them to agree to participate especially when time to get the completed quizzes back to base is running out.

    What many here fail to understand is that the real purpose of the published polls is not to feel the political pulse of the nation – its about providing data to marketers and ad agencies for a large fee. The political questions are only a tiny fraction of each quiz – perhaps three to five questions only out of dozens which mostly have to do with consumer products, brand recognition, travel, media consumption habits, understanding of particular medical syndromes etc etc.

  25. Centre Says:
    August 15th, 2007 at 8:08 pm

    If the coalition are serious about winning this election, they should come clean to the Australian people and explain that Howard will resign midway through the next term followed by a succession to Turnbull.

    No way will Howard resign. The only way he will go is via defeat at the ballot box. Correct me if I’m wrong but Howard is 2 wins away from LSPM.

    More here:

  26. The Australian has a story about union chief Bill Ludwig attacking Rudd for his stance on Queensland council amalgamations:,25197,22253265-601,00.html

    Curiously, the article goes on to say:
    “Mr Ludwig’s intervention is likely to spark a renewed attack from the Coalition over the union movement’s power within the ALP.”

    This is essentially the government line. It tends to work this way, if the ALP agrees with a union policy or proposal, then that shows they are run by unions. If the ALP disagrees with a union policy, or the opinion of a unionist, then that also shows that the ALP is run by unions.

    I understand why the government would carp on with these sort of stupid arguments, but why are they repeated in the media?

  27. I hope the ALP run this comment when attacking the Govt’s Grab for Power ?

    [A new Liberal Senator from Western Australia says he is nervous about government power becoming too centralised.

    The Federal Government has recently intervened in a range of state issues.

    In his first Senate speech, Mathias Cormann said federalism is crucial to his state.

    “From a West Australian point of view it is true to say that we do get nervous when people talk about centralisation of government power,” he said.]

  28. Michel de Nostredame,

    I admit I haven’t done Morgan polling for a number of years but when I did it you were given a time, usually a Saturday or Sunday morning and a starting place, you walked keeping left until you did a circle and then crossed the road. I met others doing the same thing and they were similar to me at the time, 19-20 years old.

    You desicribe it as a hard slog needing people who are affable and confident and I’d agree, you certainly needed to be able to string a few words together. I’d add they were in need of part-time work even if it was low paid and needed to have their weekends free and be willing to walk in the heat and the rain – a pamphlet delivery job for the articulate.

    If the interview was done on Sunday mornings you would get the right age/gender demographic but miss the churchgoers. If the interview was done on Saturday, you would miss families with kids doing sport.

  29. Mr Kaye while Labor may have wasted question time its the Coalition that requires the time to claw back support so that every week that is wasted costs your team.

    Thats the problem with the leadership stuff and the leaked “Tricky Howard” advice. It doesn’t cost them votes – these voters have already moved it gives them less chance to fight the enemy.

  30. There seems to be an assumption that the Coalition will improve over the actual campaign.

    My recollection of previous elections (back to ’87) is that during the actual election campaign except for ’04 and ’96 Labors vote picked up.

    You can blame Latham for ’04 (What a lunatic) and Keating in ’96 (You can’t re-elect a man who doesn’t attend parliament).

    After Tampa and 9/11 the Coalition look headed for a big win but the Beazley pegged them back.

    Rudd is definitely not Keating or Latham – perhaps too much so.

  31. Extrapolation is dangerous, especially in straight lines where the data series/subset selected is arbitrary. Obviously the government’s primary and TPP votes have become less worse (or improved, take your pick) since May. But that will change non-linearly at some point. Polls do not move in straight lines over time.

    I don’t know enough about statistics, but what I doubt is the validty of taking a poll today with a sample of 1-2000 and an error margin of say 3% and extrapolating it forward by weeks and months. Wouldn’t the margin of errror get bigger ? Can some give me some maths on this ?

    The safest way I think to look at polls is more qualitatively and have an “apples for apples” comparison. Over on OzPolitics there are two graphs I watch. See

    First is ACNielsen: Labor’s Predicted National TPP Vote. This aligns these polls over the electoral year with 1998, 2001, 2004 and 2007. Until last week’s poll this showed ALP/Rudd riding higher for longer than ever before, suggesting that even some drift back to the government could not prevent a RuddSlide. Last week’s result does slightly bugger up that theory so I await the next one with bated breath.

    Second is Newspoll comparing 1996 and 2007 primary votes in the lead up to the election in those years. Try making a simple straightline extrapolation that would predict the result. (And does this mean Brian knows the date of the 2007 election ?)

    This second poll shows symmetry between those years. The consistent gap in primary votes along with the ups and downs and pseudo-trends would suggest a comparison. A long-serving government that has become increasingly unpopular for reasons good and bad and that is turfed out by the voters to teach them all a lesson.

  32. during the actual election campaign except for ‘04 and ‘96 Labors vote picked up.

    And in 1996 there was no real change. When the election was called the polls were 53/47 – or better – for the Libs with the final result 53.6/46.4.

    So yes, as has been pointed out before, the only election campaign that Howard has definitively won as leader was 2004. I guess supporters will suggest he is getting better with age while detractors wil say it wasn’t Howard it was Latham…

    This assumption also seems to me to be unwarranted.

    I’m betting undecided break to coalition 4-to-1

    The default assumption is that in the absence of major events late in the campaign (which will probably shift votes in any case) that undecided voters will break in exactly the same way as all other swinging voters break. There may be a slight advantage for incumbancy asmongst the truly bewildered voters, but without a rationale given, claims for a 4-1 advantage appear to be faith-based psephology.


    The curious thing for me in visiting this blogsite and others, is that some people interpret poll results often associate shifts towards or away from the incumbent Government and/or Prime Minister with the latest ‘hot issue’ while others look at the developing trends over time, more aware of the developing issues that will win or lose an election.

    There was some expectation that the RBA announcement of an interest rate rise of .25 percent would see a drift away from the Coalition in the polls that followed, or at least the next weeks polls. There is no definitive evidence that this has occurred to date.

    In QLD, some expected the passing of the Council Amalgamations bill would see a drift away from Labor in QLD, yet the polls have not yet indicated a weakening of pro Labor voting intent to date. What the polls do not show, nor do they claim to, is what is happening in particular electorates or particular States or on a national scale in response to election strategy tactics being employed by both sides of the fence.

    There is probably much merit in the popular assertion that swinging voters in will break their decision down to a choice between John Winston Howard or Kevin Rudd.

    However, I think there is much more to be taken into consideration in today’s election dynamics, fundamentally because the days when you voted Liberal/National if you were a ‘capitalist’ living in the city or the bush, Labor if you were a ‘worker’ and Green/Democrat if you had no faith in either the Coalition or Labor or wanted to ‘keep the bastards honest’ are fading fast.

    Witness, for example, the “Howard Battlers” phenomenon that swept the Coalition to power in 1996 and contributed significantly to keeping JWH in Government at the following 3 elections in 1998, 2001 and 2004.

    We can see clearly in the television adds being run by Labor at the moment on housing interest rates and the preceding run of adds on Workchoices that Labor is doing all it can to target and win back the faith of the middle/low income battler Howard ‘stole’ from Labor at the 1996 Federal election with a ‘centrist’ leader claiming economic conservatism as his mantra.

    Perhaps this strategy has been primarily responsible for the strong pro Rudd swing against the Coalition since the beginning of this year and the relative stability of the Labor primary vote and Rudd’s approval ratings in the polls.

    But will it be enough to win Government ? Will the swinging voters in the electorate be simply thinking, (A) “Ok, my conditions of employment and wages are under serious threat due to Workchoices and my mortgage payments have gone up $x a month since the 2004 election and Howard looks like he has gone beyond his use-by-date, so Labor it is” or (B) “Yes those things are true, but I worry that Rudd will mess up the economy with his changes to industrial relations and environment policy and makes things, perhaps unintentionally, worse for me my family, so Coalition it is” ?

    Will it be enough for Rudd to hope that more people going into the election box thinking A instead of B to finish with a net gain of 16 seats across the country ?

    I don’t think so. And neither does the Coalition strategists, busying themselves with saving key marginal seats from extinction in an effort to force Labor to move further up the 2PP seat pendulum to win Government seats they could/should have won if not for the pork barrelling and State Government ‘wedges’ tactics being employed by Coalition strategists.

    My penchant, pre election, is to watch the strategies being developed by the incumbent Government to win the next Federal election, particularly if the election polls are running hard against them in the weeks and months leading up to calling of the election. And, equally important, is how the Opposition respond to these strategies and how they try to pro actively ‘gassump’ or neutralise the effect of these strategies.

    These strategies appear to be aimed at different groups of people within a specific seat, a specific State, a national approach or a combination of these 3.

    In this election year, there have been several strategies developed, continued or dumped, depending on the strategists perception of how it is ‘working’ with the electorate audience target groups nominated and some more overt than others.

    One of the risks of this kind of analysis is that Government interventions in terms of policy change, new projects and budget investments can be interpreted in a number of ways.

    On some issues to date, Rudd appears to have taken a ‘centre’ approach, selectively giving ‘in principle’ approval of some Government interventions/policy (eg. NT Intervention) or refusing to be drawn into making a definitive public statement about the issue that could seriously damage Labor Party Federal-State relations (eg. Amalgamations in QLD).

    Rudd has made it clear that he does not approve of Beattie’s amalgamation policy, but maintains their relationship “is very good”. It isn’t, and Coalition strategists are trying to drive a wedge between the electorate and Kevin Rudd in QLD by exploiting this dissent and, at the same time, shoring up Coalition marginal seats like Petrie, Hinkler and Blair.

    On other policy issues like the Iraq issue, Rudd is following traditional tendencies for one side of politics to laud it as a wonderful, positive intervention for the beneficiaries and in “the Australian interest”, followed by the other side of politics critiquing whatever it is as a ‘cynical’ vote grabbing exercise (eg Bob Brown on the NT intervention). This view is often supported by the contention that x intervention is atypical of the history and stated position of the incumbent Government.

    A sudden turn around in approach or unsolicited interest in a particular issue or electorate or social group is most often the target of this ridicule and most vulnerable to charge that the Government is motivated at least to some degree by retaining or gaining the support of the targeted group at the upcoming Federal Election.

    For a sudden turn around in approach, we need look no further than the ‘Australian soldiers in Iraq’ issue. Up until very recently, the Federal Government has staunchly stuck by it’s insistence that Australian troops would remain in Iraq for as long as it is necessary to ‘finish the job’ of providing a secure, stable political, social and economic environment for the Iraqi people, despite the clear signs that the tide of support for the presence of Australian troops in Iraq has been fading rapidly over recent years.

    All of a sudden, 3 months out from an election, Alexander Downer comes back from a visit to Iraq and Mr Howard is writing a letter to the Iraqi Government warning that unless they lift their game soon Australia may not continue to provide military support.

    Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer defended the ‘letter’ in response to a cynical view that the Government has done the research and discovered that the majority of Australians are fed up with the Australian military presence in Iraq and want our 1000 troops to come home.

    The cynical view is supported by the timing of the letter to the Iraqi Government. The APEC summit is about to be held in NSW. This summit will bring with it President Bush, rekindling the electorate’s memories of the Iraq invasion and giving anti-war protesters an opportunity to picket the summit and remind Australian people of what happened and has not happened in Iraq and the Australian Government’s part it the debacle.

    There is no doubt that there are many Australians who have a cynical, critical view of G.W. Bush and, by association, Prime Minister Howard will be tainted with the same brush in the minds of some voters. Others who still believe the invasion of Iraq and the follow up interventions are justified and necessary to “combat terrorism” and protect our national security will welcome the presence of President Bush and tolerate the inconvenience in Sydney for a few days.

    The incumbent will have to tread wearily around the presence of President Bush and the Iraq issue. The ‘first strike’ public delivery of letter to the Iraqi Government telling them to pull their socks up and get on with it demonstrates a sudden shift in policy and attitude which surprised the electorate and drew reasonable allegations of vote buying motives. Interesting weeks ahead.

  34. Past and/or present. A link will do. I have seen this list before but haven’t got it now. I want to send it off to Neil Mitchell this morning.

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