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. Is there any way of assessing the size of the reverse effect?

    City conservatives who would prefer to vote for the Nationals?

  2. Stunkrat, though we all have (and continue to?) looked for it, your quest for objectivity is an empty and pointless journey. Objectivity is in itself biased, a strategy of hegemony employed by a few to dominate many, in the interests of established power.
    To achieve true objectivity, preconceptions cannot cloud ones judgement. An impossible task.
    Further, to be objective, you must accept the legitimacy of established structures of power and privelege, ensuring the dominant classes ideology ( capitalism) goes unquestioned. Therefore, to represent an issue from a different ideology (eg marxist, anarchist, feudal…), you are automatically biased for stepping outside the falsely constructed boundaries of objective fantasy.
    The solution? There isnt one. We are forced to embrace capitalism and consume a variety of information ‘products’ which we know have their own interests and agendas, in the attempt to find the most credible version of objective fantasy.
    Therefore, to find a set of ‘products’ that state the intent and content of their bias quite explicitly, such as Price, Milne, Farr & Co., we can consciously dissect the information (which they choose to give/spin us) from their stated opinion. And make our own prejudiced conclusions.
    “News” articles, which falsely claim objectivity, are more suspect because the writer claims to have divorced their opinion from an articles content, and asserts that this content is credible and reliable. A dangerous precedent set daily.
    What a happy little world we live in.

  3. Yep, makes sense Adam. In other words, the coalition figure is as accurate (or as much as any figure is); as is the Lib and Nat support figure: but the *effective* Lib support in practice is routinely overstated by 3% as they wont be running in 15 seats.


    ….. Hang on, I didnt make that any simpler then, did i?

  4. Now that I look at the Morgan website, I see that this poll was a face-to-face poll, not a phone poll, so it should properly be compared with the last Morgan face-to-face, which had Labor on 55%. On that basis it shows a 3.5% swing to Labor.

    “Coalition primary support is down significantly following widespread publicity about the leadership of the party, combined with the recent interest rate rise, the latest face-to-face Morgan Poll finds.

    “The L-NP’s primary vote is 36.5% (down 4%), 13% behind the ALP (49.5%, up 2.5%).

    “With preferences distributed as they were at the 2004 election, the two-party preferred vote is ALP 58.5% (up 3.5%), L-NP 41.5% (down 3.5%).”

  5. “This apparent drop is caused by the fact that the Nats get to run in 15 seats unopposed by the Liberals.”


    I understand your logic but how can you prove this is correct? How do you know that 50% of all people who voted Nat at the last election identify thmeselves as Libs when it comes to answering a question on a poll? I’m not saying your wrong, but I don’t see how you can state it is a fact. No offense meant but surely it’s just your intrepretation? It just seems odd that people who possibly have never had an opportuntiy to vote Liberal would identify themselves as Liberal when asked who would they vote for knowing they won’t have an opportunity to vote Liberal at the next election.

  6. [Tuesday’s Newspoll even more interesting than usual.]

    Do you mean because it looks like the Newspoll sits in between the two Morgan’s?

  7. Adam, I think you’ve got some lines mixed up. The complete series should be face-to-face, shouldnt it? And today’s release belongs to that?

  8. My evidence is what has happened over the past 20 years when there have been 3-cornered contests in “safe” National seats as they fall vacant. In 1988 they lost Groom, in 1990 Fairfax. In 1993 they nearly lost Mallee and Lyne. In 1996 they lost Murray. In 2001 they lost Farrer, and New England to an independent. The only “safe handovers” they have had were Riverina in 1998 and Cowper in 2001. The only really safe Nat seats in 3-party terms now are Dawson, Maranoa and Wide Bay, and probably Riverina and the new Parkes.

  9. Stunkrat, you may be right. The Morgan website isn’t very clear about which polls are phone and which are face to face. I will try and figure it out further.

  10. Antony Green Says:
    August 17th, 2007 at 10:30 am

    Grooski, the swing was 5% in both 1996 and 1998. The Standard Deviation on the swing is usually around 2-3%, usually around 2% if you take account of differences between states.

    Is the distribution symmetric or assymmetric? Poisson perhaps? I can’t help feeling there would be more below the mean than above.

  11. John Rocket Says:
    August 17th, 2007 at 12:56 pm

    isn’t The Piping Shrike bloody excellent. Writes well, thinks clearly, goes into a depth of analysis which is apparently unavailable to ‘insiders’.

    I enjoy reading the Shrike, very insightful, but he views everything through the prism of geopolitics. The international perspective is much appreciated but he overdoes it a little IMHO.

  12. BV Says:
    August 17th, 2007 at 1:08 pm

    I would read this poll, in light of the recent other polls as basically no-change over the past month or so (”statistical noise” being the favoured term at the moment).

    It’s basically been statistical noise for the entire year. There’s been a tightening over the last six months but given the high ALP figures that hasn’t surprised anybody. Be interesting to see if Howard can yet manufacture the crisis he needs. You can’t say he hasn’t tried.

  13. Paul K “Is it any wonder considering the Liberals have pinched their Senator and basically said that voting National is a wasted vote?”

    But what’s the likelihood that people in the bush have completely forgotten about that now? I think it’s fairly high. If that incident happened this month, then you could possibly expect a tiny backlash but it happened a year or so ago, so I guess it’s not as fresh in their minds. I wonder how many approve of the sale of Telstra also, but I doubt that’ll factor into votes either. It seems like the Nationals can sacrifice some of their principles and still get voted in by the bush. Election time will be really interesting!

  14. Rudd is keeping that needed buffer for when the election proper is called and when the ‘inevitable’ contraction takes place.

    If the international crisis is shrinking available credit then its cost will rise which means the RBA will not need to raise rates again, if it appears the banks will need to instead. At present it is line-ball and in anycase we are still talking about fractions, not whole percentage points. We still are waiting to see where it all settles.

    It is an opportunity for the govt as long as the problem continues but if it settles down too soon and has only minor effect on rates then it will be mostly forgotten by election time. The Rudd team also need to come out now and say what the current crisis is all about, just to show they do know what is going on and understand these things. ie build some credibility.

  15. This poll sits right on the average result for the last 23 Morgan Polls (since December 2006, after Rudd took the leadership): 58.6/41.4.
    There have been few polls outside the statistical margin of error from this result since that time.

  16. I see that the year-long sequence of Morgan polls should be face-to-face. When did Morgan start doing phone polls alternating with the face-to-face polls?

  17. This must raised the leadership issue again behind Lib HQ closed doors. It really is getting very close to the ‘last chance’ petrol station.

    There will be some sad and cranky souls there. Costello would be cranky too as his PM possibilities fade. Maybe he will lash out more and take pleasure in sinking the powerholic PM whilst planning his career with Mac Bank.

  18. I don’t think anyone is going to panic on the basis of a Morgan poll. Let’s see the next Newspoll before getting too carried away.

  19. My impression was that their last chance to change leaders was around April – possibly May. I think they are well and truly stuck with Mr. Howard. The man is so addicted to power that he won’t be going anywhere. It will be funny if he does win the election as I think he’ll mumble the ‘give me a year to eighteen months’ line to Mr. Costello and he’ll try for another term – I think he’ll try to surpass the Big Bob. You simply can’t rely on the Liberals to get rid of John Howard.

    Just finished reading the new Howard bio… I was kinda unimpressed. Read like a ‘what did he do in politics on that day’… combined with a whole heap of interviews with people too scared to say what they really think of the ‘Boss’.

  20. Antony Green (August 16th, 2007 at 9:35 pm),

    Victoria has been the ALP’s weakest state, but not Labor’s weakest state. A lot of Victorians voted for the Labor Party with the Democratic in the front of it. This fact disguised Labor’s status as the natural party of government in Victoria for some 23 of the past 55 years. With the demise of that DLP in 1978, most of those families’ votes have come back to the ALP.

    The Happy Revolutionary (August 17th, 2007 at 2:13 am),

    The industrial disputes will not affect the federal election. The police and the nurses will win, and the teachers will surrender –as they always do.

    Paul K (August 17th, 2007 at 12:48 pm),

    Both the DLP – in both incarnations – and Family First are to the left of the Liberal Party. I would not put the Democrats to the right of the Liberals, but on the key class-based issue of politics, they are to the right of both the DLP and FF because they helped impose AWAs on us, something the DLP senators would never have done.

  21. #409

    Wide Bay in it’s recent redistribution has been shifted down into Sunshine Coast and the Liberals will win it once the sitting Nationals member retires. Flynn is a sort of seat the Nationals should be able to win.

    Gippsland, Lyne and the Mallee once their sitting National members retire, will be won by the Liberals. Labor will probably pick up Page at this election and if they do really well Cowper as well.

    In the near future it is possible the Nationals will only hold , Dawson, Kennedy (once Katter retires), New England (when Tony Windsor retires), Calare, Parkes, Flynn and Rivernia.

  22. Not sure I agree with you at all Chris Curtis about the DLP. All the best evidence available points to the DLP being a party of transition, a party people vote for in the period while their political leanings are re-aligned. And when I talk about Victoria being Labor’s worst state, I’m talking two-party, as the overwhelming majority of DLP preferences went to the Coalition.

    This is not proof, but I suggest you look at the transition of Catholics into the Liberal Party. Until 1980, Phillip Lynch and John Carrick were the only Catholics ever to reach the top of the Liberal Party. Catholics were nearly unknown in the parliamentary ranks of the Liberal Party until 1970.

    Check how many there are today, and how many of them have parents with a DLP connection. The most prominent are Tony Abbott and Andrew Robb. I think the best way of looking at the DLP in retrospect is that it undid the sectarian divide between the parties created by the conscription split in the First World War. Labor came out of the conscription split having lost much of its Protestant parliamentary representation, and there was deep sectarian division for decades after about whether Catholics had been ‘disloyal’ in the war, and that is all to do with the Easter Uprising in Dublin and the attititude to conscription that caused in the higher echelons of the Catholic church.

    This is not some conspiracy theory. Thirty years ago, you could still map electorates on the Irish/Catholic vs Protestatant/Anglo-Saxon proportion of the population and find a remarkable match to Labor v Liberal voting patterns. In NSW, there were government departments that were almost entirely Catholic and others almost entirely Protestant. We tend to forget that these days.

    All the survey data points to the DLP having consisted of largely middle class Catholics who for historic reasons, were Labor voters. (The split in the Unions was more complex than that.) The Labor split freed them from that. Remember that when Menzies started to offer state aid to Catholic schools in the 1960s, he was initially resisted by his own party, until it was seen as a fantastic ‘wedge’ on Labor. Of course, no one called it a wedge then.

  23. Antony,

    What you say about the Catholic-Protestant divide is true, but it’s not the whole story. I’ll reply at more length later, but consider this for starters: Paul Lennon, Clare Martin, Steve Bracks, Kevin Rudd – all with DLP-voting parents. Then look at the Victorian DLP president and both vice-presidents from my year – all joined the ALP.

  24. Chris, Antony

    I think the situation regarding Catholics may be far muddier than it perhaps was in the late 70’s and through the 80’s.

    Chris, I agree with your assessment that FF is certainly Left of Liberal, evidenced by voting against Workchoices, Nauru Detention and calling for greater protections for citizens against the Big end of Town (against Qantas sale, Predatory pricing and limited supermarket competition and most recently the sensible bank fee bill, attempting to bring us more into line with the kinder UK regime). However, I am not sure that the migration of Catholics, or their political alignment, has been uniform at all.

    Part of this is most likely due to the blurring of the lines both in terms of religious class (linked strongly in the 50s) and the more recent social aspiration. In essence, with mainstream adherence down since the 1950s and a literal diaspora into all parties (there is evidence of reasonable Catholic representation in both Labor and Liberal and, to some extent, the Greens, with social justice a key platform.

    Trade Labor has also changed dramatically in the last 15 years. When Australia moved out of the construction doldrums and mining plateau of the 1990s, trade “classes” (traditionally correlated reasonably strongly with Catholicism) have reached the stage where now there annual salaries routinely outstrip white collar counterparts. Thus, Liberal party policies in taxation, small business (many tradies now with their own!) and even private education have suited these aspirational Catholics.

    Interestingly, there also seems to be some support for F1 amongst Catholics, due to “dinner table policies”, compassion for refugees and low-income brackets and even tradies here, where small business tends to get a lift without the restraint found in the Libs, with necessary placation to Big Business to ensure fund flow. We are yet to see if this will translate into votes.

    We also see F1 getting quite serious with Labor preferences and Labor may well have an easier passage through senate with its reforms/tweaking on some issues, namely Uranium mines, Forestry and softer climate change positions than dealing with the Greens, who essentially won’t budge on these.

    So the Catholic vote will be a difficult one to generalise in this election, I would imagine. 🙂

  25. Actually, I’m not arguing that all Catholics have migrated anywhere. I’m just pointing out that the DLP marked the point where the sectarian devide in politics blurred. I’m not generalising about where the Catholic vote is today. But it is very very clear that the creation of the DLP marked the point where the assumption ‘you’re Catholic you vote Labor’ ended. As recently as 1980, toughly a third of the NSW state parliamentary party were firmly wedded to the Catholic church hierarchy. That’s not the case today. (The DLP was never as strong in NSW as in Victoria, so NSW Labor did not lose its Catholic wing.) There were four keys unions that were associated with the Groupers that disaffiliated with the Victorian Labor Party, and did not re-join until the 1980s. From memory, those unions were not disaffiliated in the same way in NSW. The different way the church hierarchy in NSW and Victoria dealt with the split made it much nastier and much longer lasting in Victoria than NSW.

  26. Antony and Generic Oracle,

    My point is that the Split has distorted the natural political inclinations of Australians and thus created the idea that Victoria was the “jewel in the Liberal crown”. The NSW Groupers generally stayed inside the ALP. To put it another way, if the anti-communist atheist ex-socialist secretary of the Manufacturing Grocers Union Fred Riley had been a New South Welshman instead of a Victorian, he would most likely have remained a member of the ALP rather than a member of the DLP. The consequences of this were that the NSW ALP did not get taken over by the Left and thus remained in government much longer than the Victorian ALP. Voters who followed the DLP in Victoria largely remained ALP voters in NSW.

    The DLP sharpened the sectarian divide initially, but as religion became less important throughout society and the DLP vote declined, that divide lessened. In fact, I believe that a large number of Don Chipp’s 1977 Democrat voters voted for Frank McManus in 1970 on the theory that some voters want a credible third party and they are not too fussy about the details.

    It has often been argued that the DLP was half-way house for those migrating from their Labor roots to their aspirational Liberal futures. I am sure this is so in some cases, but it is not so in others. In 1973, the Hamer Liberals promised proportional representation for the Victorian Legislative Council in return for DLP preferences. Once elected, they strung the DLP along for a while, but it soon became apparent that they would break that election promise. As a result, the DLP decided not to contest all seats in the 1976 state election in the hope of forcing the Liberals into a coalition with the Nationals. (It could not bring itself to preference the ALP, which would have been a far more effective strategy.) I did a rough study of the changes in votes in those uncontested electorates. In those that were more ALP-inclined, the DLP vote tended to return to the ALP. In those that were more Liberal-inclined, the DLP vote tended to go to the Liberals. This was a rough indicative study, but it suggests the different make-up in the DLP vote.

    I keep in regular touch with five former presidents of the Victorian DLP; four of them are Labor supporters. In fact, one of them told me he went straight back to the ALP when the DLP dissolved itself in 1978. Another was made a life member of his union by the left wing controllers. As one said to him, “The wall is down.”

    The Victorian Grouper unions re-affiliated with the ALP in 1985 or 1986, bringing into the party a number of people philosophically aligned with DLP thinking. In other states, these unions had remained affiliated with the ALP.

    I know there are people from DLP backgrounds in the Liberal Party, which just goes to show how easy it is for some to move away from the idea of social justice. I’d hazard a guess that there are far more in the Victorian ALP than the Victorian Liberals. I know of three former DLP executive members who joined the Liberal Party – all were disillusioned by the experience. I know of two non-executive DLP members who did the same and were not disillusioned.

    Robert Murray gave a talk last year or the one before on the various splits in the ALP. I asked him what influence those who split in 1917 and the 1930s and joined the conservative side had on it. He replied none; they just got absorbed. Any DLP person who joined the Liberal Party has well and truly been absorbed, unless you want to argue that the increase in Family Benefits – which Labor should have made – are the result of Tony Abbott’s influence, which would suggest a tiny flicker of social justice remains in him.

    I believe that Family First will preference selected ALP candidates just as the re-created Victorian DLP does.

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