Newspoll: 55-45

Commenters at the business end of the country inform me, via Lateline, that tomorrow’s Newspoll will be as you see in the headline (after a 56-44 result a fortnight ago). It is against my religion to read anything into one poll in isolation. Nonetheless, I am tempted to interpret this as the interest rate hike being cancelled out by what Matt Price describes as the government’s “potentially quite good bad news”, namely last week’s stock market dive.

UPDATE: Kevin Rudd’s lead on preferred prime minister has widened from 44-39 to 46-39.

UPDATE 2: The Australian reports Labor’s primary vote is down from 48 per cent to 46 per cent (equal lowest since February), with the Coalition steady on 39 per cent.

UPDATE 3: Graphic here, Shanahan 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.

619 comments on “Newspoll: 55-45”

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  1. I’m not convinced that it isn’t a reaction to the interest rate rise especially when we see Howard’s preferred PM rating down 6 . It looks to me as though the interest rate rise and threats of more to come has blown his economic credentials out of the water.

  2. Seems like a good result for the government. Suggests that interest rates has not bitten against them – if it were to do so that could be fatal.

    With Rudd likely to take a hit in polling in the next few weeks over the Scores debacle, Labor under increasing pressure from various quarters on its IR policy, and Howard/Costello ramping up the focus on economic management, the government should be well placed to start closing the gap in coming weeks.

    Given their starting point, they have a very uphill fight and Labor is well placed, but I suspect this election will be much closer than many seem to think.

  3. What they also said in the Lateline bit was that JWH had fallen further behind on preferred PM (now 46-39) and had lost a lot of ground on better economic management (now 47 31) a narrowing in the gap of 9 points.

    As preferred PM is Shanahan’s best and only real measure, this should warrant comment tomorrow.

  4. I’m not a statitician, but looking at the all-polls table
    suggests to me that the slow drift back to Coalition which began in April has now come to an end. Virtually all the polls since mid June have had the Labor 2PV in the 55-58% band, and it doesn’t seem to be moving despite occasional Morgan forays to the north of that band. Perhaps someone with a better grip on stats than I have could comment.

  5. Is it likely that, despite all of the attempts to interpret swings from poll to poll, that in general people still won’t make up their mind until the election is called?

    This is only a change of 1% over the past two weeks and therefore well within the margin of error. It’s also the same as the last ACN poll. Good news for the government I suppose, but still not enough to get them anywhere near over the line.

  6. From your chart Adam, there is only one result which is even below 54. If Galaxy is underestimating the ALP 2PP and Morgan is overestimating the ALP 2PP, those two provide a pretty good boundary of the band of results.

  7. I agree Adam, a lot of people appear decided, and if theyve been immune to the shadow campaign of the last three months, may not shift in the big game.

    Another set of voters, will, however, as always, engage late in the piece.

    The thing that strikes me as significant is that Rodent’s preferred PM has been stuck around the liberal base vote of 39 for some time. It must be extremely worrying for the horrendous old bastard. Suggests he’s right back on the ‘rusted ons’, and swingers – in general – aren’t interested in seeing his PMship continue.

  8. Scotty, how can almost no change, and what change there is in the margin of error, mean good news for the Government. Unless good news means it isn’t getting worse for the government. All the polls are showing basically 55-45 and they don’t seem to be moving. The last three newspolls have been 55-45 / 56-44 / 55-45, very consistent with the band created by the others.

  9. Adam,

    I think you are right that the government’s progress has slowed, but i doubt it is over. I think from their perspective the pleasing thing will be that the move back is now clearly consolidated.

    The last Galaxy was 54-46, the last Nielsen was 55-45 (or 54-46 with 2004 preference distribution), and Newspoll has been hovering around 55-45 for a while, including the latest result. Morgan is too up and down from week to week for me to worry about when reflecting on the polls. The new baseline seems to be 55-45.

    Clearly the government has done the easy part of the job in getting this from 59-41 a couple of months back to 55-45. The next job, getting it down to 51-49 or 50-50 will be harder.

    However, I am certainly of the view that it remains possible.

  10. Well I’d say this poll fall right into the nothing different camp. I note that the implied probability (from the bookies) has the ALP a touch higher after the poll at 60%.

    But it does seem to me that the drift back in from the honeymoon high has stopped. So its the coalition that needs to continue to make the running.

    It reminds me of Sun Sui’s Art of War – always make your enemy come out to fight you – make them stretch as far as possible then stike when they are vunerable. I do think Rudd will start striking one day – but maybe I’m wrong – maybe Rudd is gutless.

  11. Michael,

    Sorry – I meant good news for them in that it isn’t getting worse 😉

    I was actually expecting and hoping for a wider margin, so in some ways I’m reflecting my own disappointment by stating that. I guess it underlines how accustomed we’ve become to huge leads in the polls.

    Anyway, it’s late (for me) and I’ve made several logic errors in my posts tonight, so I’ll call it a night.

  12. Derek,

    it seems obvious that whatever the result of this poll had been, plainly the ‘stripper’ issue could not have washed through…. very few of the voters for this poll would have been aware of the story, given it only broke on Sunday, as the poll surveying would have been wrapping up.

    Given the many comments from people saying they will not vote for Rudd now, or at least are having doubts about him now, it seems likely he will take a hit over it, but it won’t show up till the next polls.

  13. This poll is significant. Not in the TPP or preferred PM numbers, but the primary vote.

    The ALP primary vote is down to 44% (46%, actually, contrary to what my post said for a very short time – PB). It is slowly dropping. The worry for the government is their primary vote is stuck in the high 30’s.

    It looks to me that voters are changing between the ALP and the minor parties. People are not tempted to return to the coalition.


  14. Of course the “stripper thing” hasn’t washed through. The majority of the polling was performed on Friday and Saturday before the story broke.

  15. Yes, and it will forgotten by the next poll. As someone else said, the hapless coaliton strategists cant even time a leak right.

  16. The “stripper thing” will be like swallowing a marble. It will “wash through” and come out the other end in a day or so without leaving a trace. By the next Newspoll cycle it will have been forgotten. What won’t be forgotten is WorkChoices, which is what is driving the swing to Labor and is utter poison for the crucial upper-working-class demographic which has kept Howard in power: talk about cutting the political ground out from under your own feet. That’s why this was the most important story of the week:,23599,22275672-1702,00.html

  17. William – all the obsessives here notice everything. I was about to get into a typing frenzy and it was notice and fixed as quickly as your money goes at scores.

    There have not been any real changes here – the primary gap between the ALP and the hopefully soon to be ancien regime is hardly changing. The government must pull something out of the hat soon.

  18. Correction, you’re right Crispy. 46% reads better than 44%, but it is still slowly dropping. Mind you that is to be expected. The coalition primary vote must be frustrating the heck out of the PM.

    In TPP terms the government are slowly closing the gap. But time is almost up. They now need to take risks.

  19. If the stripper thing is going to turn up in any polls, it will be in next week’s Galaxy – so stay tuned for that.

    Can’t say much about the poll result itself – more of the same, really. The problem for the Government is that ‘more of the same’ is not good enough at this stage. It probably needs Labor down to 53/47 by the time the election is called for them to have a real chance. Still, there’s a long way to go…

  20. Yep, lots of swinging to minors and back, but no money shots for Team Rodent.

    Anyone else seeing lots of congruent numbers here?:

    46%+ ALP Primary
    46 % Rudd Preferred PM
    45% say taxpayer funded Rodent workplace ads suck

    I think we have a firmly decided camp here, they are an election winning constiuency for Rudd, and moreover, they are pointing us clearly to the motivation for their vote.

    Conlusion: Unless they scrap workchoices, Team Rodent are most unlikely to win this election.

  21. Adam,

    I think you will be surprised about the Scores issue. It will continue to be an issue, not so much the actual incident but Rudd’s less than honest account of the events, which seems to shift every time he is interviewed. On Lateline he was adamant that he could not remember anything… but was equally adamant that he remembered he definitely did nothing wrong… even Kerry O’Brien was incredulous.

    I don’t think it will change most people’s votes, but it will influence a small but important number of voters.

    As for IR, I agree this is the real issue for the government. However, the debate seems to have changed – the government finally seems to be on the front foot on this selling the need for the IR reforms for the economy etc etc rather than trying to put out spot fires. And they have Labor oin the back foot over the impact of their policy. It will be a long slow road but i suspect the net negative that IR clearly is at the moment for the government will gradually be reduced.

  22. Polling is volatile – its the nature of the beast.3 point movements can actually be meaningless because of the margin or error.Add to that the fickle nature of a couple of percent of the electorate that change their vote from week to week and 1 in 20 polls (although I suspect its actually a little higher than that as design and weighting artifacts) will be outside of the true result by more than 3% – well, polling movements can be deceptive.

    I’ve never been a buyer of the slow trend back to the government because only the visual rather than the statistical evidence suggested it.Graphs can be misleading.

    For instance, an ALP primary that moves between 47 and 48, with a TPP vote of 55-58 can explain every Newspoll monthly poll aggregate since Rudd became leader.

    If you make a monthly aggregate of newspolls for instance, you can reduce a large amount of the eyeball tricking volatility (I reckon its the peaks – usually with bright coloured lines that fool the brain, while the troughs get ignored).

    Since December the TPP ALP has been:
    55 55 54.5 57 57 58 56 55.5 55.5

    ALP primary has been:
    46 44 46.5 49.5 49 49.5 46 47.5 48

    Coalition primary has been:
    39 39 39.5 35.5 36.67 35 39 39.5 39

    All remarkably stable and suggests to me a long run behaviour of 47/48 on primaries and 55-58 on TPP thereabouts….give or take a point.

    Remarkably stable.

  23. 10esp, the overwhelming view on talkback & comments on blogs is of no care/no change in relation to the poll dancer issue. I hate to be such a cynic but it when I see people make reference to the “many people” now not voting for/hating/issuing fatwah on Rudd, I start to think I’ve logged into sock-puppet central. No truly, I hate biasism …

  24. tx – so i only have a week of no new figures to deal with then – besides morgan, but ACN should be out next week again, I think.

  25. I think AC Nielsen, Newspoll and Galaxy have sorted out a pattern between them:

    Newspoll (first week)
    AC Nielsen (second)
    Newspoll (third)
    Galaxy (fourth)

    Morgan releases polls every Friday. So it’s all pretty predictable until the campaign officially starts up (except for the APEC weekend)

  26. [But it does seem to me that the drift back in from the honeymoon high has stopped. So its the coalition that needs to continue to make the running.]

    I think that the Coalition needs to gain 1% on the primary vote every 2 weeks until election day in order to win by a few seats. The problem is they are getting hardly any movement at all, it has been 55/45 _or higher_ since January. It seems that many voters have already made their minds up.

    Plus, don’t expect Howard to win the campaign, he lost the campaign twice to Beazley, and only broke even against Latham (including losing the TV debate).

  27. When a Government is almost 12 years old, there will be no comfort given to you by the electorate in the opinion polls. Voters (if they ever do) will not show their support for the Government until they absolutely have to – on election day. If the Coalition win, the manner of it will be like it was in Ireland just recently. That is, they will storm home in the final two weeks. My prediction is that they will.

  28. Hmm, I think Howard drew against Beazley in 98, lost in 01 and most definitely smashed Latham in 04. His record is mixed, but not bad.

  29. Watcher,

    I totally agree with you that most people are saying it will have no influence – that is what people have been saying, and i would have expected that to be the case.

    Of course, I never suggested most people were saying they would change their vote or consider changing their vote, i said many… and plainly their have been many comments to that effect.

    People look at these polls wrong. A poll that says 90% won’t change their and 10% will is not a good result for Rudd. If 10% change their vote that would be devastating. Of course, I don’t for one second believe 10% will change their vote, but I am suggesting these polls get interpreted bizarrely.

    The other thing you should factor in is that the sorts of people who will be less than impressed by Rudd’s Scores sortie are the least likely to be responding to online polls.

    I can assure you I am not biased – I just think it is certain that he will take a hit for the issue… as to the size, who knows

  30. James J Says:
    August 20th, 2007 at 11:33 pm
    Does that mean he sits as an independent for the few weeks left of this parliament?

    Yep, unless he resigns and forces a By-Election.

  31. 10esp, while I agree that Rudd’s performance on the ABC wasn’t that great, it seemd more to me that he was trying to avoid giving them a sound byte. O’Brien was trying a bit too hard to get him to say that he specifically had seen lap dancing, but lets face it, Rudd’s no fool, and isn’t going to come out and say ‘there were norks everywhere!’ is he. He doesn’t have to go in to the gory details… he was at a strip club and apparently didn’t feel up the girls. I don’t see why he needs to spell out how many puppies he saw.

  32. 10esp – those 10% who might change their vote include going the other way. A problem for the coalition is that polls are recording higher than usual levels of people who say they are not going to change their minds. This means that unlike recent elections, many people have made their minds up.

    There is no evidence that at this stage in an election the group of undecideds splits overwhelmingly one way or the other. It could be that as a winner appears obvious people choose to go for the winner or wish to give a winner a brake on their victory. There are many theories about the split on undecideds.

  33. Dario,

    firstly, thanks for making me laugh.

    i guess what i wonder about is why he would not just admit their were semi naked women there and he saw them – plainly that must have been the case. To pretend otherwise is simply not believable….. and to suggest he was drunk so he doesn’t remember…. please! how drunk was he? simply not believable.

    what is even more annoying about his attitude is he seem keen to remind us he is being up front and honest about it, as he does his mea cupla, but he is clearly not being honest about it…. continuing to try and suggest what he saw was no different to any old aussie bar

    why doesn’t he just own up – i would respect him a lot more

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