Burson-Marsteller: minds made up

Not entirely sure what to make of this, but I have received a media release giving results from a Burson-Marsteller survey of 1156 voters conducted on Friday. Respondents were asked if they had firmly decided who they will vote for, to which 77 per cent answered yes. Of that 77 per cent, 56 per cent said they would vote Labor and only 34 per cent would vote Coalition. For the purposes of tying up loose ends, I also note reports on the weekend that an IPSOS Mackay poll indicated that Labor had taken a lead on the question of who would better manage the economy, by 39 per cent to 36 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.

166 comments on “Burson-Marsteller: minds made up”

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  1. Frist!

    I’m a bit bedazzled by the poll as well – but more power to them for contributing to the latest polling craze of strange questions.

    What it tells us is what we’ve always known – swinging voters make up about 20-25% of the electorate on a good day.

  2. There are more “Whack!”, “Thumps!” and “Kapows!” being rained down on the Libs than ever appeared in an average Batman episode.

  3. Well this poll might be interesting if we had a base line measure on what is a typical number of “made up their minds”.

    My guess would be that given we have been in election mode nearly all year the proportion of people who have made up their mind is higher than normal – but I don’t know of any emperical evidence – other than the high primary vote for the ALP.

  4. Holy petrifying polling Batman, I think its portentous!

    Burson-Marsteller is an international PR outfit.I think they operate in Oz out of North Sydney somewhere.They have a really good reputation for successful astroturfing if you ever need to hire that particular skill.

    If they’re polling, who was paying for it would be far more interesting than its results.

  5. As something completely out of left field (a bit like these polling questions and results) – if the equine flu bizzo postpones the Spring Racing Carnival, that could seriously impact upon the choosing of the election date.

    Only in Australia would a horserace be taken into account when deciding the most powerful position in the land 😉

    A bit like journos questioning Rudds capacity to be PM because he’s a two pot screamer 🙂

  6. What be The Penguin? More, more …

    Thanks Possum. Surely it’s not difficult to find out who provided the cash?

  7. Possum,

    My take on the spring carnival and election dates is that the Coalition would not like the big group one races taking up air time in the last couple of weeks of the campain.

    So if the Melb Cup, Oaks Day, Caulfield cup etc get pushed back a couple of weeks the election would as well.

    Overall an increased likelyhood of an early december election.

  8. I don’t believe the ALP would ever seriously be considered better economic managers. It’s one of those simple dichotomy questions which people answer the same way all the time, no matter what the contrary evidence.

    Similarly, the ALP will always win Health, Education etc.

  9. Possum to the Possum Box.

    We need to overlay the third letter in each question with the coloured TPP regressions. The trick is the hyper skedadacity. Most people think this only happens when you ask the kids to wash the dishes. However, once you hit the output with a Possum whistle the ouput is exponentially smooth.

    The devastating message is

    “Menzie’s legacy is dead”.

  10. My thoughts too Albert.The problem on the horizon might be how far the carnival needs to be pushed back.If the flue keeps on snowballing and the carnival itself looks like being pushed into late November (which wouldnt surprise me considering Howards luck lately) – that’s got to be a killer for the government if they’re trying to a run a last resort scare campaign into Bogansville at people named Shayden,Jayden and Kayden.

    Derek, if the BM client was on the media releases we’ll know those behind it, if the client isnt in the media chatter… well, good luck finding out! Someone like BM has to keep their client list pretty close to their chest.

    Mr Growler, if I didnt know better, I’d believe that I’d just been pwned.

    Cheeky bugger.

  11. Thanks Kilgore

    It’s quite a large sample. It’s all getting better. Still think Howard will not lead the Liberals to the next election. He knows he is gone and swingers are not listening. They heard, they believed – now they reject.

  12. Howard has been unlucky with the general flow of news. All year its been a drip feed of minor, negative news on which he can make little running. The drought, housing stress, climate worries, more car bombs in Bagdad are all death by a thousand cuts. The rate rise was almost scripted to be at the worst possible time in the election year cycle – with the threat of another if he does not get himself to the polls soon.

    So the equine virus adds to the list. I’m prepared to go out on a limb and say that Howard can’t make a wedge issue out of it. Its just another thing adding to the “things ain’t right” vibe and taking up media space.

    Still I think Howard was very lucky with the flow and timing of news in the past.

    Swings and roundabouts I guess.

  13. Ok, let’s look at these numbers:

    77% have made up their minds
    56% of those are for Labour, 34% for the coalition, 10% minor parties

    This translates to a vote margin (ALP-Coalition-Other) of:
    43.1 – 26.1 – 7.7 = 77%

    Thus, a 17% lead in confirmed voters for the ALP. To win the election from here, if this poll is accurate, will require that the coalition bridge the gap from the remaining 23%, which will mean winning over 74% of the remaining undecided voters. Not going to happen.

    Even if the remaining undecideds and minor parties votes are split evenly, the ALP will still end up with a 2PP in the vicinity of 58.5-41.5. I’ve used a 50-50% preference stream for those numbers since I don’t know what the real preference flows will be, but the end result is roughly in the same area as the most recent polls of the past week or so.

    In any case, it’s a still a massive lead and it’s looking more and more like a landslide of unprecedented proportions if these numbers hold. There’s no indication at this stage that they won’t.

    I’ve used some HTML tags here, so hopefully it formatted OK.

  14. Scotty,

    I’ve generally been in the “it will be close” camp. For two reasons.

    – The ALP is coming from a long way behind and has to overcome a targeted marginal seat defense.

    – The Coalition has sold out like no other incumbent before in terms of its willingness to use the public service and public purse for its own political gain.

    However, it it begining to look like the overall swing will neutralise any targeted strategy. (If 40+ seats are marginal its hardly a targeted campain anymore). Also it seems people have already realised the hegemony that Howard has created and his use/abuse of power this year only confirms this.

    Having said that I still think it will be close – but I have to admit the objective evidence is pointing towards a landslide.

  15. Just a gentle piss take, Possum. Nothing more. I’m sure your analyses are robust enough to withstand ignorance and poor attempts at humour.


  16. Laura Bush & friends paid for it, hence the pinched nerve; Equine Flu is clearly a plot by the Muslim Jockey Club and further details will be revealed at APEC; who do you trust to hold the Melbourne Cup, we will decide etc. I suspect Rudd will fall for this wedge. Watch out for boat horses.

  17. I said this in the other thread…

    What does that mean? It means that for the remaining 24%, the coalition needs to convince 67% of them to vote for them to get ‘just over the line’.

  18. It is a well known fact that all thoroughbred horses are derived from Arabian stock. Need we say any more.

    These horses could be John Howard’s rabbits!

  19. What this particular poll does NOT show is which way those 23% are currently leaning.

    In other words, a subsequent question could have been “If undecided, which way WOULD you vote if the ballot paper was in front of you right now?”. Then we might have gotten a 58-42 2PP or thereabouts. However I think it’s a useful poll nonetheless. It gives us an idea of how much wiggle room is currently there in the electorate.

    GG (#23) – I don’t think Howard is capable of pulling a horse out of a hat, and you have to wonder if he’s even desperate or motivated enough to try.

  20. Scotty: The 23% could be minor parties or “Others” as the other polling companies. Given in other polls, it is about 15 to 20%, it might not be too far off the mark.

  21. “..firmly decided who they will vote for, to which 77 per cent answered yes”

    “…require that the coalition bridge the gap from the remaining 23%, which will mean winning over 74% of the remaining undecided voters.”

    Actually it is worse than that. It didnt say the remaining 23% of people had no preference in minf just that the were not firmly decided. That is different from being undecided. You would think a number of those without a ‘firm’ preference [and excluding the really have no idea undecideds] would be favouring Labor at a similar level of 57/43.

  22. I think this was one that a friend of mine was polled for.

    He’d never heard of the company before, and they asked him who he would be voting for and what was the major issue that would be affecting his vote. He said he would be voting Labor (as a card-carrying member of the party) and that the issue of most importance to him was the economy. I know if someone asked me I would also indicate the same thing. And I am also a card-carrying member of the party.

    Interesting that in the polling analysis people always assume that a vote for the ALP AND a vote for the economy must mean the vote is “soft” for Labor – but this is clearly not the case. There are a whole lot of reasons why you would nominate the economy as a major influence on your vote; for me it is about the way that Peter Costello has pretty much sat on his hands for the past 11 years and ridden on the coat-tails of the structural reforms made by Keating and a resources boom. No proper planning for the future, no investment in infrastructure and he’s sold off the farm to boot, so we have no alternative income apart from taxation.

    Just bad – and lazy – economics, in my book.

  23. this poll is very worrying (as is today’s Galaxy). the govt cant win over enough of the undecided to win on these figures

  24. Derek Corbett Says:
    August 27th, 2007 at 3:45 pm

    Er. What is a Burson-Marsteller when it’s at home and who was the client?

    Errr… we are not allowed to tell you that. They SUE people who tell you that.

    Suffice it to say that the company is US-based and specialises in strategic advice to big business, including on how to counter opposition (small “o”). You should read Bob Burton’s book, released last week. He had an OpEd piece in the SMH recently.

  25. I’m sure someone would be polling right now on whether Howard should step down and let someone else lead the party. It would be interesting to see if more people have swung into the Howard-step-down category, and whether support for Costello, Turnbull or others may have increased.

    As for these Arab-descended horses bringing disease into our country…and threatening the linchpin of our culture (ie the Melbourne Cup)..what will Pauline say? And how will APEC go ahead if there are no mounted police to charge into crowds of protesting hippies?

  26. Usually, when there is such a huge number of undecided it breaks the way the polls are indicating. Which is very bad news for Howard. Also his electorate also shows the same number of undecided. I bet that has NEVER happened in his electorate.

  27. More on the next big issue that Howard will push in conjunction with the Exclusive Brethren and Family First, it looks like that the “labor is soft on drugs line” will be pushed again.

    The govt is currently pushing an intense media campaign against drugs, including a booklet to be mailed out to every house hold. The advantage of this government advertising is that it can continue through the election campaign as being informative whilst the Exclusive Brethren and Family First conduct their own campaigns against the Greens and labor as they did in the Tasmanian and Victorian elections.

    From the Australian today.

    In 1997, the Howard Government announced that it was going to get tough on drugs, a position it has adhered to ever since. In contrast, a tough question needs to be asked of the federal Opposition: what will become of this strategy if the ALP wins the coming election. This is hard to answer, as there is little on the record from Kevin Rudd with respect to drugs.
    Then we have Family First comments today in the Australian, right on cue.

    FAMILY First would act responsibly in handling the balance of power should it secure Senate control, but the thought of the Greens being in the same position would be “scary”.
    For a review of how Family First, the Exclusive Brethren and the libs coordinate their campaigns a review of information posted earlier.


    The strategy is
    the Brethren unleash a last-minute ad splurge aimed at a left-of-centre party, with startling parallels to the ads of conservative parties
    Family First run a similar campaign if a “Labor government is elected and the Greens hold the balance of power in the Senate, drug use would be decriminalised.”

    People get flooded by the government’s anti-drug advertising, swamped by the Exclusive Brethren push polling on the line the Greens will legalise drugs and see “Family First”, we are for the family we are anti-drugs, an attractive name for a party.

  28. #31
    Gary Morgan writes: “Having served as Australian Prime Minister for more than 11 years, a majority of Australian electors (58%) say John Howard should lead the Coalition at the upcoming Federal election.”

    What can be said about someone who can commit such a gross error of sytax in public?

  29. Glen, I dont why I’m bothering but after 6 months of “rogue polls”, Rudd’s honeymoon and Howards fake comeback, can you marshall some semblence of rationality??

  30. re. the question, Do you think Howard should step down before an election? Surely this is an obvious example of a question meaning different things to different people.

    I imagine a lot of Labor voters are in the same boat as me – very keen to see him hang around and face the music.

  31. 33 Geoff

    Thanks for that. It all adds to the mix. But. If it was a press release, why omit the client? Or is it aimed at the tabloids? By whom? Curious.

  32. I would like to inform fellow bloggers, having crashed read nearly all of the comments since last night (strike me how popular is this site), that there is absolutely no way that the Melbourne Cup will be moved from its traditional date, believe me.

    Also the saturday before the Cup is the all important Derby Day. Not a good day to hold an election. Therefore my tip for election day is…

    October 27.

    Did anybody else notice how sad Downer looked on the 7.30 Report tonight, it’s as if he had just lost his best friend.

    We know that Janette has lost her best friend. LOL

  33. Crikey Whitey did say:
    August 20th, 2007 at 10:05 pm #322 ‘The Night before Newspoll’

    I’m reckoning on 58% ALP TPP and equal down slump Coalition.

    Somewhat disappointed that it didn’t come in then, but took consolation in poll lag factor as described, by Possum, I think.

    Gratified that my expectations have since been more than confirmed.

  34. Adam Says:
    August 27th, 2007 at 8:49 pm
    Gary Morgan writes: “Having served as Australian Prime Minister for more than 11 years, a majority of Australian electors (58%) say John Howard should lead the Coalition at the upcoming Federal election.”

    What can be said about someone who can commit such a gross error of sytax in public?

    Adam, misspelling syntax as “sytax” in this context is highly ironic – in a very funny way.


  35. I’ve been against religious based political parties ever since Calvin made my life a misery in Geneva. Don’t think they have progressed too much since then.

  36. Adam I think the question, “Having served as Australian Prime Minister for more than 11 years, a majority of Australian electors (58%) say John Howard should lead the Coalition at the upcoming Federal election.” , fits in with the “do you think Australia is heading in the right direction” question to which a majority agree.

    I would answer yes to both meaning I want to see the end of Howard and would be disappointed if the opportunity was not there to see his defeat on election night.

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