Morgan: 56.5-43.5

Morgan’s now-weekly face-to-face poll, from a sample of 844, shows Labor’s two-party preferred lead narrowing from 59-41 to 56.5-43.5. The Coalition’s primary vote is up from 36 per cent to 39.5 per cent, and Labor’s down from 51 per cent to 49.5 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.

828 comments on “Morgan: 56.5-43.5”

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  1. HH, that (&9) was my tip for Labor early this year on the OzPolitics site’s tipping page. Haven’t seen any reason to change it thus far despite the fluctuations in the polls.

  2. @ 3

    Pauline, the last time we achieved a ‘real’ primary vote of 49.5% was with Bob Hawke in 1983.

    I don’t think it is realistic to believe Labor will get this number but I think based on polling trends they are looking at getting around 43% of the primary vote and on TPP they will get Government.

  3. I think Rudd’s tax gaffe is potentially damaging, but the way it has been beaten up into a “major” scandal (when in fact, it’s pretty minor) means that it won’t go anywhere. As has been usual for much of this year, the government saw a small opportunity and went for it, massively over-reaching in the process. The fact is, the scandals they’ve come up with so far have all been prety small beer, and Rudd’s moment in Queanbeyan was just another in a long line of these. These “little things” only really work if they play into widely held impressions of the man, and unfortunately for the Libs, none of them have.

    What’s more, this one has been swamped by competing stories. That’s what happens when you’re behind – the bounce of the ball goes against you. In this way, politics is like sport – ref’s decisions, opposition mistakes, angles and movements all go against you when you’re coming from behind (I’m sure you can all extrapolate this to your personal favourite sport). That’s just what’s happening to the government at the moment. They are getting the opportunities, but there is so much momentum with Rudd Labor at the moment that the Libs’ chances aren’t counting for much.

  4. Oh yes Adam, I realise that you were only reporting. I just wondered why your source would suggest 10th November would be likely when they could just as easily go a week earlier and miss the risk.

    On another matter unrelated to anything, it is likely that new marketing techniques will be used this election. One of these is viral marketing.

    Some companies in the US have abandoned their traditional advertising campaigns to market this way. It’s extremely cheap, in fact costs almost nothing but is highly effective.

    Here’s an example, 60 seconds long:-

    Imagine Labor using something like this. I can’t imagine the Coalition would be up to date on it.

  5. DLP (52) – Labor’s primary vote hasn’t been below 46% all year, and despite what the papers are saying, there has been no significant shift in the polls for months (2pp 55-45, primaries 47ish-40). On what basis do you argue that the ALP primary vote will drop to 43%?

  6. Labor’s primary vote has realistically been about 46 – 47%. This was figure it jumped to fairly quickly when Rudd took over. There seemed to be a great sigh of relief as though people had someone to vote for at last. I believe this swing was an anti government swing and will pretty much stay that way to the election, as it has done all year.
    There has been a lot of rot spoken about this so called swing back to the government. Truth is Labor was never 18 points ahead.

  7. In the absence of a lot of real politics this week and mounting frustration at wanting to get into this campaign, things have gotten a little ugly. I do think that most people commenting on both Rudd and Costello in this forum do seem to let wishes get in the way of understanding good politics.

    Costello may or may not be weak, cowardly and afraid of stepping up to the plate. Actually we don’t know. Another plausible explanation is this:

    Costello has never had the numbers. John Howard is the most re-elected Prime Minister in our living memory (well, for most of us!). Of course, ALP supporters encourage a “Costello-coup”. This would de-stabilise the coalition, Peter would almost certainly fail and be resigned to the back bench. This is actually a smart political move.

    Rudd did precisely the same in 2005 when Mark Latham left. He, Gillard and Beazley were all in the mix but Kev (again, a very shrewd politician) knew he didn’t have the numbers and bowed out. I suspect he also knew that Beazley was a poor bet to take over again and may not last until the next election. Worst case scenario, he’d lose again and Kev would have a better chance.

    It is very clear that Peter Costello wants the top job. It is also pretty clear that he knows:
    a) He doesn’t have the numbers for a challenge
    b) He can’t get there by election
    c) He is the treasurer. Plum job. Good credentials at it and next in line to the throne… The same reason Prince Charles doesn’t top his mother.

  8. @ 56


    I based it on what happens at the booth on election day.

    The AEC has great information on historical primary voting going back to 1946.

    Without getting into too much of the detail, my forecast is based on the historicals, how many parties will split the primary vote by state and I also looked at the marginal seats.

    For example, we all couldn’t understand when Howard won the 1998 election with 39.5% of the primary vote (LP/NP&CLP) but that lovely Pauline Hanson picked up nearly 9% of the primary vote and then handed it all back to the Libs in preference flows.

    At the end of the day it is prefence voting that will matter.

    As shown in previous elections, polling gives you trends but don’t use it to calculate seats won or lost. You would get a better result following the betting market.


  9. Hugo [#53], check out Costello’s HUGE tax gaffe where he shows he doesn’t know how to calculate the tax payable on an income of $24,000.
    Instead of having the correct figure of a bit over $2,700 he comes up with a figure of $7,200 showing he fails to understand how his own tax system works.
    he doesn’t understand theconcept of ‘marginal’.
    And this bloke is the Treasurer!

    It’s at ‘Road to Surfdom’.

    “The person on 30 cents of $24,000 pays is it, correct me if I am wrong here, three times 2.4? 7.2? $7,200? The person on $74,000 pays 74 times 0.3 which is roughly, maybe 20.”


  10. Wow this is a dire poll for Rudd and Labor, I know that on the surface it looks like a 16 point lead at the end of September, but those like me who can read the Polls know that Morgan poll heavly Socialist biased and also know that 20% of the Labor vote is soft and that when the elction is called the Coilition vote will increase this puts Labor on realy 12% primary and ony 15% TPP.

  11. So G.O #59 what you are really saying is that Cossie is a clever and cunning politician ready to pounce at the first opportunity at The Lodge.

    He had it in 1995 and was too gutless to take it. He had it again 2 weeks ago and he was too gutless to take it.

    In between he has been backgrounding journalists on how bad Howard really is and how much better he would be. And this is before the first glass of wine.

    I would say the reality is, that it is Howard who is the clever and cunning politician who has been able to string Cossie along for 11 along years with a hint of a promise of something sometime later maybe.

    His latest promise is not worth much more. This morning on radio Cossie could not answer a simple question: How much trust do you put in Howard’s promise to hand over the leadership?

    Our clever and cunning Couldabeen a bridesmaid PM ran a mile, a thousand miles. He really knows when to fight or flight.

    Mr Smirk should really be called Mr Shirk!

  12. Richard [55],

    Whilst the Flash movie contains a well crafted message delivered in a cute way, this communication is actually a very poor piece of viral marketing.

    Good viral marketing has the ability for target audience members to refer the communication on to their friends built into the conversation.

    For example, if you go here: and submit a protest message via the form on the front page you will then be thanked for your effort and offerred the opportunity to refer the site onto your friends.

    This isn’t a technically hard thing to do, but unfortunately many campaign managers either aren’t aware of what’s good practice or are too lazy to get it done.

  13. For what it’s worth, some more opinions gleaned yesterday at Parliament House:

    * Two Tasmanians, one Labor and one not, told me they are certain Labor will win Bass and Braddon.
    * A Qld Labor MP told me that Labor’s certain gains are Bonner, Moreton, Blair, Herbert and Bowman. I was a little surprised he was so emphatic about Bowman, but he has been campaigning there and said that Laming is dead meat, partly because of printgate, and partly because of his arrogant manner, which the punters don’t like. His “possible” gains were Petrie, Flynn and McPherson, where the Libs are known to be worried despite the large margin. He didn’t think we would win Longman, Dickson, Leichhardt or Hinkler.
    * A Vic Labor MP who knows the eastern suburbs well said he is very confident about La Trobe, less confident about Deakin.
    * A former NSW Labor MP who was in town for the day and who lives on the Central Coast said he was certain we would win Dobell, having at last found a decent candidate.
    * A NSW Labor frontbencher said the only NSW seats he would put money on were Parramatta, Lindsay, Dobell and Eden-Monaro. He thought Bennelong would be extremely close and didn’t think we would win Wentworth.
    * I spoke to several WA Labor MPs and Senators. All were very confident about Hasluck. Some were a bit less confident about Stirling, others sure we would win it. Some think Canning is winnable and some don’t. No-one seems to think we can win Kalgoorlie.
    * I spotted a Labor candidate from SA being shown around the corridors – obviously in expectation of being there soon. This may seem overconfident, but in the circs I share his/her confidence. The big swing in Adelaide seems to be set in stone.

    I note that the sum of seats my interlocutors were very confident about Labor winning is at least 14. I didn’t speak to anyone about Solomon, or the NSW or Vic regional seats. Personally I think Labor is in front in about 20 Coalition seats at present.

  14. @66


    Fantastic summary and spot on. You’ve called it and it is right on the money. Labor 84 seats, Coalition 64 seats & 2 independants

  15. Adam,

    Great report.

    To those seats you can add Macquarie. The combination of the national Labor swing and the support Bob Debus has in the Blue Mountains makes him almost unbeatable. Plus there is a local Your Rights @ Work campaign operating up here.

  16. Before APEC Labor were trending 55/45. The last two newspolls have been 59/41 and 55/45 for an average of 57/43. The last Galaxy was 57/43. The last AC Nielsen was 57/43. This Morgan is 56.5/43.5. Therefore it appears Labor has increased it’s lead during and since APEC.

    I believe Labor can increase its margin by the same amount again during the campaign proper.

  17. Anthony’s election calculator is very interesting… it really does emphasize how difficult it will be for the libs to peg back labor’s lead.

    For example, even the following swings would give labor government by 76 seats to 72:

    state / swing / tpp
    NSW 5.0% 53.1%
    VIC 0.2% 50.8%
    QLD 3.0% 45.9%
    WA 2.2% 46.8%
    SA 0.7% 53.7%
    TAS 2.8% 57.0%
    ACT 0.1% 61.6%
    NT 0.0% 52.1%

    That shouldn’t be too difficult from here should it?

  18. Hey Antony Greens pendulum is heaps of fun.

    I have become a junkie.

    I dont have Labor winning with any of my state by state swings.

  19. Just following on from my previous post… you can see that Labor can still lose Qld and WA quite badly on 2PP but still win the election — without requiring massive swings in the other states.

  20. thanks for the site William. I have been reading for about the last month and enjoying the banter.

    I think a lot of people have missed the reason for this big swing to the ALP and the reason that it will stick right up to election day.

    This is the first time i can recall that the ALP have set out to actively court the other sides supporters. Howard has taken his Party from a conservative Party to a Right-Wing Party. This has left a significant amount of lifelong “wet” Liberal Party supporters swinging and susceptible to finding a new home. With the ascension of Kevin Rudd and a significant centering of the ALP toward conservatism, these people have switched to the ALP. The new ALP is a much better fit for these lifelong Liberal voters than the modern Hard Right Coalition.

    I think you can throw out the history books on this ceiling of 43% primary vote for the ALP. Election day will see an ALP primary vote of at least 47% and probably a point or so higher.

    The significant swings are all in the marginal seats and in the “safe” Lib seats. Be prepared for some surprise seat gains on Election night.

  21. It’s actually even worse for the libs than I posted above (I made an error copying the TPP figures). It’s surprising that labor could win government even if they lose the TPP in Vic, Qld, WA and SA.

    NSW is crucial to this scenario.

    Corrected figures for a 76 seat win:
    state / swing / tpp
    NSW 5.0% 53.1%
    VIC 0.2% 49.2%
    QLD 3.0% 45.9%
    WA 2.2% 46.8%
    SA 0.7% 46.3%
    TAS 2.8% 57.0%
    ACT 0.1% 61.6%
    NT 0.0% 52.1%

  22. Oh well, if the ALP feel the need for a pre-election boost Rudd
    can always promise to never been seen power-walking in a tracksuit.

    That should get the TPP up into high 60s 🙂

  23. Pauline

    Your post betrays, again, your wishes rather than an account of good politics. Not gutless, necessarily. Just pragmatic.

  24. If I could just add a few rather diverse thoughts.

    On the polling patterns, if we look at the last 20 years of polling we find that shocks to the polling sequence, those events that make polling numbers change dramatically in a very short period of time all behave identically in the way they wash through public opinion over time. To start with, these events are really leadership changes, unique exogenous events (like the Tampa/S11 combination coming off the back of a 60 billion porkbarrel and one of the smartest political advertising campaigns ever seen anywhere) or a complete public meltdown in the mind of the electorate (Hewson in the 93 campaign for instance).The government opinion mechanics know this, I know the government opinion mechanics know this which is why the campaign will be brutally dirty. The governments only chance of winning (and the most likely chance of avoiding a wipeout) relies on Rudd doing a meltdown. That will be pursued as the core objective of the Liberals campaign.

    Secondly, once these events occur, the public opinion response is uniquely uniform. The polling overshoots on its peak (for the beneficiaries) and its trough (for the victims) before undergoing an error correction type of behaviour. There is a solid reason for this – there’s a group of the electorate out there, up to around 5%, that are fickle… they change their minds constantly; the news (or rather the simple messages coming from the news) impacts upon and frames their opinion enormously.

    Bit by bit, as time goes on after the event that dramatically changes the polls, the impact of that event slowly washes out of the minds of those bandwagon voters, whereupon they go back to randomly changing their vote on the basis of the news cycle and the issues of the day. This is half of the reason why Crosby Textor give so much import to the notions of “Win Expectations” that we all saw in OzTrack 33. Win expectations encompass the bandwagon effect. The other reason its so important is because it’s a measure of psychological momentum.

    This error correction type behaviour is why linear patterns and trends don’t apply to modelling short term movements (like 6-12 months) in polling behaviour coming off the back of one of these events.If you measure the overshoot in the polling linearly, you overshoot the linear forecast in the opposite direction as a result.

    Next, Glen.

    The “Rudd had a heart operation and he’s gonna drop dead by lunchtime Wednesday” smear was released to the media before Rudds tax gaffe (which Adam described the mechanics of perfectly).It’s been doing the rounds for yonks. The ALP smearing themselves with this is about as possible as David Spears ever winning a Walkley.

    As for the Liberal dirt unit – there’s not only the usual dross that once came out of the government members secretariat and now operates under god knows where (maybe the Coalition have discovered the wonders of distributed office space, although what Ruddock is doing with all those people makes one wonder), there’s also a plethora of pseudo “connected to the Coalition” nutbag groups that pour fairly large amounts of money into this rubbish for the conservative cause. A couple of particularly odious sardines in WA come to mind. Mostly these external groups don’t work intimately with the party itself, but they have been known to work intimately together to achieve certain objectives – destroying Hanson being one of them (ironically after they couldn’t take over the party… Ha!).

    So please Glen, spare us this complete silliness about phantom dirt units and ALP reverse back-ops smearing of themselves.

    And finally – if anyone really loves William and his bandwidth, they would use a browser like Opera where the graphics can be turned off with a push of a button (so you either use only text or the graphics in your browsers cache whenever you reload the page to catch the latest juicy comments).

    Please, pardon the length of this post.

  25. 44
    ruawake Says:
    September 21st, 2007 at 4:03 pm
    Qld Libs may not stand a candidate in Brisbane Central, in the bye election for Teflon’s seat.

    No money.

    Same story as what happened in the VIC byelections earlier this month 😉 …

  26. [Possum wrote: And finally – if anyone really loves William and his bandwidth, they would use a browser like Opera where the graphics can be turned off with a push of a button]

    Or install the ImgLikeOpera firefox extension, which gives you the same functionality.

  27. Thanks for the tip Ashley, I prefer Firefox and that’s worked beautifully.

    Obligatory pollbludgerishness:

    Y’all know how the 18-34, the 35-50 and the generally considered youngish folks categories are swinging in every poll known to mankind.Ever thought that it might be mostly the 25-40 group that’s holding up some of those cohorts?

    It would explain a lot in terms of the internal polling of various seats matching up with demographics.

  28. Re Browsers. I think that Opera and Firefox are a bit like FF and the Greens.

    My website with 59,260 hits this month shows IE polling 80.06% 😉

  29. […whenever you reload the page to catch the latest juicy comments]

    I’ve found that subscribing to the comments RSS feed avoids all
    that nasty “refresh the entire page” malarkey. It can be found
    near the bottom of the left panel on the Home page.

  30. I am inclined to think that Howard will not worry too much about a possible interest rate rise in November when choosing an election date. I noticed figures showing a huge drop in new home building approvals in the past month in Victoria, suggested the housing industry is really struggling. Also, the falling US interest rates and the sub-prime mortgage stuff will threaten slower growth in the world economy.

    The Reserve Bank would have to perform a pretty difficult juggling act to push rates up again, though it’s still possible. There are certainly strong inflation pressures, particularly from petrol prices and food prices in the drought.

    I agree with the make-Rudd-melt-down theory.

  31. Possum, in your post 80, re polling overshooting initially, does this imply the best results for a really good Government smear would be gleaned if the bomb is dropped close to polling day? Leaving no time for the wobbly ones to rebound as postulated?

  32. Most pollsters have this habit of using standard age groupings when they aggregate their individual survey responses into the polling results that we all see.

    But the the problem that’s coming up is that the age groups they use (and the supposed swings in those age groups) dont match up with the results of individual seat polling very well at all in terms of the expected swings in those demographics. For instance, say some seat had a huge 18-34 age group but in its polling there was actually nothing like that swing in the results for the indivudual seat.

    Looking at the handful of public polls that have been done (like nexus) where the 25-40 age group was actually measured, and going through the seat polling that’s available or that I’ve been told about or whatnot, and using the census data to pull out the 25-40 population proportions for those seats (and on rare occasions for the individual seat polls) – the results actually match up a lot better than they do if you split that 25-40 demographic into different measured groups.

    It also makes sense from the Workchoices/Interest payment to disposable income/rent and housing affordability nexus. The 25-40 age group is THE group eating the big sh*t sandwich there.

    I think the 18-25, the 25-40, the 45-55 and the 55+ are actually discrete groups, with different interests and are moving all in the same direction (ALP), but by vastly different amounts.Once they start to be aggregated willy nilly, the reality of the swings gets, to a certain extent, lost.

  33. Spot on Crispy at 90!

    But they seem to work best when you have initial momentum behind you *before* the smear is launched, and when the smear is plausible in that it exagerates a flaw that is already widely perceived.

    Otherwise it just ends up like the Burke thing, or the Sunrise thing, or the Scores thing etc etc.Especially the Scores thing.It had no legs because the government was in a hole and no one believed it was even plausible that Rudd went the grope.

    Going the grope was the *REAL* attempted smear.Remember the Poison Dwarf on Insiders going “I’ve been told he was asked to leave the nightclub ……..and that only happens when someone has inappropriately touched up the girlies” (whereupon he gave that god awful leer into the camera…. the nudge nudge, wink wink for the ‘moral fabric’ set).

    That leer just freaked me out and made me think he looked like a dirty old man, so I guess he didnt pull it off very well… not that this possum is particularly morally upstanding or anything 😉

  34. Ah, Poss, now I’m going to quote myself from an earlier thread in order to agree with you…

    “It has to be noted that a smear campaign worked very well against Latham, effectively calling into question his fitness to be PM. The Libs just had better quality material to smear with – the battered taxi driver for a start – and even the weaker stuff resonated with uneasy feelings voters had about Latham. The bad language/headkicker image was not a plus in the end.

    So it’s hardly surprising the government has been trying again. It’s just that nothing they have come up with is particular heart-stopping (boomtish), and none of it resonates with how people already feel about Rudd. What is surprising is they are still trying, after so many counter-productive charges.”

    There was more stuff about Crikey and Glen and… but hey.

  35. I’ve just got a feeling the Libs don’t have anything telling in the way of mud to fling. The panic last week about Newspoll and the leadership near-meltdown spoke of a lack of ideas and, most of all, confidence in the coming campaign. And the current cheering about illusory MOE ‘turnarounds’ sounds like whistling in the graveyard.

  36. “work best when you have initial momentum behind you *before* the smear is launched”
    i think this is where the smear campaign will struggle.
    There appears to be no fertile ground for a smear. Despite Morgan’s fanciful “soft” vote, the electorate has locked in against Howard. The danger as with Burke, Scores etc is that it looks like just another “tricky” political tactic and will actually work against them. Rudd et al have been doing a lot of work laying the groundwork for a smear as well so it will not be a “bomb” like Tampa.

  37. Yes, Barney, hence yesterday’s tactics in the house. Put the Dirt Unit well and truly into the vernacular. I thought it was a good move. Even if both sides did look like a cage of orangutangs preparing to fling their own pooh at each other.

  38. What would people think of these swings to the ALP by state

    NSW 4.7
    Vic 4.8
    QLD 2.5
    WA 2.1
    SA 5.0
    Tas 5.3
    ACT 5.1
    NT 5.1

    If you use those figures on Anthony Greens site you get a Hung parliament. Can unbiased people on here give realistic swing percentages by state?

  39. Possum, I agree with your analysis about the 25-39 group, though I also think the 45-55 group, who have children seeking housing or struggling to fund university, are also worth analysing.

    The under 25s are all working two part-time jobs, studying, setting up Facebook pages, and planning overseas trips all at once, and are happy being busy and using their mobile phones. It gets a lot harder these days when you decide to settle down.

    On another topic, the other thing that could derail the polls would be a stock market crash. This is quite possible, because of what’s happening in the US. Even though our economy is pretty strong, our market would just follow Wall Street down.

    With superannuation so widespread these days, virtually everyone would be affected. I don’t know how it would affect voters, but my gut feeling is that many would turn back to the coalition. They would want someone they knew to clean up the mess.

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