Newspoll: Turnbull 34, Nelson 18

The standout finding of a very interesting post-election Newspoll survey of 1125 voters is a question on preferred Liberal leader: 34 per cent responded for Turnbull, just 18 per cent for Nelson and 14 per cent for Julie Bishop, with the optimistic Tony Abbott on 9 per cent. Rudd predictably is streets ahead of Brendan Nelson as preferred prime minister, leading 61 per cent to 14 per cent (91 per cent to 1 per cent among Labor voters).

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.

1,259 comments on “Newspoll: Turnbull 34, Nelson 18”

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  1. The other result that jumps out at me is the 53% of people who state they’d chosen who they would vote for more than six months before the election. This was a 14% increase on 2004 (effectively matched by a 15% drop in people who nominated any date up to one month before the election). That pretty much sums up the result: people decided early that they were over Howard and the Coalition, and anything that happened in the campaign was just background noise.

  2. Probably a drop, given his PPM rating! Anecdotally, I know more than one person who voted Liberal who’ve said they’d prefer Rudd to Nelson (largely because of the “intelligent design” fiasco).

  3. I bet the line of Nelson being a “political hermaphrodite” that a read in one of the weekend papers has the potential to be damaging. It has the potential to be what “flip-flop” was to Beazley.

  4. Turnbull is not a great vote puller either but if you look at his polling last-week he did manage to avoid a devastating swing against him. Unlike Johnny.

    Did we ever find out where those unaccounted for additional postal votes in Bennelong and Swan came from…

  5. The most annoying thing about the newspoll is the 10% who made up their mind who they were going to vote for on the last day and the 20% who made up their mind in the last week.

    This means that next election, once again, we will have to listen to politicians, commentators and Sol spruik on about how the Polls could still change because 1 in 5 make up their mind in the last week.

  6. William, normally I find you to be just about the most astute commentator out there, but on this occasion, I respectfully submit that you and your early commenters are smoking crack.

    The “standout finding” from this Newspoll is nothing to do with Turnbull or Nelson. It’s the remarkable table about ‘issues’, which pegged Health, education and water as the three most important issues for voters in this election, followed closely by the economy and the environment. Whereas interest rates and national security were stone cold motherless last, by a margin of some 25 points. Nothing else explains more clearly why Labor won. They owned the ideas in this election like none in more than 20 years.

    The other interesting finding is the drop in percentage of voters who made up their mind in the final week of the campaign. This year it was an (albeit embarrassingly high) 20 percent. But in previous elections it’s been closer to 30 percent. And 53 of voters made up their mind more than 6 *months* prior to the campaign, compared to an historical average around 40. So there *were* plenty of voters waiting for Howard with Nerf bats after all.

    This Newspoll is the first bit of quantitative data we’ve had to explain the election result, and the “standout finding” is that Labor *won* the election from opposition, not that the Coalition *lost* the election. It’s standard political wisdom ‘turn’d upside downe’.

  7. Meanwhile, on the Turnbull/Nelson thing, the result is not surprising, nor is it especially informative.

    Most of the “support” for Turnbull comes from the ‘oh yaah, I dun heard of ‘im’ factor. Turnbull is the only recognisable Liberal in punter land.

    Turnbull also has the annoying habit of losing more ballots (Republic, party room) than he wins. He got pre-selected through the mother of all branch-stacks. And even though he ran a good campaign in Wentworth, his opponent was a turkey, and let’s face it, to be the winning Liberal in Wentworth is like winning a poll on whether mice will vote for cheese. (To be fair, Nelson’s ultra-safe seat of Bradfield is in the same category).

    In any case, at 34 support, even the most optimistic assessment of such support is that it’s only the rusted-ons who are interested right now. They are probably the direct descendents of that deranged individual who kept yammering ‘I love you John!’ during Howard’s concession speech at the Wentworth. (Was it Piers?)

    Don’t get me wrong, I’d prefer to see Turnbull leading the Liberals than Nelson, but in my experience, lending my support to any one party or individual has usually been the kiss of death for their political aspirations ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Finally, how good is this for a scare campaign: 50% of Liberal leaders are former union-esque yelly people with megaphones, and the other 50% are lawyers. Are these the people you want running the country? ๐Ÿ˜€

  8. Sorry, one last thing then I’ll shut up, promise:

    Nelson on 18 percent!

    All together now: “Why on earth does this man even bother?”

  9. Mercurius,
    Although the issues finding is interesting, and I totally agree that Labor owned the ideas in the campaign, I suspect a lot of people say what they think they ought to say on that sort of stuff.
    My suspicion is that the election was, to a significant extent, a referendum on Howard. And Howard lost convincingly.

  10. I don’t care how many poll respondents feel they have to claim they made up their minds during the campaign because the campaign polls bounced all over the place, yet again, to sell newspapers and collect more television advertising bucks. Hugh MacKay has debunked the late decider myth numerous times and has nailed the winner (and why) at the start of the last two campaigns.

    The most silly aspect this time around was that the worse a party performed during the week, the better the next poll would usually be. It was chalked down to “counter-intuitive” by the media making all these mega bucks from this bogus volatility.

    William, Possums and others provided us with the fundamental election result narrative with their computations long before the final week of the campaign.

  11. How about ALP supporters who still have quite “internally processed” the victory – and so when asked, who’s your preffered leader, reflexively scream “Anyone but but the PM, anyone but the PM!!!!”

    I still think of Howard when the news suggests that “The PM has done X” – then I think ‘hmm, that doesn’t sound like something Howard would do’ followed by ‘Of Course!!! The PM is KEVIN RUDD!’

    Then I smile.

  12. I don’t think that anyone is too surprised with these poll results. What I will be interested to see is where Rudd’s numbers go from here. Once he starts actually achieving some of the goals he has enunciated I would imagine that his PPM figures could go higher still. Is there any precedent for this or is this 61 as good as it gets?

  13. Petrie – even if only 2% made up their mind late, we’d have the same amount of campaigning I’m afraid.

    The 20% in the final week is dodgy – if the question were ‘when did you decide between Lib and ALP’ it would provide a possibly more useful stat.

    Newspoll/The Oz are up to their old tricks: we now have the single issue of IR split into two issues ‘WorkChoices’ and ‘IR’. Nothing in the past few years suggest they are separate. The only reason for splitting this question would be to undervalue the electoral impact of the issue.

  14. Gee, they were quick with this latest poll. Nelson hasn’t even named his front bench yet! Nelson’s real test will be when Parliament resumes to see if his team can score points against the government, then I will probably start to take more notice of the polls.

  15. A few things about this poll:
    Re issues question: The wording is “Would you say each of the following issues was very important, fairly important or not important…”
    Somehow, this three-pronged question is then turned into a percentage figure for each issue… I guess that “percentage support” is equated to people who say either very important or fairly important. Seems a bit flaky to me.

    Also, I like to see that the second most preferred Leader of the Liberal Party is “Uncommitted” with 25% support…

  16. The last in “The Poll That Counts” video series is online: Bill Heffernan’s Payback. He spars with The Chaser and watches Howard’s concession speech in some discomfort. I have dedicated it to Justice Michael Kirby and Julia Gillard. See the collection on ‘Labor View from Broome’ by clicking my name above. This is reality video, taken on the floor of the National Tallyroom on Saturday night. Enjoy!

  17. What an interesting time for the Libs.
    A leader the public don’t care about and is languishing in polls for his own job.
    A deputy who’s WA colleagues swung the votes necessary for his (and her) election (and who will be having more than a deputy’s share of the decisions because of this). Nelson is nothing if not beholden WA MPs. No Sorry and Workchoices is good for us all.
    A shadow treasurer who holds diametrically opposing policies on these key issues and clearly, while being very polite, just waiting for the chance to swoop.
    Another (probable) frontbencher who will stay loyal until he’s not!
    Two or three former stars who will mentor! Just tipped out of govt and they need mentoring in opposition! Gives a whole new meaning to the word.
    But don’t give up Brendan, you’ve snared 1% of Labor’s PPM already!

  18. 28 Ed: I think that this whole election saga has been a classic tragedy; a true tale of the downfall of the “great” through short-sighted pride and hubris, complete with an alternating Chorus of the mainstream media juxtaposed with the blogging community…

    The Gods hate hubris.

  19. Am interested what people think of Malcolm Turnbull.

    It seems to me that he has truckloads of energy, drive, ambition and public profile. But I’m not sure that he is a very skillful politician. I don’t think that he really gets the amount of compromise that is involved in the political process, and I think that his dictatorial tendency is recognised and disliked by the public. He reminds me of Jeff Kennett without the sense of humour (which was the bit that people liked).

    I suspect that Malcolm’s time in charge of the Liberals (and it will surely come) will end badly. The party room’s supposed unhappiness with Malcolm saying what policy positions would be held in his radio interview is in a small scale how I suspect the electorate will also respond to his leadership – no flexibility and therefore dwindling support as time goes by.

  20. 32 John, I think Malcolm embodies what the Liberals have to be to be relevant as a political force and to be able to devise an agenda suitable for the times.

    His anti-political personna is seen as a minus in the political club but surely the times suit his way of doing things rather then the traditional party way.

    I’m sure he can bide his time and gain considerable kudos as shadow treasurer.

  21. Nelson is a very big mistake – I was pissed as all hell when the Libs chose him.

    Barring freak events, Nelsons popularity will shift very little in the coming months – he is simply not the engaging type. Reminds me of Simon Crean – a competent leader, but doesn’t have the charisma of one.

    I give it 12-18 months before a challenge, which Turnball will in all likelihood win. That gives him a year to get himself sorted, before 2010. The thing that really irks me about this though is that Rudd can now call a DD early 2009, and the Libs are either stuck with Nelson or Turnball, whom has only been leader for about a month or two.

    This poll doesn’t surprise me in the slightest – except for the fact Abbott is at 9%.

    Having said that, it could be a blessing in disguise – Nelson deals with the post-election fallout, and the baggage that comes with it, before Turnball takes it with a clean slate. Seems unlikely though. It is such a shame, because the government is already bloody cocky and arrogant, a competent opposition could make the 2010 election one to remember. Gah,

  22. They’re cocky and arrogant after 18 hours? It’s going to be a long three years for you, Max. Or will your Arrogance Tolerance levels return to their normal levels of the last decade?

    Re this making up the mind in the last week bizzo, I’d like Newspoll to ask that lot if they’ve ever in their life voted for the party other than the one they finally opt for.

    I reckon it’s a lot like any cricketer’s take on winning the toss in a one day match. They say ‘90% of the time you bat first, the other 10% of the time you think about it for a bit, and then you bat first.”

    ‘Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’

    Still looks like a typo, doesn’t it? Not for long.

  23. ‘Cocky and arrogant’???
    Max, just what is it that you’re smokin’ boy, and can I have some.

    Oh I see, they were sworn in yesterday, and accepted the people’s verdict. Bloody arrogant if you ask me. And Swan appeared on The 7.30 Report as the Treasurer of Australia. What a hide the man has.
    Next the full of herself Penny Wong and that show pony Peter Garrett will be representing Australia at Bali. I mean, how dare they. Such arrogance will surely lead to hubris and certain defeat at the next election.

  24. 1. Ratifying Kyoto within, what, 30 minutes of becoming PM? Without a cabinet meeting? Mandate is one thing, but getting Cabinet to approve would have been slightly more responsible.

    2. Super-portfolio Ms Gillard. How much power does she need? I agree that merging positions can be effective, also agree that education is related to work, but she has undertaken two of the heaviest jobs for herself. Surely it would be better to give one to somebody you work well with? One portfolio means you can direct ALL your energies into it, we are poorer for the combined position.

    3. Labor prattling along telling the Coalition it has to approve its IR legislation. Bullshit. It got its house of review back, now it wants to make it redundant?

    4. Perhaps not a sign of arrogance, but the fact Combet and Mckew got secretary positions is a joke. Sure there’s talent there, but what happened to his ‘I think everybody should get parliamentary experience before getting a more senior position’ stance? How effective can they be as secretaries without knowing how it works?

    This is in week one. Already I’m annoyed. Could make for a fun few years !

  25. The arrogance of Rudd, being sworn in and all that.
    What presumption, what vanity.
    And Howard still not wanting to let go. Maybe it’s all a dream.
    Anyway is Howard still alive?

  26. Sounds sweet Crispy.

    My 91 yr old father told me on the weekend that he has never trusted Howard since the shafting days of the Peacock/Howard tussle, and he is a rusted on Liberal voter. As a veteran the Iraq debacle just cemented his view.

  27. Max at 41
    If that is all you are annoyed at, then I suggest you have far lower standards for the Liberals then you have for the ALP.

  28. Max, I can see some arrogance staring me in the face. But anyway, I guess its good to see Liberals getting back on that horse. It must have been a hard fall.

  29. I’m sure that others will know more details – but since Kyoto was official policy I assume that means it has been passed by ALP NATIONAL CONFERNCE.

    Hence, as soon as any member of the ALP had the chance to do it, they should. As Mr Rudd did.

    THere’s no need for Cabinet to discuss it – what new information is there? All the facts have been known for a long (almost criminally long, given the cricumstances) time.

    Oh – and I am aware that Rudd has recently stated that Austrlia is unlikely, on curretn projections, to meet the targets. That only reinforces the fact that Howard and Costello were lying.

  30. Meanwhile the Qld Libs meet this morning to sort out their little problem.

    Only thing certain is Bruce Flegg will not be the winner. Whether anyone else can win is another matter. Could be a long meeting.

  31. Pancho,

    Yep, it was a hard fall. Was it deserved? Yes. The party didn’t adapt, didn’t renew, and it paid the price. Shall we now sit in a corner for three years crying about it, or move on in the best interests of everybody?

    How long would everybody like us to give Mr Rudd to settle into his new position? If the Libs do their job, then proper scrutiny will begin day one of the next Parliament, if not before. Of course, this is assuming they do their job…

    If you would like arrogance, refer yourself to supporters who claim they now have two terms of government to enjoy, if not a decade.

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