Where have all the pollsters gone?

• Recent form suggests Roy Morgan has moved from weekly to fortnightly, and it seems the West Australian either didn’t conduct or didn’t publish its normal monthly Westpoll survey of state voting intention.

George Megalogenis of The Australian wrote yesterday of “special analysis” of Newspoll showing that since the May budget the Prime Minister has suffered “double-digit falls in his popularity among higher-income earners, full-time workers and people aged 35-49”. We are also told the PM “didn’t do as badly among households with children – they trimmed his rating by 7.7 percentage points to 60.9 per cent, while those without children cut it by 10.7 points to 56.8 per cent”; and also that his approval rating among Coalition voters dropped from 40.9 per cent to 28.5 per cent.

• A survey conducted last month by Essential Research shows “93 per cent had either not heard of the emissions trading scheme, had heard about it but didn’t know what it was or knew just a little about it”. However, Chris Johnson of The West Australian reports that “once the concept was explained, respondents overwhelmingly thought it was a good idea. Seventy-two per cent strongly supported the introduction of an ETS and 78 per cent thought transport and petrol should be included.” I see the principals behind Essential Media (the company behind Essential Research) include Ben Oquist, former adviser to Bob Brown and one-time Greens Senate candidate.

• Labor continues to dither over whether to contest the Mayo by-election. No doubt their decision will be soundly based on research, but if I were them I’d go for it: the electorate that almost put John Schumann in parliament seems an unlikely candidate for an emissions trading scheme backlash, and a relatively good result would help shake the Gippsland monkey off the government’s back.

• In the absence of Westpoll we will have to make do with more “unpublished Newspoll figures” provided by Joe Spagnolo of the Sunday Times, showing “41.9 per cent of 418 Liberals polled preferred Mr Carpenter as Premier, instead of their own man (33.5 per cent)”.

• Tasmanian Greens leader Peg Putt will resign from parliament and has handed the leadership baton to Franklin MP Nick McKim. A recount for Putt’s Denison seat will almost certainly deliver it to Cassy O’Connor, who once worked as an adviser to local federal Labor MP Duncan Kerr. This outcome was anticipated at the time of the March 2006 state election by Greg Barns.

Antony Green and Possum Comitatus have been blogging prolifically of late. Do go and look.

• In the interests of promoting Aussie talent, the Poll Bludger presents a 1993 Rock Classic from the Cruel Sea.

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.

344 comments on “Where have all the pollsters gone?”

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  1. #225: It’s a pity Mia Handshin wasn’t the candidate for Boothby on November 24, I dare say she would have performed better than Nicole Cornes.
    The Fairfax papers in Sydney are more concerned with bashing the Iemma Goverment currently, Rudd/Nelson aren’t really on the radar this week for them.

  2. Now why would “people skills” say on the record that there is a “split” over the ETS in the Fibs?

    What does he gain from doing it? Is he trying to put Nelson back in his box or is he about to mount a Conservative coup.

    Interesting times, if Abbott and probably Nick Minchin suceed, they will move the party to the level of a Bolta blog.

    If Turnbull prevails they will snipe at him from the sidelines.

    What fun – it is just too delicious for words. 😛

  3. The the hand up the backside of the glove puppet we know as “people skills” has done it again – he’s backing Cardinal Pell for all it’s worth:

    “Mr Abbott, one of Australia’s most prominant Catholics and a friend of the Cardinal, said his mate acted “honourably” amid claims that he misled victims of abuse at the hands of former priest Father Terrence Goodall. ”

    I guess it depends on what you understand by the word ‘honour’ eh?
    Being a conservative isn’t as easy as it used to be…
    Even the news.com.au readers are getting stuck in to him over this one.
    (by the way – the spelling mistake is theirs and not mine for once).

  4. Todays unemployment figures revised the number for Feb. to 3.9% so a Labor Govt. has delivered the lowest unemployment rate since 1974. 🙂

  5. Ruawake – I never thought the Libs were the primary cause of our good fortune and I don’t give credit to Labor either. I would like to say congrats to Glen Stevens and the RBA for striking the right balance with monetary policy.
    What we can take out of this is that the sky did not fall in when Labor assumed the reigns of government as some on the right believed. However the problems in the US and the overinflated house prices here and elsewhere are a real worry.

  6. ruawake @ 256 – So why aren’t the mugs of half the government front bench all over the TV news crowing about it? Especially Gillard’s as both the acting PM and responsible minister!

  7. …a Labor Govt. has delivered the lowest unemployment rate since 1974.

    NELSON: “Mr. Rudd can’t squirm out of this one. He’s been in government for seven long months now and, after the Budget, took ownership of the economy, lock, stock and barr….”

    LIBERAL MINDER: “Pssst!… Dr. Nelson!”

    NELSON: … lock, stock and barrel. These employment figures… by the way, what are the figures?

    LIBERAL MINDER: Doesn’t matter, mate. You’re doin’ a great job.

  8. Mayne MayoFeral going on TV and telling everyone that they have never had it so good is not a good idea. Especially when the RBA is actively trying to slow the economy by raising interest rates.

  9. BB

    Exactly – I did hang out a bit of bait. But if Labor has to take responsibility for the economy – surely the lowest unemployment rate for 34 years is theirs to claim?

    Brenda can’t have it both ways. 😛

  10. My take for what its worth is that the Libs are actually using ETS to screw over Turnbull. Nelson’s dead in the water and the subject is who replaces him and when . Latest polls show that the majority of Libs want Costello. Given that he is staying, (which seems more likely as each day passes), then his sitting on the bank bench is clearly a waste of talent and something that will not last.

    Turnbull will not carry the day because he simply does not have the support of the heavy hitters like Minchin and Abbott. All his ascensicon will do will perpetuate the divisions that currently exist.

    Logic says Costello comes in, probably with Abbott as deputy. Timing, probably before the next sitting of Parliament.

  11. “Hence, when able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near.

    Hold out baits to entice the enemy. Feign disorder, and crush him.”


    It was not coincidence the Rudd was given a copy of Sun Tzu’s the Art of War. It explains many of his actions. 🙂

  12. My sister just rang me in a state of high dudgeon over Uhlmann’s piece to camera on ABC News tonight.

    The subject was the unemployment figures.

    Clearly expecting the numbers to have worsened, Uhlmann nevertheless had to change his script on the fly, but kept the punchline anyway:

    “No-one in the government will tell you this, but the Budget was supposed to increase unemployment.”

    So, the lowest unemployment in 34 years and Uhlmann has to find a negative way of putting it. My sister say he offered no evidence for his assertion that Labor wanted unemployment to rise. He just blurted it out…. in a story about how unemployment fell!.

    My sister was surprised he didn’t add,

    “Therefore the Rudd government has failed in its employment objectives and has demonstrated once again that it cannot manage the economy.”

    Thankfully, we were spared that.

    Uhlmann delenda est.

  13. GG (263) I agree, I think a lot of the ETS positioning by Abbott is to put the squeeze on Turnbull. It shows how internally they are operating at the moment. Electoral impact is secondary.

    I wouldn’t worry about Uhlmann (265), since his blow-out on Sunday he is finished.

  14. ESJ I mean removing their influence from government (keeping their money of course). That’s what Iemma is trying to do with electricity privatisation. I don’t think he cares whether it is privatised or not. It is just a way of breaking with the unions in NSW, something the federal Labor leadership has been itching to do for ages.

  15. Let’s be careful what we wish for. I’m happy for Brenda to keep leading the Fibs all the way.

    We should save our energies for when Cossie takes over. Tip is going to be given the – MOTHER of all honeymoons by the MSM.

  16. Remove their influence from government? The unions have 50% of the votes in the State ALP conference, they can remove the State ALP Head Office leadership, 50% of their membership works in the public service.

    To me it seems like removing the liver from the body, ie you die.

  17. Well the old ALP does die as it has elsewhere. There are voting numbers and there is political influence. Even you would have to admit that the unions have minimal influence on the current federal Labor government.

  18. TPS,

    One element I question in your analysis:

    If you assume union leaders are content to leave government to the grown ups ie the parliamentary party (which I grant in many cases is true), what happens when government (or the party) in its actions undercuts the financial base of unions (ie membership which increasingly lies in the public sector)?

    Presumably the compliant union leaders who have been removed from the political process will not meekly accept having their own sinecures removed from under them through wholescale decimation of their membership base (ie income stream)?

    In other words does a turkey vote for Christmas?

  19. Also, if the Libs become (more) irrelevant, as some have postulated, how are the technocrats (or anyone else for that matter) going to stop business with its monay taking over the ALP?
    Or is the theory that business will keep supporting a losing Liberal Party indefinitely?
    Or is that the Libs will start coming back?

  20. ESJ (278) that’s pretty well exactly what happened in the Keating years. As Gillard reassured at the Sydney Institute last year, union membership fell at a quicker rate during the Keating years than under Howard. The union leadership had no choice but to agree to what Keating did. You are talking about it as though it will happen but it already has (although NSW is just catching up).

    That’s why the union leaders are all drifting to join the parliamentary ALP. Howard called it a sign of rising union influence in the ALP, actually it was the reverse.

    The money thing might be a problem (281). But the unions will still be contributing I can’t see what choice they have. On particular business having influence I think Rudd will make it harder than say it was under Hawke.

  21. Fair point TPS,

    The logical end-point would be that the ALP will swallow electricity privatisation. It doesnt seem to be playing out that way? The scenario seems to be Iemma gets rolled and the new guy comes up with some form of compromise.

  22. I see it more that Combet and the others were the last ones across the bridge into parliament and those who remain in the unions are angry that their time served wont end up in parliament so are angry and resentful of the Labor government.

  23. I know this is not strictly the right thread for this but there is a big rumour going around political circles in Adelaide that Mike Rann will step down next year when the Budget is delivered and only work on Federal Labor. He is being heavily criticised in SA at the moment for having his eye off the ball due to being overstretched with his Federal commitments.

    All the other long-lasting Labor Premiers have left on their own terms. He’s the only one left.

  24. ESJ

    Au contraire! I’ve just started reading a book on “The Waste Land”. I decided to return and set my lands in order.

    Shantih shantih shantih

  25. I’m also reading “The Upside of Down” at the moment. It argues that large countries are becoming like the last days of the Roman Empire, which fell apart because it’s bureaucracy could not control it any more.

    The main failings of our countries, including Australia, can be put down to an increasingly unmanageable bureaucracy. The old-fashioned political models ran well for smaller populations with less complicated needs but is unable to react quickly enough to the more rapid and diverse “stresses” of the 21st Century, be they economic, environmental, climatic, energy-related or population-based.

  26. Strange that MSM is still throwing pop corn at Rudd and co when the entertainment in the Liberal ring is getting hot.

    Abbott and Minchin may have the numbers but they don’t represent electable positions. Turnbull and a few others actually have enough brains to work that out. Costello is yesterdays man and he knows it.

    If you find party politics fun, pull up a chair, break out the pop corn, it’s going to be fun.

  27. …a Labor Govt. has delivered the lowest unemployment rate since 1974.

    Which of course was when another Labor government was in power.

  28. Tip is going to be given the – MOTHER of all honeymoons by the MSM

    Take this with as little or as much salt as you wish. Custardello is renowned for hesitancy, undecidedness …

    Those close to Peter Costello believe the former treasurer will step aside in October after the publication of his memoirs. It is strongly rumour in the Liberal Party that Mr Costello has secured a job in Washington.

    Sydney Morning Herald, 2 July 2008

  29. TPS @ 283,
    You’ve answered the second and third parts of my 281 – actually I already knew your views on business’s future relationship with the Liberal Party.
    What about the first part of my 281 – don’t you think business will take over the ALP, assuming the Libs (and the unions) become irrelevant? Or do you think business will just trust the technocrats to keep doing the right thing (whatever that may be)?

  30. Who watched Q&A tonight?
    Andrew Bolt made a complete dick of himself, Craig Emerson was eminently sensible, Christine Milne is one of the more impressive Greens, and Tony Jones still irritates me LOL

  31. on the WA election strong indications after the Grand Final. Gas crisis will go on too long to hold it before and holding it during could bite them.

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