ACNielsen: 54-46

Today’s Fairfax broadsheets bring the Rudd government its most uncomfortable opinion poll yet, with ACNielsen showing Labor’s lead down to 54-46 from 56-44 a month ago. The poll also offers a preferred leader rating for Brendan Nelson with a two in front of it, and yet more results on emissions trading.

Other news:

• A by-election looms in the north coast New South Wales seat of Lyne as former Deputy Prime Minister Mark Vaile joins the exodus. Labor are presumably not in a hurry to take on the Nationals at another by-election, but the contest could yet prove interesting in other ways. Rob Oakeshott, the Nationals-turned-independent state member for Port Macquarie, says he is “considering a tilt” – much as he did before the 2004 election without following through, though perhaps he will be more tempted now he does not have Vaile to overcome. Then there’s the prospect of a challenge by the Liberals, which Antony Green discusses in depth.

• Labor has confirmed it will sit out the by-election for Alexander Downer’s seat of Mayo. Yesterday’s Liberal preselection was won by Jamie Briggs, former adviser to John Howard on industrial relations, whom Jon Wiseman of The Australian reports prevailed by 46 in a ballot of “almost 300 branch members”. The runner-up was Iain Evans, who was dumped after one year as state leader following the 2006 election. Evans’ state electorate of Davenport partly corresponds with Mayo, and it was thought his local numbers combined with concern over Briggs’s WorkChoices association might stand him in good stead. Antony Green has a Mayo by-election page in action, and will presumably follow with one for Lyne very shortly.

• Yet more from Antony Green, this time on the “growing prospects” of an early election in the Northern Territory “in late-August or some time in September”.

Glenn Milne offers internal Nationals research from “pre-polling and exit polling in Gippsland”, and lots of it.

• I have belatedly noticed my debut entry (and perhaps also Possum’s) in The Australian’s Cut and Paste section, from July 2.

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.

69 comments on “ACNielsen: 54-46”

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  1. From the link:
    “Labor’s primary vote is down a point to 43%, while the Coalition’s is up two points to 40%”
    On that arithmetic the ALP has slumped 3 points, but the poll says only 2 points cf last time.
    Do I presume ‘others’ have increased their preferences to Labor, ie the Greens have incresed by 1 or 2 points to soften the blow?

  2. Well, it does seem that it’s slowly going down, poll by poll.I have no idea what that means but to me, it can’t be a good thing. It’s hard to see how it could be played as a “good result” for Rudd

    But I defer to greater minds and all that

  3. GB, you can’t put a possitive on these figures. It’s Labors lowest ever. All they need to do is continue to focus on the job.

    Who knows though, the real figures could be around 57/44 adjusting for incumbency.

  4. Although of little value at this stage, it’s worth noting that this is a weaker number than some decade old state governments are currently polling

  5. From the Michelle Grattan article:

    “AUSTRALIANS overwhelmingly say they are willing to pay more for goods and services to help reduce emissions, in an Age/Nielsen poll that also shows Kevin Rudd has popular support for how he is handling climate change.

    People want Australia to tackle emissions regardless of what other countries do, and they back the Government’s proposed trading scheme, while admitting they have little or no understanding of it.”

    I thought the premise of an ETS was that people would modify their behaviour because they won’t want to, or won’t be able to pay more for their goods and services. A question on the behaviour modification aspect of an ETS would have been interesting.

  6. Whilst the 2PP is at the lowest yet at 54-46 the other figures are still very strong. PPM is at 65-20, 66 for Rudd’s approval, and around 70% wanting CC policy regardless of the rest of the world. But 54% approve of Rudd’s handling of the Emissions ilssue. This last figure should improve as the next Garnaut report comes and then the Gov’t final white paper.

    People do not understand about the ETS policy too well and the Gov’t has a job in educating the people. This should improve with advertisements being started. People are uncertain and that is probably what is causing slightly lower 2PP.

    Figures while still good are down a bit and this could very well be a blessing in disguise. It is a bit unreal to be travelling in high 50’s and low 60’s and now that figures are below 55% it should add a bit more sense of reality to the Gov’t themselves(and to their supporters). They haven’t got the high figures to squander and this should provide a sharper edge to their performance.

  7. The analysis ‘provided’ by the Nationals is interesting, but if they use one example of someone cruising past a poll worker and refusing their card with “Not this time, mate” as summing up the whole campaign, it throws a bit of a cloud on the quality of the rest.

    I had someone grab an ALP card (in another by election) with “As long as my bum points downwards, I’m never voting Liberal again” but I didn’t infer from that that (a) he never would vote Liberal again or (b) the Liberals were gone for all time.

    I would more be looking at the quality of the candidates in this instance. (Not saying that Fed Labor is perfect, but going by my knowledge of by elections). When I heard that the main selling point for the Labor candidate was that he was a mayor, I was immediately nervous: ALP HQ has an inflated view of the importance of country mayors. They think that this translates into broad community support, which it doesn’t necessarily. It also isn’t a sign of political savvy, media skills or indeed anything other than the ability to get a couple of other councillors to vote for you.

    I can think (off hand) of several examples locally of mayors who were pre selected (in one case, by the Nats, in another by One Nation and in another by the ALP) on that basis and did far more poorly in the polls than anyone expected…including myself.

    Secondly, in country seats the individual candidates are more important than they are in city seats. You also tend to hear more about them, given the nature of country media and the very effective grapevine.

    The selection of the ‘wrong’ candidate would explain (more convincingly in my view, whilst accepting that there was a fall in Rudd’s personal standing) why Labor’s numbers fell so dramatically over the campaign.

  8. Eh?

    From Albrechtsen’s column this morning, another brilliant scientific observation in the Battle Of The J’s:

    And don’t count on her ties with Labor’s left faction counting against her for much longer. Since November, Gillard has deliberately refashioned herself. Gone is the working class, grating accent. It’s softer and more centrist. And it fits her new, centrist stance.


    Janet should get out in the sunlight a bit more. I think she’s obsessing slightly.

    Either that or it’s Janet who’s changing, not Julia.

    What next? Julie Bishop adding a few long vowels to the verbal skills kit to show she’s a woman of the people, and not just a private school prat with a wardrobe mania?

  9. #5 Centre wrote :

    “GB, you can’t put a possitive on these figures. It’s Labors lowest ever. All they need to do is continue to focus on the job.”

    Isn’t it the same level as when ALP won the last election ?

    Just how is that not positive ?

  10. 14

    The headline on AC on-line reads:

    Rudd still riding high in polls

    That story paints a pretty positive picture for Kevin07. The ABC doesn’t always go for anti ALP spin.

  11. Just how is that not positive ?

    It’s not a positive result because the figures are going down.

    If the ETS is what the electorate wants, and voted for, why are the numbers going down?

    Rudd is spending his political capital on the equivalent of political plasma screens: farting about with trinkets made of spin and mind-numbing detail, while he’s letting the foundations rot. He does not care to contradict the Bolts et al, and the whingers. Maybe he thinks their arguments are “beneath him”? I dunno. whatever the reason, remaining silent on the naysayers’ message could be seen to indicate that Rudd has no answers, or worse, that he’s avoiding one.

    Today’s Nielsen poll tells us the voters want to listen, but they’re getting frustrated in not hearing Rudd rebut some of the more ludicrous and outrageous claims being made by the ETS critics, nee. Climate Sceptics. “We voted for you, Mr. Rudd. Remind us why.”

    I don’t believe an advertising campaign will do it. Ad campaigns are a substitute for direct engagement with the public. By their very existence they admit that the government isn’t doing the job of communicating through the MSM, and so has to pay them to be their friends.

    If there’s the slightest hint of partisanship in the coming campaign (or if ne can be manufactured) then the campaign itself will become the issue. Sure, the Libs can’t talk. Look at their own WCs campaign (and all the others) from the last 12 months of the campaign. They’d be hypocrites to chip Rudd for allegedly doing the same thing.

    But we all know they’re not afraid of being labelled “hypocrite”, and that’s if the MSM take up the challenge of so labelling them. More likely there’ll be a big “all politicians are shameless” neutralizing mantra, culminating in, “Guess what? Rudd’s a politician, just like Howard.” I could almost write the headlines and the articles myself.

  12. Tim Fischer gets to be first resident Vatican Ambassador.

    “FORMER deputy prime minister and Nationals MP Tim Fischer will become Australia’s first resident ambassador to the Vatican.

    Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announcement the appointment while farewelling Pope Benedict XVI at Sydney airport this morning.

    Traditionally, Australia’s ambassador to Dublin has hadresponsibility for the Vatican.”,23599,24049930-29277,00.html

  13. Jamie Briggs, Liberal candidate for Mayo, wants to send Mr Rudd a message on “broken promises” to lower petrol and grocery prices and to send water down the Murray. How brazen can you get? The Liberals themselves have plenty to answer for in Mayo:

    1. The creation of a costly, unnecessary by-election through the premature resignation of Alexander Downer.

    2. The plain fact that they did nothing for the Murray in 12 years of government.

    3. Their denial over climate change.

    4. Their selection of a blow-in candidate (he’s lived in the electorate only since February).

    5. Their selection of a Canberra apparatchik (a farmer was available, for example).6. Their selection of one of the architects of WorkChoices.

    There should be plenty of material there for the Greens, Democrats and former
    independent candidate for Mayo, Brian Deegan, who is signalling he may run again.

  14. hehehe. Labor-friendly? Surely not William.

    Very interesting that Iain Evans lost the ballot yesterday. Party politics aside, the fact is that any half popular local member for a state electorate really should have had little problem sliding into pre-election for an open federal seat, local support should have seen him through against a carpetbagger. His loss shows how much his appeal has fallen in recent years.

    The guy has had it rough – bundled in and out of the state lib leadership in the space of a year – but his post-dismissal attitude has been pathetic, going around in a sulk and being genuinely unhelpful and unwanted in a team which has otherwise – finally – taken it up to the current government. And he has now made his feelings for the state Libs crystal clear. MHS would dump him in a flash if not for the fact he needs everything to go his way to pluck victory in 2010, and can’t afford to have Evans mouthing off for the next two years.

    I was speaking to somebody within the Liberal Party yesterday who suggested (on his own accord) that there is a chance that Evans will be taken on for pre-selection for the 2010 state election (assuming he nominates to start with.) If that happens, he could very easily find himself in all sorts of trouble. He is very unpopular all round right now – and the way you can confirm this is by the fact the normally placid Sunday Mail had a rightgo at him a week ago, urging the Liberal Party to more or less not to preselect him for Mayo. His current seat of Davenport is safe at 6.8%, especially when an anti-Labor swing is all but guaranteed next election, so his booting wouldn’t really open any doors for Labor.

    Case of ‘watch this space.’

  15. With all the greatest respect for Tim Fisher why oh why do we bother. What a shameful waste of money. As we all look tiredly into the shambles that is the Climate Change debate, let us all remember that a vast majority of the worlds population runs on a whole range of bizzare and strange delusional belief systems.

  16. Of course it is a positive result. In a world economy that’s going haywire, with a government introducing a system that promises to put up prices on all manner of things and a media that’s determined to shoot the government down, this is a great result. Anyone expecting those record poll figures to stay under these circumstances has rocks in their head. We were all expecting this “narrowing”.
    Don’t forget Labor’s primary vote has gone down 1% in this poll from the last poll. That doesn’t say to me people are unhappy with Labor. What’s the MOE again? The Green supporters maybe unhappy but that’s it.
    Hell, if an election were held now Labor, according to these figures would romp in.

    This idea that all Rudd has to do is get out and sell CC is BS. If ads don’t do it nothing will. More people will watch an ad than watch Rudd I assure you. How many people get up Sunday mornings to watch politicians being interviewed or watch the 7.30 Report or Lateline? How many switch off mentally to talking politicians on the news? We do but then we enjoy politics and we are in a small minority.
    Ads are used in the hope they work and in most cases do. Talking politicians don’t outside elections.

  17. According to the polls more than a quarter of a million Coalition voters in November (2PP) are now in Labor’s column – dropping from many more than half a million a month or so ago.
    This is pretty frightening – for the Libs, not Labor.

  18. Am just glad that a significant proportion of the voting public have faced down the coalition fear scaremongering, and are adamant that something should be done about the environment.

  19. steve @ 19 –

    Tim Fischer gets to be first resident Vatican Ambassador.

    Bugger! I was hoping to get the gig. Obviously, a clear case of discrimination because I’m an atheist. Or was it because I’m not an old political hack? Either way I’ll be expressing my pique to the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission asap!! 😉


    Phil Robins @ 22 –

    6. Their selection of one of the architects of WorkChoices.

    Ah yes, but this morning Briggs is promising, hand on heart, that Work Choices is dead and buried and we know the Fibs never lie, despite what the party’s Deputy Leader keeps on saying on this subject.

  20. Tim Fischer – Ambassador to the Holy See – Did not know they had a railway there let alone steam train buffs!!

  21. A tale of three myths Two years ago , one was inspired by the leedership eloquence of Kimmy , and had one dreamed in 2006 that in 2008 Labor would have been in Government , the rodent gone & polls at 54 to 46 , love it

    Myth number two , 54% ACR & 55% Newspoll is a competency voter tick , it’s the best realistic base ALP suport achievable The record 2PP ALP electon win is Hawkey at about 53.5% , but 54/54% is a warning don’t st.ff up on the economy or CC as the error margin is thin

    Myth number 3 , the public will understood ETS , ½ your luck Ruddy trying tp explain Whereas silky toff turnbull’s scare argument jobs will be exported & enegy prices ar going up for no gain because India/US/China are still poluting & we are suckers , yep voters will understand silky toff’s plain message So Ruddy will simply say I’m happily whacking you with the carbon tax is to discourage you voters from using all that ‘dirty coal’ electricty Also my Ruddy plan is to keep upping the electricity price till you reduce using ‘dirtycoal’electricity , and maybe you can use an alternative emergy source if the ‘free market’ somehow creats an industry , very convinsing for mine Green Paper clever politcs for now , but don’t stand still too long in politcs

  22. NT election to be called today.

    NORTHERN Territory chief minister Paul Henderson is about to call an early election due mid-August.

    Mr Henderson is preparing to visit the Territory’s administrator to request permission to go to the polls in mid-August.

    The Australian understands the Territory’s administrator, Tom Pauling, is preparing to receive the chief minister at 12:30pm (CST) today. Mr Henderson is expected to call the election at 1.30pm.,25197,24050302-601,00.html

  23. Interesting to discover that Mayo has 300 card-carrying members of the Liberal Party when, in the lead-up to the Federal Election, they couldn’t get as 15 people along to one of their meetings (according to someone in the know).

    Must have all been washing their hair on that day…

  24. Also remember that the NSW Local Government Elections will be held on September 13, so if the Lyne by-election takes place a week or two before, it might be interesting. Particularly because Port Macquarie-Hastings, which covers about 40% of the geography of Lyne and most of the population, has been sacked and will not have an election. Could Lyne, and/or a possible Port Macquarie by-election if Oakeshott moves to federal politics, become an outlet for Local Government frustration.

    Although Lyne also covers all of Greater Taree council and about half of Kempsey council.

  25. MayoFeral 30 Says:
    July 21st, 2008 at 11:58 am
    “Tim Fischer gets to be first resident Vatican Ambassador.
    Bugger! I was hoping to get the gig. Obviously, a clear case of discrimination because I’m an atheist.”

    No MayoFeral , you were not discriminated at alls , quality bu.l latin lingo was the pre requisite , and sir Timmy as you know always used that lingo of clarity in his Parlamentary speechs

  26. Back to the polls, the Greens vote is up to 10%, I wonder when the Libs are going to realise that the ALP have this feeder that just keeps increasing, is seriously rusted and just doesn’t like the libs.
    Its a perfect storm fo rthe ALP, those who are annoyed with them =, spit the dummy, vote Greens, feel better and then give thier preferences to the better of the two bad options. Brilliant.

  27. Poor William – once this site (as in, before the Ozpolitics comments section was shut down last year) was know as the non-partisan political website. Now it’s “Labor-friendly”. Oh well, as they say, all publicity is good publicity… 🙂

    As to Lyne, I think it would be silly for Labor to run a candidate there (and it seems unlikely that they will). It’s almost certain that their vote there would drop as the Libs and some form of independent will most likely have a run in this seat. If Oakeshott (or some other populist rural independent) runs, I would see this seat as being extremely vulnerable for the Coalition. There would be a split in the conservative primary vote and almost all “left-wing” primary votes would flow to the independent, whoever they are. The smartest thing the Liberals could do with Lyne would be not to run at all…

  28. re: Ben Raue @ #35 [Port Macquarie-Hastings, which covers about 40% of the geography of Lyne and most of the population]

    Here is the breakdown of Lyne Population by local Government area (current boundaries using 2006 census data)
    Port Macquarie-Hastings 68,430 58.4%
    Greater Taree 45,145 38.5%
    Kempsey 3,570 3.0%

    Most of the population of Kempsey Council is in Cowper Electorate.

  29. Oh Dear, it looks as though what should have been sorted out first has been left to last.

    “Legal advice provided to the Liberals concludes a merger would require amendments to the federal constitution, which cannot change without 60 per cent support from the Federal Council and the ratification of at least four divisions, or states.

    However, legal questions have been raised about the Queensland Liberal division’s eligibility to vote, meaning the merger could be blocked if Liberals in any more than two other states objected.

    Senior Liberal sources told The Courier-Mail that there were competing legal views about whether Queensland would remain a federal division if the merger with the National Party went ahead at next weekend’s constitutional convention.

    While there is a view among some senior Liberals that it would be hard to secure the support of four states, another senior party member said interstate presidents had voiced no objections when consulted about Queensland’s plans.”,23739,24048725-3102,00.html

  30. Mayo@30- I’d vote you in as Pope. I reckon yhey need an atheist i there to shake things up abit.
    I mihgt even re-register.. Mind you, after the uncontracepted bonkfest in Sydney they should be upping their numbers in about 40 weeks.

  31. steve #40 Says:
    July 21st, 2008 at 1:32 pm
    “Oh Dear, it looks as though what should have been sorted out FIRST has been left to last.”

    I reckon there was something else they shoud hav worked out even before the ‘legals’ ie. once you amalgomate once big State , don’t you look abit silly having a two tiered State sysyem , one State all blue bloods , and the next with the farm cockys

    non-partisan / well there is a small splinter group saying the ETS alone , without a replacement enegy plan like a super solar grid, is 1/2 a turkey to try & ‘sell’ At least Howard offered a GST tax rise with some offset Rudds tax rise is carbon air

  32. If Labor doesn’t run in Lyne and the Greens preference RO ahead of either the Nats or the Libs, Rob will piss it in.

    Hell, I might even head back down to my homeland and hand out HTV cards for him.

  33. Possum,

    What if both Labor AND the Liberals don’t run in Lyne? Would the Nats be strong enough on their primary vote to hold the seat? Or would Oakeshott still be too strong in that situation?

  34. If Rob Oakeshott runs with no Lib candidate standing he will win. He is very highly regarded in the electorate, even in the southern end. Labor would be silly to waste its money here before the next general election.
    I think Glenn Milne forgot to mention the millions spent by Nats/Libs in Gippsland against a paltry sum spent by Labor on a dud candidate, so the swing there was nothing more than a “work harder” message to Rudd.
    Poll on ETS today was encouraging but radio here reporting it as a majority of voters don’t understand what it is about. I thought that part of the poll waqs 50/50 so since when did 50% become a majority.

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