Galaxy marginals polls and the rest

News Limited have unloaded what they had promoted, accurately I believe, as “the largest opinion poll ever conducted in Australia” – a 4000-sample monster covering four marginal seats in each mainland state. This poll has been dubiously reported, thanks to a national total calculation which has credited the Coalition with a 51.4 per cent two-party vote. This appears to be a straight average of the five states’ results provided by Galaxy, without regard to population relativities between the states or the fact that the seats targeted were 2 per cent weaker for Labor than the national total in 2007. A balanced appraisal of the results points to a swing of about 1.7 per cent, which would produce a national Labor two-party vote of 51 per cent if consistent – slightly at the lower end of the recent phone poll trend. The poll shows a 2.4 per cent swing to the Liberals in the NSW seats of Eden-Monaro, Gilmore, Macarthur and Macquarie; a 1.6 per cent swing to Labor in Corangamite, Deakin, La Trobe and McEwen in Victoria; a 5.4 per cent swing to the Liberal National Party in Bowman, Dawson, Dickson and Flynn in Queensland; a 2.1 per cent swing to the Liberals in Hasluck, Stirling, Cowan and Swan in Western Australia; and no swing at all in Boothby, Grey, Kingston and Sturt in South Australia.

The rub for Labor is that the New South Wales and Queensland swing figures are right where they need to be to maximise the Coalition seat haul in uniform swing terms: over the 4.5 per cent mark needed for a tenth seat in Queensland, and just reaching the threshold that would cost them seven seats in New South Wales (it would take a further 1.5 per cent to bag an eighth). A straight loss of this many seats would single-handedly cost Labor the election. With no swing recorded in South Australia, the only counterbalancing gains would be the two Liberal marginals in Victoria, La Trobe and McEwen. The result would be a bare absolute majority for the Coalition.

However, any haul of 17 seats in New South Wales and Queensland would have to include a few they are generally expected to retain, such as Eden-Monaro and Page. Possibly some of the seats selected for the poll are a bit unflattering for Labor. There is a concentration of western Sydney in the NSW sample, an area yesterday’s poll of four seats for the Daily Telegraph showed to be tough for Labor (it appears Galaxy have conducted separate polls for Macarthur for each release). The Queensland sample also includes Bowman, which Labor has probably written off (UPDATE: Mark Bahnisch at Larvatus Prodeo says “Labor is barely running a campaign, with reports appearing for weeks in the Brisbane Times that their candidate is invisible, and the local papers can’t get hold of her for an interview”). Note that for all the vastness of Galaxy’s total national sample, as far as all-important Queensland is concerned the results are less sturdy than yesterday’s Newspoll, which targeted eight Queensland seats rather than four and 1600 respondents rather than 800. That poll produced a swing of 3.4 per cent against Labor compared with Galaxy’s 5.4 per cent, which in uniform swing terms would mean a difference of no fewer than four seats.

The table below shows swings recorded in state-level Newspolls and Nielsens through the first three weekends of the campaign (with one Westpoll thrown in for good measure), plus the targeted polling we have seen over the current weekend. For the former, samples for any given observation are 765 for NSW, 665 for Victoria, 585 for Queensland, 465 for WA (865 in week three, achieved by throwing in the Westpoll result) and 445 in SA, producing margins of error ranging from 4.6 per cent in South Australia’s case to 3.6 per cent for New South Wales. The composite of the most recent two Nielsen figures has smaller samples of around 250 for the smallest states. The latest Galaxy polls have samples of 800 per state and margins of error of about 3.5 per cent. The Newspoll marginals poll had samples of 600 in Victoria (4 per cent margin of error), 1200 in New South Wales (2.8 per cent margin of error) and 1600 in Queensland (2.5 per cent margin of error).

Week 1 0.2 1.4 3.7 -3.8 0.1 4.0  
Week 2 -3.6 -9.1 1.7 -3.3 -2.9 0.4  
Week 3 -2.0 -1.8 -1.8 -5.5 -3.4 4.4  
Nielsen (2 week) -1.7 -2.7 3 -3.4 -2.7 0.6  
Galaxy marginals -1.7 -3.1 1.6 -5.4 -2.1 0  
Newspoll marginals  0.6 -1.3 6.2 -3.4      

UPDATE: Remiss of me not to have noted when the poll was conducted: from Sunday to Thursday, and hence not as timely as some of the more favourable recent polling for Labor.

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.

441 comments on “Galaxy marginals polls and the rest”

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  1. Have they releaed figures for each seat, or just a total of the four marginals in each state?
    Rather odd polling tactic all round, and even odder reporting.

  2. No, and it’s not odd, or at least not uncommon – it has been the same with Newspoll and Galaxy marginals polling throughout the campaign. The argument would go that the seat-level samples are too small to be anything other than misleading.

  3. Why would they sample Grey? The only votes for Labor there a a couple of drunken parrots and a three-legged dog.

  4. William, I thought that just fixing the error with relative state populations brings the national to 51%, before dealing with other potential errors?

  5. CC, it fixes the relativities and assumes the swings recorded for the selected seats are consistent throughout the relevant state. Not sure what “other potential errors” you mean.

  6. Any way of complaining about the Hun poll:

    Will Julia Gillard or Tony Abbott win Saturday’s federal election?

    I don’t know how they will interpret the results, but given the headline “Abbott boost in close-run battle”…

  7. Ok, one obvious error is not weighting by state population. That’s fixed. Antony pointed that out and with that one fixed the national 2PP is 51%.

    Other potential errors include any effect that causes the average of one group of seats to be different to the average of the containing state.

  8. And the above ignores the statistical effects. If a sample of 800 for one group of seats gives you a certain MoE, that merely constrains the range of probable “real” values for the average of that group. Its the much larger MoE on each sub-sample that constrains the most probable range of values for the seats themselves. The wider the deviation the more the most probable number of seats lost (out of a particular group) tends towards an even split. Hope that makes sense.

  9. I get the Morgan 51-49 thread at the top. It says it has 120 comments. When I click on that I find its 900 odd comments. But the link that says “new thread” doesn’t work. I have to click on the linkage at the bottom right to get to this one.

  10. William, still not entirely sure what you mean by ..

    [ or the fact that the seats targeted were 2 per cent weaker for Labor than the national total in 2007.]

    I thought the swings they work with are the swings relative to the same seats as at 2007?

  11. Today’s Opposition Announcement – A Website so you can report Govt Waste – at a Federal, State and Local Level.

    Ex Their ABC Radio News.

    Despite Galaxy – They are in unhinged mode.

  12. Been lurking for a while so thought I would take a punt given we are T-7:

    National TPP swing of 1% (51.7% TPP to ALP) made up like this:
    NSW 2.0
    Vic -2.0
    Qld 3.5
    WA 2.5

    Its pretty daft trying to predict outcomes given polls, marginal polls and betting are all going in different directions but I think these are the seats changing hands (based on 88-59-3 redistributed seats):

    NSW (Robertson, Macq, Gilmore, Macarthur, Bennelong & Lindsay)
    Qld (Herbert, Dickson, Flynn, Dawson, Forde, Leich)
    Other (Swan, Hasluck, Solomon, Melbourne)
    with only McEwen as an ALP gain.

    NSW +6, Qld +6, Oth +2 for Libs from ALP and Mel from ALP to Greens gives:
    73 seats each to ALP and Coalition with 4 independents holding BOP which would result in a minority Govt (prob Lib). I think my Bennelong, Lindsay and Forde guesstimates go against the betting odds and dropping these would result in 76-70-4 and an ALP govt. Best case for ALP would be 80 seats by my estimation with 1 week to go (ignoring polls showing >6% swings!)

    I know this is going to get a hostile reaction here but lets see what happens in 1 week! If you dont agree would be interested to hear where you think this is wrong…

  13. [ argument would go that the seat-level samples are too small to be anything other than misleading.
    3 Puff, the Magic Dragon.=]

    so frank is the above the state of play dont we have a large new p

  14. the msm may have played in to our hands people do not like hp

    in tas we would gone back to an elelction immediatley if it had not been for the greens which is working very well i add/
    i think this is what they want us to beleive
    if this is the case why n0t have and ordinary poll ???

  15. i notice that william has again said samples are too small i find it hard to undersand william its me not him but that is how i read it

  16. well if the herald sun are saying vote labor i hope they promote it and their policies this week, we know what the others will say so who cares

  17. [I suspect the poll error was News Ltd’s rather than Galaxy’s. It doesn’t appear in the PDF, which is probably what they provided them to have their wicked way with. The editors presumably decided their reports needed a headline figure, and they arrived at one a stupid way.]

    William@770 previous thread – why would Galaxy allow LimitedNoos to report its poll in a way that makes it look stupid. Surely Galaxy would be more careful after the Rooty Hill fiasco. If Antony G says 51% to Labor then it is.

  18. [Today’s Opposition Announcement – A Website so you can report Govt Waste –]

    If you report the website as wasteful will they abolish it?

  19. [i notice that william has again said samples are too small i find it hard to undersand]

    He means the sample size in each seat is too small to publish the per-seat results, so they only give you the result for the combined samples from several seats.

  20. [So this Galaxy stuff was from 8-12 August, missing Tony’s wonderful intertube stuff mostly. Its so last week.]

    If you tried to take News Ltd seriously it would make your head spin.

  21. Courier Mail on the angry pills. Online paper claims that QLD voters are waiting with baseball bats, while the Newspaper has ‘Bloodbath’ on the front page.

    My take is that people up here state that the two are as bad as each other. I’d say they are leaning towards ALP.

  22. I was having a look at the betting markets, the only one that seems to be moving is Betfair, $1.39 Lab and $3.45 coalition, Is Betfair different, it seems much more volatile, does this mean anything? Hope not as I want ALP to win

  23. Frank
    [Today’s Opposition Announcement – A Website so you can report Govt Waste – at a Federal, State and Local Level.]
    Imagine every neighbourhood crank and Gladys Kravitz on line!

    How much money/resources will be wasted on following sundry spurious leaks

    Bet this goes down a treat in Eden-Monaro and ACT (their Senate election could be more interesting)

  24. This poll is a balony sandwich with bull butter. It’s purpose is to sell papers- heralding the close match, people’s interest turns on. No one is interested in a massacare.
    The only stuff I’m believing is psephs RWLH information, and if he says is Good. Is Good!

  25. stupid stupid some ones idea of waste does mean it is

    remind me of mccarthyism . more public servant or very overworked public servants
    did nt say he would cut the public servic
    it like the less imformed verses the well informed in this country,

    time to take the gloves off and write to every talk back you can and speak on them you use a generic subject matter and go for it

  26. rua

    Amateur political boxing is spreading down the coast like cane toads…first Dawson, now Longman

    At this rate, it will arrive at Warringhah before Saturday, and then heaven help Kery OBrien if he is interviewing Abbott that day 👿

  27. [papers- heralding the close match, people’s interest turns on. No one is interested in a massacare.
    The only stuff I’m believing is psephs RWLH information, and if he say]

    yes may be they understand by the next election papers will nearly be a thing of the past and nothing will make me buy them now or after in fact after i would like to see no one buy them

  28. [I’m believing is psephs RWLH information, and if he says is Good. Is Good]

    me to now to see what oakes hs got tosay for himself.

  29. [I’m believing is psephs RWLH information, and if he says is Good. Is Good]

    me to now to see what oakes hs got tosay for himself.

  30. Laocoon – exactly.

    I think that probably takes the cake as the dumbest policy of the election. Part of me hopes they get in just so we can see what a horrible waste of time and money it is – and then Labor can give them a taste of their own medicine and scream WASTE! and INCOMPETENCE! and THE MINISTER MUST RESIGN! at them 🙂

  31. I said prev , last nite and again there is nothing wrong with accuracy of Newspoll or Gallaxy with there stats , given they is a trend measure at a point of time

    where issues is is peoples then reading MSN interpret of those stats , how MSN distort/pick out most insignifant feature(eg Dennis Shanigens) or do there own calcs from those stats (like msn did with Gallaxys)

    take gallaxys clusters as is and ssress them indiv , same with Newspoll although as said Newspolls better samples more seats and gives better overview

    result shows i says about 16 seats at risk/close , but overall trends still flowing to us against ‘dark side’ so reckon we in front….and better still seen as under dogs so peoples then serously look at bbott , and what ull they see he offering ? (a vision for th future ? in NBN bradbands , CC , education reforms done/planned etc etc’s ….noone they wull see except boats , and boats

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