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. So it appears that galaxy has a phoney 2PP. I assume calculated by news ltd writers. Will Galaxy correct this error?

    Better for Labor for voters to think this is knife edge, but if the wash up in THESE marginals is 51/49 Labor, that’s very encouraging

  2. EMRS Poll in Tassie says Bass and Braddon are safe for ALP

    Bass ALP Primary 39% Libs 36% (excludes undecided)
    When includes supporting or leaning to:
    ALP 43% Lib 34% Green 20% 2PP ALP 57% (!)

  3. has the courier mail editorialised for Gillard? the herald sun’s (grudging) “Gillard deserves a chance” could be a very important sentiment on polling day

  4. Andrew, he is saying you have to look at “polls” both qualitatively and quantitatively, there is no mood for a change.

  5. Centaur @42

    I think you are right. In my experience people buy the Sunday paper for any sports from the day before, the various inserts (fashion, the magazine, the TV guide) and whatever promo the paper is giving away this week, whether it be a map of Europe or a Wallabies flag. They are fish and chip stuff and Andrew Green’s post will go a long way in dispelling the error made in the methodology. (Not that that will be reported!)

    Andrew’s link makes for very interesting reading as it seems the copywriters (let’s assume it was them and not the pollsters) got it a little bit wrong.

    This headline is just to sell papers and even then not that many! (I work in a newsagency and we can often send a few hundred back)

    I’m not going to break out the hemlock just yet but keep that bottle of fizzy stuff nicely chilling instead. Also there is the actual Labor launch tomorrow, no matter what slime 42 Minutes comes up with tonight. I don’t think Australia Story will resonate with most people as I don’t imagine the audience is very high – wouldn’t Australia’s Funniest People With Talent Who Can Dance and Cook be on at the same time anyway?

    I will say that Murdoch should rot in hell when his time comes for the machinations he has perpetrated, not just on Australia, in his megalomaniacal grasp for power. Goebbels would have been very pleased with him.

  6. Channel 9’s “Today” program are also reporting the incorrect coalition 51.4 2PP figure as a “national” figure on their news segments.

    My bet is that this is basically an attempt to gee up the Liberal faithful to keep them campaigning after the bad Neilsen poll etc.

  7. Thanks Centaur009, I see that it is now $1.35 ALP to $3.75 Coalition which means I guess more bets came in on ALP, when they upped the betting odds to $1.39?

  8. Rod, dont expect any correction by the MSM, or by Galaxy. Hope Frank is out with his tweeting to the journos?

    I wonder if Antony has contacted the ABC? No offence, but his blog wont be noticed, and neither will this one

  9. Am I missing something with the Herald Sun coming out in FAVOUR of Labor???….Is this not a Murdoch rag???…….Does this mean he’s setting his dogs on the Rabbott??

    Ps: Thank goodness for Antony Green’s election blog…………

  10. @puff, the magic dragon..

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

    Not really, Pt Pirie, Port Augusta and Whyalla are industry towns with Labor leanings. The Clare Valley and most of the farm communities are conservative though. Last election there was a 9.6% swing to Labor and in my area we won a couple of booths which history said we shouldn’t. It won’t change hands though, too many sober cockies….

  11. markjs, as many have predicted, Labor should get the lions share of endorsements. Murdoch does not want to back a loser at the end of the day. Most will be “Labor bad but give Gillard a chance?

  12. Julia talks too much. Nearly every answer she runs through a whole condensed election pitch. Her opening and closing statements at Rooty Hill were also too long, with nearly every election policy packed into both of them

  13. One again, the meedja prove themselves to be incompetent hacks. As Antony Green shows, a couple of basic errors in extrapolating the Galaxy poll to get a complete howler. But why stop there? Where has the media been on ANYTHING of importance? For example who has even bothered to question why a surplus is better than a deficit? Why a tiny public debt of 6% of GDP is ‘really bad’, while a massive private debt ratio of 150% gets not even a mention? How does breaking the laws of physics with statements like “wireless broadband can be as good as cable” manage to not be questioned?

    If anything, this campaign has proven that Australian media is woeful, lazy and inept.

  14. Ari is spot on, there is simply no mood for change. Yes, many are unhappy with things, some unjustified IMO, but there is no mood for change, and certainly no mood for Abbott. there are no baseball bats. maybe a few pinched noses.

  15. Sent an email to Sky with Antony’s link re 51-48. Just rang Sky to tell their screen message is wrong. Sky news no. 1300 3288 80. Asked them to look at Antony’s site.
    Betcha they don’t.

  16. Folks – don’t panic – this whole Galaxy thing is a shamozzle, but totally fine. We have a good idea where the figures sit. We’ve been following this for ages. Labor will lose some seats in NSW/QLD, but gain some in VIC/SA.

    WE know the national TPP is not what Galaxy is saying. What the media is trying to do is present a close race, as they have all along. What Labor NEEDS in the last week is the idea of a super super close race, with the potential of losing.

    If anything all of this provides undoubted evidence that Channel 9/Sky in particular aren’t just biased with commentary now but biased with how they physically present polling.

  17. [If anything, this campaign has proven that Australian media is woeful, lazy and inept.]

    Which is why Latham is taking the piss out of them – they are hopeless in every respect.

  18. well done BH. hope the tweets are happening also. hope antony has told insiders. At this point, its about accurate reporting of polling. I’d rather the galaxy be out there than neilsen in any event. Voters need to SERIOUSLY consider Abbott as PM

  19. [If anything, this campaign has proven that Australian media is woeful, lazy and inept.]

    I agree that this has been the stand-out of this campaign, we need the NBN just for media diversity alone .

  20. [If anything, this campaign has proven that Australian media is woeful, lazy and inept.

    Which is why Latham is taking the piss out of them – they are hopeless in every respect.]
    I wonder if Latham will do our bidding tonight?

  21. Am I missing something with the Herald Sun coming out in FAVOUR of Labor???….Is this not a Murdoch rag???…….Does this mean he’s setting his dogs on the Rabbott??

    Nah. At this point of the campaign all the papers are interested in is backing a winner. They want to be seen to be right. So look at it less as an endorsement of Labor than as an admission that they’re going to win.

    It gives News Ltd a crutch for the next three years as well. How many times did we hear The Australian’s defence against bias being that they backed Rudd in 2007? Yeah, sure they did – right at the last minute when it became obvious that all their hackery and Howard cheerleading wasn’t going to be enough.

  22. spectator, if Latham’s piece with guest star Hanson is really about media bias, it would have to be about bias toward the coalition? Surely they wouldnt run with that?

  23. I am no pedant and no fan of pedantry. The language is dynamic: imagine if we were blogging in the lingo of the Bard, but I am struggling to get the gist of Ron and My Say without a double read. Are you both texting? I’m very interested in your thoughts, but you’re doing my head in.
    How many Hun readers are going to reach the final lines of an editorial? I think the headline, which many will notice, is a big NO to Labor.

  24. Murdoch wants and needs the NBN, it is the only way ltd News will survive into the future, all his current content distribution systems are going to fail and wireless won’t cut it. Why would he cut off his nose to spite his face?

  25. Gillard (finally) defends the debt- Like someone on $100,000 a year with a debt of $6,000. They should have been saying this for a year

    Excellent performance though

  26. I rang my sister to tell her not to worry about the Telegraph “monster” poll, as it was arse about in the 2PP numbers.

    She told me that the guy from Galaxy has been on News Radio saying it’s all over for Labor based on this poll.

    For those thinking that maybe Galaxy were going to correct the Tele’s wrong interpretation, don’t hold your breath. Galaxy are endorsing the interpratation.

  27. [spectator, if Latham’s piece with guest star Hanson is really about media bias, it would have to be about bias toward the coalition? Surely they wouldnt run with that?]

    Not necessarily media bias I think more the inept nature of the media. personally I think Latham has taken this role on to take the piss out of the entire media who he has always despised.

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