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 thoughts on “Galaxy marginals polls and the rest”

  1. Whatever they do (if anything) it should have both on stage at the same time. Sure take questions from the floor but actually have some right of rebutal. I dont think its actually the economy that Abboot wants to avoid as much as appearing with Julia.

  2. Diogenes

    The horrible minions know which way the wind is blowing!! It is slightly to the left (not that I believe in those descriptions)

  3. GG

    I didn’t see the whole thing either, but watching the start of each leader’s time, the initial reaction and questions to Gillard were much more hostile than the same time to Abbott. I thought Gillard stayed quite composed in what was a very unfriedly environment.

    As for the “wide” range of questions, nobody present thought to ask Tony Abbott any tough ones, like why did he ban RU486 and would he do the same again? Or will he cut health spending? I just thought the tone of questioning Tone, was very different.

  4. Just saw a new (to me) ALP ad. Tradie in hard hat and flouro hat saying NO to Tony. Much better ALP ad, but not on You Tube yet.

    Anyone else seen it?

  5. Victoria I agree that it would be much more credible if both Gillard and Abbott appeared on stage together at the one time in another town hall type forum, but I doubt the Libs would agree. Tony would like to have the exact same scenario as Tooty Hill – although I suspect he would end up disappointed because the outcome would be different due to Labor being a lot more involved in the set up.

  6. Abbott has left himself open to some obvious attacks from Gillard in challenging, but at the same time, he’s given some ammunition to his side.

    If you’ve heard him talk to Monarchists about how to debate Republicans, you’ll know that all he is concerned about in debates is ammunition. (I think there’s a youtube video of him saying that the way you debate a Republican is by saying that the Monarchy works and it’s ours and that’s all the ammunition you need to win a debate/referendum)

  7. o thats good ru the ACTU told me that this week would be a big week re
    workchoice adds through everything at them i think was what was said wtte

  8. Watching replay of Stephen Smith i/v on abcnews24. He was asked why they won’t use Nauru as regional processing centre?

    Why didn’t smith say:
    1. No water
    2. No fresh food
    4. Did you wiki “Nauru’ before this i/v?
    3. Have you ever looked at it on google maps?

  9. [Leading analysts cast doubt on poll figures AAP
    August 15, 2010 – 11:31AM

    Three opinion polls this weekend paint a confused picture of the election outcome, with leading analysts casting doubt on the latest opinion poll that gives the Coalition the winning edge over Labor in the last week of the campaign.

    The Galaxy poll of 4000 voters in 20 marginal seats puts coalition support at 51.4 per cent to Labor’s 48.6 per cent on preferences.

    But the Galaxy poll finding is not supported by two leading analysts.

    ABC election analyst Antony Green says he comes up with a different result when entering the projected Galaxy swings into his election calculator.

    “Someone has made an absolute howler in trying to turn polls in 20 marginal seats into a national figure,” the ABC expert wrote on his blog, adding whoever calculated the vote committed two serious errors.

    “First, the figures are for four electorates, not the states. Second, while the state samples are the same size, the state populations are not,” he said.

    Mr Green says his calculation from the Galaxy poll shows Labor at 51 per cent, not 48.6 per cent.

    Andrew Catsaras, a strategic marketing consultant and polling analyst, told Network 10 he also had doubts about the poll’s findings describing them as “a bit misleading”.

    “It would have been better to pick a marginal seat and poll that, then you would have got a better indication about what’s going on (in Queensland),” he said.

    A Newspoll of marginal seats, published this weekend in The Australian was far more instructive of what was happening in the electorate, Mr Catsaras said.

    That poll showed Labor losing three or four seats in Queensland.

    “That sounds more realistic than what’s being reported this morning,” Mr Catsaras said.]

    Age Online

  10. I dont know who it was earlier, but looking at those figures above, I am getting a very similar prediction.

    ALP 76
    Coalition 71
    Independent 3

  11. Nope! I reckon a head to head debate like the first one but ‘unleashed’.
    As we have seen the public forum is too easily stacked.

  12. Is a state by state breakdown of yesterday’s Nielsen Poll available? They have previously provided it – and it would be interesting to see what it now says.

    I don’t understand how anyone looking at Galaxy thinks they can predict results ACROSS A STATE on the basis of a sample in limited numbers of marginal seats.

    The assertions about NSW are plainly ridiculous – I think its probably accepted by Labor people that they will do badly in both Macquarie and Gilmore due to the good Liberal candidates and the fact that they are both sitting Liberal MPs.

    I imagine that there will be 6-8% swings to the Libs in both these seats. Such an outcome would clearly skew/distort the result which is presented as being for ‘four marginal seats’. The so-called average 2.4% to the Coalition is next to useless as a prediction mechanism.

    As for the other two seats surveyed by Galaxy – I expect that the Liberals will hold Macarthur with a 4-5% swing in their favour. The Liberals have a good candidate and will partly reverse the 10% swing away from Pat Farmer last time.

    As for Eden Monaro, I have no doubt it will be retained by Labor with a significant swing in its favour. Mike Kelly is well known and greatly respected while the Liberals have made a poor choice.

    At least Newspoll yesterday made it clear that there were significant seat by seat variations in its polling yesterday. Anyone who pretends the Galaxy data will be any different is fooling themselves.

  13. Labor should only agree to another “Rorted Hill” if they are both on the stage at the same time and both answering the same question.

    Abbott won’t agree to it and that in turn will give Labor even more amunition. Not to mention the whole, “oh, so you have the time, now?” Can’t believe that Cassidy missed a golden opportunity to nail him with that one.

  14. Brissy Rod

    Funnily enough, I just plugged the average of the last four polls in and got exactly that result with ALP on 76. I think they will win by a few more than that though.

  15. What the heck? Even reading Antony Green’s blog there seems to be a whole legion of people claiming he’s part of the Vast Left Wing Conspiracy twisting the number to suit his nefarious aims…

  16. That the Libs are wanting another non debate in Sydney’s west tells you where they think this election can be won. Secondly, that Abbott’s folky leadership style first trialled at Rooty Hill is their best chance for a killer issue.

    Labor should deny this oxygen.

  17. Further to my previous comment. Stuff the Rabbott. Gillard was gracious enough to accept the Rooted Hill debacle on the Rabbott’s terms. This time she should dictate the terms.

  18. Brissy Rod

    [Diogenes – I do too. Maybe as many as 79??]

    Bingo! That’s my tip. I’m ALP 79, Coal 67, Indie 3, Greens 1 with Labor 51-49 TPP.

  19. [Sorry for the rant. It just means I will spend the next f-cking three years rewriting perfectly good strategies just to match the preferred font and font size of the government to get any funding.]

    Try a wordprocessor. 😛

  20. While the Queensland figure is probably more plausible as a state wide figure than the NSW one – there will still be significant regional variation.

    Bowman will swing back to the Libs big time – it was a 9% seat before 2007 and will probably return to that ballpark.

    Similarly people should remember that Dawson has only ever been a Labor seat once before (1966-75) and after a 14% swing last time I don’t think anyone would pretend that it’s a Labor seat. It will return to the LNP, probably with a big swing.

    From Dickson, reports are that Peter Dutton has had up to 10 full time staff and around $500,000 in his campaign kitty working to retain the seat for him. That usually pays off.

    I wouldn’t discount Chris Trevor in Flynn.

    And I don’t think you can use this poll to predict the results in Leichhardt, Herbert, Longman or Forde – all of which have significant local factors in play (recycled candidates, dud candidates, well known candidates)

  21. [315 Brissy Rod
    Posted Sunday, August 15, 2010 at 11:45 am | Permalink
    I dont know who it was earlier, but looking at those figures above, I am getting a very similar prediction.

    ALP 76
    Coalition 71]

    so dio and brizzy did you do the possum thingo

  22. What earthly use is another debate? They have nothing to ‘debate’ on the future direction of the country. Carbon reduction perhaps? No, nothing ‘live’ there. Refugees and human rights? Nope, same. Taxation? Not really, maybe the mining tax – one says yes, the other no. That’s 2 minutes. School funding? No, same policy. Health? No, the blame game continues. That leaved the NBN, but that won’t take long. We know the difference there. Another 2 minutes. So, in total 4 minutes maybe. Hardly worth it really, in that policy wasteland. It would just be yet another exercise in not making a mistake.

  23. Hope any Lib leaning Broaband users were tuned into Insiders this morning……..Rabbott thinks the Labor NBN is part of a high fibre diet………and Tuohy thinks microwave will get faster……..FFS!!!!

    Possibly getting confused with Master Chef……lol,lol,lol!!!!!!……..Ok it wasn’t that funny…

  24. @ 327

    Sympathies go out to you, blue_green. Rant away.

    I spent a number of years supporting land for wildlife, road corridors, etc., but then a large org would stride in, get the “contract’ and bleed funding from small volunteer groups. This private contract nonsense is lib supported and kills volunteerism.

    Writing strategies and submissions is the bureaucratic way of wasting the time of volunteers.

    My other thought is that the money won’t be nearly enough.

  25. My Say,

    Julia was at her brilliant best with Oakes this morning. For example, when Oakes said, “Using word association what comes to mind if I say the word ‘Latham’?”
    As quick as a flash she replied, “Unfortunately, Laurie, it’s Channel 9.”

    Oakes said, “It’s a fair cop , guv.” and laughed.”

    Oakes’ questioning was pertinent and persistent but fair. (Apologies if someone has already covered this.)

  26. Dio

    well if i follow the rooted hill (luv that)

    i reckon it will be 100 to the fibs

    back in the real world i am sad to advise that i might have to go to

    101 to labor

    but only cause I’m cautious


  27. @Diogenes,

    You need to read their so called “endoresements” a little more closely – the usual tactic is to say that despite the Liberals having “obviously” outperformed, outpolled and outpolicied Labor, they “reluctantly” admit that the “unexpectedly heroic showing” by Abbott – even when “no-one really expected him to win” was just “not quite good enough” to overcome the sheer ignorance, ungratefulness and downright contrariness of the electorate. Not to mention how the Labor party “bought” the election with their unfair advertising.

    In other words, they think they’re going to lose, and they want to later be able to say that they did indeed pick the winning side. However, on the off chance that the Rabbot can indeed pull himself out of his own hat, they also want to be able to say “we told you so” and reluctantly concede that “they were wrong not to go with their gut instincts” and that they are “proud of the electorate” for seeing through the Labor party hockum.

    Unbiased? Right!

  28. All indicators are that the ALP are doing really well here in SA, which is why I don’t buy this theme that there will be no nett swing in SA.

    I believe it is possible on the basis of the seats they chose, though. Sturt, Boothby and Kingston have all been polled by The Advertiser during this campaign. These polls showed the Libs would hold Sturt and Boothby with swings to Labor. Kingston showed a HUGE swing to Labor, strengthening their hold on the seat. This tells me that Grey, which is already held by the Libs, will swing heavily to the Libs, bucking the marginal seat trend.

    The question is, how much of this is happening elsewhere? Is it possible that, right across the country when you drill it down to seat-by-seat they swings to the Coalition are in their own seats – both marginal and safe – and that Labor will hold out in their own seats?

  29. Love this spin from the ALP

    [The Coalition established the Natural Heritage Trust (NHT) to justify the sale of Telstra… While some good work was done by enthusiastic community groups, the program failed to make a measurable difference in the landscape, due to the absence of clear national targets and priorities.]

    No, no measurable difference was made because it was a pissant sum of money. Australia is a big place. The current amount we spend is like one cent per hectare. Not enough to scratch every landholders arse.

  30. Well there you go folks. The Sunday Herald Sun, to their great credit IMHO, is supporting the re-election of the Labor government. They don’t believe Abbott has made a sufficient case for changing the government and believe another three years in opposition will be of benefit to him.

    I’m off to the doctor now. I hurt my arm when I fell off the chair while reading that.

  31. scorpio @234
    [The media were all over Rudd when they thought that he might do damage to the Labor brand and Gillard in particular. Now that they realise just what a bonus he is to the Labor campaign in the crucial marginals, they have virtually cut off any oxygen he would generate with these support visits because his influence is more than enough to tip those marginals firmly back towards Labor.]

    I had a different take on this article – that Labor’s focus has been more on marginal seats and very targetted approaches, rather than too much “big picture”, which is very focused on Gillard (hardly see the deputy PM, for instance).

    Case in point of targeted media:
    [She said Mr Rudd spoke to them in Mandarin about his 20-year friendship with Ms McKew and her hard work as a local MP.

    The duo then walked through the Eastwood Mall, greeting shoppers before tucking into Yum Cha with local Chinese community leaders at the Kings Restaurant. She said the lunch was informal, low-key and he did not give a speech.

    Only local Chinese-language media were invited to report on the campaign event.]

  32. lizzie@314

    That poll showed Labor losing three or four seats in Queensland.
    “That sounds more realistic than what’s being reported this morning,” Mr Catsaras said.

    Aristotle has it about right I reckon, seen together with Antony Green’s expose (add accent over the ‘e’).

  33. Classic (further) Tony Abbott broadband stumble on Inisders:

    WTTE: “Why put all your eggs in the high fibre basket?”

    Of course he meant “fibre optic”. Not a terrible mistake in ordinary
    times but given his luddite performance of the past week, it sounds
    more like dietary advice. Even the all-too-late high tech cramming
    sessions have not helped much, it seems.

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