Morgan: 56.5-43.5 to Coalition

At some point in the previous fortnight, I resolved to abandon my practice of reporting Morgan face-to-face results by highlighting the previous-election measure of two-party preferred, rather than the respondent-allocated method favoured by Morgan. For those not familiar with this issue, there are two methods pollsters can use to determine how minor party and independent voters would allocate preferences: asking them, or making a distribution according to how voters for the relevant parties divided between Labor and the Coalition at the previous election. While the former would appear to pass the common sense test, it is in fact the latter which has consistently given more reliable results. It would seem that asking respondents places them in a position which is not replicated in the polling booth, where many follow how-to-vote cards or otherwise contrive to avoid engaging mentally with how they order their preferences – the significance of which many would not appreciate. As a result, the previous-election method has come to be favoured by every company other than Morgan, with Newspoll having adopted the practice after its final pre-election poll in 2004 was broadly accurate with regard to the primary vote, but awry on two-party preferred. My policy of favouring the previous-election measure was adopted for the sake of consistency in a period when Morgan seemed to be jumping around from one method to the other. However, Morgan has since settled upon the respondent-allocated measure, despite its poor track record. Highlighting a different result from Morgan’s was thus creating confusion, notwithstanding that I believe it to be the superior method.

Today Morgan has published its first face-to-face poll results since I made this decision, and they have rather awkwardly produced the biggest divide yet between the two measures. The respondent-allocated figure highlighted by Morgan has the Coalition with a thumping 56.5-43.5 lead, much the same as the 56-44 result from the previous poll (which was conducted on the weekend of July 9/10, with the carbon tax announcement coming on the latter date; the current poll combines the weekends of July 16/17 and July 23/24). However, the previous-election method gives the government a far happier result of 53-47. The primary votes are in fact little changed: Labor is up a point to 34.5 per cent, the Coalition down one to 47 per cent and the Greens up half to 12 per cent. What has happened is an exacerbation of the recent trend where Labor’s share of minor party and independent preferences has gone in the same direction as its level of direct support. However, I remain unconvinced that this will be replicated on polling day. The Morgan figures for non-major parties are essentially identical to those recorded from the previous election, when the Greens polled 11.8 per cent and others 6.6 per cent (compared with 12 per cent and 6.5 per cent). If we take the Morgan respondent-allocated figure at face value, this suggests Labor’s share of all non-major party preferences has slumped from 66 per cent to 49 per cent. Since nearly two thirds of these voters are Greens supporters, this seems very hard to credit. The question nonetheless remains as to why poll respondents who favour minor parties and independents have become so much less likely to nominate Labor than the Coalition, to which I don’t have an answer – but keep in mind that the solid swing against Labor in the 2010 election was not reflected in the share of preferences it received.

Nonetheless, the record should note that Morgan has published a figure of 56.5-43.5, and has done so using a method that other pollsters were happy with until about half a decade ago. Equally though we should note that the alternative and apparently more reliable method has produced a result solidly more favourable to Labor than other pollsters have been producing of late. This brings us back to the old issue of the strong lean to Labor which has traditionally been evident in Morgan face-to-face polls, which the recent anti-Labor trend of respondent-allocated preferences has obscured. This point is illustrated by a chart I produced last month showing how Morgan face-to-face results (along with Essential and Nielsen) have differed from Newspoll since the start of 2009. As you can see from the two measures provided by Morgan, the issue of which preference method used was largely academic until the start of this year, when the present gap began to open. On this basis Morgan had become less favourable to Labor than Newspoll using the respondent-allocated method; its previous-election results remained more favourable, though only to the tune of about one point rather than the traditional three.

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.

2,646 comments on “Morgan: 56.5-43.5 to Coalition”

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  1. It has finally happened, The great failure that has been the ABC’s supposedly leading Current Affairs programme bit the dust in a big way last night. It has now scored its smallest audience since the departure of Red Kerry. A miserable 450,000 viewers last night, which meant nearly 400,000 viewers either changed channels or turned off after the 7pm News. ABC executives led by Scott, should be on their knees at a special meeting of the Board pleading their case to retain their jobs. It has now become a National disgrace.

    I have sent a copy to Minister Conroy.

    Seven News (6pm) — 1.195 million
    Today Tonight (Seven) (6.30pm) — 1.191 million
    Nine News (6pm) — 1.128 million
    A Current Affair (Nine) (6.30pm) — 1.003 million
    ABC News (7pm) — 826,000
    The 7pm Project (Ten) (7pm) — 663,000
    Ten News (5pm) — 589,000
    7.30 (ABC) (7.30pm) — 455,000
    6.30 with George Negus (Ten) (6.30pm) — 414,000
    Late News/Sports Tonight (Ten) (10.30pm) — 256,000
    Lateline (ABC) (10.25pm) — 198,000
    SBS News (6.30pm) — 159,000
    SBS News (9.30pm) — 157,000
    Lateline Business (ABC) (11pm) — 99,000

  2. Small spelling error in the post body William: 53-47, not 53-37.

    Thanks for the explanation regarding previous election preferences and respondent allocated preferences.

  3. The ‘happier result’ statement in the middle par William. 53 & 37 only add up to 90 or am I misreading 53 to 37 bit (is it the primaries?)

  4. Joe on this afternoon saying “If you can’t believe Gillard over No Carbon Tax then you can’t believe her over No Congestion Tax” had me giggling in my seatbelt (yes, I was in the car).

    The only surprising thing was when he didn’t follow-up by a reference to Pink Batts or School Halls.

    Joe’s taking it easy nowadays, obviously.

  5. After complaining just before about not being polled, I get a phone call.

    Market based research EMRS, with some very interesting questions and statements.
    It was all based around the poker machine legislation.

    Question 1/Voting intention
    2/ Likelihood of changing
    3/Unfavourable or favourable list of names.
    Clubs Australia
    Bob Hawke
    My local MP
    Steve Mortimer
    Hotels Association
    Jeff Kennett
    Julia Gillard
    Phil Gould
    Andrew Wilkie
    Lib/Nat Coalition
    4/ Agree or disagree with the following statements.
    The government is only agreeing with the legislation because of Mr Wilkie saying he will not support the government anymore.

    The next lot of statements were completing OTT with all the wild claims being made from the Clubs Australia and Hotel Association about the losses and cost (and the sky is going to fall in) if the pre commitment technologies etc are brought in.

    After that there were statements supporting the legislation.

    At the end I got asked if I had changed my mind about my opinion. There would be a lot of people listening to those negative statements and thinking that they were true.

  6. bemused @ 5364 (from previous thread):

    [My interpretation of events at the time is that the Vietnam Moratorium had been held a short time prior to the Anti-Apartheid Demonstrations and with a turn out of 100,000 people, there were enough people to keep order and prevent a police riot. But it left certain sections of the police fuming and looking for an opportunity to go the biff.]

    Yes, it would’ve been bloody hard to control 100,000 plus at those Vietnam moratoriums.

    I was overseas during most of the anti-apartheid and Vietnam demos. & in those days news was censored in my line of work.

    We generally only heard positive news, like Evonne winning Wimbledon in ’71 & nothing from memory of the ’71 Springbok tour.

    Anyway, all’s well that ends well & we got out of Vietnam & apartheid came to an end, with Gough and Malcolm each playing their respective parts, plus people power of course.

  7. [Joe’s taking it easy nowadays, obviously.]

    I think he is technically still on holiday, or he was last week. The long winter break is usually the time for polly hols.

  8. From the previous thread:

    [ Lynchpin
    Posted Friday, July 29, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Permalink
    mpbowers Mike Bowers
    Insiders ABC 1 & NEWS 24 9am Sunday-Panel-The Australian’s Chris Kenny and political commentators Kerry-Anne Walsh and Glenn Milne #insiders]

    Yes, Insiders has definitely got our insides covered this weekend. There’s the bowel, the spleen and the rectum on the one panel.


  9. Hi William

    They were asking about federal voting intention. There were some interesting names that they threw in.

  10. [Norty EMRS.]


    yes they were. The lady I was chatting with was just reading the questions. I asked if I could give another response to certain people and she just laughed.

  11. [Although they possibly aren’t doing this for publication.]


    I think they are trying to change peoples’ minds. Some of those negative statements could have come out of Abbott’s mouth.

  12. I had returned to Insiders but knowing the composition of the panel saves me switching the teev on.

    What is Mr Cassidy thinking?

  13. [government a far happier result of 53-47.]

    so if for instance ess, or someelse was doing this poll it would be like this.


    well why is just wondering,.

  14. [Maybe it was not EMRS but someone pretending to be EMRS?]

    Yep something is screwy, I do not doubt gayle in anyway, but it seems odd.

  15. [Maybe it was not EMRS but someone pretending to be EMRS]


    I didn’t think of that, although she offered to let me speak to her supervisor. I will apparently be getting a confirmation call sometime. Lucky the only personal information she got from me was whether I played the poker machines and how often.

  16. Rua @ 17

    Joe Hockey was on Jon Faine’s program yesterday morning so he is probably not on hols. It would come as no surprise to anyone here that he did not have anything meaningful to say.

  17. [Yep something is screwy, I do not doubt gayle in anyway, but it seems odd]


    Now you’ve got me worried. She now knows I’m a Labor hack who hates Abbott, Clubs Australia, the hotels association.

  18. now i am totally confused.

    tell me what the figure would be if morgan, used the normal method.

    why would you bother using an old methold when every on else used the new method.

  19. [Although they possibly aren’t doing this for publication.]

    may be someone in tasmania has ask for the polling to be done ????

    wonder who

  20. [Joe Hockey was on Jon Faine’s program yesterday morning so he is probably not on hols. ]

    Was he in the studio or on his iPhone?

  21. Gayle

    It sounds as though EMRS are working for a pro gambling lobby and that they are looking at getting Steve Mortimer or Phil Gould (or some equivalent football type) to be in their advertising campaign.

  22. [so if for instance ess, or someelse was doing this poll it would be like this.]

    Yes, if Newspoll, Essential or Nielsen came up with primary vote results of Labor 34.5 per cent, Coalition 47 per cent and Greens 12 per cent, their two-party result would be 53-47.

    [Maybe it was not EMRS but someone pretending to be EMRS?]

    Occurred to me as well – if there really is push polling going on here, you would not expect a reputable company to be happily putting their name to it.

  23. There was a poll, ANU I think, done a couple of day ago 70% in support of controls on pokies.

    Also recent articles saying cost to implement limits not that high.

    maybe pokie and hotel industry commissioned survey

  24. blackburnpseph

    Those were the couple of names that I thought were strange. MIght I give them a bit of advice DO NOT USE PHIL GOULD IN ANY ADVERTISING CAMPAIGN IN QLD.

  25. Rua

    I think he was on the phone.

    And I do remember something of substance – it was the question of ‘fattism’ and whether he felt victimised. Which he did not and made some comment like it gave the cartoonists something to work with …

  26. Would a company like EMRS do any polling it was asked to do? How far would it be willing to stretch its good name?

  27. [So, what’s to worry?]


    Living in the most marginal Labor seat in Qld, I would would think that every labor supporter they could knock off, the better for them 😀

  28. [Yes, if Newspoll, Essential or Nielsen came up with primary vote results of Labor 34.5 per cent, Coalition 47 per cent and Greens 12 per cent, their two-party result would be 53-47.]

    well can i think that in my mind and be happy then

    i dont get it why do they want to look different , of course the media want know this and say the other, mmmm??

  29. [43

    This little black duck

    Posted Friday, July 29, 2011 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

    Would a company like EMRS do any polling it was asked to do? How far would it be willing to stretch its good name?

    Despite what bilbo asserts, if the money is right – they would sell their Grandmothers.

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