Morgan phone poll: 55-45 to Coalition

Three new poll results from Roy Morgan, if you please. Despite its modest sample of 543 and high margin of error of over 4 per cent, the phone poll conducted over the past two nights is the most interesting, both for its currency and for the fact that phone polling has a clearly superior track record to Morgan’s Labor-biased face-to-face polls. Averaging Morgan’s phone poll results back to May gives almost the exact same result as for Newspoll, although the smaller samples mean Morgan has been more erratic from poll to poll.

The latest result is within the margins of recent results from other pollsters, although slightly at the Coalition end of the scale: their two-party lead is 55-45 compared with most others’ 54-46, with primary votes of 31 per cent for Labor, 46.5 per cent for the Coalition and 12 per cent for the Greens. The phone poll does not replicate the issue I keep going on about of Morgan’s face-to-face polling producing wildly different results according to whether preferences are distributed as per the result of the last election or according to respondents’ stated intentions. It instead gives us 55-45 on respondent-allocated and 55.5-44.5 on previous-election, and thus chimes with this week’s Nielsen which in fact had Labor’s share of preferences slightly higher than at the election.

Speaking of which, Morgan has published not one but two sets of face-to-face figures. Normally Morgan either publishes results from its regular weekend polling the following Friday (or occasionally Thursday), but sometimes it holds off for a week and publishes a result a combined result from two weekends. This time they have held off for a week and published separate results for each weekend. The earlier poll, conducted on January 28/29 (Australia Day having been the preceding Thursday), was remarkably positive for Labor: not only did they maintain their lead on the previous-election (51-49) method from the result published a fortnight ago, they also opened a lead on the respondent-allocated measure (50.5-49.5), which for once looked similar to the previous election result. The primary votes were 39.5 per cent for Labor, 41.5 per cent for the Coalition and 10 per cent for the Greens.

However, the polling on February 4/5 told a somewhat different story, with the Coalition up four points to 45.5 per cent, Labor down one to 38.5 per cent and the Greens down half to 9.5 per cent. This panned out to a 53.5-46.5 lead to the Coalition on respondent-allocated preferences and 51.5-48.5 on previous election. The polls individually had a sample of 1000 and theoretically a margin of error of around 3 per cent. However, the more telling point is how much Morgan face-to-face results continue to differ from other series which have consistently proved nearer the mark. In 2011, the average primary vote for Labor in Morgan was 35.9 per cent, compared with 34.1 per cent for Essential Research, 30.7 per cent for Newspoll and 29.5 per cent for Nielsen. The gap between Essential and the latter two is partly accounted for by Essential having a consistently lower result for the Greens: on two-party preferred, Essential and Newspoll were fairly similar.

For a look at the bigger polling picture, Possum surveys a landscape of flat calm 54-46 polling going back to November.

UPDATE (13/2): Another week, another 54-46 Essential Research result. After losing a point on the primary vote over each of the two previous weeks, Labor is back up one to 34 per cent, with the Greens down one to 10 per cent and the Coalition steady on 47 per cent. Essential’s monthly measure of leadership approval finds both leaders’ personal ratings essentially unchanged – Julia Gillard down one on approval to 36 per cent and up one on disapproval to 53 per cent, Tony Abbott steady on 35 per cent and up two to 53 per cent – but Gillard has nonetheless made a solid gain as preferred prime minister, her lead up from 39-36 to 41-34. However, only 31 per cent expect her to lead Labor to the next election against 47 per cent who said they didn’t (hats off to the 22 per cent who admitted they didn’t know); while for Tony Abbott the numbers were 47 per cent and 25 per cent. A question on government control of media ownership has support for more control and less control tied on 24 per cent, with 34 per cent thinking it about right. There’s also a question on the impact of Gina Rinehart on the independence of Fairfax newspapers, which I personally find a little odd – the issue would mean little outside of New South Wales and Victoria. I also had my doubts about the question on whether Australia is “fair and just”, but the question asking for comparison with other countries is interesting: Canada and New Zealand are seen as Australia’s main partners in freedom, the UK does less well, Japan and France less well again, and the United States worse still. China however sits well below the rest of the field.

We also had a teaser last night from Newspoll, which had Abbott favoured over Gillard for economic management 43 per cent to 34 per cent, and Wayne Swan and Joe Hockey in a statistical dead heat for preferred Treasurer (38 per cent to 37 per cent).

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.

4,682 comments on “Morgan phone poll: 55-45 to Coalition”

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  1. Mod Lib –

    Hmmm….and what about the current situation? Is the ALP looking around now?

    By all accounts, everyone agrees that the Prime Minister’s office, cabinet, caucus decision making etc is all working much better than it was under Kevin Rudd, so the actual functioning of the government is chugging along quite well.

    However, I’m sure that ALP MPs look at the polls and get nervous, no question.

    That’s quite a different situation to the circumstances surrounding Kevin Rudd at the time of his demise.

    Perhaps the outcome, ultimately, will be the same – I don’t know. Personally, I look at the facts as I see them – the ALP is in trouble according to the polls, but their position has improved from the recent lows, and may well continue to improve. If they do improve another 2 points or so, then the focus shifts to the coalition leadership instead, and then the whole game changes. The ALP can win the next election. I don’t think it’s certain, but I do see hope for the ALP.

    Changing leaders now would be a mistake. If they don’t see a recovery in the polls then I would expect the pressure to change leadership again will become overwhelming – but that time is not now, and the nervous folks in the ALP just need to grow a pair and stay the course for now.

  2. Yeah Mod Lib that is the modern liberal party, believes in nothing, stands for nothing, has no policy, is an absolute joke on almost every possible policy position, but the polling makes it all alright.

  3. [Abbott (for all his faults) has taken the Coalition from oblivion to stratospheric poll leads]
    But he hasn’t taken them to a win. Poll leads are great but useless if not at the election.

  4. [But he hasn’t taken them to a win. Poll leads are great but useless if not at the election.]

    Nor is he PM. Or running the country. Wow, why wouldn’t everyone love that kind of a “win”. His financial backers are very impressed with him.

  5. [Changing leaders now would be a mistake. If they don’t see a recovery in the polls then I would expect the pressure to change leadership again will become overwhelming – but that time is not now, and the nervous folks in the ALP just need to grow a pair and stay the course for now.]

    Changing leaders now would be a disaster, not just a mistake. The question is whether NOT changing leaders would be a bigger disaster.

    Do you think Gillard is going to change? Do you think her political judgement is good?

  6. [Do you think Gillard is going to change? Do you think her political judgement is good?]
    I believe she is a very intelligent person and very capable of learning. She is growing into the job. It’s a learning process.

  7. [Do you think her political judgement is good?]

    Yes and the current front bench. And I think we’re a long way from seeing all the policies being implemented and their effects. Not to mention if there’s another GFC on the horizon.

  8. And not a complete list either George! By any means.

    Have to laugh at the RWers who talk about JG putting her foot in her mouth, given that that’s the near-permanent state of their ‘leader’. Right-Wing Projection – they turn to it every time.

  9. [Do you think Gillard is going to change? Do you think her political judgement is good?]

    Not as good as her policy but yes.

    The issue is whether Tony’s immoral lies supported by the media continues to disguise this or not. And don’t let me hear any of that if they were better they’d overcome the media problems. I listened to Cassidy on insiders, and he was just being a smart ass know it all in the interview but he literally tried to drive a policy discussion towards Tony type gottas and lies. It was appalling. I don’t think it was biased in the usual way, just him not being able or willing to discuss genuine policy with a well briefed minister.

  10. This little black duck
    [Emma Alberici echoes 4C and bad polls. Sigh!]
    Relax our resident Levesonaholic. In 14 days time he starts to examine the Sauron police connection.

  11. Julia Gillard, Bill Shorten, Mark Arbib, Don Farrell, David Feeney, Richo, Con Scacca – what a treacherous lot they all are.
    I can’t for the life of me understand why Julia decided to be interviewed for that Four Corners program. Not a smart move on her part – she came out of that program looking decidedly shifty and unconvincing.

  12. [Good to see a real leader and pm on the news. Gillard does not come close to JWH]
    Every blog needs someone to provide comedy relief. We’ve found our man.

  13. And I imagine that Janelle Saffin’s prospects of career advancement under a Gillard administration just nosedived very sharply, but I knew she’s a Rudd supporter.

  14. What I find interesting is the parrallel between the Labor power bromers manufacturing a fear campaign against Rudd and the LiberalMurdoch media using the same tactics against Julia

  15. I feel sorry for the Labor MP who phoned Con to tell him to help Rudd out only to be told he was for Ms Gillard. How pissed would you be?

    It’s a shame the Liberal Party does not honour the former Non-Labor Leaders and PMs prior to 1944. They are a disgrace for not honouring their fight against Labor.

  16. [Yes and the current front bench]

    Two of whom who sit at the cabinet table – Garrett and McClelland – would not go when she wanted them to.

    We have a PM – with the ability to hire and fire – unlike the old days in the ALP – who cannot sack a minister when she wants to – that in itself shows that she is a weak leader.

  17. [Gillard (as deputy then leader) has taken ALP from stratospheric poll leads to oblivion]

    She won an election, despite that.

    And I was comparing Abbott as LOTO with Rudd as LOTO, who also had consistent leads against the then govt. Hence the then Labor Caucus reluctance to rock the boat, regardless of whatever flaws he displayed. Same as Abbott.

  18. Mod Lib –

    The question is whether NOT changing leaders would be a bigger disaster.

    No, that is not the question because the question doesn’t account for context/timing. Why change leaders now when there is more than a year to go until the next election? If you’re going to be “cynical” and change leaders to improve your polling, you do so with a limited window until the election.

    Do you think Gillard is going to change? Do you think her political judgement is good?

    I think Julia Gillard has made some mistakes. I don’t think that Julia Gillard’s mistakes are accurately identifed by the media, and I don’t think she has been given a fair, proportionate run.

    In particular, I think Julia Gillard has not had the clear air to actually present well to the public – that’s to give credit to Tony Abbott and the negativity from the LNP, as well as to the distractions from Kevin Rudd and co, along with the media beatups.

    That’s not to deny that Julia Gillard has stuffed some (in my mind minor) things up. “No carbon tax under a government I lead” was a mistake. The stupidity out of her office over the Australia day politics. Most of the 2010 election campaign – not directly Julia Gillard’s fault, but her judgment in whose advice to take and whose advice not to.

    That’s all politics; I don’t have too many issues with the actual delivered legislation/policy. Things could be better, but most things have been incremental improvements, and that is something I would like to see continue.

    I think Julia Gillard has learned some lessons – she is communicating better, in general, now than she was before or during the election. I think she has recently discovered some fire she can bring out in public effectively. I think she can improve further, and if she got some clear air we would see a significant improvement in her approval ratings, and by association, the governments numbers.

  19. [Good to see a real leader and pm on the news. Gillard does not come close to JWH]

    He helped kill 1 million Iraqis. Very impressive in anyone’s book.

  20. Gillard is a puppet of the hacks and union bosses.

    She was prepared to deal with Rudd then spoke to Bitar and his mates then came back in and said no deal. They knew that if Gillard did a deal with Rudd the bosses and factional hacks would have been destroyed by Rudd.

  21. [Peter van Onselen @vanOnselenP
    Where’s the Ghost who votes re Newspoll….the wait is killing me!
    10:44 PM – 13 Feb 12]

    Last time I recall PvO doing that re the Ghost & Newspoll it was bad for Labor. Anyone remember differently?

  22. Gary: The revelation that Julia knew about the coup 2 weeks before the actual caucus vote will be damaging for her.
    Probably won’t cost her the leadership – Rudd’s only hope is for the polls to totally collapse and backbench MPs in marginal seats defying the wishes of the factional bosses.

  23. [So Gillard was up to her neck in the Rudd demise]

    David, the 4C program told you things you didn’t know already? You must not read many posts when you come here.

  24. [So Gillard was up to her neck in the Rudd demise. That should do wonders for her credibility.]
    Nothing proven. Just opinions reinforced. No change.

  25. [4582
    Thornleigh Labor Man
    Posted Monday, February 13, 2012 at 10:51 pm | Permalink
    Rummel: I think that I’d look more like a leader than Julia Gillard. ]

    🙂 I’m sure your fellow labor team members would disagree.

  26. [Do you think Gillard is going to change? Do you think her political judgement is good?]

    a) I hope she doesn’t change.

    b) I love that she stares down the relentless campaign against her by the media and the blokesworld, anti-woman Liberal party.

  27. [Na, Dario, Dennis Shanahan still has it stuffed down his y-fronts]

    Eeew, what a revolting thought. Noticed that the economic manager numbers were selectively leaked early though. The OO covering up an unfavorable poll for them?

  28. [She won an election, despite that.]

    She didn’t win the election…the Independents and Greens won her the election in the end.

    She lost Rudd’s Über majority.

  29. [Or do you think she is a protected species?]


    My Say is my say. Let it be. As I said, the scroll wheel is your friend. Embrace your friend. Many cheers.


    When’s this Newspoll due?

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