Marginals robo-poll bonanza

A barrage of electorate-level automated phone poll results has emerged over the past day, with horror results for Labor in almost every case.

Before I dive into today’s glut of electorate-level polling and the picture of unmitigated disaster it paints for Labor, mention should be made of today’s declaration of candidates and determination of ballot paper ordering. I’ve finished labouring through the chore of uploading the candidate lists to my election guide, in the course of which I was unavoidably struck by one salient fact: there are far too many candidates at this election. The total comes in at 1188 for the House of Representatives and 529 for the Senate.

The former number is solidly clear of a previous record of 1109 in 1998, amounting to nearly half an extra candidate per electorate, and well clear of the 849 in 2010, a relatively low number thought to have resulted from the election being called three months ahead of time. The Senate number is still more unprecedented, blowing the lid off the previous record of 367 candidates. Remarkably – suspiciously, even – this comes despite a doubling of nomination deposits to $1000 for House of Representatives candidates and $2000 for Senate candidates.

Some might consider a greater array of candidates a boon for democracy, but in my view that’s entirely negated by the obstacle posed to the act of voting, at least under our present system. This is starkly illustrated by the metre-long Senate ballot papers that voters in the larger states will be required to grapple with on September 7, and the magnifying glasses that will be supplied in polling booths to assist in reading the small print crammed on to them. That will no doubt have all but the tiniest handful of voters opting for the above the line option, exacerbating one of the least attractive features of our system – the mass transfer of votes as dictated by preference deals.

As for the lower house, an analysis by the Australian Electoral Commission indicates that each extra candidate causes a 0.2% increase in the informal vote. If partisan advantage is what matters to you, it’s likely that this makes a large number of candidates disadvantageous to Labor. Labor’s surprise defeat in Greenway at the 2004 election may well have been influenced by an 11.8% informal vote, which was in turn influenced by what I believe to have been a then record (at a general election at least) 14 candidates. This time around there are 12 candidates in Corangamite, Deakin and Mallee, 13 in Bendigo and McMillan, and 16 in Melbourne. Notably, all these electorates are in Victoria, which seems to have the largest number of organised micro-parties – perhaps having been inspired by the example of Family First and the Democratic Labour Party in winning Senate seats over the course of the past decade.

So, to these opinion polls. There are 14 automated phone polls in all from three different agencies, with swings ranging from 0% to 15% and averaging 8%. This is enormously out of kilter with the national polling that was coming through before we hit a dry spell at the start of the week, which suggested a swing of more like 2%. So one might variously hypothesise that there has been a huge shift to the Coalition this week; that the polls have targeted areas where Labor is doing particularly badly; that there may have been something about these polls to bias them towards the Coalition, through some combination of their being automated, mid-week and electorate-level polls; that the national polls have been heavily biased to Labor and the automated polls have shown them up. The latter at least I do not think terribly likely, the truth probably involving some combination of the first three.

We have also had more conventional phone poll results from Newspoll, conducted from Monday to Thursday from samples of 504 each, which oddly target Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor’s seats of Lyne and New England. These respectively have the Nationals ahead 59-41 and 66-34, which if anything suggest swings to Labor. The primary votes from Lyne are 26% for Labor, 51% for the Coalition and 7% for the Greens, while from New England it’s 24%, 53% and 5%.

Running through the automated polls:

• Lonergan and JWS Research have both targeted Forde and Lindsay, with very similar results in each case. In Forde, the JWS Research poll of 568 respondents has Liberal National Party member Bert van Manen leading Peter Beattie 54% to 33% on the primary vote and 60-40 on two-party preferred, for a swing of 8.4%. The Lonergan poll, for which The Guardian offers great detail, covered 1160 respondents and showed van Manen’s lead at 56% to 34% and the Greens at just 4%, compared with 12% at the 2010 election. While no two-party preferred figure is provided, it would obviously be very similar to JWS Research’s 60-40. As low as van Manen’s national profile may be, JWS Research gives him a 49% approval rating against 19% disapproval, with Peter Beattie on 35% and 51%. Kevin Rudd’s net approval rating is minus 18% against minus 1% for Tony Abbott. The Lonergan poll has 40% saying Peter Beattie has made them less likely to vote Labor against on 22% for more likely.

• Longergan’s Lindsay poll, conducted on Tuesday night from a sample of 1038, has Liberal candidate Fiona Scott’s primary vote at no less than 60%, up 17% on 2010, with Labor member David Bradbury on 32%, down 13%. The Guardian quotes the pollster saying a question about how respondents voted in 2010 aligned with the actual result – I will assume this took into account the tendency of poll respondents to over-report having voted for the winner. I am a little more puzzled by the claimed margin of error of 3.7%, which should be more like 3% given the published sample size (UPDATE: It transpires that this is because Lonergan has, unusually, done the right thing – calculate an effective margin of error that accounts for the fact that the sample is weighted, and that cohorts within it have been extrapolated from sub-par samples). The JWS Research result has the primary votes at 57% for Liberal and 35% for Labor, with two-party preferred at 60.7-39.3.

• ReachTEL has four polls with samples of around 600 apiece, which have the Liberals leading 65-35 in Bennelong (a swing of about 12%) and 53-47 in McMahon (11%) and 52-48 in Kingsford Smith (7%), with Labor hanging on by 52-48 in Blaxland (10%).

• The other Financial Review/JWS Research results show the Coalition ahead in Brisbane (54.1-45.9 from primaries of 50% LNP, 36% Labor), Macquarie (55.1-44.9, 51% Liberal, 35% Labor), Corangamite (53.3-46.7, 48% Liberal, 36% Labor), Aston (63.4-36.6, Liberal 59%, Labor 29%), and Banks (52.8-47.2, Liberal 50%, Labor 43%). The one ray of sunlight for Labor is their 51-49 lead in Greenway, from primaries of 46% for Liberal and 44% for Labor. A full graphic of the JWS Research results is available from GhostWhoVotes, including some diverting results on personal approval. Bert van Manen in Forde and Alan Tudge in Aston appear to rate as very popular local members, while David Bradbury in Lindsay and Darren Cheeseman in Corangamite do not. And Fiona Scott in Lindsay, fresh from the publicity bestowed upon her by Tony Abbott, is easily the highest rating of the challengers.

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.

1,419 comments on “Marginals robo-poll bonanza”

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  1. Reposting from previous thread:

    What were you saying a few minutes ago .. let’s wait for the polls. Be my guest courtesy of JJ:

    Bennelong 65-35 to Liberal
    McMahon 53-47 to Liberal
    Kingsford Smith 52-48 to Liberal
    Blaxland 52-48 to Labor
    Sample size is 600 per seat

    Not surprised by Bennelong – another supa-dupa captain’s pick flown in from beijing “.. that’s the Asian vote secured”, now Beattie ” .. that’s the Qld vote sewn up”. Rudd is making Gillard look good.

  2. Well if these polls are replicated on election day, Labor are in for a smashing.

    Labor is going to pay a very heavy price for “leadershit”.

    Hold your head up high Mark Arbib, it all started with you!

  3. Newspoll Lyne
    59-41 to Coalition
    ALP 26, Coalition 51, Greens 7 Others 16

    Newspoll New England
    66-34 to Coalition
    ALP 24, Coalition 53, Greens 5, Others 18

    Aug 12-15 504 voters in each.

  4. Really, if you’re bleeding seats in NSW, it doesn’t matter how strong you are elsewhere, you’re basically out of the run.

    While I’d like to see some NSW polling trends v. the rest of the nation, to see how in synch it is with the rest of the country’s tide, I daresay NSW Labor’s toxicity is a factor. Something Rudd has failed to brush off with his “takeover”.

    But hey, at least Dastyari gets to be a Senator!

  5. [Newspoll Lyne
    59-41 to Coalition
    ALP 26, Coalition 51, Greens 7 Others 16

    Newspoll New England
    66-34 to Coalition
    ALP 24, Coalition 53, Greens 5, Others 18

    Aug 12-15 504 voters in each.]

    Well neither of those are a surprise and I think we’ve all already called them Coalition wins.

  6. All these automated polls are suggesting overall results 8-10% worse for Labor than the state figures in Bludgertrack, so either there has been a massive swing against Labor (say at least 5%) since last weekend, or the polls have such a serious Coalition house effect that it’s doubtful they could be of any use whatsoever.

  7. [Kinkajou
    Posted Friday, August 16, 2013 at 11:29 pm | PERMALINK
    Either that or the polling is fuckedup]

    All of them?

    Morgan Phone
    Morgan Multi
    All the marginal polling
    All the state polling
    All the betting markets

    Everything is wrong, eh?

    Come on……get real

  8. What the people need now is a spell of GREY TORY MEDIOCRITY!

    I for one will enjoy one aspect: let’s see how the LNP go in tough times. This is normally when they get turfed, when the going gets tough.

    Lets examine the historical record:

    WW1: War breaks out in middle of election campaign. Cook Liberal government TURFED!

    1929; Depression. Bruce government TURFED!

    1941: Menzies/Fadden government TURFED! pacfiic war ensues.

    1972, oil shocks, Britain joins common market, inflation high,unemployment at 10-year peak (2.14% – LOL): McMahon government TURFED!

    1983 Old Australian settlement (protectionism) at dead end: Fraser govt TURFED!

    2007 Everyone bored shitless – national crisis levels. Howard government TURFED!

    Its no coincidence punters.

    So lets see now. Put the Tories in the headlights at a difficult time of change.

    I predict one term.

  9. [Really, if you’re bleeding seats in NSW, it doesn’t matter how strong you are elsewhere, you’re basically out of the run.]

    Yeah. Imagine what Banks and Page are like.

  10. @Mod Lib/21

    Morgan Multimode was 50/50
    Essential was 51/49 (gain of +1 to ALP).
    Galaxy was 51/49
    Nielsen 52/48
    Newspoll 52/48

  11. [Carey Moore
    Posted Friday, August 16, 2013 at 11:32 pm | PERMALINK
    Newspoll Lyne
    59-41 to Coalition

    Newspoll New England
    66-34 to Coalition

    Well neither of those are a surprise and I think we’ve all already called them Coalition wins.]

    Not much of a change from ALP-LNP TPP % there from 2010 either.

  12. davidwh
    [We really need a major poll as it is really hard to believe things could have changed this much in a week.]
    I also doubt that things are this dire for ALP since Reachtel is not that highly regarded (correct William?) however I feel that it’s indicative of the trend. Rudd is finished and as I’ve felt from the outset he’ll get to Gillard’s level by 7/9, ie around 45% to Libs 55%. it’s the same syndrome – nobody is listening now to a word he says because his credibility is shot, and no-one cares about scrutinising Abbott because they just wanna see the back of Labor (“no-one” used somewhat metaphorically). Rudd’s sugar hit was based partly on nostalgia, partly on the fact he’s not Gillard, and partly on the short memories of Aussies. They now remember who and what he is, hated by his peers, with instant non-solutions for every issue. The wheels are well and truly off. Abbott’s strategy should be to continue with one soft gaffe per day and keep Rudd out of the news for 3 weeks so that he becomes even more invisible when rudd’s strategy is based on “it’s all about moi”. You’ve also gotta wonder when the first rumblings from (what’s left of) the Labor caucus will start. if there’s a blow up of anger from his colleagues and they start pointing the finger BEFORE 7/9, well then who knows how low ALP vote could go.

  13. One wonders then, given the disparity between national and marginal polls, if Rudd isnt doing quite well in safe Labor seats.

    Not much good for HoR, but good for Senate.

    *reclines on the furniture. Lights cigar. Splutters.*

  14. [zoidlord
    Posted Friday, August 16, 2013 at 11:36 pm | PERMALINK
    @Mod Lib/21

    Morgan Multimode was 50/50
    Essential was 51/49 (gain of +1 to ALP).]


    Morgan was 51.5% to the LNP and Essential was no change.

    Given I think the national TPP is going to be about 52.5% to the Coalition, the national polling around 51 to 53 doesn’t surprise me at all.

    The point I am making is that we have lots and lots of data points now.

    Every single data point is showing the exact same thing.

    What part of all of this is hard to follow?

  15. [Lyne and New England results will demonstrate just how badly Jokeshot and Whinger betrayed their electorates.]

    They will demonstrate how normally strongly National seats vote without viable independents running…

  16. [I also doubt that things are this dire for ALP since Reachtel is not that highly regarded (correct William?)]

    Depends who you ask, obviously. It does seem to have a bit of a Coalition bias, but not on a scale that makes these numbers easy to explain away. Probably more to the point, it seems to be a lot harder to get an electorate poll right than a national one.

  17. The one issue I feel Labor could have lost skin over was the GST fear campaign. It was just so transparently fear without substance.

  18. Crank

    Windsor and Oakshotte are not stupid like the average voter.

    You don’t give the job to someone with an $11 billion hole in his costings and uses a dodgy accounting firm.

    Windsor and Oakshotte can hold their head high – but the Greens?

    Oh baby, this is going to be big…real BIG!

  19. @Mod Lib/32

    Because you don’t make judgements on the bases of first 1-2 weeks of the campaign?

    I usually wait to the last week to see where it’s at.

    The polling during the mean time is just data for me.

    Either way, I still haven’t changed my vote for this election, will continue to protest.

  20. must be that some undecided have gone for abbott – still think there’s lot of flux but collective movement problem. mick 77 has point. these are first hours for my doubting. bob ellis seems quite off mark at present – although comparison to rwanda with big dictator murdoch ensuring election is rigged is not too far off mark.

  21. Just reflecting on my historical post at 22:

    LNP: A party forever marked ‘to be turfed’, whenever the going gets tough.

    Its good to take the long view sometimes punters.

  22. [I predict one term.]

    If the last 6 years has taught me anything, it is that nothing is certain.

    In 2007, I was pretty sure the new Rudd government was in until, maybe, 2016, with Gillard taking over at some point around then…

  23. JWS

    Brisbane 54.1-45.9 to Coalition
    Primaries: ALP 36, Coalition 50

    Macquarie 55.1-44.9 to Coalition
    Primaries: ALP 35, Coalition 51

    Corangamite 53.3-46.7 to Coalition
    Primaries: ALP 36, Coalition 48

    Aston 63.4-36.6 to Coalition
    Primaries: ALP 29, Coalition 59

    Greenway 51-49 to Labor
    Primaries: ALP 44, Coalition 46

    Banks 52.8-47.2 to Coalition
    Primaries: ALP 43, Coalition 50

  24. [Actually if the ALP is holding Blaxland then Rudd is doing better than Gilard. ]

    Gillard’s retired and it’s time to face reality.

  25. davidwh@37

    The one issue I feel Labor could have lost skin over was the GST fear campaign. It was just so transparently fear without substance.

    I don’t think it has no substance. The Liberals brought the GST up first all by themselves with no prompting. However, all they need to do is deny it and its impossible to verify so it boils down to he said, she said.

  26. zoidlord:

    I completely accept that things can change. However, those of us here have probably a little experience in these things, eh?

    You have a messiah complex leader who thought he was going to come in and pretend all was fine. Folk like him, they take selfies with him, after all!

    The fact that they take selfies with Ruddie babie and then will go into the polling booth and vote for Abbott is starting to dawn on him. You could see it on Rudd’s face last week as I posted here.

    There has been no doubt about the result of this election since 2011. That is the truth of the matter…..the rest is just about the margin, not the outcome, well that is my opinion!

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