Nielsen: 53-47 to Coalition in Queensland

More mixed messages from Queensland, along with one very clear one – here comes Clive Palmer.

Two new polls out today from Queensland, one being another of Newspoll’s composite marginal seat jobs, the other a statewide Nielsen survey of 1014 respondents. Taken together, the two continue a confounding pattern throughout this campaign of localised polling from Queensland painting a grimmer picture for Labor than polling conducted statewide. The Newspoll survey targets 800 respondents in seven of the state’s eight Labor-held seats – Moreton (1.1%), Petrie (2.5%), Lilley (3.2%), Capricornia (3.7%), Blair (4.2%), Rankin (5.4%) and Oxley (5.8%) – the odd man out being Kevin Rudd’s seat of Griffith (8.5%). The combined primary vote results are 38% for Labor (down from 42.4% at the 2010 election), 42% for the Coalition (up from 39.8%), 8% for the Greens (down from 11.0%) and 12% for “others” (up substantially from 6.8% – hold that thought). On two-party preferred, the result is 51-49 in favour of the Coalition, a swing of 4.7%. Importantly though, this has been determined based on preference flows from the 2010 election. Hold that thought as well.

The Nielsen poll as published in the Fairfax papers comes with a headline two-party preferred figure of 53-47, which is at least superficially encouraging for Labor in that it suggests a swing of 2% from 2010. Unlike the Newspoll result, this comes from respondent-allocated rather than previous-election preferences (hold that thought still further). However, the real story the poll has to tell lies in the primary vote figures. Labor is at just 31%, down from 34.6% in 2010, but the Coalition is also down slightly, from 46.5% to 45%. The Greens are on 8%, down on 10.9% at the 2010 election but at the high end of what they’ve been getting generally in Queensland in recent times (perhaps reflecting an improving trend nationally which is perceptible on the BludgerTrack charts). However, the really interesting result is that the Palmer United Party is on 8%, putting into the shade Katter’s Australian Party on 4%.

This cannot dismissed as one freak result, as it has been corroborated by other polling. Roy Morgan has twice had occasion over the last week to trumpet this phenomenon going on beneath the surface of its “others” result. The first poll, published on Friday, had the Palmer United Party at 4% nationally and 6.5% in Queensland. The second, published yesterday, maintained the 4% national result while finding the Queensland figure up to 7.5%. I’m advised that Essential Research also had the party at 4% nationally in its polling this week and at 9% in Queensland, after it barely registered in previous weeks. In fact, the three sets of Queensland polling I have seen over the past few days have all turned in remarkably similar results for Labor, Coalition, Greens and “others” alike.

A clearer picture emerges if the totality of polling from Queensland is plotted out since the return of Kevin Rudd. The chart below maps out the trend from 37 such polls from seven different pollsters, with the usual BludgerTrack accuracy weightings and bias adjustments applied. Black represents the combined “others” vote.

The starting point is a landslip in Labor’s favour after Gillard was deposed, which appeared to consolidate for a fortnight before entering a long and steady slide. Then came the announcement of the election date at the start of August and a two-week period where Queensland appeared to buck the national trend of the time by moving to Labor. This may very well have been a dividend from the recruitment of Peter Beattie, however much media reportage and individual seat polls might have suggested that there wasn’t one.

A new phase then appeared to begin a fortnight ago with the sharp rise of the “others” vote. This has coincided with an onslaught of television advertising from Clive Palmer which has seemed almost to rival that of the major parties. Whereas Palmer’s earlier advertising looked like it belonged on Vine rather than network television, his current efforts appear rehearsed and properly thought out – perhaps even market-researched. Most importantly, the substance of their message – tax cuts which pay for themselves and pension schemes that boost the economy by $70 billion – may well be striking a chord in offering voters the ever more scarce political commodity of “vision”, hallucinogenic though it may be in this particular case.

The other point to be noted about the surge in the “others” vote over the past fortnight is that it looks to be coming more at Labor’s expense than the Coalition’s. For one thing, this has significant implications for the party’s prospects of actually converting votes into seats. Mark Kenny of Fairfax’s take on the Nielsen result is that while it is “almost certain Mr Palmer’s party will not win a seat in the House of Representatives, it is in with a chance of gaining a spot in the Senate”. However, I’m not so sure about this on either count.

Clive Palmer himself is running in the smartly chosen Sunshine Coast seat of Fairfax, where the retirement of Alex Somlyay relieves him of the burden of having to take on a sitting member. The first task facing Palmer is to outpoll Labor, who scored 27.3% in 2010. Gouging votes directly at their expense will make that task a lot easier, as presumably will the fact the Greens (who polled a weighty 18.0% last time) are directing their preferences to him. Palmer’s next hurdle (inappropriate as athletic metaphors might be in his case) would be to overcome Liberal National Party candidate Ted O’Brien, which might not be so easy given Alex Somlyay’s 49.5% vote in 2010. Some credible seat-level polling from Fairfax would be very interesting to see. As for the Senate, lead candidate Glenn Lazarus faces the complication that James Blundell of Katter’s Australian Party has done better out of preferences, standing to directly receive (among other things) Labor’s surplus after the election of its second candidate.

The other point to be made regarding a movement from Labor to the Palmer United Party relates to the issue of deriving two-party preferred results from primary votes in opinion polls. This is always a slightly vexed question, as for most voters the act of vote choice runs no deeper than simply deciding “who to vote for”, be it a party or its leader. If that choice is for a minor party, the question of preference allocation – secondary though it may be for the voter concerned – is the thing that really matters with respect to determining the result. Since the decision is often driven by a how-to-vote card the voter does not see until they arrive at the polling booth, and is in many cases entirely arbitrary, there is limited value in an opinion pollster asking the voter what they propose to do.

For this reason, it has become standard practice over the past decade for pollsters to instead allocate minor party preferences according to how they flowed at the previous election. Only Morgan persists in favouring respondent allocation, with Nielsen conducting both measures while normally using the previous election preferences for its top-line results. Not coincidentally, the primacy of this method has emerged over a period in which the minor party landscape has remained fairly stable, with the dominant Greens being supplemented by a shifting aggregation of smaller concerns, most of them being right-wing in one way or another. However, it was always clear that the utility of the method would be undermined if substantial new minor parties emerged, particularly on the right. For example, the result of the 1996 election would have offered no guidance in allocating votes for Pauline Hanson’s One Nation when it exploded on to the scene a year later.

So it is with the Palmer United Party, at least so far as Queensland is concerned. It might have been anticipated that the party’s conservative provenance would have caused its preferences to behave much as other right-wing minor parties to emerge out of Queensland have done over the years, but the Nielsen poll throws that into doubt by finding that 62% of Palmer United Party voters (together with 55% of Katter’s Australian Party voters) intend to give their preference to Labor. It should be borne in mind here that these sub-samples are extremely small, and consequently have double-digit error margins. Eighty-six per cent of Greens voters said they would preference Labor, which is well above what’s plausible. Even so, it’s perhaps telling that the most recent national Nielsen poll, published the weekend before last, had the Coalition’s lead in Queensland at 55-45 on previous election preferences, but only 52-48 on respondent-allocated preferences – an enormous difference as these things go.

Taken together with the trends observable in the primary vote chart above, it would appear that the last fortnight has seen Labor lose votes in Queensland to the Palmer United Party, and that this pool of voters contains a much larger proportion of Labor identifiers than the non-Greens minor party vote in 2010. So while the recent rise of the Palmer United Party might not be good news for Labor in absolute terms, it may cause two-party preferred projections based on the normal pattern of minor party vote behaviour to be skewed against them. This certainly applies to the BludgerTrack model in its present form, for which I might look at adding a Queensland-specific fix (with the qualification that anything I come up with will of necessity be somewhat arbitrary).

UPDATE: AMR Research has published its third online poll of federal voting intention, conducted between Friday and Monday from a sample of 1101, and it has Labor at 34%, the Coalition at 44% and the Greens at 10%.

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.

1,555 comments on “Nielsen: 53-47 to Coalition in Queensland”

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  1. I posted this at the end of the previous thread. It is still worth running now.

    An excellent piece from Nobel prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz on why Abbott’s cuts really should be a concern. They could cost 90,000 jobs.

    Australia may have successfully dodged the global crisis, but some politicians seem to have missed the lessons it taught the rest of the world. In this election, the conservative side of politics has foreshadowed substantial cuts to the government budget. This would be a grave mistake, especially now.
    Recent experience around the world suggests that austerity can have devastating consequences, and especially so for fragile economies. Government cuts have helped push Britain, Spain and Greece’s economies deeper into recession and led to widespread public misery.

  2. There is no SA thread so I will briefly highlight this story about the $500 million Adelaide oval redevelopment tendering.
    [The Auditor-General was damning about the way the department [DPTI] negotiated with Baulderstone, which was awarded the contract to redevelop the oval in 2011.

    “I am of the view that sufficient regard was not given to the effective implementation and application of appropriate probity standards throughout the entire procurement process,” Mr O’Neill said in his report.

    Mr O’Neill concluded a review of Baulderstone’s final offer “did not evaluate the offer as provided for in the tender documents” because “the project manager entered into direct negotiations with the preferred tenderer to agree a final design and price.”]

    Personally I think the main problem here in the SA public service is the extraordinary lack of transparency. The public servants themselves have this culture, not the politicians. Nobody complains, because they are the only job in town.

  3. I voted about 3 hours ago at Australia House in London. Two Greens volunteers, 3 ALP and about 7 LNP handing out how-to-votes etc. LNP by far and away the most professional – their volunteers were all 20ish which corresponded to the voters in the queue – mostly working holidaymakers from my brief chats. Whole process reasonably quick – took about 30 mins. Booth staff said it’s been quiet last week and so far today compared to 2010 but they expect a late rush. They still think they had about 1000 voters today. V disappointed by lack of sausage sizzle / lamington stand etc.

  4. Just logged on as have been having a few days with with my sister
    JIMBO JONES very good of Australia House staff to stay open until 9pm at least to take take votes?

  5. Socrates

    To back up your post #2, here is Tim Colebatch in The Age.

    [They might be so lucky; sometimes the Liberals are. But the years ahead are unlikely to resemble the Howard years. The challenges are very different. The world will be far less supportive. Our economy needs new drivers of growth, our budget needs new revenues. Abbott is not John Howard. And he could find himself facing a very difficult Senate.
    Abbott has dominated over Labor due to negative campaigns, especially his scare campaign against the carbon tax, which was more successful than it deserved to be.
    Inflation in year one of the tax was just 2.4 per cent, and the data showing the past year was the hottest on record in Australia underlines why Labor, like John Howard, decided that a price on carbon was the cheapest way to insure against the risks of global warming.

    Now Abbott will have to govern, which takes different skills. The difficulties he has exploited against Labor will become his to manage. And he has promised that his will be ”a no-surprises, no-excuses government”.]

    I said some time ago (and others agreed), that this might not be the best year to win govt.

    [From Monday, these will be Tony Abbott’s problems. Wish him luck.]

    Read more:

  6. Good moning Dawn Patrollers.
    We can only imagine how Abbott would have “handled” and inquisition such as Rudd went under on QandA last night. No wonder Credlin keeps him locked away from scrutiny.

    we all know that Abbott couldn’t give a toss about our international reputation. All he wants is Kirribilli and to be able to serve his various creepy masters.
    I do not like Port Power one little bit I will be barracking for them very strongly this weekend to put the big headed Eddie McGuire back into his box.
    Tim Colebatch says “Good luck Tone. Tou’ll need it!”
    Gerard Henderson. F*** off!!!
    Let’s hope Tony Burke wipes the floor with the horrible hypocrite Morriscum at the NPC today.
    It’s worth reading the positive comments at the end of this Guardian article about Rudd’s answer to the SSM question last night.

  7. I have always doubted the wisdfom of Labor saying that the Libs “have the same carbon remission targets”. I thought it sounded a bit weak.

    [Abbott said he was confident the Coalition would meet the 5 per cent cut with the money on offer. But several independent economic modelling studies dispute this.
    One, commissioned by the Climate Institute, found the Coalition was $4 billion short and direct action could instead see emissions rise 9 per cent above 2000 levels instead of 5 below. The assumptions made in Climate Institute modelling were kind to the Coalition.]

    Read more:

  8. Re Stiglitz and the prospect of recession: I don’t know about thr rest of the country, but we are set for one hell of a downturn in the ACT after the election. House prices will plummet, businesses will fold and the population will fall. And yet a goodly percentage of Canberrans will still vote Liberal, presumably for altruistic reasons (it can’t possibly be through self-interest)!

    I know I’ve banged on about this before, but I find it a fascinating phenomenon.

    Turkeys voting for Thanksgiving….

  9. [quote]But no one event, no single moment or gaffe can pinpoint Rudd’s collapse. Even so, the speed with which Rudd’s popularity declined is itself noteworthy. Just days before the spill against Julia Gillard, Rudd was a rock star, mobbed at schools and shopping centres. Immediately after Rudd’s return in late June, Rudd still enjoyed a 14 point lead over Tony Abbott as preferred PM. Labor’s vote also returned and the Government in early July enjoyed a rare level-pegging, at 50 per cent, with the Coalition. Labor now believed Rudd wouldn’t just save the furniture, he could actually win this thing.

    But far like every celebrity, the fans were fickle. Far from a Lennon or a McCartney, Rudd soon resembled a roadie.

    Even before the election announcement of August 4, something ill-defined occurred in the electorate’s mind during the last two weeks of July. On the 21st of that month, Rudd still enjoyed a positive net satisfaction rating. But by August 2, the PM had suffered a negative net rating of 11 points. Where 37 per cent were happy with Rudd’s performance, 48 per cent were not.

    Again, no single blunder marks out the decline. Rudd instead morphed into an ageing actor who strutted unconvincingly and occasionally fluffed his lines.

    So what happened? Was it a case of voters gradually recalling Rudd Mark 1? Or, as some have more cruelly argued, that we came to see Rudd as a fake and a phony?

    We’ll never really know.

    But we do know that voters deserted Rudd faster than the party itself. While satisfaction with the PM collapsed 12 per cent in a fortnight, Labor’s after-preference vote declined by only a point. And even after Rudd bottomed out, mid-campaign after hectoring journalists for not getting the Government’s message, Labor’s vote was still at 48 per cent to the Coalition’s 52.

    But yesterday’s Newspoll paints a grimmer picture. Labor ends the campaign even further behind the Coalition and Rudd now trails Abbott as preferred PM.

    Why, then, have voters turned on the man even Liberals sympathised with for being done over by Labor factions? There are two probable reasons. First, Rudd unnecessarily tested voters’ patience in making them wait five and a half weeks for an election announcement. What was undoubtedly a deliberate electoral tactic – to give the Coalition enough rope to hang itself – was read by Australians as opportunism.

    Had Rudd dissolved the Parliament in late June for an early August poll, the pressure on the Coalition to release and cost its policy platform would have been far greater and Abbott’s response time against Labor accusations of Coalition cuts would have been much shorter.

    The second reason is tied up in Australians’ regard for underdogs. In early June, Kevin was still the humble backbencher who, three years before had suffered a great wrong. By early August, with Kevin back in the Lodge, voters had moved on and the new underdogs were Abbott and, almost inconceivably, Julia Gillard.

    The iconic Irish poet Seamus Heaney, who died last week, knew something about underdogs. In his poem Personal Helicon, Heaney wrote of plummeting “down at the end of a rope. So deep you saw no reflection in it”.

    In the final analysis, the blame for Labor’s derailed campaign will be sheeted home to Rudd personally. Handed a rare second chance in politics, Rudd chose to braid a long rope for the Coalition but managed only to hang himself.

    That should give pause for reflection for any party leader.

  10. Gerard Henderson is looking through the wrong end of the microscope. There is far more evidence of Abbott’s religious conservatism than not voting for something.

    [There are two problems with this. First, Abbott’s religious convictions are nowhere near as strong or conservative as Marr believes. Second, Abbott has never exhibited any desire to pursue his religious convictions in politics. As health minister in the Howard government, he did not attempt to dismantle Australia’s abortion laws.]

    Read more:

  11. Morning all

    Thanks BK for linking Rudd’s comments on SSM. I did not see Qanda last night, but his response to this question was indeed excellent.

    Btw The Qld Neilsen is very interesting,

  12. 34% of women will vote for labor compared with 28% of men.
    41% of women will vote for L/NP compared with 49% of men.

    ALP only getting 45% of the 18-24 vote, L/NP getting 57% of the 55+ vote.

    PUP getting only 1% of the 18-24 vote. Greens getting only 4% of the 55+ vote.

    Labor and Greens getting more votes in the cities, L/NP getting an even split between cities and rural, while PUP and Katter prefer the bush.

  13. Abbott really is dreaming if he thinks the labor party could vote to abolish the carbon tax. There could not be a more fundamental betrayal of its supporters.
    So that means that Tony will have to decide whether to hold a double dissolution – and I bet he won’t have the balls for that.

  14. Hi William. A very thoughtful analysis of the Nielsen QLD poll. It highlights the difference between respondent allocated and previous election methods very well.

    My question would be, what is the historical assumption rate on the leakage of stated preferences? As you point out 86% of greens voters stated a labor preference which is well above what is plausible. From memory at the last election the result was about 75%??. It is an important question because clearly there is a leakage when people actually vote either because of the how to vote card or more likely because they are incompetent. it is much harder to convert a low primary vote into a higher 2pp vote because of this issue.

    On my numbers the difference between the Nielsen 53/47 result and the newspoll 55/45?? result is all down to preference leakage.

    And in QLD that can give very differing results because of the closeness of the margins.

    Thanks Jim

  15. [The question arises … whether an Abbott government, by pacifying the anti-science activists, will provoke the broad and diverse body of the “climate concerned” into a phase of much more intense activism?

    The reasons for exasperation will come thick and fast from the new government: the appointment of charlatans to senior advisory positions, evisceration of the federal climate change department, winding back legislation, including the Renewable Energy Target, rising emissions as the Direct Action Plan fails, and Australia taking a spoiling role at international meetings, especially the crucial Conference of the Parties in Paris in 2015.]

  16. Anyone else listening to Radio National this morning? Mark Butler seems very much to be hedging Labor’s bets re the carbon price. One would have to feel that he was signalling that Labor might possiblynot oppose the removal of the fixed carbon price on the grounds that they were intending to do this anyway (but, in their case, replace it with a floating price). So no double dissolution!

    Fran Kelly heard it the same way I did and Paul Bongiorno heard it slightly differently. But the situation is looking rather uncertain, to say the least.

  17. Lizzie, thanks re Colebatch article. I is true, there is a need for reform of our budget now.

    That being said, if those reforms were made, and more invested in infrastructure and education (sorry, gutting Unis to pay for Gonski does not count) then our economy could soon be turned around. Everyone said the election Bush won was a poisoned chalice, but he stayed eight years, putting off and worsening the financial day of reckoning.

  18. Those who wish to promote the delusion that Abbott is not a religious lunatic should recall the following quotes, and book another visit to their psychiatrist.
    [“Cardinal Pell is a fine man… Cardinal Pell is one of the greatest churchmen that Australia has seen.” – Tony Abbott on Cardinal George Pell

    “Abortion is a worse moral scandal than priests sexually abusing young people.” – Cardinal George Pell]

    There are more pieces of Abbott wisdom here:

  19. #23. Check out the transcript of the Mark Butler interview on RN this morning.

    In practice, it will be a difficult one for the ALP. If they vote against Abbott’s bill to remove the fixed price, then they are voting against an action they themselves said they would take after the election.

    Their best strategy would be to try to hold the bill up until the floating price is scheduled to come into effect.

    Both sides of politics will not be at all keen on a double dissolution. It could produce a Senate of the same comic character as the first elected ACT House of Assembly.

  20. meher baba @ 29

    Labor should think: what would Abbott do?
    Block the legislation.
    No pussyfooting around.
    Voting against the “carbon tax” is giving in to the Libs.

  21. MB,

    The intention to bring the floating price forward is a Rudd promise. I doubt Rudd promises will mean a hill of beans come Sunday.

  22. meher:

    FWIW Mark Butler made it very clear on twitter that Abbott “was dreaming” if he thought Labor would vote to unwind its policy platform, or wtte.

  23. lizzie@30. That’s certainly what the Libs did with the Malaysian Agreement: quite happy to cosy up to the Greens back then!!

    However, it’s possible that this past action will come back to haunt the Liberals.

    There are going to be a lot of traps for the Abbott Government. Also on RN this morning, we heard from one of the leaders of an emerging redneck revolt against Abbott’s man crush on Noel Pearson. I anticipate a lot of media scrutiny of what actually goes on up on the Cape. Could be interesting.

  24. Just heard Clive Palmer being interviewed on radio. He is claiming he will win 2 senate seats and a lot of house of representative seats. He mentioned winning seats all over QLD. He specifically mentioned a number of times that John Bjelke-Petersen would win Maranoa.

  25. Who can forget this Tony Abbott quote from Oct 2012?
    [“To a pregnant 14-year-old struggling to grasp what’s happening, a senior student with a whole life mapped out or a mother already failing to cope under difficult circumstances, abortion is the easy way out. It’s hardly surprising that people should choose the most convenient exit from awkward situations.” – Tony Abbott]

    Have a good day all. It may be a long three years.

  26. Morning all

    A very interesting poll from Queensland that is being badly misinterpreted by the media in the main imo for some strange reason a swing to Labor is a bad thing.

    The bigger question is does this only apply up north??? i.e. is the substantial other vote being allocated correctly??? Instead of 40/60 should it actually be 60/40??? add to that, should the Green vote go at 80/20 or closer to 90/10???

    Add those two together and we’d be back towards 50/50

    Yes it’s clutching at straws a little but at least there are finally some numbers to back it up now. Abbott is consistently unpopular, surely that has to flow through to preferences

    Hopefully William’s informed position will get more coverage today, shame the radio spot if on so early.

    Kevin has also lifted imo – it ain’t over yet

  27. SOCRATES – I can’t help reflecting on what Robert Caro likes to say: Power doesn’t corrupt, it reveals. We’re going to find out a lot about Tony Abbott, much of it unpleasant.

  28. Rudd spoke well on Q&A. I enjoyed seeing him get stuck into the Christian Pastor. Problem with Rudd is he is all show with very little substance so Labor will still not be getting my vote.

  29. meher baba at 16
    I am a social and political psychologist (working for Murdoch University but based in Canberra) who is an election time lurker on this site (which, as it happens is also moderately instructive for my social psychological research on online trolling).

    In relation to your unanswered question (which relates to a topic I research): voting for the Liberals in Canberra can be readily explained in self-interest terms if those voters define their self-interest at a collective (in this case national) level. Roughly speaking, convincing people to do that (and that your political stance best captures that national interest) is how one wins elections, revolutions, and wars.

    The other self-interest argument that is deployed in this case (as used by outgoing ACT Senator Gary Humphries during the Howard Government) is that the cuts for the ACT would be even worse if there was nobody from the ACT in the Coalition party room. You can expect to hear more of that argument in 2016.

  30. Tony Abbott’s high point of the campaign? You’d never guess 😀

    [For me, probably the most exciting moment in the campaign was doing that PT session with the first armoured regiment in Darwin.

    I loved it for two reasons, first, because it was an honour to be able to muck in with serving members of our armed forces. Second, it was a thrill to be able, more or less, to keep up, so I just loved every second of it. The only slight downside was when the PT instructor, one Corporal Youngs if I’m not mistaken, very kindly told a journalist that I’d done pretty well, but then added the rider: “for someone who is so old”.

    So that’s been the highlight.]

    And he thinks that Cabinet Ministers should be left alone to run their departments. Lazy Tony?

  31. Womble – funny that newspoll didn’t even bother with Rudd’s seat. That means News Corpse knows its safe and didn’t want it polled.

  32. ‘So that means that Tony will have to decide whether to hold a double dissolution – and I bet he won’t have the balls for that.’

    And everything Abbott has done for 4 years suggests he does and he will.
    Ask Malcolm.

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