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. To support the theory that Greens preferences could flow at above 80% Abbott’s capping of spending on direct action has to cost some votes from those that care about action on climate change

  2. ALASDAIR – So you’re going to vote for a man who can’t remember if he punched a wall behind a woman’s head. Couldn’t accuse you of lacking substance, could I

  3. Rosemour – There are many issues worth fighing a double dissolution on, but direct action and global warming ain’t one of them.

  4. WOMBLE – Grog Gamut says that the Libs policy on climate change is like saying they will build a bridge, but if the money runs out, they’ll just stop and go and do something else.

  5. ABC using it’s self-selecting “Voter Compass” survey a lot to bash Labor over the head…

    As an online Poll it’s easy to manipulate given the easy access to Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) which hide your IP address… I’ve been using one for over 12months…

    Suspect the LibTrolls at Menzies House & Lib HQ would be onto this & stacking the ant-Labor position. Yet ABC uses the information as if it’s obtained in the same way as any other legitimate opinion poll…

  6. Liberal candidate for Perth Darryl Moore said in 2005 on a property forum that he made a point of being extra tough with women during negotiations, The Australian reports.

    He also referred to his tenants as illiterate animals and boasted about evicting them using his “forklift and truck” method.

    What a lovely character but a seemingly typical Liberal

  7. Womble- very interesting interpretation you have of this latest poll from Qld!
    Labor primary vote at 31% & you state a swing to them!!!!
    Gota stop smoking that weed man, it’s stunting your brain!
    ALP may get some good pref flows from Katter/Palmer parties, but nowhere near good enough to gain seats!
    ALP needs to gain seats there to offset major loses elsewhere, can’t see that happening.

  8. Look closely at pmkr travel this week, not only is it back to labor seats, it’s focused on backing up his supporters in caucus. He’s not leaving voluntarily on Sunday hell need to be blasted out – again!

  9. Kevin Rudd was very good on QandA last night …well worth a watch on ivew if you missed it…

    Tony Jones was having great difficulty hiding his partisanship & dislike of Rudd …but Rudd had his measure & his confident and well thought out responses to all questions was a delight to watch/listen to…

    Reminded me of the Kevin Rudd I used to admire …

  10. markjs. He was rock solid on not supporting Direct Action. He wasnt clear on what Labor would do in Opposition in the Senate about a bill to remove the carbon price. Well, Fran Kelly and I didn’t think he was. You and Paul Bongiorno think he was.

  11. TONY Abbott wants voters to think decades into the future to appreciate how much better off they will be without a carbon tax.

    And what will Abbott tell his grandchildren, I was so determined to win the election and be PM I lied and convinced people that saving the environment was costing too much, I put my ambition and the costs ahead of saving the environment.
    When people can’t breath the air, can’t drink the water, can’t grow food or use the oceans – what will you say to future generations?

    I was able to buy a third plasma?

    The Liberal denier policy will destroy us. It will be too late by the time these idiots wake up to the fact that we should be doing more not less.

    Read more:

  12. I’m quietly confident that Labor has a very good team to rebuild after the election …but only after they’ve cleared out Rudd & his cardinals…

    …and thanks to Julia, they’ve got a very strong policy platform to build upon …

  13. lefty e

    Posted Tuesday, September 3, 2013 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    LNPs laughable ‘economic management’:

    So Hockeynomics extends into Newmanomics.

    Sell at a loss to make money.

    Reduce taxation revenue to fix the deficit “problem” and return to a surplus.

  14. Court reporting is often inaccurate and these two are not adornments to the art but the issue does circumscribe the difficulty of trying to separate out a legal question from facts in a magistrate’s court.

    Magistrate’s or Local Courts are bib and brace institutions which find facts and make decisions based on those. To exclude them from fact finding is unnatural and bound to end in confusion.

  15. [Reminded me of the Kevin Rudd I used to admire …]

    His response to that pastor was indeed the man I voted for in 2007, and I suspect there are many other voters out there who feel the same way. It was no surprise to me that he drew the loudest cheer for his defence of marriage equality.

    If only he’d channeled his passion into defending and supporting the govt he was a part of, instead of hacking away at its foundations.

  16. [“@tim_chr: #BreakfastNews is playing the @KRuddMP and Jed Bartlet smackdowns after each other. Too perfect.”]

    How typical! OM will now say he ripped off a US TV show, just like they did with Albo that time.

    HOnestly, we are so poorly served by the media in this country.

  17. Meher Baba…

    Mark Butler said wtte …if Abbott thinks he has a mandate to repeal Labors carbon pricing scheme, then he’s dreaming…

    My clear understanding is that Labor has no intention of supporting any changes to current legislation …and the ‘Carbon Tax’ can’t be repealed …because it doesn’t exist in the Clean Energy Future Legislation …

  18. Aa how sad that also needs to plagiarise others. there seems to be a disturbing pattern of lifting stuff from us politicans by our albo.

  19. guytaur

    The pastor last night was referring to the Bible as his compass. It stands to reason that there are countless statements in the bible that are totally looney and ridiculous. It is a very simple exercise to point out the contradictions in the bible.

  20. [Troy Bramston ‏@TroyBramston 19m
    No surprise Tony Abbott had edged away from his Direct Action fraud, hung Greg Hunt out to dry. One of the worst policies ever proposed.]

    Greg Hunt is a shell of a man. Selling out his own academic research in order to appease a group of numpty anti-science freaks!

  21. ESJ

    Abbott has been the master of plagarising the tea party. The only thing left for him to say is the Romney percentage gaffe, and the circle is complete.

  22. victoria

    Yes the very point 24 was making running the Jed Bartlett piece after PMKR’s response.

    Its good 24 has that smackdown of bigotry as their repeat number one story

  23. ESJ

    If you want to defend a criminal charge in the local court, you are better off doing so on the facts rather than asking that court to resolve a legal point isolated from the facts.

    I am saying nothing about framing or innocence.

  24. Not to be churlish, but Rudd in 2007 actually went out of his way to bring Christians in to the Labor fold. Remember all those photo opportunities in fron of Church on Sunday morning and the “live my values” approach to assisting the less fortunate. Given Abbott came out yesterday and confirmed his opposition to Homosexual Marriage, many Christians will be confronted with yet another recurring theme of Rudd, “The inexplicable change of deep rooted beliefs to accomodate the latest populist fad”.

    We’ve seen it with Climate Change and we’ve seen it with Asylum Seekers.

    The reason Labor is going down the gurgler atm is because you really can’t put a finger on what Labor stands for and what Labor is prepared to commit and fight for.

  25. GG

    That is why the Rudd smackdown on QandA is resonating. The passion for equality and treating fellow human beings with dignity shines through. Real belief.

  26. GG:

    Last night he was accused of being a weather vane at least twice.

    But I’m happy to see a Labor leader actually arguing against discrimination.

  27. Kevin-One-Seven
    Tony Abbotts hole in the wall incident may or may not have happened. If it did it was a long time ago. The Tony Abbott I do know is a man with strong moral principle, perhaps somewhat misguided. Tony Abbott has been a pillar of community support as demonstrated by his lengthy support within Surf Life Saving Australia and the Rural Fire Service. The Tony Abbott I know has a genuine desire to improve the lives of our first Australians, spending time living in there community. The above isn’t just a recent occurrence; he has been involved since prior to public life. Tony Abbott is a man of substance and good character. There is a saying out there that goes ‘If you like Kevin Rudd; then you don’t really know him. If you hate Tony Abbott; then you don’t know him either.’

  28. “@the_shb: .@mrbenjaminlaw Standing up to pastors who have bullied generations of gay youth into silence/shame isn’t bullying, it’s bravery. #auspol”

  29. Wesley have a read of William’s piece above, a 2% swing to Labor based on the 2010 election. Looking forward to the revised Bludger track

  30. alasdair

    Many questions about Abbott character some been to court in defamation and the accusers won case.

    I have not said much about it as I have thought it a distraction but Chris Murphy has been tweeting vocally about it since court case ended.

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