Nielsen: 52-48 to Labor

Nielsen’s first poll since the election delivers a rude shock for the Abbott government, showing Labor with an election-winning lead and Bill Shorten travelling 20 points better on net approval than Tony Abbott.

The Abbott government’s mediocre post-election polling record takes a considerable turn for the worse today with the publication of the first Fairfax/Nielsen poll since the election, which is the Coalition’s worst result from Nielsen since the 2010 election campaign, or from any poll at all since the months immediately following. The poll has Labor with a two-party lead of 52-48, from primary votes of 41% for the Coalition, 37% for Labor, 11% for the Greens, 5% for “independents” (an unorthodox inclusion) and 6% for others. Bill Shorten scores remarkably strongly on his debut personal ratings, with approval at 51% and disapproval at 30%, while Tony Abbott manages a tepid 47% approval and 46% disapproval. However, Abbott holds a 49-41 lead as preferred prime minister.

Full tables including state breakdowns are available courtesy of GhostWhoVotes, and they offer at least some ammunition for those of a mind to be skeptical about the result. With due consideration to the fact that an element of wonkiness can be expected from small state-level samples, there are approximate two-party preferred swings to Labor of 2% in New South Wales, 4% in Victoria and 1.5% in South Australia, all of which are easy enough to believe. However, in both Queensland and Western Australia the swings are 11%, the former result coming less than two weeks after an 800-sample poll by Galaxy showed no swing at all. It’s tempting to infer that Nielsen struck Labor-heavy samples in these states, and that had it been otherwise the result would have been more like 50-50.

A more technical observation to be made about the result is that the two-party preferred figures are based on respondent-allocated preferences, whereas Nielsen’s topline numbers are usually based on preference flows from the previous election. This no doubt is because the Australian Electoral Commission still hasn’t published Coalition-versus-Labor two-party results from the 11 seats where other candidates made the final count (I’m told they are likely to do so later this week). However, I have one model for allocating preferences based on the information available from the election, which gets Labor’s two-party vote to 51.7%, and Kevin Bonham has two, which get it to 51.2% and 51.4%.

The Nielsen poll also probed into the hot topics of asylum seekers and abolition of the carbon and mining taxes. Only 42% expressed approval for the government’s handling of asylum seekers versus 50% disapproval – though as Psephos notes in comments, this fails to disentangle those who support their objectives from those who don’t (a ReachTEL poll conducted on Thursday night asked whether the policies were working, and found only 28% thought they were compared with 49% who thought they weren’t). The results on the mining tax were evenly balanced, with 46% saying Labor should support its repeal in parliament versus 47% opposed. The carbon tax at least remains a winner for the government, with 57% saying Labor should vote for its abolition and 38% saying it should oppose it.

In other news, Christian Kerr of The Australian reports on Newspoll analysis of the effect on polling of households without landlines. This was determined through online polling between March and August of nearly 10,000 respondents who were also asked about the state of their household telecommunications. In households without landlines, Coalition support was found to be 1.4% lower, Labor 0.2% lower, the Greens 1.3% higher and “others” 0.2% higher. However, Newspoll’s online polling itself seemed to be skewed to Labor, who came in 4.7% higher than in Newspoll’s landline polling over the same period. This was mostly at the expense of others, which was 4.7% lower, while the Coalition was 0.6% higher and the Greens 1.0% lower. By way of comparison, the online polling of Essential Research over the same period compared with Newspoll’s phone polling as follows: Labor 2.1% higher, the Coalition 3.2% higher, Greens 2.8% lower and others 2.5% lower.

UPDATE: Channel Seven reports that long-awaited ReachTEL result has the Coalition leading 51-49, but unfortunately no further detail is provided. Results earlier released by Seven from the poll include the aforementioned finding that only 28% believe the government’s new policies to stop boat arrivals were working versus 49% who don’t; that 56% say the government should announce boat arrivals when they happenl that 53% think the Prime Minister should deliver the explanation for spying activities demanded by Indonesia, while 34% say he shouldn’t; and that 38% support Australia’s bugging activities with 39% opposed. The poll is an automated phone poll conducted on Thursday evening, presumably from a sample of about 3000.

UPDATE 2: And now Generic Leftist relates on Twitter that Peter Lewis of Essential Research relates on The Drum that tomorrow’s Essential poll will have Labor up a point on the primary vote to 36%, but with two-party preferred steady at 53-47 to the Coalition.

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.

1,048 comments on “Nielsen: 52-48 to Labor”

  1. [Bludgers I am not a troll as such and I do mean what I say ]

    So RT is not a parody? It really is the musings of a complete and utter moron? Sadness. 🙁

    I was finding him quite amusing in a sick sort of way.

  2. [Resurgent Turkeys
    Posted Monday, November 25, 2013 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    Everyone knows that it is alphas who win at life, not betas.]

    If you ever want Liberal philosophy in a nutshell, there it is.

  3. MTBW

    I agree with your post. I thought that before the Neilsen poll. This because I think voters were dumping the leadership soap opera and had bought the most incompetent government peddled by LNP and media.

    Now people have a taste of reality and by election time will know about the upcoming cuts. It is still quite possible the new Senate may be very pro the ETS even if against the “tax”

  4. RT@608

    We can’t even get people to stop dumping rubbish in the street near where I live, let alone stopping dumping of people in Indonesia.

    You are clearly an optimist as well as a neo-imperialist by the sound of it.

    However, declaring war on Indonesia is always one way we can sort those little brown men out.

    This the same kind of attitude towards them little yellow Nips, which saw them almost invade Australia before they saw the end of the British in Malaya, the Dutch in Batavia and the Americans in the Philippines, sounds like a really good approach to our relations with the Indonesians.

  5. MTBW@650


    It appears to me that Abbott is really on the nose with just about everyone I know including
    some Libs.

    Labor could do well in WA as result it could also probably get an increased number of anti Abbott Libs.

    Who are the 3 Libs elected for the Senate in WA on 7 Sep?

    I would bet they were all right wing Abbott supporters so the most we can really expect is he would have one less of them.

    Labor may get 2 Senators and the last position could be PUP, Greens or…anyone. 🙁

  6. Oh Dear.

    I took that quiz on telling Ayn Rand and Gina Rinehart apart.

    [You scored 8 out of a possible 10

    You can tell apart the woman who claimed altruism is “complete evil” from the mining magnate. Congratulations – we think]

    Never actually seen a photo of Ayn Rand before. She looks quite repellent.

  7. [ Psephos

    Posted Monday, November 25, 2013 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

    Resurgent Turkeys
    Posted Monday, November 25, 2013 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    Everyone knows that it is alphas who win at life, not betas.

    If you ever want Liberal philosophy in a nutshell, there it is.


    If its in the ground – DIG IT UP
    If its standing – CHOP IT DOWN
    If its moving – SHOOT IT


  8. Bemused

    I wonder whether some idiot will again run unknown candidates with made up names all sorted by some genius “preferential vote professional”.

  9. Turkey In the business world certain things are expected if Tone had any experience of the corporate world he would know that the way he has handled the past week as been pretty poor.

  10. MTBW@664


    I wonder whether some idiot will again run unknown candidates with made up names all sorted by some genius “preferential vote professional”.

    You can bet on it.

  11. Fredex 601 re satire and parody
    IU agree Ithink that Resurgent Turkeys and Sean Tisme may be the creation of some humourists having a laugh at us all

    Let’s not take then too seriously

  12. Resurgent Turkeys@634

    guytaur I have told you before to stick to copy and pasting inane tweets and giving updates about what you are seeing on the TV screen in your basement and to leave the analysis and commentary to people who are smarter than you.

    And that certainly isn’t you.

  13. “@janecat60: “RT@James_Jeffrey: I’m guessing Abbott won’t be changing his nickname for Shorten to Electability Bill #newspoll #boomtish #earlydays #cough”

  14. [RT there is little point continually charging into the chicken-wire fence. You only end up losing feathers and gaining a sore head]
    haha sometimes it is worth losing some feathers just to see what new names you can get called from people around here.

  15. [662

    If its in the ground – DIG IT UP
    If its standing – CHOP IT DOWN
    If its moving – SHOOT IT

    LIB DNA]

    Has long been the slogan of the Tasmanian Liberals and their supporters.


    [In late October, as Tasmania began reviewing its ban on genetically modified (GM) food crops, a group of 97 scientists signed a joint statement that warned: “The claimed consensus on GM organism safety does not exist.”
    . . .
    Their concern is in part a response to the ritual shamings that scientists are subjected to when their controversial findings challenge official GM doctrine.

    These shamings are rife in Australia. Earlier this year, a team led by Flinders University epidemiologist and biochemist Adjunct Associate Professor Judy Carman published a peer-reviewed toxicology study that found pigs fed GM maize and GM soy suffered organ damage compared with the control group of pigs.

    These findings aligned with a 2005 CSIRO GM field-pea study that suggested the GM process may create novel proteins and sugar-chains that can be allergenic or toxic.]

  17. If these polls start to become part of a wider trend, and the Government approval continues to head south, just how out of the question would it be for the LNP to ditch Phony Tony ?

  18. An excerpt of an international view.

    [A common Australian response has been that Indonesian protesters are ignorant, delusional and highly strung people with no case to make in their protests. Official and non-official Australian responses have been insulting in varying degrees.

    Some have commented on the Indonesians’ poor English as expressed in their protest placards. Others have called the Indonesian demonstrations rent-a-crowd affairs, cynically manipulated by unseen hands with ulterior motives.

    One argument says that since spying is practised by virtually all countries, all spying activities should be acceptable. That amounts to saying that it is all right to rob a neighbour because crime exists in the neighbourhood.]

    Read full article.

  19. “@TheKouk: AUD now looking like it is heading sharply lower.

    If CAPEX is crapex on Thursday & US Fed signals taper, will be easily in 0.80s.”

    How long until we get interest rate rises?

  20. Guytyr, RE # 683
    The Governments problem is it’s attitude, and neither they, nor their supporters seem to get it.
    Using megaphone diplomacy, and “getting tough” may play well locally, especially to the Bogans of the Lowest-Common-Denominator, but as far as our Neighbors are concerned, we come across as a pack of redneck hicks

  21. [but as far as our Neighbors are concerned, we come across as a pack of redneck hicks]

    If I told you what I think the Indonesians come across as I’d probably be arrested. Or have George Brandis’s new laws gone through yet?

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