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. @ABCnewsIntern: Lord, grant me the serenity to make it through an entire episode of #TheDrum with Judith Sloan and Caroline Overington.

    Generic Leftist is braver than I

  2. [The conservatives won the election but they carry on as though they are still in opposition.]

    It’s because they always lose, even when they win. Society has been heading steadily leftwards for over fifty years (at the very least). Democratic political conservatism is really just a form of organised grumbling – and even when the grumblers get into government they are still powerless to change the overall direction of the ship.

    At best the conservatives can cause a slight delay to the progressive agenda, but it still rages on, inevitable. They are on a journey to nowhere. All they have to sustain themselves is the momentary thrill they get from their attention-seeking bitterness, and the odd opportunity to enrich themselves and their friends.

  3. Psephos

    [I’m sure he’s noted our zealous defence of his right to freedom of speech. *heavy irony* ]
    Of course he will. Wot with him being so “zealous” on free speech and all . Insert even more *heavy irony* 🙂

  4. I really enjoy some of ABCnewsinterns tweets

    [Lord, grant me the serenity to make it through an entire episode of #TheDrum with Judith Sloan and Caroline Overington]

  5. Bolt is an interesting package. So much single minded support of the conservative cause yet such a poor performer on TV. Stiff, pompous and lacking fluency.

    No wonder his gig on TV has ratings down near the floor. He is just poor at this aspect of journalism – regardless of his point of view.

  6. RT@752

    Well, this is a surprisingly pessimistic point of view regarding the status of conservative politics.

    Do you really think the world is moving more to the left?

    I would think the obverse is true.

  7. The link from Bolt to PB will possibly attract more conservative warriors here. William might appreciate the extra attention, but the quality of the discourse will deteriorate even more 😉

  8. [So Bolt tunes into PB]

    Bolt’s PB name check had “thanks to reader Phil” at the bottom, so not necessarily. Phillip Coorey’s a keen reader though:

    [Phillip Coorey ‏@PhillipCoorey 7h
    @PollBludger you going to credit Fairfax who paid for, commissioned and published the poll you rewrote or just claim it as your own?

    William Bowe ‏@PollBludger 5h
    @PhillipCoorey Yes, fair point

    Phillip Coorey ‏@PhillipCoorey 5h
    @PollBludger and you refer your readers to the Ghost who stole the tables from our papers and websites. You people are priceless!

    Stephen Lloyd ‏@cyclosarin_ 57m
    @PhillipCoorey @PollBludger well if you tools did a decent job of analysis there wouldn’t be any “you people” stealing your precious clicks.

    Phillip Coorey
    ‏@PhillipCoorey
    @cyclosarin_ @PollBludger go to hell]

  9. Essential, as I’ve said before, may be measuring something, but whatever it is, I doubt it’s a measure of the general public’s voting intention.

    Yes, I know they (as the other pollsters do) somehow manage to converge on basically the right answer on polling day, but for goodness’ sake, its behaviour just doesn’t seem to be affected by anything that makes any sense. It sits stuck at a level for months ignoring dramatically shifting political conditions, and then slids slowly over to some other sticking point and sits there.

    With ReachTel having something of a conservative bias, and discounting a bit the outlandishness of the Nielsen figures (they do have a history of being a bit more extreme than the other pollsters for whatever reason), my gut feel is the situation is somewhere around 50-50 at the moment, maybe slightly falling on the LNP side.

    Essential can take a leap if they are trying to say the situation for the government has, essentially, remained unchanged since the election.

  10. Re BoltA mentioning the PB lounge. Sneeringly I hope. Some peasant a long time ago said ” You can judge a man by his choice of enemies.”

  11. [Society has been heading steadily leftwards for over fifty years (at the very least). ]

    That depends on how you define “left.” In some respects it’s true: western societies have become more libertarian in most respects. In others it’s false: since 1980 there has been a massive rise in economic inequality and a decline of the notion of “public good.”

  12. AshGhebranious ‏@AshGhebranious 7m
    Where is the outrage #auspol Judith Sloane on #thedrum just admitted the coalition lied about supporting GONSKI to win an election

  13. [Is the Regurgitated Chook actually Andrew?]

    Andrew Bolt is a good solid writer, but he is entirely conventional and lacks my flair.

  14. And RT@752

    You may be able to do something that few conservatives have been able to do here, that is, actually articulate what conservatives stand for as opposed to what they are against.

    You have begged the question yourself. What do you stand for other than God, Queen, country and lower taxes for the rich?

  15. William Bowe

    [Phillip Coorey ‏@PhillipCoorey 5h
    @PollBludger and you refer your readers to the Ghost who stole the tables from our papers and websites. You people are priceless!]
    I assume that Coorey’s “Ghost who stole the tables” refers to the Ghost Who Votes. Could you give me a bit of a background on the Ghost Who Votes please ? Only public domain stuff of course !

  16. TR, “Andrew Bolt is a good solid writer, but he is entirely conventional and lacks my flair.” – I wouldn’t call Andrew a “good solid writer”, but I do agree that he lacks your flair. I think Rupert should ask you to replace Mr Bolt? You could have your own show, too – “The Turkey Report”

  17. Ctar1

    The enemy of extremists is education. You see this most starkly with the Taliban. Its the reason those wanting to control a society first go for secrecy and redoing education.

  18. William Bowe

    [Poroti, GWV’s identity is as much a mystery to me as anybody else.]
    No way was I asking for identity or even hints of possible identity. More about the history, first appearance and the sort of times GWV pops up. Long live an anonymous GWV.

  19. Society has been heading steadily leftwards for over fifty years (at the very least).

    I would argue the opposite, especially when you consider Thatherism, George W etc..

  20. 777

    The median political opinion of the educated moved left in the post-World War II period as more people from working class left wing became educated and then effected education. The actions of right wing governments also helped this along.

  21. [Phillip Coorey
    ‏@PhillipCoorey
    @cyclosarin_ @PollBludger go to hell]

    Wow, who’s being a bit of a precious petal then?

    Journo’s always love a good leak that gives them the scoop on a story, but this one seems to think no-one else has a right to it.

  22. GWV first appeared in the lead-up to the 2007 election, and particularly excels at leaking Nielsen results. Doesn’t seem to do quite as well with News Ltd polls, but is usually first with the worst all the same.

  23. The election of Thatcher in 1979 and Reagan in 1980 ended the narrative of the “inexorable drift to the left” which had been current ever since Roosevelt’s day. While they were unable to stop the advance of social libertarianism, they decisively and permanently ended the era of “soft socialism” which had begun in 1933. The rise in economic inequality, the decline of trade unions, the sale of state assets, the run-down of state education – all these became the norm, even under centre-left governments, for the next 30 years. The Reagan-Thatcher era may now be coming to an end, but it’s highly unlikely that they changes of the past 30 years will be reversed.

  24. [I wouldn’t call Andrew a “good solid writer”]

    That is because you are too blinded by your dislike of his opinions to recognise his talent and skill.

  25. Imagine it’s WW2.

    Japan is sending hundreds upon hundreds of boats into our sovereign waters.

    The Navy goes to force them back out of Australian waters.

    Back home in Australia the leftwing media and leftwing movement go berserk.

    “Australia violating Japans Sovereignty” they declare.

    It would be stupid then… and it’s stupid now. Indonesia is violating OUR sovereignty, not the other way round. They have been violating our sovereignty on hundreds of occassions now over quite a few years. Lets be clear about this, Australia’s sovereignty is under attack and no diplomatic niceties will change that.

    PS. I am not Andrew Bolt

  26. [The enemy of extremists is education.]

    A rather good reason to be financing and supporting secular education in a place like Indonesia i would have thought. Links directly to our long term national security.

    With the DFAT cuts, do we still do that??

  27. “@BBCBreakfast: BREAKING NEWS England batsman, Jonathan Trott, has left #TheAshes tour in Australia, because of a stress-related condition.”

  28. I recognise Bolt’s skills at perverting the truth for his own reasons. He is so skilled that he is dangerous. For evidence, his perversion of the truth about AGW.

  29. I like Andrew Bolt… he’s not as kooky as Piers Akerman and usually makes very good points, but being a right wing poster he is attacked.

    Him and Janet Albrechtsen are helping keep the left honest.

  30. William Bowe

    Thank you for the background. I knew that GWV was part of the PB furniture but did not know how far back or where GHV came from.

  31. RT, “That is because you are too blinded by your dislike of his [Bolt] opinions to recognise his talent and skill.” Oh, that’s my problem. I guess not everyone can have your objectivity and insight, alas.

  32. [I wouldn’t call Andrew a “good solid writer”]

    I’d call him a reactionary twit who gets his rocks off stirring up the hatreds and delusions of the Gina’s, Turkeys, and ST’s of the world. His target audience are the easily led moron demographic who like to lap up his vile expectorations and only have a passing familiarity with the concept of “facts”.

    Very much the “look at me, look at me” type who i suspect likes to see himself as brave and outspoken, when he is in fact just an attention tart with a platform.

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