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. Maybe, Poroti. It could also be that the Kiwis are on to the Skips snooping and are feeding them knitting instructions in the guise of rugby tactics.

  2. [Andrew Bolt is tonights star of Mediawatch]

    Bolt is in a full on war with the ABC and Fairfax.

    Turnbull has recently told him to fark off and said he wouldn’t be shafting the ABC.

  3. The Channel 10 political correspondent asked the wrong question of Labor politicians when he said that when asked, which Labor politician thought Labor would win if an election were held this weekend?

    The more significant question was to ask who could have believed that a newly elected government could have no honeymoon and within 12 weeks the Oz flag is being burnt in the streets of Jakarta.

    The 3-4% of the electorate who trusted Abbott might hang in for a bit longer, but it must be dispiriting for the Tories that their freshly minted Murdoch government is already smelling like a lump of fish left out in the sun for a week.

    And Abbott is still not respected, trusted or loved.

  4. Boerwar:

    Both the MPs are. Why bother with MPs on this issue when we know they’re not going to say anything, least of all anything of interest?

  5. [Frydenberg was covering up for the fact that Abbott had dobbed Labor in for the spying on 7.30.]

    Didn’t get the ‘no excuses’ memo, obviously. 🙂

  6. [Frydenberg was covering up for the fact that Abbott had dobbed Labor in for the spying on 7.30.]

    Lol. Telling the questioner he didn’t hear what he said he heard. Then getting told by Jones, yup Abbott sis say that. Public transcript.

  7. imacca

    [Telling the questioner he didn’t hear what he said he heard.]

    A good way of summarizing Frydenberg’s effort tonight.

    It was precisely this sort of thing – Abbott telling Indonesia that things were good and getting better – that contributed to the depth and intensity of the current imbroglio.

  8. Interesting that when Tara Moss has been asked about the spying, she comes back to the fact the issue is how its been handled.

    Fydenberg hedging on punishment for the ABC. Needs to be stepped on. Oh look, Burnside does! 🙂

  9. TheFinnigans天地有道人无道 ‏@Thefinnigans 3m
    BREAKING BISONs EXCLUSIVE: Daily Telegraph’s Front Page Tomorrow pic.twitter.com/QfBPHpsAGS

    :large

  10. [but Jones not interrupting as much tonight as he usually does.]

    I think Jones is giving Frydenberg room to run and tangle himself up in whatever comes along. Tactic seems to be getting results as Frydenberg is a bit of a knob.

  11. So Abbott feels like he has been hit by a bus by the spying matter…

    This useful insight from his Parliamentary Secretary one would assume in a free democracy would be front page news tomorrow.

  12. AA@981

    A little early days yet, but everything comes to he/she who waits.

    The reality is that we are stuck with the conservatives for a minimum of two and a bit years.

    With some sort of luck, Abbott will not go the distance but like the Snakehead, when one head is chopped off, another is there to take its place.

    The trouble is, other than Abbott who have they really got?

  13. Without indulging in the nastiness of the Tories, it is a shame, in some respects, the “bus” was purely figurative in notion in relation to Abbott.

  14. The boat arrivals are akin to a racket. Our humanitarian program should be like the remainder of our immigration intake: merit based and equitable. Boat arrivals are not equitable.

    Why should someone who can afford to buy passage here ahead of someone who can’t, whose asylum claims may be just as valid be given preference? It’s not fair. Our entire humanitarian intake could be take up by boat arrivals alone for heavens sake.

  15. From article text:

    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.

    I’m wondering if one cause of the difference here is that Essential scales their data while the Newspoll online data may not be scaled.

    There are a lot of questions about this Newspoll info and the extent to which it was a controlled experiment. I’ve sent the company some questions about it; especially, I’m assuming the deal is that people who take online surveys are politically unrepresentative, but it could also be the case that the same respondent might answer differently when surveyed online to by phone.

  16. “@JohnFBruce: #Lateline tonight: Labor’s Education spokeswoman Kate Ellis on Minister Christopher Pyne’s Gonski re-think. @Lateline 10:35”

  17. Dio

    [He’s just dreadful.]

    Bog standard wrecking the joint stuff: lies like a trooper when and as required and can do so without lightly touching his nose.

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