BludgerTrack: 50.0-50.0

The BludgerTrack poll aggregate records the Coalition level with Labor on two-party preferred, and with an absolute majority on the seat projection, for the first time since the budget – and also points to an ongoing recovery in Tony Abbott’s personal ratings.

The BludgerTrack poll aggregate continues to trend the Coalition’s way, to the extent that it reaches two milestones this week: parity with Labor on two-party preferred, and an absolute majority on the seat projection, albeit by the barest of margins. Three new polls were added to the national figures, those being Galaxy, the regular weekly Essential Research, and the fortnightly Morgan (fortnightly in the sense of publication, although the poll is conducted on a weekly basis). Also out this week was the Newspoll quarterly aggregates, which have been factored into the state breakdowns, along with the regular state breakdowns from Morgan (published) and Essential (unpublished). The combined effect is to add seat each to the Coalition tally in New South Wales, Western Australia and South Australia, while removing one in Victoria and Tasmania.

The quarterly Newspoll is a big deal for BludgerTrack, which is never better serviced for state data than it is immediately after being fed with three months’ worth of state-level Newspoll results. To this end, later today I will get around to publishing my own detailed quarterly state breakdowns for BludgerTrack, the previous instalment of which can be seen here.

BludgerTrack is still in the position of being slightly more favourable to the Coalition than any single published poll result, due to a variety of factors. Perhaps this could be best explained if I run through each of the pollsters:

Nielsen of course closed up shop a few months ago, which was significant in that BludgerTrack deemed it to be the most Coalition-friendly pollster, and the only one which adjusted for any substantial bias to that effect. Now that it’s gone, the model has a clear tendency to skew to the right of what a straight polling average would tell you.

Newspoll is rated as neutral by the model, but it hasn’t reported for a fortnight. When it did report, it gave Labor a 51-49 lead when the primary vote numbers looked a lot more like 50-50. It’s the primary votes that BludgerTrack goes off, so this was a 50-50 poll as far as the model was concerned. Clearly Labor got rounded up in the Newspoll result – it follows that they also got rounded down in BludgerTrack.

Galaxy is taken very seriously by BludgerTrack, and receives next to no bias adjustment at all. This week it gave Labor a lead of 51-49, although putting its rounded primary votes into the model produces a result of 50.6-49.4 going off 2013 preferences (as BludgerTrack does). If not for this poll, the Coalition would have moved into the lead.

ReachTEL’s last poll a fortnight ago had Labor leading 51-49, and BludgerTrack adjusts this pollster slightly in favour of the Coalition.

Morgan is reckoned to have the biggest bias in the game, that being in favour of Labor. Its result on respondent-allocated preferences this week was 51.5-48.5 in favour of Labor, but the more telling point so far as BludgerTrack is concerned is that it was the Coalition’s best result since February.

Essential is noted for being slow to respond to changes, and for this reason, BludgerTrack treats its bias in a unique way, by dynamically adjusting it according to how its deviates from the model over time. Since it’s stayed stuck with Labor on the cusp of leading 52-48 or 53-47, while the other pollsters have moved to the Coalition, a Labor bias adjustment is increasingly being factored into its results.

The other development in BludgerTrack this week is that Morgan published a set of phone poll numbers on leadership ratings, and they were relatively very rosy for Tony Abbott, who wasn’t too far off parity on net approval and had a pretty solid lead on preferred prime minister. This has a pretty sharp effect on the BludgerTrack leadership ratings, which aren’t exactly spoiled for data and are always pretty sensitive to the most recent result, even if the poll in question was from a rather small sample, as was the case here.

UPDATE: As promised, here are the detailed state-level breakdowns featuring primary vote numbers and charts tracking the progress of the primary and two-party votes in each state. Crikey subscribers may enjoy my analysis of these results in today’s email, assuming it gets published.

I also promised two weeks ago that I was going to start tracking betting odds in these mid-week BludgerTrack posts, then forgot about it last week. Now that I’ve remembered again, I can inform you that there has been movement to the Coalition over the part fortnight in Centrebet’s federal election odds, with the Coalition in from $1.50 to $1.45 and Labor out from $2.55 to $2.70. Centrebet’s price on Campbell Newman being re-elected in Queensland has also shortened from $1.36 to $1.28, with Labor out from $3.15 to $3.65. There has been a very slight move to Labor for the Victorian election, with Labor in from $1.23 to $1.22 and the Coalition out from $4.00 and $4.10 – which sounds a bit generous to Labor for mine. The Betfair market evidently thinks so, as it has the Coalition in from $4.10 to $3.40 and Labor out from $1.48 to $1.59.

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.

1,009 comments on “BludgerTrack: 50.0-50.0”

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  1. Reluctant to link to the Government Gazette, but they are going hard on Rich (but dumb ) Phillips.

    [VICTORIAN Aviation Industry Minister Gordon Rich-Phillips has directly contradicted himself over the approach made to him by his private aero club to apply for more than $1 million from a region­al infrastructure fund he oversees.

    Mr Rich-Phillips told The Australian this week that he had no contact with the Peninsula Aero Club about the club’s desire to ­access the fund to improve infrastructure at the airstrip where he houses his personal plane.

    But, later in the same interview, Mr Rich-Phillips acknow­ledged that the club had in fact made a direct representation to him over the regional airports grant, which has embarrassed the government in the run-up to the November 29 election.

    Asked this week whether the club had approached him about the grant, the minister said: “No.’’

    Later in the same interview, he said that he had been approached and had been clear to the club that he would have no involvement with the application to the Region­al Aviation Fund, which is directly under his responsibility.]

  2. Good Morning

    The ABS debacle is interesting. New political waters on the unemployment rate.

    One thing is for sure the high cynicism about those figures is going to get higher

  3. Good to know that at 50-50 the Libs just scrape in with the barest of majorities – a good lift off point for Labor when the focus finally shifts back to the budget and the economy. Even if this war crap continues unabated for the next few months, come budget time next year the Libs will have nowhere to hide.

    It’s also worth remembering that 50-50 still represents a 3.5% swing away from the government since the 2013 election.

  4. Morning all. Bludger track clearly shows the trend back to Abbott (sigh) and away from Shorten (snore). People can talk about long games and contesting Abbott on grounds of his choosing, but if Iraq/ISIL becomes a long term issue, and nobody is suggesting it will end quickly, then Shorten must find a way to differentiate himself from Abbott, or Labor will lose the next election too.

    That being said, it seems clear, and consistent, that Australian voters have no great love for either man. Smart voters.

  5. The Alberici interview.

    Yes, it was a competition between who could talk loudest and longest, but as I saw it…

    Emma asked whether he agreed with the actions of IS and he refused to answer, preferring to give a long lecture on how Muslims were justified in being angry about the actions of “the West”. She said in effect “we know the background, please answer the question”, and he repeated and repeated…

    He was there to proselytise. He showed her no respect. He was simply taking the opportunity to present the views of his organisation.

    I suspect that Emma fired up because of his obvious determination not to answer any questions.

  6. ‘Snoworries.

    The only people I’ll let get away with being gloomy about this poll are those that predicted Labor would be in this position a year ago. (crickets?)

    What the polls have shown us —

    1. Abbott does not have the goodwill of most of the electorate. There is a significant number of the electorate whose votes are up to grabs. It shouldn’t be this way, so soon after a thumping election win which followed three years of continual Labor bashing.

    2. It’s all self inflicted. There’s few signs that the Coalition are willing to learn or listen, so there’s little chance that they’ll improve.

    3. It’s taken huge efforts to get the polls to this point (where they shouldn’t be at all, see 1). Going to war is something that gets you a nice poll bounce if you do it just before an election. If going to war is all you have, then it’s not going to get you over the line (by itself).

    If between now and the election, Abbott takes us to war every time there’s a dip in the polls, the gloss is going to wear off pretty fast.

    4. None of the nasties have actually happened yet. The job losses from the closure of the car industry are a year away. Most of teh Evil things the electorate were dreading from the Budget are stuck in the Senate.

    5. There are two more Hockey budgets between now and the next election.

    6. Labor really hasn’t begun to fight (which means it’s sticking to it’s traditional schedule; this is the review period, when few or no policies are fixed).

    I could probably go on, but you get my drift.

  7. Damn it, knew I’d forget something

    7. If bad polling had continued, the Liberals would have been forced to Do Something, out of sheer panic. There is a slim chance (given the talent available to them, and the depth of their wisdom) that the Something might have been radically different from what they’re doing now.

    The polling didn’t, so they won’t, so they’ll continue to think they’re on the Right Track — which is a Bad Thing for Australia but a Good Thing for Labor’s re election prospects.

  8. zoomster

    We know also things are going to get worse for Abbott. The crash in Iron Ore prices is just one bad economic indicator.

    Mr Shorten is pursuing Cost of Living as an issue and is of course on a winner with that. The daily pressers are getting the message out as background despite the MSM focus on war.

    For these reasons as well as all those you cite I truly believe there is a real chance this is a one term government

  9. Guytaur

    As I have said here before, the ABS employment figures have been obviously rubbish for months, as anyone who works with them knows. Labor cut the ABS budget in office, and deserves a lot of the blame on this one. ABS is simply under-resources, and they have a definite QA problem.

  10. Good morning Dawn Patrollers.

    Want to buy an apartment in Sydney?
    A prime example of multinational tax dodging in Australia.
    Gets caught kiddyfiddling but allowed to continue happyclapping. Nice work Hillsong!
    Liberals want Abbott to scrap his signature PPL scheme to pay for budget shortfalls
    Fury over 457s for Melbourne’s EastWest Link.
    Lifting the lid on copayments for medical imaging, etc.
    More from The Guardian on what powers the new anti-terror laws give the agencies.
    When the ABS gets gutted what would you expect?
    Malcolm Fraser on Iraq.

  11. Section 2 . . .

    Morrison is criticised by legal experts over his use of draconian laws.
    And has the tables turned on him using the very same laws.
    The Direct Action Plan continues to stumble along during its gestation.
    Is Abbott’s anger at “hate preachers” justified?
    And discusses the matter with our very own hate preacher Alan Jones.
    Critical thinking Abbott style.
    Barnaby Joyce has secret plans o relocate 600 public servants from Canberra to regional centres.
    Michelle Grattan – Abbott and former allies part company over the subject of free speech.
    The three worst things the Liberals did yesterday.
    A long essay asks whether we can trust the media to report politics any more.

  12. If the opposition is supporting the government why wouldnt the voters ?

    Its a trusim that a government wont do what it cant do, it will only do what it can. They cant change domestic polices, they can change militaristic and policing policies.

    What will Australia look like with 2 more years of this strategy ?

  13. Worrying news, as the decline in students studying Maths and Science continues —

    [While the overall number of students attending year 12 increased by 16 per cent between 1992 and 2012 the portion of those students studying chemistry, biology, physics and advanced or intermediate maths subjects decreased dramatically.]

    There’s a clue here. We are retaining more students, which means the Year 12 cohort are no longer exclusively the elite academically.

    [The percentage of students studying advanced and intermediate maths also declined over a similar period but the proportion of students selecting entry-level maths grew by 60 per cent.]

    Which this sort of supports.

    [Terry Lyons, a collaborator on the study with Frances Quinn, said previous research suggested the most likely cause of the decline was the smorgasbord of subjects final year students were now offered.

    At the same time science and mathematics participation had declined, physical education, business studies and VET subjects had increased in popularity, Dr Lyons, an associate professor of science education at Queensland University of Technology, said.]

    More choice and more students who are not ‘academic’ in focus (and the mix of subjects which have risen in popularity supports that) means a decline in ‘harder’ Maths/Science.

    [He said the trend against studying final-year science and maths was concerning because it meant students might not have a sufficient grasp of scientific concepts that would help them understand important issues affecting society, such as climate change, GM crops and coal seam gas.]

    And sorry, if this is the best argument which can be presented for studying Maths and Science in VCE, it’s pretty weak.

    My concern is that issues like this are not addressed in science classes below Year 11. Students can get through secondary school without studying basics like evolution (and, to pre empt bemused et al, it has always been thus). No major review of the curriculum (to my knowledge) has addressed this, mainly because most reviews are conducted by science teachers, who (in my experience) are the least welcoming of change.

    So we have science being taught in ways which suit science teachers, rather than in ways that engage children and inform them about major scientific issues which will impact on their lives.

    (To head off criticism, English teachers performed a similar trick with English, fighting to keep it as THE core subject for little good reason other than it kept their employment secure…)

    Although teachers must obviously be involved in any review of teaching methods, other (more objective) views must also be taken into account.

    [Research has found engaging children in science before the age of 11 to 14 was critical to their long-term interest in the subject.]

    Yet, as a general rule, the ‘good’ teachers want to teach at the higher levels.

    To use an example from another subject: we have two teachers for one specialist subject at my son’s school. The ‘good’ teacher (superbly qualified, loved by students) decided to channel their efforts into the subject at the higher levels, leaving the ‘bad’ teacher the junior years.

    As a result, there are now no students studying the subject at the ‘higher’ years – they all dropped out as soon as the subject became non compulsory, rather than face another year with the ‘bad’ teacher.

    (This is a common problem with ‘specialist’ courses like languages, music and some maths – there are so few teachers available that schools take what they can get, and can’t replace poorly performing teachers).

  14. BK

    [Is Abbott’s anger at “hate preachers” justified?]
    Heard on RN yesterday that about the only place this lot are banned is Germany but only banned under racial vilification laws………. Hello George QC DH . Has a chuckle as they listed all the places they are NOT banned.

  15. The ups and downs of polls. The good news is that Labor still show a gain of 14 seats since the election and haven’t even run a campaign highlighting this Governments continual failings and back flips.

    The effects of the budget are yet to hit.

    I noted on a news site that Hockey is now going to assist the ABS to get their unemployment figures right.

    I smell books cooking

  16. It’s all Labor’s fault. Coorey calls this a new tax 😉

    [Treasurer Joe Hockey has signalled that market participants may be charged a fee to access data provided by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) as he blamed Labor’s budget cuts for dodgy job figures produced by the agency.

    The credibility of monthly employment data – arguably the most crucial gauge of the economy’s health – has been thrown into doubt by the official statistician, who said it was conducting a review of its July, August and today’s September figures.

    Speaking in Washington, Mr Hockey acknowledged the August reporting of a jump of 121,000 new jobs seemed “extraordinary” – an indication the Treasurer was himself sceptical of the official figures. By comparison, the much-larger US economy created 142,000 jobs the same month.

    Mr Hockey said the government was “actively looking” at a user-pays system for ABS data and that he would be taking proposals to Cabinet in the coming weeks.

    But he declined to take responsibility for the fiasco, instead censuring Labor for the errors.]

  17. But he declined to take responsibility for the fiasco, instead censuring Labor for the errors.

    So Labor did exactly what the Abbott Govt are doing….reduced the public service numbers and reduce the funding corresponding to the staff cuts and also reduced the budget.

    Let’s see how well the ATO does with Hockey’s cuts, and will he introduce a user pays system for them.

  18. lizzie

    we have kangaroos in some of our streets – and a mob live in the hospital grounds.

    However, the best place for kangaroos in the streets that I’ve found is Durras (South & North), two tiny tourist villages on the NSW South coast. Almost every house had at least two in their yard.

  19. Ouch. And that Alberici interview demonstrates why it’s so difficult for anyone – let alone a politician – to have an in depth, analytical discussion with a member of the media.

    Rightly or wrongly, the interviewee was trying to put what’s happening in the ME in context. He obviously believed that that was an integral part of ‘answering the question’. There was the potential there for a very interesting discussion.

    Alberici’s “I didn’t invite you on this program to do this” was breathtakingly arrogant. What, you only get ‘invited’ onto a program if you’ve agreed to say what the host wants you to say?

    [WASSIM DOUREIHI: If you wanted a one-way discussion …

    EMMA ALBERICI: No. I think you’re the one who wanted the one-way discussion.
    WASSIM DOUREIHI: If you wanted a one-way discussion, you would not – you did not – you did not necessarily have to invite me.

    EMMA ALBERICI: I am asking you legitimate questions, …

    WASSIM DOUREIHI: You’re asking the question, baiting for a particular response.

    EMMA ALBERICI: … which you have obviously come here knowing you didn’t want to answer.

    WASSIM DOUREIHI: No, you’ve come to push a particular view. Because you’re not getting the answer you want …

    EMMA ALBERICI: No, I’ve come here to ask you answers so you can …

    WASSIM DOUREIHI: Because you’re not getting the answer you want.

    EMMA ALBERICI: I just want – in many cases I just want a yes or no.

    WASSIM DOUREIHI: Let me make it very clear: you’ve invited me on to this platform to express my views.


    WASSIM DOUREIHI: You’re not allowing me to do that.]

    […WASSIM DOUREIHI: Just because you don’t like the answer doesn’t mean I’m not answering the question.]

  20. Darn at #18
    [Zoomster (11)
    Good post. I agree with all that. It’s important not to lose perspective and become defeatist.]

    I disagree.
    Its one thing to be ‘defeatist’ but its another to fail to acknowledge reality.

    And the reality is that pre-budget the ALP had a poll lead of 2% 2PP – which it has lost.
    The relevant question for the ALP is …why?

    And after the budget the ALP had a poll lead of about 4% 2PP which it has lost.
    Same question – why?

    Looking to put lipstick on the pig, a loss of between 2-4% since pre and post budget, and failing to look at the reason[s] why by always looking on the bright side of life instead of addressing the dramatic loss is a recipe for defeat.

    And its not too hard to see why the COALition and its current leader has made up so much ground recently.

    Ignore that and they will hit the front and stay there.
    Head in the sand doesn’t work.

  21. lizzie

    [ Mr Hockey said the government was “actively looking” at a user-pays system for ABS data and that he would be taking proposals to Cabinet in the coming weeks. ]

    I wonder how long before we have a “user pays” system for unemployment benefits?

  22. AussieAchmed @ 34

    Just read on Twitter

    Alan jones just called @GregHuntMP a ‘mad little left-winger’

    Considering where jones is on the political compass, I would say that is a fair call. 😀

  23. william, how do you get 50:50 from a set of data that all has the split 49.5:50.5 or higher in labor’s favour? I’m not saying it’s wrong, and certainly trend data suggests the xeonphobic and military push by LNP and the Murdoch propaganda unit has again proven that australian swinging voters are not too bright and at heart an ugly bunch of racists. I just wonder how that data gets you to 50:50 and not 49.5:50.5.

    shorten is turning into beazley-lite – the me too-ism and small target strategy, but without the sense that he is essentially a decent person who occasionally articulates a more intelligent and principled position. The ALP right’s paper-thin differences from the LNP is very apparent with shorten – he, and his henchmen (such as Marles) often seems closer to them than he is the remaining progressive left of his own party (Albo, Pliberseck, etc).

  24. fred

    so you predicted Labor would be 50/50 with the Coalition at this stage in the cycle a year ago? If not, why not?

    [And the reality is that pre-budget the ALP had a poll lead of 2% 2PP – which it has lost.
    The relevant question for the ALP is …why?

    And after the budget the ALP had a poll lead of about 4% 2PP which it has lost.
    Same question – why?]

    I covered these –

    (i) the nasties haven’t yet become reality. Everyone always reacts to nasties as if they’re going to kick in immediately (we had evidence of that, with the number of doctor visits dropping off immediately after the Budget). When they don’t, people put them to the back of mind.

    Some of the nasties still won’t be place come the next election, but people considering their vote will factor them in.

    Some of the nasties – particularly large scale job losses and factory closures – will have happened by then. At the moment, if you’re employed at Holden, your life hasn’t changed much.

    (ii) Nice glossy war. Lots of images of planes. Not only a distraction from the issues hurting the Coaltion, but gives Abbott a chance to be heroic.

    War bounces don’t last (as Menzies discovered…). There are, hopefully, a limited number of wars Abbott can sign us up for — and the more he signs us up for, the more tenuous the justification for them.

    We’re also not paying for the war yet. Having ruled out taxes to pay for it, Hockey is going to have to cut services further.

    That actually wasn’t the plan. This Budget was meant to be the nasty one, and following ones were meant to be all rainbows and unicorns.

    [Looking to put lipstick on the pig, a loss of between 2-4% since pre and post budget, and failing to look at the reason[s] why by always looking on the bright side of life instead of addressing the dramatic loss is a recipe for defeat.]

    Which is why an improvement for the polls for the government is good for Labor, because the Liberals will keep doing all of those things.

    It is the Liberals, not Labor, who stand to be the losers if they don’t change.

    [And its not too hard to see why the COALition and its current leader has made up so much ground recently.]

    Right. And can you explain to me how this is sustainable? Going to war to counter domestic discontent is usually only a last ditch effort.

  25. Sustainable

    and at this stage of the cycle, commentators were saying exactly the same sort of stuff about Andrews.

    Labor has a set cycle. First year is reviewing all existing policies, deciding which to keep and which to ditch/amend. Second year is new policy formulation – a lot of discussion and consultation. Third year is policy release, after all the hard work is done.

    And rightly so. Many of Ballieu’s biggest cock ups were because he made policy commitments too early in the cycle, and by the time he was actually in government, they were out of date.

  26. …and many of Abbott’s were, too. As I’ve argued before, if he had been prepared to shift ground on climate change policy, and advocated moving straight to an ETS, he would have been able to negate climate change as an issue.

  27. zoom
    I assumed you would rush in to defend the ALP losing 4% 2PP lead in the last couple of months.

    A couple of months ago, after the budget, I predicted that the 2pp would fluctuate within a 52-55% range for the ALP.

    I missed the ploy the COALition and the media have run since of resorting to “the war over there/terror” trick.

    And the ALP have failed to respond to that.
    As was noted in the previous thread..
    Posted Tuesday, October 7, 2014 at 7:10 am | Permalink
    Labor and the Greens need to change the conversation back to health, education, Medicare, jobs, social security, jobs, jobs….]

    And in this one, from bug1…

    [If the opposition is supporting the government why wouldnt the voters ?]

    Saying its all OK does not answer a 4% loss in about 4 months.

    Address that.

  28. [WASSIM DOUREIHI: Just because you don’t like the answer doesn’t mean I’m not answering the question.]

    I saw the interview and was appalled by Alberici, who I think is normally pretty good. She was channeling Bolt and Jones, and not letting the bloke qualify his answer. His point seemed to be that the west can’t bomb and kill people into supporting them. You cannot kill 500,000 civilians through an illegal war, support a corrupt and incompetent government that discriminates in religious and racial grounds and not expect an extreme opposition. ISIS may be loons, but if they were killing by firing squad rather than beheading, or bombing civilians, would they be considered less ‘barbaric’.

    In the 1970s and 80s I went to school with kids whose parents supported the IRA and sent money back to Ireland to support them – this was not uncommon in the irish catholic community – I recall irish priests arguing that you couldn’t understand it if you hadn’t lived it. I can imagine those ‘fanatics’ being similarly evasive if they’d been asked “will you come out and say you do not support the IRA” and I would have been appalled had they been shouted down as they tried to qualify their answer.

  29. Pity the war is so poorly thought through.

    Its pretty obvious in Syria that EVERY major player we are allied to there is happy to see the Kuridsh experiment in self-governent in Rojava be destroyed.

    A few irrelvant airstrikes from the US aside, its pretty clear all our Arab and Turk allies want ISIS to succeed.

    Things are less grim in IRaq for the Kurds, but the whole thing is actually a farce, as former PM Malcolm Fraser argues:

  30. [and at this stage of the cycle, commentators were saying exactly the same sort of stuff about Andrews.]

    I’m still not confident andrews is going to win the vic election. I don’t think he’s established himself as the alternative premier in people’s mind, and too many of the swinging voters will do what rupert tells them to do, and he ain’t being subtle about his preferences at present. that said, andrews has been much less ‘me too’ than shorten and is of the labor left – he was meant to be a seat warmer, and the labor right are probably none too happy that a lefty may still get the premiership.

    I predict napthine will win with a slight swing to the libs because swinging voters generally don’t like change, and I think napthine is seen as OK and now to be doing stuff. Labor needs to start asking about LNPs plans for privatising health and education, and link these firmly to the federal gov. ‘The Abbott-Napthine hidden agenda for health’ and ‘the abbott-napthine hidden agenda for schools/TAFES/Unis’ should already be firmly in voters minds, but this has not been done – the team australia terror threat is all about chewing up media long enough to get us to the silly season – Cup Day. labor does not time to get new messages out, and it has not done enough in the past year to be seen as an alternative government. Let’s hope the greens get balance of power in the upper house.

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