The morning after

A quick acknowledgement of pollster and poll aggregate failure, and a venue for discussion of the surprise re-election of the Morrison government.

I’m afraid in depth analysis of the result will have to wait until I’ve slept for just about the first time in 48 hours. I’ll just observe that that BludgerTrack thing on the sidebar isn’t looking too flash right now, to which the best defence I can offer is that aggregators gonna aggregate. Basically every poll at the end of the campaign showed Labor with a lead of 51.5-48.5, and so therefore did BludgerTrack – whereas it looks like the final result will end up being more like the other way around. The much maligned seat polling actually wound up looking better than the national ones, though it was all too tempting at the time to relate their pecularities to a past record of leaning in favour of the Coalition. However, even the seat polls likely overstated Labor’s position, though the number crunching required to measure how much by will have to wait for later.

Probably the sharpest piece of polling analysis to emerge before the event was provided by Mark the Ballot, who offered a prescient look at the all too obvious fact that the polling industry was guilty of herding – and, in this case, it was herding to the wrong place. In this the result carries echoes of the 2015 election in Britain, when polling spoke in one voice of an even money bet between the Conservatives and Labour, when the latter’s vote share on the day proved to be fully 6% higher. This resulted in a period of soul-searching in the British polling industry that will hopefully be reflected in Australia, where pollsters are far too secretive about their methods and provide none of the breakdowns and weighting information that are standard for the more respected pollsters internationally. More on that at a later time.

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.

1,797 comments on “The morning after”

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  1. I’m interested to see who present themselves as a candidate in the Labor leadership process. As it stands, my gut goes with Albo and his general charisma.

  2. Well I’m done for the night.

    Least I’ll be getting a nice big tax cut. Apparently that’s the main thing.

  3. An amended repost from the previous thread:

    This election was the newly elected Rudd government not finding and proclaiming a budget black hole from the the structural deficit, from the Howard Government`s profligate spending temporary mining boom income on permanent tax loophole policies, almost immediately upon their election and then fixing them, coming home to roost.

  4. I’m also curious about this whole “National Gender Centre” stuff. I don’t recall seeing this brought up as ALP policy, but I assume it’s not just an invention of the IPA/2GB/Sky crowd?

    In particular seats this could well have been quite toxic (along with “death taxes”).

  5. I.e. polling in Australia is currently innumerate bullshit, and the deference paid to Newspoll a particularly extreme case (which one might call “bullshit-worship”)

  6. Labor’s ad campaign was woeful based on my exposure.
    After Morrison and that grub consumated that vile preference agreement where was the ad showing the grub owing his workers millions of dollars in entitlements and smirky mcsmirkface cosying up and the fact that taxpayers had bailed the slime ball out to the tune of $70 million on high rotation? To me it looked like labor were the ones who were broke.

  7. The polling was wrong predominantly due to the poor estimate of preference flows from Palmer & One Nation.
    Labor’s 2 big lessons from this campaign are:
    1. Never ever run a big target campaign.
    2. Get a leader who is popular in the eyes of the populace (I disagree on Albanese – he slurs, Wong would be good but she probably turn off men because her strong will scares them, so would have to be Plibersek)

  8. I’m done with Bludger for a while. Thanks everybody, but I’m going to lick my wounds and focus on other priorities for the next 6 months or so.

    I’ll be voting for Jim Chalmers for federal Leader and Adam Searle for NSW state leader, assuming either/both gentlemen run for those positions.

    In wrapping up, I remember feeling stupid when i got the squirts about how yesterday’s election was shaping. Especially with all my fellow Bludgers calling me a bedwetter: I began to doubt ‘my waters’.I even talked myself out of it, all the while wincing every time I saw those dam liberal attack ads, which were as effective as they were corny. Turns out ‘my waters’ were spot on. Dam!

    ScoMo really is the dark lord political genius he always maintained. Who would have thought it. Feck me.

    One final thing: Guytaur – I reckon you should get Boerwar to take you on a road trip to meets some people outside your immediate neighbourhood. You might even become politically enlightened as to reality.

    If any bludger wants to contact me for a catch up or just a chat, I’ll send William my email details to pass on.

    Cheers. Out.

  9. My question to Australia is “What have you voted for”?

    Keeping in mind that it’s mostly about what Australia voted against that mattered. As with, eg, the current British parliament – they seem pretty good at voting against stuff they don’t want, not so good at voting for something they do want.
    Then you get the default shit that’s left over once everything’s been voted against.

    Ta dah! Mr Morrison step on up.

  10. “@Goll
    Going by Twitter & Facebook, self interest. Comments on there brashly stated so”

    Dracarys! Eventually.

  11. Thanks William, and thanks to all other PB’ers here throughout the campaign.

    The result was a massive shock, and a disappointment to those of us who had believed that Australia was ready to elect a government with a progressive agenda that most of us acknowledge we so desperately need. In the end, we must respect the fact that democracy has spoken, and the result. Ultimately, a complex policy agenda left the ALP open to a predictable and effective broadside attack from their opponents. It was the birthday cake GST episode, and Keating’s effective dismantling of Fightback is revisited upon Labor today. As the Bard wrote in Macbeth, “Bloody instructions which, being taught, return To plague th’inventor. This even-handed justice Commends th’ingredience of our poisoned chalice To our own lips.”

    Yet, as history has a habit of recurring, we may take hope. Dutton repeated Keating’s famous words from 1993, that his victory in Dickson, was ‘the sweetest victory of all’. Yet these words returned in 1996 when voters waited with baseball bats for Keating’s government, which had perhaps stayed one term too long in office. Perhaps a repeat of history will occur at the next federal poll.

    If you’re hurting, stay strong. There are better days ahead. Thanks again to all who have contributed during the campaign, especially William. Show your gratitude by supporting William, and throw a weighty portion of shekels in the rattling can.

  12. [previous thread.]

    E. G. Theodore
    Sunday, May 19, 2019 at 1:48 am

    I wonder if suddenly, plugging the Franking Credit loophole may be attractive to a Morrison govt in need of money.

    They weren’t expecting to have to do anything about it, but they know it has to be fixed (they were just expecting an ALP government to wear the political cost). They can try to fix it two ways:
    a – have the ATO talk to tax accountants (etc.) and tell them not to use it (it was hardly used prior to 2013 since everyone assumed that it would be closed the moment it became a problem. Then a totally incompetent government was elected in 2013 and apparently didn’t care, leading to a free for all). This may not succeed, given the prominence it has now achieved (the cat is out of the bag, so to speak), or

    This is simply not how franking credits work. Dividends are income that you have to declare, and if they come with franking credits, then you will declare them too. It is hardly an “optional” disclosure that accountants will chose not to use.

    I believe franking credits were the “step too far” in the ALP reform agenda. I think they won on negative gearing and doubled down when they didn’t need to. The policy also happened to be regressive, with no effect on high income individuals.

  13. “think they won on negative gearing ”

    Nah, they should have had a policy that landlords could negative gear principal and interest, and got a 50% bonus.

    The Overton window has moved right. The left need to get into power by any means, then slowly move it back.

    Who wants to nominate the first culture war? I’m going with making it impossible for organisations like GetUp to function.

    Next up will be stopping industry super funds. They’ll ban unions having any role in them.

  14. My question to Australia is “What have you voted for”?


    Another three years of buyer’s remorse. (If they last that long.)

  15. The End has a point because the ALP did run an ad about Palmer and the possible chaos instead they should have been saying here is a bloke that shut Queensland Nickel down then did the runner on his workers and now the Libs are doing deals with him with a couple of media clips of him dodging questions over the matter.

  16. The electorate of New England best sums up “the morning after”.
    New England was always going to vote for the bloated toad regardless.
    Go figure!


    Targeting low taxable income people, but not higher taxable income people, was the biggest problem with the franking credits policy. Reducing the franking credits across the board, spreading the pain more evenly and more to people who would never vote ALP (people who who have a high taxable income and lost of share income), would have been fairer, less targeted at retirees and thus less attackable.

  18. Joyce’s antics in that interview with PK should have been used in some kind of ad instead crickets.

  19. See you Andrew, thanks William. I might stick around for a couple of days to discuss what the future of social democracy in Australia might look like (I believe it can bounce back but only if we really think about why we lost rather than putting it all down to Murdoch Palmer dumb people etc).

    Special thanks to all the people who didn’t hide from the train wreck but came on here tonight to discuss where the left goes from here.

  20. Goll
    Tuesday, April 2, 2019 at 4:03 pm
    Your conclusions do not justify your continuously positive summation of the successful career of our next PM.
    My conclusion is that you have a seriously obsessive disorder.
    Just admit that Shorten has been very good at what he does best.
    In all likelihood Shorten is going to be around for a long time and as you have stated time and time again, Shorten has been very successful.
    Enjoy the next ten years served by a progressive and fair Labor government.

  21. The irony of the franking credit policy is that in the near term they may become less popular as banks and other large payers of dividends look to reduce their dividends with the NAB already announcing a 16% cut.

  22. “low taxable income people” and there is the problem: “low taxable income people” include Rupert Murdoch. We have created a tax system where the wealthy can hide behind “low taxable” status. The franking credit cash refunds is the classic example of this.

    If Labor can’t eventually tackle this problem then there is no chance for labor to ever build anything. We may not even bother turning up. WE will be a nation of secreted private wealth and public destitution.

    Labor just needs to do what Howard did when he created this mess in the first place: attack it by stealth. Piece by little piece.

    That’s it. Out 🙂


    There will be no Dawn Patrol this morning. I am not in the mood to subject myself to the task given the way in which a lazy-thinking and credulous Australia has chosen to propel itself into what will be a indeterminably longer period Americanisation of social and economic policy, not to mention an expansion of a debilitating structural deficit.
    The architect of the last 10 years of chaos and right wing trajectory, Tony Abbott, thankfully is gone. But the damage is done.
    Sorry folks.

  24. The wealthy actually need to declare their income inorder to benefit from the tax system, otherwise it is tax avoidance which is illegal.

    Everyone can make claims against their tax and this is something the anti tax minimalsation crowd need to get their minds around or they will continue to run into these policy issues regardless of its merits.

  25. Blobbit. I think the ALP won on negative gearing. It worked at the last election. The following double down on franking was the mistake.

  26. What caused the result?
    Was it the LNP’s lack of women? Support for Adani? Stopping the boats and countering the Doctor shopping by country shoppers?

  27. The complaints that the LNP won on PHON & Palmer preferences is as stupid as complaining that the ALP wins on prefs from the Greens.

  28. Question:

    This is simply not how franking credits work. Dividends are income that you have to declare, and if they come with franking credits, then you will declare them too. It is hardly an “optional” disclosure that accountants will chose not to use.

    I agree my comment was completely unclear.

    What I intended to say was that prior to 2013 the construction of schemes (by “tax planners” – accountants and lawyers) leading to the generation of very large volumes of excess franking credits (i.e. aggressive tax planning to exploit the situation) was not something that was done (much). Whereas instead of “tax planners” I said “tax accountants”, which most people (including me) would take to mean the people who do their tax returns, and which leads quite naturally to your interpretation of my comment.

  29. This election result is truly depressing, though it could have been worse. I don’t know what voters were thinking, re-electing this lot.

  30. No worries EGT,

    Full disclosure. I get some franking credits (not that much). I still voted ALP. IMO The world is a little more stupid tonight.

    I probably lost a lot of friends for my previous comments on franking. I would have been much happier for franking to be reduced or removed across the board. That would have been harder to sell, but the policy did not sit at all well with me because it’s selective nature was regressive.

    I suspect it was on Keating advice.

  31. Yes, please ALP, do follow the advice of electing someone like Corbyn or Sanders – they’ve been sooooo successful Party Leaders. Apparently.

  32. Most PB posts here are about why Labor lost the unloseable election. A very valid topic.

    However WB’s topic was more along the lines of ‘why didn’t the polls pick it?’.
    They consistently showed a Labor lead. Had the true picture been clear there might have been time to react and address concerns.

    Even the exit polls got it wrong (and showed a 52 – 48 lead to Labor.

    How could an EXIT POLL have been so wrong. You can’t blame it on a last minute change.

    Antony Green (on TV tonight) suggested that inaccurate polls may be due to unrepresentative samples – and suggested the demise of landlines was a factor.

    Possibly so. But the exit polls never depended on landlines. I assume that they ask people as they leave the polling booth.

    So, what happened? I can only think that a proprtion of people do not answer opinion polls honestly – or do not answer them at all.

    I think this might be what Morrison was hinting at with his “quiet Australians” comment.

  33. Labor needs to:

    1. Find a new leader, obvs. Sadly, it should not be a Victorian. It feels unlikely any Qld or WA MP will even be in the running (Chalmers? Terri Butler?) . I am not super enthused by Albo or Plibersek and would prefer Labor now get a clean break from the Rudd-Gillard-Shorten decade, but it seems unlikely. Leader is an overrated factor (Shorten was even less popular in 2016, vs the allegedly more popular Turnbull, and got what appears to be a better result then) but it’s still important.

    2. Get a relentless focus on its strong issues and its framing of those issues. Morrison just taught a masterclass on how to do it with respect to tax and economic management. How on Earth was Labor not talking about forcing the banking RC and then being the party voters should trust to follow through? (mentioning Morrison voting against the RC doesn’t help terribly much) How was Labour not telling a story about renewable energy keeping power prices down as well as keeping the air cleaner a d keeping emissions out of the atmosphere? How did Labor announce their cancer policy and then not advertise it ever? How did Labor fail to push the wages line hard and convince people that a wage rise was better than a nebulous tax concession they may never get?

    A grab bag of unconnected funding grabs and spends is not enough; there needs to be a narrative linking them all. There wasn’t. Ideally some solid infrastructure promises would be good too.

    3. Kindly remind the Greens and co that
    – There is more to the environment and more to climate change than one coal mine
    – The Franklin campaign succeeded because the locals were on board. For Adani, a bunch of people from out of state were haranguing Queensland to give up on a potential source of jobs, in order to reduce the sale of coal by Queensland (not even the burning of coal) even though there are plenty of other coal mines in operation and plenty more emissions-intensive industries around Australia. Turning the entire climate change debate into a referendum on one mine made the moral element small and the economic cost (and irritation of outsiders meddling) into a very real thing for Queenslanders. If there’s a single issue which lost the election for Labor it was Adani and all it represented. Shorten handled it badly, but was not helped at all by what outsiders were doing.

    4. Press hard to keep holding the Libs to account, and when you hit on something that works, actually note it down and use it in your ads. The last 3 years have been full of debacles; Labor could hardly find ad time to mention a single one. When the Libs don’t meet the promised surplus, make a big deal of it.

  34. Question:

    I would have been much happier for franking to be reduced or removed across the board.

    Yes over the past few months I have realised that is the correct approach. The whole idea of “dividend producing stocks” / “income producing stocks” is an anachronism. In the rest of the world it is “bonds for income, stocks fr growth”. So if one invests seeking a income stream, it’s bonds one wants. This is a much better idea than seeking income via “dividend producing stocks” since bonds are certain to to be repaid (unless the company fails completely), whereas there is no certainly dividends will ever be paid. And if you want both for some reason, staple them together…

  35. Albo probably the most presentable of the lot, but only as a temp measure. Wong has no personality, is not a person who could communicate with the general public except for the already converted. she presents a negative aura.
    Labor needs Non union new blood.

  36. I feel sorry for Labor and their supporters, but not for Shorten, the backstabbing creep got what he deserved… sadly Labor had pay for his bad karma

  37. PaulTu,

    It seems Australia has succumbed to the “shy Tory” effect, where people are too ashamed of themselves to be honest with pollsters.

    I seriously thought, that if anything, the pollsters were erring on the government side. Wrong again.

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