The fortnightly Essential Research release is the second since the election to encompass the monthly leadership ratings. These offer positive signs for Anthony Albanese, who is up four from his debut on approval to 39% and down one on disapproval to 24%, while Scott Morrison is slightly improved in net terms, with approval steady on 48% and disapproval down two to 34%. Morrison’s lead as preferred prime minister is effectively unchanged, shifting from 43-25 to 44-26. The poll also features a series of questions on the ban on tourists climbing Uluru, which 44% support and 30% oppose, and 69% professing awareness of the issue.
Of particular interest in this release is the revelation that Essential is inquiring about respondents’ income, which appears to be a new development. The only detail provided in the polling results is that Morrison has 59% approval among higher income earners, but the appendices go to the trouble of telling us that Essential has set three income cohorts for its surveys: low (below $52,000), high (above $104,000) and medium (in between).
I suspect this means Essential’s response to the pollster failure will be to start using income to weight its results. This is a departure from the Australian industry norm of weighting only by geography, gender and age, and would also seem to be a bit unusual internationally. An American pollster noted last year the practice had fallen out of favour there due to the high non-response rate to questions on personal income. The preference is to instead weight to other factors which themselves correlate with income, notably education and, particularly in Britain, social class.
The poll was conducted Wednesday to Sunday from a sample of 1091. In the Guardian report accompanying the poll, the elephant in the room was addressed thus:
There has been controversy post-election about the reliability of opinion polling because none of the major surveys – Newspoll, Ipsos, Galaxy or Essential – correctly predicted a Coalition win on 18 May, projecting Labor in front on a two-party preferred vote of 51-49 and 52-48. The lack of precision in the polling has prompted public reflection at Essential, as has been flagged by its executive director, Peter Lewis. Guardian Australia is not currently publishing measurements of primary votes or a two-party preferred calculation, but is continuing to publish survey results of responses to questions about the leaders and policy issues.
Also in The Guardian today are results from a separate Essential Research poll, this one for Digital Rights Watch concerning recent police raids on journalists. In response to a question noting raids on “the offices and homes of News Corp and ABC journalists who reported on national security issues”, 40% said they were very concerned, 34% slightly concerned and 26% not concerned. Similar results were produced on questions relating to metadata and police powers to break into online communications systems. The poll was conducted Wednesday to Sunday from a sample of 1089.