Essential Research and Roy Morgan: more coronavirus polling

Two new polls suggest early skepticism about the threat posed by coronavirus is fast disappearing.

As reported by The Guardian, Essential Research has unusually conducted a new poll just a week after the last. This effectively replicates last week’s suite of questions on coronavirus to tie in with an online forum later today involving The Guardian’s Katharine Murphy and Essential Research’s Peter Lewis.

The results show a sharp rise in concern since last week, with 53% now saying they are very concerned, after the three previous fortnightly polls had it progressing from 25% to 27% to 39%. Only 18% now say they consider there has been an overreaction to the thread, down from 33% last week, while 43% now think the threat has been underestimated, up from 28%. These results imply little change to last week’s finding that 39% thought the response about right, though we will presumably have to await publication of the full report later today for a complete set of numbers. The poll also finds overwhelming support for the restrictive measures that have been taken. The rise in concern appears to have been matched by a decline in skepticism about media reportage, which 42% now say they trust, up from 35% last week.

Also out today is a Roy Morgan SMS poll on coronavirus, showing 43% support for the view that the federal government is handling the crisis well with 49% disagreeing — a rather weak result by international standards (it is noted that a similar poll in the United Kingdom a bit under a fortnight ago had it at 49% and 37%). This poll finds an even higher pitch of public concern than Essential, in that only 15% believed the threat to be exaggerated, with fully 81% disagreeing. Relatedly, 80% said they were willing to sacrifice some of their “human rights” to help prevent the spread of the virus (evidently having a somewhat different conception of that term from my own), with only 14% disagreeing. The poll was conducted on Saturday and Sunday from a sample of 988.

UPDATE: Full report from Essential Research here. The recorded increase in concern about the virus is not matched by a change in perceptions of the government’s handling of it, which 45% rate as good, unchanged on last week, and 31% rate as poor, up two. There is also a question on concern about climate change, which refutes the hopes of some conservative commentators in suggesting it has not been affected by the coronavirus crisis: 31% say they are more concerned than they were a year ago, 53% no more or less so, and 16% less concerned. However, the number of respondents saying Australia is not doing enough to address climate change is down from 60% in November to 55%, with doing enough up one to 23% and doing too much up one to 9%. The poll was conducted Thursday to Sunday from a sample of 1086.

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.

2,376 comments on “Essential Research and Roy Morgan: more coronavirus polling”

  1. When I flew up here I used plastic gloves etc in the airport and plane, not because of coronavirus, but because every time I fly here I come down with flu. This time I didn’t.

    Now if my informed (PB) mind was on ordinary flu and not some nAR

    new virus, and the gov’t knew something was up but fluffed it, then We Are Not Pleased.

  2. meher I’m not going to trawl this blog for examples but I distinctly recall you opposing earlier measures to control the virus – that is until Scomo was dragged kicking and screaming to implement them. You are a hopeless partisan.

  3. Don’t pop the champagne bottles yet. There are enough cricket tragics that I can see networks providing opportunities for ‘binge watching’ ‘classic’ tests and series.

  4. EG Theodore: “Starting at about 4 minutes 30 second in. Morning of 20 February it was business as usual; they got a COVID19 result back from an unusual ICU patient (young, no risk factors but in ICU) then by the end of 21 February they knew they had an uncontrolled secondary outbreak.

    So they got at most 24 hours warning before the shit hit the fan completely…”

    Yes, but what sort of social distancing measures did Italy have in place at this time? Not many. Indeed, one whole week later, a political leader was encouraging Italians to keep going to the local bar for an aperitivo and “not to change our habits.

    We’ve been far more cautious than this, so I’m hoping that might pay off.

  5. meher baba:

    Something like the OED’s understanding of the word “exponential”: that is, a rate of increase that is itself growing over time.

    A rate of increase that is positive and proportional to the statistic is itself growing over time!

    Imagine a statistic that starts at value 100 at time zero, with a 7% increase every time period. At the first time period the rate of increase is 7/period, at the second it is 7.5/period, at the third it is 8/period, and so on – the rate of increase is itself growing. A constant growth factor will give you this ever-increasing rate of change, and this is an exponential (in this case, exponentially growing) function.

    I don’t see any contradiction between the OED definition you’ve given and the true meaning of exponential growth. Something increasing 7% every day fits both.

  6. poroti @ #2005 Thursday, April 2nd, 2020 – 5:48 pm

    Don’t pop the champagne bottles yet. There are enough cricket tragics that I can see networks providing opportunities for ‘binge watching’ ‘classic’ tests and series.

    If they get really desperate they may even exhume the best matches of the Don. Which would all be in black and white! 😀

  7. Display Name: “Meher Baba”
    If I mixed you up with someone else, I apologise.”

    No problems. I wouldn’t make such a generalised attack on Labor and Greens voters. I am actually a Labor voter most of the time (albeit a very right-wing one: as I often say, the Hawke-Keating era was my concept of an Australian “Camelot”).

    Anyway, the facts seem to be that the more privileged members of our community have been the “super spreaders” of the virus. All the demographic information I have seen seems to indicate a concentration of cases in the better off areas of our cities. And, sure, there are far more left-leaning voters among the ski set than was once the case, but the majority of these people still tend to vote for the Libs.

  8. “DisplayNamesays:
    Thursday, April 2, 2020 at 5:51 pm
    Blobbit.
    Maybe people don’t want to go somewhere they might catch it :-P.”

    Maybe. Possibly people weren’t aware. I don’t listen to talkback or sully my eyes with the West, so no idea how well it was reported.

    9 news cases reported today. Hopefully if the numbers coming in for testing stay low, we can start doing random testing.

  9. C@tmomma @ #2011 Thursday, April 2nd, 2020 – 4:52 pm

    poroti @ #2005 Thursday, April 2nd, 2020 – 5:48 pm

    Don’t pop the champagne bottles yet. There are enough cricket tragics that I can see networks providing opportunities for ‘binge watching’ ‘classic’ tests and series.

    If they get really desperate they may even exhume the best matches of the Don. Which would all be in black and white! 😀

    I heard an item about a virtual boxing match between Frazier and Holyfield on the internet to sate the boxing fans. Perhaps Clive Lloyd and the 4 pace attack against Bradman’s invincibles?

  10. Malcolm Farr has come out of the closet! He’s now writing for The Guardian! He has found his spiritual home.

    Scott Morrison calls it “the snapback” – the stinging moment when $200bn or more in special spending is turned off and life returns to pre-pandemic normality.

    It might seem premature, but the federal government is preparing the electorate for this moment, when the cash taps are turned off. And it has a strong political motivation.

    Not all reversions to the old ways will be applauded, and the government won’t have the money to keep emergency schemes going.

    The snapback is the moment when, for example, parents find childcare is no longer free to them and employers have to return to the old industrial relations battlefield.

    It is a gauge of the prime minister’s optimism the Covid-19 menace will be defeated, and his apprehensions of how a return to our previous national life will be greeted, that he already is urging voters to accept there will be a change back to pre-pandemic programs.

    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/apr/02/morrison-insists-nothing-lasts-forever-especially-the-coronavirus-spending-spree

  11. lizzie: “Tweeps are reporting that Laming is giving the white power hand sign. I don’t think that the position of the fingers/thumb is a natural easy gesture, but maybe that’s because of my arthritis.”

    Laming has never much impressed me, but he’s definitely a small “l” Liberal and, I believe, is married to a non-White person (I can’t remember which ethnicity). So I very much doubt this.

  12. It’s Time @ #2015 Thursday, April 2nd, 2020 – 5:56 pm

    C@tmomma @ #2011 Thursday, April 2nd, 2020 – 4:52 pm

    poroti @ #2005 Thursday, April 2nd, 2020 – 5:48 pm

    Don’t pop the champagne bottles yet. There are enough cricket tragics that I can see networks providing opportunities for ‘binge watching’ ‘classic’ tests and series.

    If they get really desperate they may even exhume the best matches of the Don. Which would all be in black and white! 😀

    I heard an item about a virtual boxing match between Frazier and Holyfield on the internet to sate the boxing fans. Perhaps Clive Lloyd and the 4 pace attack against Bradman’s invincibles?

    I did used to enjoy watching the West Indies in their prime. 🙂

  13. “Before the deaths increase, there should be an increase in cases in hospital”

    This will happen. We just don’t know how much.

  14. Update, c19 cases (~5pm Qld time)

    Reported for today
    5,126 https://www.covid19data.com.au/

    Yesterday’s trend projections for today
    5,103 using a normal curve

    Today’s trend projections for tomorrow
    5,323 using a normal curve

    Comments
    * In recent days there has been a fair bit of discussion on the “reducing exponent” or “increasing doubling time”. FWIW the normal curve captures this as an inflection point on March 26.
    * I’m still holding off on fitting an exponential curve until the weekend when it will be 7 days since the ‘kink’.
    * The logistic curve is still undershooting. I may try weighting more recent data at the expense of those earlier to improve the logistic fit. For now, I’m not reporting it.

    —————
    5,126 https://www.covid19data.com.au/
    5,124 https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/australia/
    4,976 https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert/coronavirus-covid-19-current-situation-and-case-numbers

  15. “hellbellsays:
    Thursday, April 2, 2020 at 5:53 pm
    270 new cases (all states and territories reporting) from 4864 cases yesterday.”

    Still waiting for SA I think.

    Growth rate 5%. Subject to all the normal comments regarding the limitations of testing.

  16. “9 news cases reported today. Hopefully if the numbers coming in for testing stay low, we can start doing random testing.”

    We should have been doing random testing two weeks ago.

  17. Well, I’m still not convinced about this exponential business (or as Caf puts it, the coefficient business).

    Exponential growth is only reliably accurate where there are no outside influences, themselves variables that are subject to non-linear influences such as: compliance, social shame (the Bondi Backpacker Effect), human emotion, health system architecture and integrity, public policy variations, indecision, mis and under-reporting, the effect of virus mutations, progress in treatments, changing manufacturing capability, and sheer arbitrary guesswork at play.

    As I see it you just can’t boil all these down to one factor.

    And of course this isn’t happening. The variable is changing daily, as one curve-fit is replaced by another. Isn’t this akin to rewriting history?

    It seems like “C19 in Australia” is more of a candidate for a classically chaotic system to me, than just a simple compound interest equation.

    On Maher barber’s conjecture that there’s a bit of a Death Watch going on, I think there IS an element of that too.

  18. “Cud Chewersays:
    Thursday, April 2, 2020 at 5:59 pm
    “Before the deaths increase, there should be an increase in cases in hospital”

    This will happen. We just don’t know how much.”

    I actually agree. I think where we perhaps differ is in the quantum. But ultimately we don’t yet know.

  19. C@tmomma @ #2011 Thursday, April 2nd, 2020 – 2:52 pm

    poroti @ #2005 Thursday, April 2nd, 2020 – 5:48 pm

    Don’t pop the champagne bottles yet. There are enough cricket tragics that I can see networks providing opportunities for ‘binge watching’ ‘classic’ tests and series.

    If they get really desperate they may even exhume the best matches of the Don. Which would all be in black and white! 😀

    Very little of that, he was pre-TV!!! 😆

  20. meher baba @ #1976 Thursday, April 2nd, 2020 – 5:33 pm

    EG Theodore: “What are “the signs you would expect to see if Australia was about to go down the path of Italy or the US”?”

    Something like the OED’s understanding of the word “exponential”: that is, a rate of increase that is itself growing over time. If not a geometric rate of increase, then at least an increase in the arithmetic rate of growth. If you look at the stats, the average numerical rate of increase for the last 5 days (albeit with today’s WA figures yet to come) is significantly less than for the preceding 5 days: 297 per day compared to 392 per day.

    Can we all please just agree to use the ordinary definition of “exponential growth” please?

    There is no confusion in mathematics as to what “exponential growth” means …

    i.e. it is when f(t) = something to the power of t

    i.e. it is when the value of the function of t is dependent on t being used as an exponent

    i.e. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exponential_growth

  21. “On Maher barber’s conjecture that there’s a bit of a Death Watch going on, I think there IS an element of that too.”

    As one of the “curve fitters” I’m going to agree with that as well. In my case, I’m started looking to try to get some reassurance that perhaps it wasn’t as bad as some were saying.

    There was some talk initially that we were as bad (or worse) than Italy. That there were probably 10x or 20x times the cases “in the wild” that weren’t being found. So I went to the reassuring embrace of maths to see if any of that was being reflected in the numbers.

  22. Dandy:

    They are doing this under considerable uncertainty, but because they have a non-dissipative system driven by exponential growth (i.e. not BIBO), the costs of over-control are much less than the risks of under-control.

    Which boils down to – go hard, go early.

    I’ve never been so furiously in agreement in my life!

    Feedforward control obviously has to be early – can’t really work it it’s late.

    It also needs to err on the side of “hard” – as you note (and the Italian experience demonstrates, control can be lost in just a few hours)

    The question is what to do in (say) six weeks time, assuming six weeks of effective suppression.

    The current answer (per Commissioner Fuller for example) appears to be “double it and add a bit” – 90 days suppression (to be sure, to be sure, to be sure?) and then uncontrolled (?) relaxation.

    The problem is that if that goes wrong (which it might) all the current effort will have wasted.

  23. It’s Time: I just disagree. I understand the maths (it’s not rocket science). I disagree with the underlying assumptions.

  24. Cud Chewer: “meher I’m not going to trawl this blog for examples but I distinctly recall you opposing earlier measures to control the virus – that is until Scomo was dragged kicking and screaming to implement them. You are a hopeless partisan.”

    I wanted a steady move towards a lock down, based on evidence of how the trend in new cases was progressing: especially those where the transmission occurred in Australia. Why? Because I really didn’t want to see the economy trashed and hundreds of thousands of families put straight onto the poverty line until we were certain that it was absolutely necessary. I was ok with all the social distancing measures and the closure of restaurants and bars. I actually thought schools should be closed earlier than they were.

    But I thought that we should hold off from the household bubble concept for as long as we could. My reason was that I thought that all the people who were arguing that we could shut everything down completely for a month or so and then go back to normality were talking complete crap. There were many people saying this in the media a week or so back, including some who claimed to have some expertise. Nobody seems to have been suggesting it in the last few days.

    As I said, we are probably going to be in this for the long haul, and I reckon the current settings are sustainable for around 6 months max.

  25. “Cud Chewersays:
    Thursday, April 2, 2020 at 6:00 pm
    “9 news cases reported today. Hopefully if the numbers coming in for testing stay low, we can start doing random testing.”

    We should have been doing random testing two weeks ago.”

    Apparently WA was limited to around 400 tests a day. Testing was too busy trying to track and trace the most likely cases.

  26. “Bushfire Billsays:
    Thursday, April 2, 2020 at 6:05 pm
    It’s Time: I just disagree. I understand the maths (it’s not rocket science). I disagree with the underlying assumptions.”

    The growth can be exponential, but with the rate decreasing day to day. So a change in behaviour will result in a change in the rate.

  27. EGT

    “The question is what to do in (say) six weeks time, assuming six weeks of effective suppression.

    The current answer (per Commissioner Fuller for example) appears to be “double it and add a bit” – 90 days suppression (to be sure, to be sure, to be sure?) and then uncontrolled (?) relaxation.

    The problem is that if that goes wrong (which it might) all the current effort will have wasted.”

    Precisely. Which is why I keep hammering several key points.

    1. Suppression is not an exit strategy. Suppression is not sustainable.
    2. Eradication is the only workable exit strategy.
    3. Eradication involves both isolation and mass testing.
    4. The most important thing we can be doing right now is to get the media to talk about mass testing.

  28. c@tmomma: “meher baba,
    I have to say that was a very creative attempted diversion from the subject. Pity we have the interwebs.”

    Yep, she does appear to be eastern european. Memo to self, in this day and age, never rely on your memory!

    Nevertheless, with all his faults, I have never heard the slightest suggestion that Laming is any sort of a racist.

  29. “The most important thing we can be doing right now is to get the media to talk about mass testing.”

    Not sure posting on this blog will do it. I think everyone here is convinced.

  30. “Cud Chewersays:
    Thursday, April 2, 2020 at 6:11 pm
    “Apparently WA was limited to around 400 tests a day”

    More tests. Test more.”

    I want a pony, but I’m not getting one.

  31. Exponential growth is only reliably accurate where there are no outside influences, themselves variables that are subject to non-linear influences such as: compliance, social shame (the Bondi Backpacker Effect), human emotion, health system architecture and integrity, public policy variations, indecision, mis and under-reporting, the effect of virus mutations, progress in treatments, changing manufacturing capability, and sheer arbitrary guesswork at play.

    The only outside influence that matters is when cases are imported or exported from our total – they’ll cause a stepwise change in the number of cases.

    Everything else can be boiled down the base of an exponent, and that’s because of this insight: while the number of cases remains small compared to the overall population, the number of new cases depends on the number of current cases and the average number of people they infect. All those other factors just alter the average number of people infected – changing the interest rate of that compound interest equation.

    Now that’s not to say that you can just use a single base-to-the-power function and call it a day – you can’t, because those behavioural changes are taking place constantly. You have to use a piecewise series of exponentials, just like a variable-rate loan. You can’t say “this is where we’ll be” without qualification, but you can say “this is where we’ll be if the behaviour of the last N days is maintained.”.

  32. So I went to the reassuring embrace of maths to see if any of that was being reflected in the numbers.

    The bedrock numbers are:

    ● Deaths,
    ● ICU admissions.

    They realistically can’t be fudged to any significant degree.

    They are also well below what 5,000 cases would indicate, much less the fancied 15,000 cases.

    If there are really 15,000 cases, then we’re doing bloody well. We should sell tickets.

    The ships off shore refusing to leave might be our first customers. Front row, in fact.

  33. “I want a pony, but I’m not getting one.”

    You’re saying that the government shouldn’t be pulling out all stops to obtain as many tests as possible?
    That’s a silly comparison.

  34. Bushfire Bill @ #2044 Thursday, April 2nd, 2020 – 6:13 pm

    So I went to the reassuring embrace of maths to see if any of that was being reflected in the numbers.

    The bedrock numbers are:

    ● Deaths,
    ● ICU admissions.

    They realistically can’t be fudged to any significant degree.

    But, because of the pipeline, you can only accurately assess these numbers in hindsight.

    In about 2 weeks from now, we will know where we were today 🙁

  35. The variable is changing daily, as one curve-fit is replaced by another. Isn’t this akin to rewriting history?

    Are you perhaps missing the point of the curve fitting?

    We don’t know what is happening, but we can attempt to understand it by plotting a graph and drawing a line using those points. As each new point is added you revisit your line, looking for a better understanding. I don’t call that re-writing history.

  36. BB:

    Exponential growth is only reliably accurate where there are no outside influences

    I’m not sure what “reliably accurate” means, but it’s not “no outside influences” but instead that the “outside influences are insufficient to reduce the growth” so that it’s no longer exponential (i.e. reduce that epidemiological parameter below one).

    As an extreme example, a COVID19 carrier could be struck by lightning and die – this “outside influence” would stop said carrier from infecting anyone, but no one would think that it has altered an exponential process so as to make it not exponential.

    More realistically, one needs somehow to determine (or estimate) that the combination of “outside influences” is sufficient to reduce the infection parameter below one. Moreover, this needs to be done for each independent infection process (which of course means one must also know about all the extant processes) – they must all have the infection parameter below one else aggregate growth will still be exponential.

  37. “Cud Chewersays:
    Thursday, April 2, 2020 at 6:14 pm
    “I want a pony, but I’m not getting one.”

    You’re saying that the government shouldn’t be pulling out all stops to obtain as many tests as possible?
    That’s a silly comparison.”

    No, I’m saying that saying “there should have been more testing 2 weeks ago” is a bit pointless. Or saying that governments “should be doing more testing right now” when they don’t have the physical capacity.

    No problem at all with wanting the ability to test to be expanded.

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