What the papers say

Random notes on coronavirus and opinion poll response rates, election postponements and a call to give counting of pre-poll votes a head start on election night.

No Newspoll this week it seems – which is unfortunate, because a report in New York Times ($) suggests coronavirus lockdowns are doing wonders for opinion poll response rates:

Even in online surveys, pollsters have also seen an increase in participation over the past few weeks. At the Pew Research Center, which does most of its polling through the online American Trends Panel, many respondents filled in a voluntary-comments box in a recent survey with expressions of gratitude.

It is inferred that “a wider variety of people are willing to tell pollsters what they think, so it’s more likely that a poll’s respondents will come closer to reflecting the makeup of the general population.”

Coronavirus is rather less conducive to the staging of actual elections, the latest casualty being the May 30 date that was set for Tasmania’s Legislative Council seats of Huon Rosevears, which was itself a postponement from the traditional first Saturday of the month. The government has now invoked a recently legislated power to set the date for a yet-to-be-determined Saturday in June, July and August. The Tasmanian Electoral Commission has expressed the view that a fully postal election, as some were advocating, did not count as an election under the state’s existing Electoral Act.

Tasmania and other jurisdictions with elections looming on their calendars might perhaps look to South Korea, which proceeded with its legislative elections on Wednesday. As reported in The Economist ($):

All voters will have their temperature taken before entering their polling station (those found to have fever or other symptoms will be directed to a separate polling booth). They will also have to wear a face mask, sanitise their hands and put on vinyl gloves before picking up a ballot paper and entering the booth. Election stewards will ensure people keep away from each other while queueing and voting. Door knobs, pencils and ballot boxes will be sterilised often.

Other than that, I can offer the following in the way of recommended reading: Antony Green’s post calling for pre-poll votes to be counted under wraps on election day starting from 2pm. This would address issues arising from the huge imbalance between election day booths, only one of which processed more than 4000 votes at the May 2019 federal election, and the three weeks’ accumulation of votes cast at pre-poll booths, of which 901 cleared 4000 votes, including 208 that went above 10,000 and ten with more than 20,000 (UPDATE: Make that 370 of more than 4000 and 208 of more than 10,000 – turns out the numbers in the table are cumulative). The result is that the largest pre-poll booths are not reporting until very late at night, many hours after the last trickles of election booths runs dry.

This has sometimes caused election counts to take on different complexions at the end of the evening — to some extent at the Victorian state election in November 2018, which ended a little less catastrophic for the Liberals than the election day results suggested, and certainly at the Wentworth by-election the previous month, when Liberal candidate Dave Sharma briefly rose from the dead in his struggle with the ultimately victorious Kerryn Phelps. It is noted that pre-poll votes in New Zealand are counted throughout election day itself, which is made practical by a ban on any election campaigning on the day itself, freeing up party volunteers for scrutineering who in Australia would be staffing polling booths.

Antony also argues against reducing the pre-poll period from three weeks to two, for which there has been quite a broad push since last year’s election, as it will lead to greater demand for the less secure option of postal voting, stimulated by the efforts of the political parties.

Also note my extensive post below on recent events in Wisconsin – you are encouraged to use that thread if you have something to offer specifically on American politics.

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.

769 comments on “What the papers say”

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  1. Lizzie
    Could we please have hashtags for wildlife picts.

    I was looking at footage of empty CBD streets and wondered how long before animals would be sighted walking down the middle of Collins St or Swanston St.

  2. So much for pro-life Republicans

    They’re not Pro Life, as we all know, they’re Pro Control of Women’s Bodies, and they are religious men and the women who have been brainwashed by them.

  3. In some over supplied courses that are fee engines for foreign students (e.g. MBAs)

    My observation is that medicine seems to have lots of international students too, and the fees for medical degrees are astronomical.

  4. On transport and any possible post pandemic stimulus package, as I have said before the use by date of business as usual has passed. Look for nervous financiers to exit every toll road finance deal going. Smart governments and super funds should be doing likewise.

    In light of what has happened to personal behaviour, and how amazingly successful government has been at managing demand, there are three areas to focus. Electric car charging stations (and transfer the tax subsidy from utes to them), demand management in cities (build bike lanes, not freeways) and inter-city high speed rail may be an idea whose time has come. Much as I have championed inner city rail and LRT, demand for them has now taken a huge hit. HSR to regions and then capital cities may now be a better investment.

    The Grattan institute has written some good stuff recently. Happily someone in Labor has reached the same conclusion.

  5. Helloworld boss Andrew Burnes says international travel is at least nine to 12 months away from returning, foreshadowing New Zealand and possibly the South Pacific would likely be the first destinations reopened for business.

    On the cruise front, the Helloworld CEO said the sector would return to popularity following increased health and safety measures but this was likely not until mid next year. Mr Burnes foreshadowed that cruise companies needed to beef-up their health and safety measures to include near ICU facilities on-board.

    On the international travel front, Australians might be permitted at some point to visit, for example, Canada, with no post-return quarantine but not the US, he said. “Or Australians might be permitted to visit the US and Chile but not be able to travel to the US from Chile. The permutations are endless.”


  6. Confessions

    Yes but medical and engineering degrees cost a lot of money to provide. They do not make huge profits. Also in an aging society the need for more doctors is real. The real Uni cash cows are MBAs and Law – higher fees but the same cost to run as an Arts course.

    Have a good day all.

  7. KayJay @ #47 Monday, April 20th, 2020 – 8:18 am

    Talking about depression – (not really – depression is a very serious matter)


    ” rel=”nofollow”>

    I’m going to have to lift my game. I don’t watch any of them although I had a look at “Shaun Micallef – Mad as Hell (ABC)” a couple of days ago
    rating “no stars”.

    Netflix and Foxtel are equally dreadful. 📚

    ‘Shaun Micallef – Mad as Hell’ Rating – no stars?
    One of the best satirical shows ever made in this country. I must say, the absence of a live audience does take the edge off some of it.

    One viewing is not sufficient for a full appreciation of Micaleff’s brilliance.

    Netflix is truly useless. Rupert never got anything from me so I can’t comment on Fux.
    Stan is the best streaming service.

  8. One more thing – airlines and solvency. I can’t see them all surviving. If domestic travel (plus NZ) can restart, that is great for domestic plane use and staff. But all those dreamliners are still sitting on tarmacs earning their owners no money. Doing Sydney Hobart for holidays instead of Sydney London is a lot shorter flight even if the number of passengers recovers. And Boeing? Surely they are toast unless they are given a huge defence contract free kick.

  9. As Friedman explained, the president is encouraging a deadly game of “Russian roulette” to be played by U.S. citizens.

    Given the level of intelligence displayed by the average Trump groupie I suspect they’ll be playing “Russian roulette” with an automatic.

  10. @johnsy123aus
    …Someone actually just told me on Facebook that it’s a good thing Obama isn’t president right now because he wasn’t a billionaire and wouldn’t have been able to afford to give everyone $1200. Seriously. How do trumps supporters find their way home at the end of the day?

  11. 7 cases in NSW and Vic combined in 24 hours to 8pm last night.

    There might not be 25 cases Oz wide in that period.

  12. From the Haigh piece;
    ‘The Labor party has some excellent foot soldiers in the form of Jim Chalmers, Penny Wong, Andrew Leigh, Tony Burke, Tanya Plibersek and Chris Bowen. Anthony Albanese gives no confidence that he has the boldness, courage, imagination or leadership to embrace and implement such change. His team, if they stick with him, will need to lead the way and hope that he can follow.

    We cannot go back to the past. We need to recreate ourselves with boldness, vision, optimism and courage. Are we up for it?’

    As mundo likes to say, Labor needs to find some passion, rage, commitment, confidence, courage, enthusiasm.

  13. Two things about this photo:

    1. If she’s all, no masks! What’s that thing around her neck? She is wearing it in such a way that suggests she pulled it down from her face.

    2. She obviously doesn’t care about the bodies of her grandparents.

  14. NostraBill @ #2710 Monday, April 20th, 2020 – 12:29 am

    Diog, Fulvio conferred the title on me after I listed some of my accurate virus predictions going back as far as January.

    Even some of my critics grudgingly conceded I’d been right.

    One of them tried to take her endorsement back, but it was too late. I’d already banked the cheque.

    No, one of them pointed out that you had fraudulently misappropriated the cheque, and therefore cancelled it.

  15. GoldenSmaug @ #62 Monday, April 20th, 2020 – 8:39 am

    As Friedman explained, the president is encouraging a deadly game of “Russian roulette” to be played by U.S. citizens.

    Given the level of intelligence displayed by the average Trump groupie I suspect they’ll be playing “Russian roulette” with an automatic.

    and a bullet in every chamber.

  16. Doing Sydney Hobart for holidays

    But not on a cruise ship. I can’t see the cruise ship industry surviving, and perhaps that’s a good thing. Those things are nothing but floating petri dishes.

  17. C@tmomma @ #72 Monday, April 20th, 2020 – 8:51 am

    Two things about this photo:
    ” rel=”nofollow”>

    1. If she’s all, no masks! What’s that thing around her neck? She is wearing it in such a way that suggests she pulled it down from her face.

    2. She obviously doesn’t care about the bodies of her grandparents.

  18. Re Kayjay @8:19.

    Well I only watch one of those – No.3 Death in Paradise. Watch Shaun McAuliff a couple of times but wasn’t keen on it. Most of the others I’ve never watched.

  19. ‘Social distancing = Communism’: These are the stupidest protest signs from rallies to reopen

    I have been saying it for a while. Trump needs to be given the chance to fail. And fail bigly. Yes, it will hurt. And with this… it will kill. In the long run it is the only way to teach some of these people to not vote for a snake oil salesman idiot child sociopath. Just for a couple of judges for two issues.

    So let Trump and Fox have the short term power to f the country up. Attempts to minimise his damage and control his urges from within the administration, institutions, Congress and the States should cease. Trump just uses that to sit idly by on the sidelines, twiddling his stubbie little thumbs then finger point.

    So let restaurants/bars that want to open, open. Let people that want to go there, go there. Advise against it by all means. But just say ‘with the President demanding we open up, encouraging civil unrest, we have no choice. If it goes ballsup, blame Trump.

  20. KayJay and Steve777

    Putting on a hat as a TV critic for a moment, Shaun Micallef is best when he does mild satire and his supporting actors are excellent. But he overacts too much, and is at his worst when he descends into slapstick. Boring.

    Death in Paradise. The current detective isn’t a patch on the previous two, in personality or acting ability. Has rather weird facial expressions and starey eyes.

  21. Tracer app.

    Jenny Hallam
    Replying to @BreakfastNews
    Ive spoken to a cpl of techies that told me it will be a flop. They said to work it effectively needs to stay on all the time which will be a massive drain on your battery. Not to mention back door hacks into other info on your ph. Will be hard to make it effective bt safe.

  22. For those of the “Ease up now, think of the economy” persuasion….
    But in a letter to Prime Minister Scott Morrison, 35 of the nation’s pre-eminent economists say an early relaxation of social distancing laws could deliver an even bigger medical and financial hit to the nation.

    Signatories to the letter include current RBA board member Ian Harper, former member Warwick McKibben, and respected academic economists including Deborah Cobb-Clark, Justin Wolfers, John Freebairn and Flavio Menezes.

  23. I have always been optimistic about how Australia will fare on the health front. Our biggest challenge going forward will be economically.

    Meanwhile per capita the UK is doing even worse than the USA

  24. Mundo
    No Scrotes, thank goodness, but plenty of lifelong political operatives.
    Labor has plenty of good, fair and workable policies.
    Get over it.

  25. Trump’s mouthpiece at the presser is addressing nursing homes for the first time! Here our governments have been all over them from day 1.

  26. BK @ #38 Monday, April 20th, 2020 – 8:08 am

    I think it’s pretty obvious government ministers would’ve received copies of Turnbull’s book and even shared it themselves. Which body investigates breaches of copyright?
    The AFP would have access to the government server to see who read ii and passed it on to whom. Could be a big snowball here, providing Turnbull with other revenge possibilities.

    This is set against the background of this same government forcing Google and Facebook to pay for content from australian media, newspapers etc.


    Not that I’ve much sympathy for Google or facebook.

  27. Poroti

    And of course, BJohnson getting the virus has given him a pass for his mismanagement from the get go. Mind you they only changed tact on the herd immunity strategy when it was already too late,

  28. BK

    I feel so sad for the innocent people who are suffering and dying as a result of the negligence of their leaders.

  29. Greensborough Growler says:
    Monday, April 20, 2020 at 8:48 am
    Australia doing very well in confronting the pandemic.

    You wonder why Australia is doing well?

    We’ve been instructed to stay at home, order home-delivered pizza, sit on the couch and watch TV.
    I think that’s our number 1 national past-time. No wonder we are winning…

  30. Fess: “Reading Bruce Haigh’s column I’m wondering where our higher ed sector goes to now without the cash from international students. Does this mean university education will become even more expensive to cover the shortfall or does it become cheaper in an effort to woo Australian students?”

    One possible way forward would be a total re-engineering of the university sector back to something more akin to the pre-Dawkins model. Universities would be encouraged to stop thinking about themselves as being like “businesses” and go back to the idea of being institutions that are one step beyond schools. This would see an end to Vice-Chancellors and other senior staff who behave like (and are paid like, or even better than) CEOs and senior executives in the private sector. Universities would move away from delivering mass-produced IT and commerce degrees and MBAs (taught by people who have little or no idea of what goes on in the real business world), and back into focusing on providing excellence in learning for Australian school leavers.

    And the Government could also try to cool down some of the ridiculous competitiveness around research. The old idea was that excellent research would be allowed to develop from the bottom up and then be awarded grants. Today, the competition for ARC grants has become an aggressive game, reminiscent of large-scale tender processes: helping to justify the huge salaries being paid to those at the top of the university administrations.

    I rather hate what the universities have turned into. Most university libraries have now locked almost all of their books away in off-site storage: particularly those dealing with non-commercial aspects of intellectual life such as the humanities, higher mathematics, theoretical physics, etc. Some universities are now digitalising these books and then selling them to book dealers. The space freed-up in the libraries has been replaced by coffee bars and row after row of desktop computers.

    To me it all sucks big time. But maybe I’m just a grumpy old man.

  31. Goll @ #87 Monday, April 20th, 2020 – 9:15 am

    No Scrotes, thank goodness, but plenty of lifelong political operatives.
    Labor has plenty of good, fair and workable policies.
    Get over it.

    Most of Labor’s political operatives seem to be stuck on page 1 of the manual, List of Topics’
    I’ll get over it when Labor finds a leadership team who can sell…’.plenty of good, fair and workable policies’.

  32. BK – that may be the case, but they argue the more you call them that the more likely they are to continue to vote for Trump.

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