Miscellany: issues polling, drug law reform, Eden-Monaro wash-up, NZ poll

Concern about the state of the economy pushes climate change down the issue agenda batting order; evidence of a trend in favour of legalisation of cannabis; and New Zealand Labour still on track for a landslide in September.

Beneath this post is the latest offering from Adrian Beaumont on the polling picture in the United States ahead of the November presidential election. Closer to home, a few items of poll-related news:

• Pollster JWS Research has published results of its occasional True Issues survey, in which respondents are prompted to identify the five most important issues from a list of 20. The key changes since the last survey in February are a 17% increase for the economy and finances to 52% and an 11% drop in environment and climate change to 31%. The result for health issues has in fact changed little over recent surveys, although it has gained the top spot in the latest survey with a three point increase to 56%, overtaking cost of living which is down six to 53%. Interestingly, defence, security and terrorism is up six to 26%, which I take to reflect growing nervousness about China. Various other questions on COVID-19 are also featured, including findings that satisfaction with federal and state government performance is at record highs, with both scoring 19% for very good and 39% for good. The report notes that strongest results for state governments were recorded in Western Australia (83% combined very good and good) and the weakest were in Victoria (57%), although this is going off small sub-samples. The poll was conducted July 1 to 5 from a sample of 1000, just as the breakout in Victoria was beginning to gather pace.

• The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has published the National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2019, in which 22,274 respondents were surveyed by Roy Morgan between April and September 2019 about their use of and attitudes towards illegal drugs. On the latter count, it found a plurality in favour of legalising cannabis for the first time, with 41% supportive and 37% opposed, with support having risen from 21% since 2007. It also found 57% support for allowing pill testing with 27% opposed.

Kevin Bonham offers an interesting look at the unweighted data on voting intention that Essential Research effectively provides in its otherwise voting intention-less poll results, by way of identifying the size of the subsamples in its survey question breakdowns (for example, in the latest polls you can see from the “base” rows in the tables breaking down responses by voting intention that the sample included 299 Labor voters, 420 for the Coalition and 108 for the Greens). Notwithstanding the lack of weighting, the results paint an intuitively plausible picture of collapsing government support at the time of the bushfires, a reset when COVID-19 first reared its head, and an ongoing surge in Coalition support on the back of its support packages and the largely successful efforts to suppress the virus. These movements are considerably more variable than anything recorded by Newspoll, which has maintained the unnatural stability that was its hallmark before the 2019 election, despite its methodological overhaul.

Some wash-up from the Eden-Monaro by-election:

• John Black, former Labor Senator and now executive director of Australian Development Strategies, offered an ecological analysis of voting patterns in the Eden-Monaro by-election in The Australian on Monday. This pointed to a strong age-related effect in which older areas swung Labor and younger areas swung Liberal. Labor-swinging areas were also low-income with large accommodation and food industry workforces, while Liberal-swinging areas were white-collar and with high levels of employment in public administration. None of this would surprise students of the electorate and the result, given the Liberal swing in Queanbeyan and the Labor swing along the coast.

• Counting in the by-election is nearly complete, with today being the last day that postal votes received will be entered in the count. The latest results are continuing to be updated as they come through on my live results page. With probably a couple of dozen postals to be entered in the count, Labor holds a lead of 764. Of remaining interest will be the distribution of preferences, presumably to be conducted early next week, which will offer some insight into exactly how many Nationals and Shooters preferences flowed to Labor – contentious subjects both on the conservative side of politics.

Meanwhile across the pond:

• Roy Morgan published a New Zealand voting intention poll this week that was shortly overtaken by events, with the conservative opposition National Party experiencing its second leadership change in two months earlier in the week. The poll had Labor down two points from the previous poll in May to 54.5%, National up half a point to 27%, the Greens up two to 9%, Act New Zealand up 1.5% to a new peak of 5%, and New Zealand First apparently headed towards extinction with a one point drop to 1.5%. The poll was conducted by phone from a sample of 879, but all we are told of the field work period is that it was conducted during June.

• Concurrent with the New Zealand election on September 19 will be a non-binding referendum on cannabis legalisation. Poll results on this question are all over the shop: one poll last month, by Colmar Brunton, had 40% for and 49% against, while another, by Horizon Research, had 56% for and 43% against.

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.

1,562 comments on “Miscellany: issues polling, drug law reform, Eden-Monaro wash-up, NZ poll”

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  1. Player One

    It wouldn’t matter if a sock was a a Labor leader. Because the powers that be either make it happen or don’t.

    Simple as that.

    No need your conspiracy theories here or anywhere, needed.

  2. Anyone seen any pol numbers?
    Mundo is predicting 52/48 to Labor.
    I think Albo is really starting to cut through and the big EM win
    obviously has Scotty shittin himself.
    The punters aren’t fools they see Scrooter & Co for the hopeless sheisters they are.

  3. nath “Due to excessive use of exclamation marks I’m guessing Steven is Mundo.”

    In that case this blog is toast…

    Toast I tells ya!!

  4. Zerlo @ #1557 Sunday, July 19th, 2020 – 9:39 pm

    Player One

    It wouldn’t matter if a sock was a a Labor leader. Because the powers that be either make it happen or don’t.

    Simple as that.

    No need your conspiracy theories here or anywhere, needed.

    Hang on a minute … you post that … and then claim I’m promulgating conspiracy theories?

    Did I miss something in this conversation? Is your name really “Alice”?

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