Essential Research and YouGov COVID polling

Support for vaccine passports as a way out of COVID restrictions, but existing lockdowns in New South Wales and Victoria retain strong support for now.

Two fairly meaty items of attitudinal polling on COVID-19 today, starting with the fortnightly Essential Research poll, which also included its monthly leadership ratings. Scott Morrison’s ratings were hardly changed, with approval steady at 50% and disapproval up one to 41%, while Anthony Albanese’s were slightly improved, with approval up three to 37% and disapproval down two to 36%. Morrison’s lead as preferred prime minister nonetheless widened slightly, from 45-26 to 47-26. Offered a choice between the proposition that the government deserved to be re-elected and that it was “time to give someone else a go”, respondents favoured the latter over the former by 41% over 36%, which sits well with the tenor of recent voting intention polling.

On COVID-19 management, the federal government’s good rating was down two to 39% and its bad rating was up one to 36%. Of the state governments with almost meaningful sample sizes, the good rating of the New South Wales government was down two to 40%, that of the Victorian government tumbled 12 points to 44%, and the Queensland government was up a point to 67%. Of those with entirely inadequate sample sizes, the Western Australian government’s good rating was down nine to 78% and South Australia’s was up eight to 76%.

A series of questions on COVID-19 strategy produced the rather striking finding that 61% favoured the low-ball option of “less than 100 deaths per year” when asked how many would be “acceptable to ‘live with’ in Australia as lockdown restrictions are removed”. Furthermore, current lockdown restrictions remain strongly supported, with 56% in New South Wales and 57% in Victoria considering their states’ settings to be “about right”. However, the balance is tipping towards them being thought too strong, at 28% and 35% respectively, compared with too weak, at 16% and 8% respectively.

Another question found only 12% favoured Australia living with COVID-19 “even if there are hospitalisations and deaths”, compared with 44% apeice who favoured a near-zero policy and living with a few cases “even if there are hospitalisations and deaths”. There were notable differences between the lockdown states and the others: 38% in New South Wales and 37% in Victoria favoured a near-zero strategy, compared with 50% in Queensland, 51% in South Australia and 59% in Western Australia. The poll was conducted Wednesday to Sunday from a sample of 1100.

Also out today through the News Corp papers is a large-sample survey on COVID-19 conducted by YouGov, results from which can be viewed in The Australian here. This featured a number of questions on how things should be “when everyone has the opportunity to be fully vaccinated”, which 41% thought should mean an end to lockdowns, although a not inconsiderable 37% felt otherwise. Respondents from Western Australia were most pro-lockdown, those from New South Wales and Victoria least so. Younger respondents and parents of children in school were more likely to be pro-lockdown; those who did not wish to be vaccinated, accounting for 13% of the total sample, were most opposed.

The poll similarly found that 66% would eventually favour French-style vaccine passports for a range of public activities; 63% state borders being kept open only for the vaccinated; and 68% likewise with respect to overseas travel. Only 23% were opposed to the notion that employers should be able to demand their staff be vaccinated, compared with 69% who supported it for “frontline or public-facing jobs”, inclusive of 45% who thought it should be allowed across the board. Clear majorities were in favour of compulsory vaccinations for aged-care workers, nurses, school staff, public transport workers, take-away restaurant and food delivery workers, public servants and hospitality workers, and opinion was about evenly divided for construction workers and tradies.

Respondents were also given a choice between uncompromising anti-lockdown (“lockdowns should be ended immediately”) and pro-lockdown (“lockdowns must be part of Australia’s future until COVID-19 is completely eliminated”) positions and the much looser middle-ground option that “vaccination is the pathway to ending lockdowns”, which when you put it like that gets respective results of 14%, 22% and 64%. The survey was conducted by YouGov from August 20 to 25 from a sample of 3114.

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.

1,209 comments on “Essential Research and YouGov COVID polling”

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  1. It's the 2nd September and 1288 new locally-acquired cases overnight for NSW with another 7 deaths. The 5-day moving average has increased to 1146, but the Reff has dropped slightly to 1.11, its lowest value for almost a month. There is a chance that things are slowing down.— Professor Adrian Esterman FACE (@profesterman) September 2, 2021

    Is the warmer weather helping? My first thought, but others on Twitter also asked this question.

    It is too early for vaccination to her kicking in to reduce R_eff.

    Anyway, we should not get too excited for until about Wed next week (if the R_eff is still low then).

  2. D&M,

    whilst not suggesting balloons and streamers, the wrist-slitting projection of 10,000 cases per day as a dead certainty from the doomsdayers amongst us is also perhaps just a few (hundred) standard deviations from a highside peak scenario in NSW

  3. Ven

    Thursday, September 2, 2021 at 10:06 pm
    hazza4257 @ #1148 Thursday, September 2nd, 2021 – 9:24 pm

    From The Australian:

    “Senior WA Labor sources say Anthony Albanese is on track to gain as many as four seats from the Liberals, including those of ministers Christian Porter and Ken Wyatt, amid Mr McGowan’s sky-high popularity and concerns over borders and vaccines.”

    That’s the view from the horse’s mouth.

    They always say that sort of thing when Labor are up in the polls, then make a determined effort to tear them down between now and the election. Then, after the election they go, ‘Hail, Scott the Miracle Man!’

    That sort of reporting, as quoted above, is also the cue for the Coalition to start their, ‘measuring the drapes in The Lodge’, BS.

    From what D&M explained in some previous posts ‘Senior WA Labor sources” are people like D&M, AE and C@tmomma from whom Murdoch hacks gather some feelpinions (not facts) in their unguarded moments and report them as facts (please note the paragraph is not in anyway an insult to any of the above 3). D&M posted that D&M is nowadays very careful with people like that.

    So I will not get carried away by stories like above story in Murdoch rag.

    For me it is not questions about ALP policy or internal opinion polls* – I have no idea. But you are correct in that this is how the Australian gets its stories. For example, a well known ALP identity used to drink at my local (he was given a state funeral at Redfern Park a few years ago), and there were always people hanging around to get his opinion, which they would pass off as “internal Labor sources”, when he knew as much as I did, which is basically nothing.

    Also, in these post-truth days, The Australian probably just make the whole lot up.

    * My experience is similar. For me, when some people find out I work as a research physicist, they wait for an opportunity to talk to me by myself, and then ask what I think about climate change (or recently COVID!). At least on climate change, I am qualified to comment.

    Invariably I answer that anthropomorphic climate change / global warming is very real, and well supported by observational data – except I put it more simply, depending on the questioner.

    The people who ask me the question framed in this way then get visibly agitated when I do not give the “climate change is crap” answer, assuming I am part of the conspiracy.

    They were hoping for the “I know a scientist and they say climate change is crap / natural / nothing we can do anything about” quote to share with their like-minded friends.

    A more fun example of this phenomenon is my friend who was, until she recently retired, an auditor for the ATO.

    It was very funny, when were at social gatherings, when the “What do you do” question came up. She would say “I am an auditor fore the Australian Taxation Office”. The person who asked the question would then go blank for about 5 seconds, and you could see them thinking back to see if they had mentioned something they should not have. Then, like clockwork, she would get a question, for example: “Actually, I have a large provisional tax bill that I am trying to minimise – can you tell me if this strategy is legal?”

    She mostly just told people she was a “public servant”, but every now and then it was a fun game to play to see what happened when she revealed what she really did.

  4. Expat

    Iceland’s daily infections peaked on 11 August 2021 at 495.11 per million. Iceland had 75% of the total population fully vaccinated at that point.

    Morrison is only targeting 56% and 64% of the total population before ‘opening up’.

    If Australia’s daily infections ‘only’ peak at the same level as Iceland (unlikely, remember Iceland had 75% fully vaccinated versus Australia’s low target of 56%) we would see a daily peak of ~12,000 infections.

    So either Morrison and Gladys are lying when they say that we will open up at 56% and/or 64% fully vaccinated, or we will open up and our daily cases will be much higher that 10,000 per day.

  5. I like the cut of Dr Omar Kashid’s jib. He is the current president of the AMA. He explains why we may need more that 80% of the “eligible” population vaccinated before we open up:

    The AMA says vaccination coverage higher than 80 per cent of the eligible population may be needed to avoid future lockdowns as it asked for new hospital modelling ahead of opening up.

  6. Anyway, the AMA sure has changed since the days of the “Doctor’s strike about Medicare in 1983 / 1984”).

    At our large Christmas gathering at my grandfather’s place, in 1983, where there were three medical doctors who would be at the gathering, plus those of us who were a bit politically inclined, my grandfather cautioned us early that my GP uncle would be attending our gathering in the afternoon. He was the local branch rep for the AMA, and as such was virulently opposed to the introduction of Medicare.

    As my grandfather said, this particular uncle was a very good and hardworking GP, and if he was misled by his union, it was unfortunate. My grandfather would appreciate it if we could stay away from any contentious discussions.

    Other participants were my Labor lawyer uncle (quite rambunctious), a paediatrician aunt who was a member of the Doctors Reform Society (hope I got that name correct), and a GP aunt who was a mover and shaker in both the local Catholic Church and the local ALP.

    A pleasant day was had by all, washed down by some Hock of Lakes Folly provenance.

    Funnily enough, I now mirror that with my own children. We have one of the flock (favourite eldest son – thinking of Kay Jay) who has fled the inner city / eastern suburbs to live where “Jesus lives”, in the Hills (thanks for the great phrase Shellbell).

    Of course, those who lives where Jesus lives got Pfizer toute suite, before the rest of my kids could say Astrazenica. It led to a bit of resentment – I guess a deadly plague where people are terrified will do that.

    I am now playing my grandfather: “I know it is not fair, but for the sake of family harmony, and assuming that eldest son has to live there because of his in-laws … So, we should not mention the war.”

  7. D&M,
    Thanks for your posts, particularly the Xmas one! I’m sure many of us can learn from your wise grandfather.
    A lovely post to wake to.

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