Tracking the bludge

McEwen, Hughes and Ryan join the list of seats to watch, at least if you believe what you read in the papers. Also: an in-depth explanation of the BludgerTrack poll aggregate.

First things first:

• I had a piece in Crikey yesterday looking at how-to-vote cards, preference deals and the media coverage attendant to them. It considers a claim by Greg Sheridan of The Australian that any teal independent victories will be owed to ovine fealty to how-to-vote cards on the part of Labor and Greens voters; Labor’s decision to put the United Australia Party ahead of the Greens in central Queensland seats, in sharp contrast to its treatment of the party everywhere else; and One Nation’s tokenistic direction of preferences against the Liberals in five seats, without endangering Pauline Hanson’s second placement on the Liberal National Party Senate ticket in Queensland. Had I held back a day, I might have been able to note the latest full-page United Australia Party advertisements proclaiming &8220;Labor are preferencing the Liberal Party”.

Andrew Tillett of the Financial Review reports the Liberals are boosting resources in the Labor-held seat of McEwen in outer Melbourne. However, Labor sources say they expect to retain the Victorian seats that have become the source of media chatter over the past week, the others being Corangamite and Dunkley, as “national concerns over cost of living and antipathy towards Mr Morrison” are registering as strongly here as anywhere else.

The Australian reports the Liberals are newly concerned that the normally safe Brisbane seat of Ryan will be lost to Labor. There has also been increasing talk that the Greens could prove competitive in both Ryan and neighbouring Brisbane, together with Labor-held Griffith immediately to the south.

Alice Workman of The Australian reports “independent polling conducted over the phone, towards the end of April” shows Liberal candidate Jenny Ware on a low enough primary vote to put her in danger of losing Hughes to independent Georgia Steele. Liberal sources are quoted saying Ware is “on the nose with locals after being picked by Scott Morrison to run, against the wishes of rank-and-file branch members”. Assuredly not in contention is the seat’s incumbent, Craig Kelly, notwithstanding United Australia Party advertising proclaiming him the “next Prime Minister of Australia”.

• The Age/Herald today reports that this week’s Resolve Strategic poll showed 32% rated the Coalition as best to manage the Solomon Islands issue compared with 29% for Labor.

Now, by popular demand, a post probing into this site’s popular BludgerTrack poll aggregate, for which a permanent link can be found on the sidebar. This presently suggests Labor holds a lead of 54.0-46.0 on two-party preferred, which I don’t think anyone seriously expects to be actual result at the election. It does, however, show a narrowing trend commencing slightly before the onset of the campaign period, though not sufficient to suggest any chance of the Coalition closing the gap. Given the record low support for the major parties, the Coalition can at least hope that parity on two-party preferred need not be required to at least hold on to minority government – and also for another pollster failure like that in 2019 (the likelihood of which is considered in a post by Mark the Ballot).

BludgerTrack is one of a number of endeavours around the place that seek to plot a signal through the noise of federal opinion polling, together with one on the Wikipedia federal election page maintained by a user called Canley; Twitter user @Gergyl’s regular posts aggregating trends both short-range and long-range; and semi-regular blog posts from the aforementioned Mark the Ballot. That’s aside from the sites Armarium Interreta and Buckleys and None which, together with Professor Simon Jackman’s betting odds model, are tracking the horse race in other ways.

BludgerTrack and its close relatives, each of which produce very similar results, use LOESS (locally estimated scatterplot smoothing) functions to trace a path through the data points that keeps the distance between the path and the points at an appropriate level. The degree of tolerance for this difference is set by a smoothing parameter, which produces something resembling a straight line if set too high, and zooms all over the place in response to each individual poll result if set too low. The industry standard for determining the Goldilocks point is called the Akaike information criterion, which I use (thanks to a library available for the R statistics package) without really understanding its mathematical intricacies.

The data points themselves consist of every opinion poll of voting intention published since July 2019 by YouGov/Newspoll, Essential Research, Roy Morgan, Resolve Strategic and, just recently, Ipsos, which are weighted according to their perceived accuracy and adjusted to smooth out the peculiarities of each series. My methods here are quite a bit less presumptuous than they were before the pollster failure of 2019, when I imagined there was value in calibrating pollsters’ historic performances. I now assume that YouGov/Newspoll, the only pollster with any track record to speak of since 2019, is essentially free of bias, and calculate other pollsters’ biases based on the extent to which they deviate from a trend measure of it. These are halved so the peculiarities of each pollster have at least some weight in the overall result, rather than it being totally centred around Newspoll. The biggest change made is to Resolve Strategic’s Labor vote, which is increased by over two points. All other adjustments amount to less than one point.

Each pollster gets a weighting based partly on how much bias adjustment they’re being loaded up with, but mostly on my subjective impression of how accurate they’re likely to be, together with consideration of how frequently they report. The latter ensures the aggregate doesn’t get overwhelmed by the more prolific polling series. The most heavily weighted pollster at the moment is actually Ipsos, which is a (presumably) high-quality pollster that has so far produced only two polls released several weeks about. However, the mainstay of the series, Newspoll, is not far behind – a Resolve Strategic poll is worth about half a Newspoll, and an Essential Research (the most prolific series over the current term) and a Roy Morgan (which has a dubious track record) are worth about a quarter each.

Where BludgerTrack goes deeper than its rivals is in providing state breakdowns (together with leadership ratings). This is done using trend measures of each state’s deviation from the national results, which are then combined with the national trends (excepting Tasmania, for which next to no state-level data is published). Unfortunately, only Ipsos offers complete state data for each poll, as the others don’t care to have their small sub-samples held up to scrutiny their margins of error can’t bear. Essential Research comes close, but it smooths results for the smaller states by publishing three-poll rolling averages. Newspoll has always dealt with the issue by publishing state-level aggregates on a quarterly basis, which are a big deal for BludgerTrack when they come along (it would be nice to see one soon). Resolve Strategic only goes as deep as Queensland, and Roy Morgan’s are not used as they only provide two-party preferred at state level, whereas BludgerTrack works off primary votes.

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.

1,084 comments on “Tracking the bludge”

Comments Page 2 of 22
1 2 3 22
  1. Morning all and thanks for the roundup BK. Scomo has finally lost his shine judging from the Mt Druit story.

    I thought you might have considered the US SCOTUS for your nomination.

    Serious question: at what point does Pauline Hanson’s vote harvesting operation become electoral fraud?

  2. Cutting cables will have no effect on Starlink it is satellite to ground communication that can operate at 100ws.

  3. I see Peter Dutton has taken up the Greens’ advice by investing in a light, readily deployable and highly mobile fleet of submarines.
    Well done old chap.

  4. Albo just smashed it on the Today show. Very polished and on the front foot the whole time. Ally made a fool of herself, Albo told her stop with the Lib talking points. Good to see.

  5. is running out for Scomoe.

    Ray (UK)says:
    Thursday, May 5, 2022 at 7:12 am
    The gruesome twosome – ‘moderate’ Republican Senators Collins and Murkowski – have surfaced to comment on the Roe v Wade situation:

    Collins – “If this leaked draft opinion is the final decision and this reporting is accurate, it would be completely inconsistent with what Justice Gorsuch and Justice Kavanaugh said in their hearings and in our meetings in my office,” Collins said in a statement. “Obviously, we won’t know each Justice’s decision and reasoning until the Supreme Court officially announces its opinion in this case.”

    Murkowski –

    No Lie with Brian Tyler Cohen

    NEW: Lisa Murkowski, who voted to confirm Amy Coney Barrett when Trump specifically said he was nominating justices to overturn Roe v. Wade, just said she “finds it shocking that this would happen” and her “confidence in the court has been rocked.”

    5:23 PM · May 3, 2022·Twitter Web App

    The things we witnessed or read about US of A
    1. Record inflation in 40 years.
    2. Negative growth of 1.3%
    3. Reports that The New York AG may not prosecute Trump because grand jury term expiring this month would impede his office’s ability to bring charges.
    4. Roe vs Wade going pear shaped.
    5. Highest interest rate hike in 22 years.

    It looks like wheels are falling off Dems election strategy for mid-term elections win.

  6. Ven – I disagree.

    The Republicans are insane if they overturn Roe v Wade. Dems will win majorities in both houses if it goes ahead.

  7. Sprocket

    “ Reading Nikki Savva about Morrison’s re-election strategy, I’m reminded of this..

    “Do not repeat the tactics which have gained you
    one victory, but let your methods be regulated by the
    infinite variety of circumstances.” (Sun Tzu)”

    Agreed, fighting the last war/election is the most common mistake committed by generals/politicians. Failure to adapt to the new circumstance.

  8. Thank you WB for the peek under the hood. I once attempted to pronounce Akaike. Now it is just AIC 😉

    Thank you BK for the Dawn Patrol.

    Language watch: This is an interesting 7:30 report story that I was pointed to by Twitter (I have a moratorium on watching while Leigh Sales is in the chair).

    1. The text intro has the sentence “In this election however, Liberal Tim Wilson is being challenged by one of the so-called teal independents.”

    2. The reporter, Ashlynne McGhee, says the words “so-called teal independent” in the video.

    3. Tim Wilson says the words “so-called independent” in the video.

    4. Allegedly, Leigh Sales used the words “so-called teal independent” (I did not watch the whole show).

    Question: Has anyone else noted an ABC editorial directive to refer to the these independents as “so-called teal independents”?

  9. Everything abt ScoMo in this campaign reminds me of Keating’s trajectory from a competitive position in 1996. People worked out they’d had enough of him and the wave that threw him out on the day manifested in a giant landslide the degree of which was not predicted in any polling.

    There is definitely an observed phenomenon of govts hanging on against the odds, sucking, and getting annhialated next time around. This one fits that prototype to a t.

    Of course there never are ALP landslides in the order of 96 or 2013… ~84 seats would be cataclysmic. More imptntly, coalition dropping to 60 or below – whether to ALP or Teal – would be a spanking of note… unseen in last 70 years?

    Cant say that’s going to happen this time around, but for sure not ruling it out. Always better for expectations to be exceeded than dashed! A change of govt, however, is a non negotiable minimum

  10. Defence Minister Peter Dutton will announce plans to develop unmanned submarines and upgraded missiles to counteract China’s influence in the Indo-Pacific.

    The Defence Force and defence tech company Anduril Australia will co-fund a $2 billion venture to produce three Extra Large Autonomous Undersea Vehicles over the next three years.

    The government also previously announced a $2 billion investment to purchase Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles.

  11. Australia’s next Minister for Home Affairs Barnaby Joyce has told the PM that the reason that they are doing so badly in the polls is due to the contentious (only to Barnaby) bonk ban.

    ”Bloody, Scott, err, ScoMo, needs to realise that sex sells,” said the Member for New England. ”Sure it doesn’t fly in those inner city latte sipping seats, but who cares about them.”

    ”The people in the bush wanna know that their member is on the job, in more ways than one.”

    When asked why given the rising cost of living and interest rate rise that he felt that the bonk ban was the most important issue to deal with, the Deputy PM (for now) said: ”You people in the Canberra bubble need to get out more.”

    ”People care about who’s bonking who. They want their MP’s happy and sexed up.”

    ”They know that interest rates will go up and down, they’re more concerned that MP’s like me are able to go up and down.”

  12. Griff – reminds me of Karvelas using “retiree tax” last election campaign. I doubt there’s an editorial directive, I just think that over a long campaign these guys internalise Liberal talking points and they slip out here and there.

  13. Griff, I wouldn’t think too much about that one. The ‘so called teal’ is such because i don’t think the independents refer to themselves as ‘teals’. They have teal branding, but I can’t remember any of them ever voicing that.

  14. Niki Savva hits the bullseye here:

    Each (Morrison) formulation is delivered with such conviction – which remains his great strength – that it is easy to forget what happened yesterday or the day before, although if you believe the polls it is catching up with him.

    … By Sunday night, when he debates Albanese on Nine, Morrison will have sorted – or had focus groups point out – the best response on interest rates, the economy and cost of living. He will spruik that, with great confidence and chutzpah, regardless of what he has said or what has passed before or what might come next.

    Ever the used car salesman.

  15. Arky @ Thursday, May 5, 2022 at 8:43 am

    That may well be the case. Many susceptible media commentators. If they are truly that susceptible we could not call them journalists 😉

  16. Something great to report.
    Just spoke to a volunteer for Kylie Tink in North Sydney, and said that there are loads of ALP and Greens supporters working to get her elected. Because “we’ve got to get rid of this decrepit government”
    That was great to hear, because all I come across is that the Teals are a project of ex-Liberals.
    That is all.

  17. happyez @ #75 Thursday, May 5th, 2022 – 8:49 am

    Something great to report.
    Just spoke to a volunteer for Kylie Tink in North Sydney, and said that there are loads of ALP and Greens supporters working to get her elected. Because “we’ve got to get rid of this decrepit government”
    That was great to hear, because all I come across is that the Teals are a project of ex-Liberals.
    That is all.

    What about Catherine Renshaw? Is her campaign running dead?

  18. If Jenny Ware is “on a low enough primary vote to put her in danger of losing Hughes to independent Georgia Steele”, it won’t have been helped by her no-show at the Hughes community forum last night, apparently because of another commitment.

    Georgia Steele put in an impressive performance – articulate, smart and well able to address the questions put from the audience including the thorny issue of a posible hung parliament. The other independent candidate was also good, particularly when she identified the precise Craig Kelly facebook post which triggered her to kick off the ‘we are hughes’ movement. The young last-minute labour dude has his heart in the right place but needs more experience to handle himself in campaigning. Unsurprisingly, organisers were unable to contact the One Nation candidate.

    Our much-loved member, Craig, had the last word and confirmed what most thought of him with a spittle-laden rant on the evils of the UN and the importance personal freedom from mandated medical interventions.

  19. @ Old Spoke: It’s amazing how many “other commitments” Liberal candidates keep having that prevent them attending community forums during an actual election campaign. Maybe she was visiting with Gladys Liu or Josh Frydenberg.

  20. Pi @ Thursday, May 5, 2022 at 8:44 am

    “So-called” has a negative connotation. That is why Tim Wilson is using it. ABC commentators may defend use of the term by inserting teal. But when the primary Liberal accusation is that these independents are not truly independent, a journalist should be careful with the language they use.

    Language matters. Even if we think it doesn’t influence us as we are intelligent people 🙂

  21. Akaike information criterion, never heard of it before. The Wikipedia article on Akaike information criterion seems quite informative. I would summarize, it’s a guess at how good the guess is based on the number of data points and how close the points are to the guess. Or a sand castle built on a sand castle.

  22. It’s the economy, stupid

    The Fed Reserve Chair has hosed down the media publicity re future rate rises

    With the Markets responding accordingly

    Then you have the jobs data and the Balance of Trade data

  23. Hard to disagree with this …

    Contrary to political scaremongering, climate change, not China, is the greatest security threat we face. A threat which, because of political inaction here and globally, is now existential, meaning that it may either annihilate life or permanently, and drastically, curtail its potential.

    Yet despite the fact that we are already one of the world’s worst carbon polluters, the Morrison government bets the future of Australia on precisely the opposite. Namely massive expansion of the fossil fuel industry via a gas-led recovery and refusal to rule out coal expansion. Despite soaring rhetoric about commitment to climate action via its criminally irresponsible “Australian Way” policy, the government is doing everything possible to subsidise and otherwise shore up the future of the industry.

    Unfortunately, the ALP, shadowing the government for electoral reasons, parrots this charade, and the mainstream media refuse to take up the real implications of climate change. The result is that our two-party political system is incapable of realistically addressing the greatest security threat facing Australia. Given that the top priority of any government should be the safety and protection of its people, this should be of great concern to every voter at the forthcoming election.

    Hence the interest in independent candidates to cut through the fossilised inertia of our politics.

    The message is starting to get through. Let’s hope it gathers momentum before it is too late.

  24. Arky @ #71 Thursday, May 5th, 2022 – 8:43 am

    Griff – reminds me of Karvelas using “retiree tax” last election campaign. I doubt there’s an editorial directive, I just think that over a long campaign these guys internalise Liberal talking points and they slip out here and there.

    Yep, the reporters and commentators get sucked in by repeated exposure. Put a lie to their independence and credibility.

  25. Confessions @ #7 Thursday, May 5th, 2022 – 6:08 am

    Niki Savva is in fine form today!

    Unless Scott Morrison comes up with a compelling new policy or gambit in the next few days, he could go down in history as the Liberal leader who won an election he should have lost, then lost the one he should have won in a canter.

    “…then lost the one he should have won in a canter” Huh? Sorry Nikki Savva, but that’s just trying to be too clever for words, with words. I can’t think of one thing that gives credence to “should have won in a canter”. If there’s anything he’s got right, it’s news to me. She implies therefore Labor are not up to job of winning in their own right, and I call bullshit.

  26. All out attack by the West newspaper against the Teal candidate for Curtin, Chaney, today……
    Described by the West as a “so-called independent” she gets full front page treatment – or quasi-front page, as the West is wrapped in a Harvey Norman ad – and she also gets a serve in the editorial.
    The interesting thing is that they have coloured the front page in the teal colouring and the picture of Chaney is quite a pleasant one…This seems to be an odd thing to do.
    The Liberals (or what is left of them) must really be worried about the seat of Curtin to get stuck into Chaney. She is Middle of the Road, Liberal Blue blood………….
    Apparently Chaney is getting loads of support, plenty of money and lots of publicity…
    Whether this is enough in a blue-ribbon Liberal seat – time will tell…..
    What a shame to see Liberals eating Liberals at this stage of the campaign.

  27. Kate Cheney’s uncle the well known Fred Cheney wrote a great opinion piece in yesterday’s Nine papers.
    Sportsbet odds for Hughes: Liberal 1.40, Independent 2.70 – by that I mean Georgia Steele

  28. Yes max, very interesting. Surely the pollsters know that if they get another massive failure at this election it will be severely damaging for them.

  29. Scott says:
    Thursday, May 5, 2022 at 7:42 am
    It would be a surprise if the lib/nats get more than 64 seats

    Personally I’m hoping they lose at least 25 to Labor and 12-18 to the Lite, reducing the coalition to about 35 seats…hopefully rather less than that.

  30. Regarding Starlink, it uploads via satellite and downloads via terrestrial cable to a ground-station.

    So starlink can be cut-off.

  31. Frednk @ Thursday, May 5, 2022 at 8:55 am

    I have referred to modelling as building castles in the air in the past 🙂

    An issue with AIC as I understand it (not well!) is dimensionality i.e. it points to models with more dimensions than some other approaches. I prefer to keep things simple where I can.

  32. Bludging, great optimism there, i wonder if LNP(qld) merged with NAT they could become the official opposition and resign the Liberals to minor Party status.

  33. bug1: “Regarding Starlink, it uploads via satellite and downloads via terrestrial cable to a ground-station. So starlink can be cut-off.”

    Only if that ground station is in an area that you control. In the instance of Ukraine, Poland (or Romania) is where the ground stations will be. They have a pretty long range, about 900km. That will cover all of Ukraine.

    bug1: “Bludging, great optimism there, i wonder if LNP(qld) merged with NAT they could become the official opposition and resign the Liberals to minor Party status.”

    They’re effectively that anyway.

  34. “This presently suggests Labor holds a lead of 54.0-46.0 on two-party preferred, which I don’t think anyone seriously expects to be actual result at the election.”

    Interesting insights into BludgerTrack William, thanks.
    Curious though why you/everyone doesn’t seriously believe this may end up being the actual election result.
    Is there an implied/assumed narrowing that always occurs in the last week or so of an election that you are expecting/assuming?

  35. Implied probability of winning from “Type of government formed”
    As at: May-05 (previous week in brackets)
    Liberal majority: 13% (18%)
    Liberal minority: 14% (17%)
    Labor minority: 20% (23%)
    Labor majority: 53% (43%)
    Average number of seats LNP seat lost to ALP: 7.1 (5.5)
    MOE (95% CI): 12.8 (12.3)

    Relative to the overall election odds and odds for majority/minority the probability of a Liberal majority is being overstated (albeit in a thin market with wide spreads).

  36. John Menadue

    ‘Contrary to political scaremongering, climate change, not China, is the greatest security threat we face.
    Fake binary. China is the world’s single biggest emitter by far and it has promised to increase its CO2 emissions. Double whammy.

Comments Page 2 of 22
1 2 3 22

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *