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”

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  1. “ marquelawyers: Sound advice! I know of the scurrilous allegations (?) but refuse to add to them, based on legal advice. Say naught until you see your friendly solicitors”

    Quite right, this is no joshing matter!

  2. Sportsbet and Ladbrokes currently have the same odds: Labor 1.38; Coalition 3.00

    Sportsbet also has three ridiculous markets on the second debate:

    Colour of SfM’s tie – blue/navy favourite at 2.50
    Colour of Albo’s tie – red favourite at 2.75

    Debate Bingo
    Settled upon any of the words in this list being said by Scott Morrison and/or Anthony Albanese during the Leaders Debate on 8/5/2022. Words/phrases must be exact. Verified via transcripts/footage. All In betting.
    (followed by a long list of phrases with “Interest rates” favourite at 1.01 through to “You bet you are, you bet I am” at 41.00)

  3. “this is no joshing matter!”

    Whats joshing matter?? Like…….Dark Matter, Blue-Green (nay Teal?) Matter, Anti Matter to Policy and Governance?? Toxic Matter to Electoral hopes??

  4. The stupid thing… Albo hasn’t worn a red tie at any event so far. So betting on it being red would in fact, be a ballsy move.

  5. You are right Pi though it is an interesting narrative for someone to go to the trouble of making it up though. A lot of hearsay certainly goes on this blog where people don’t get called a cretin. Certainly I would be surprised that she is not right wing leaning considering her performance on7.30. That could be quantified and would be a argument that might avoid personal abuse. I do use irony and insults but I believe in punching up as they say, to express anger at the government and media bias. We don’t all get things right in all comments all the time and that includes the moderator.

  6. “Albo won.

    Speers lost.

    Morrison is a coward.

    Sleep well Bludgers ”

    There was a lot of love for Speers here earlier when I bagged him, but I’d rather have bagged him than defended him before that.

  7. A bit of fun

    You seek to suppress for a purpose

    But sometimes the purpose sought is not the purpose achieved

    People will believe what they will – regardless

    And the references to blue pills

    Perhaps to be able to change hands at 99

  8. STF, journalists spend their careers getting people to attribute statements, even if they hide their sources. Editors see the sources, or at least back the journalist, and will print a story if they seem that the source could be defended in litigation as a credible witness. If you don’t know the source of a statement, or can’t point to a person that has put their career on the line by backing a statement, then it’s best to just leave the statements alone.

    There is a question… but we’re just not sure where the source of any allegation is. The way many newscorp gutter media operatives broach such a thing is to simply ‘ask the question’ about the allegation. Playing with fire there though.

  9. Albo was in control. Speersy told him to hurry up his answers to allow more questions – and then asked all the questions himself!

  10. Pi

    Exactly. Annoys me to see all the people on twitter who are outraged every time a small publication makes an allegation and the MSM doesn’t rebroadcast it.

  11. Actually….from the amount of bullshit josh the soon to be unemployed work experience treasurer has been depositing….could joshing matter actually be the solution to the worlds fertilizer supply issues???

  12. I’ve not read or followed a lot today. I’ve walked 21 kms over the past 3 days letter dropping. 3rd most conservative electorate in the country.

    Morrison is disliked by all that I’ve talked to. The local member has said he’d be Deputy PM again if asked. Not yet met a member of the public who thinks that the local member isn’t an absolute waste of space….yet they’ll still vote for him because of some stupid hereditary ‘Never Labor’ view distilled throughout the ages…sigh

    I saw a bit of the Albo stuff. My job is fully involved with context switching on an hourly/daily basis. Had a meeting today discussing that exact issue with our staff.

    A little bit of training in that could help.

    This is what I messaged a colleague today who’s helping in Goldstein about Albo…

    Yeah it is a shame because he isn’t a pyscho. The press keep saying there is no difference in this campaign but at the leader level there is a very stark difference. A guy that bumbles a bit in press conferences but is an otherwise very decent person that lets his executive team shine or a lying psycho that his executive team can’t stand to be around that doesn’t deliver what he says he is going to

    I know which one of those two options I want

    Who knows what will happen if he can win. At the start Steve Bracks wasn’t seen as a great orator and just squeaked in to minority government then during that first term became very popular.

    I bloody hope that the slightly awkward character wins over the inveterate liar.

  13. @cat@momma

    apart from my beloved StKilda I’ve never been as invested in something (family aside of course). The kms have been all fun and I feel like it’s adding good karma to the electorates that we need to win.

    Hope that is the case.

    Oh Up North and the rest of the crew, just to let you know I bloody enjoyed a few beers when I got home tonight 🙂

  14. “imacca ,
    Drinks required, you’ll be yelling at your tv sooner rather than later.”

    From what i have seen so far i can see any reason to yell at Albo as yet. 🙂

    Whatshisface just starting to try and do a Stan Grant. Albo not backing off. 🙂

  15. Albo did pretty well, Speers interrupted too much but he’d do the same to Morrison if Scomo ever appeared on the ABC, which of course he won’t do.
    I do think that this Morrison ABC boycott does disenfranchise a lot of regional voters, and it is worthy to note too that in the ratings News Breakfast is beating Today.

  16. Albo would have been prepared for the ridiculous interruptions by Speers. He handled these interruptions very well and never lost his cool. By the end, I think he managed to convey all the important messages of the Labor campaign and the crowd loved it.

  17. The story that [David Speers/ Leigh Sales/Fran Kelly] gleefully claimed “we won” on some election night past when the Libs were victorious, regularly gets a run here. Curiously, although we have this remarkable thing called the internet on which historical video or audio of just about any event, especially politically notorious ones, can generally be located with a couple of mouse clicks, there’s no actual, like evidence, of this particular case of wicked media conduct. (And no I’m certainly not suggesting that Australian media outlets on the whole are scrupulously impartial.)

    The fact that the “we won” story keeps turning up here in the absence of a scintilla of supporting evidence for it, probably accounts for our moderator’s response to this latest incarnation of it.

  18. ParkySP says:
    Thursday, May 5, 2022 at 10:46 pm

    apart from my beloved StKilda I’ve never been as invested in something (family aside of course). The kms have been all fun and I feel like it’s adding good karma to the electorates that we need to win.

    Hope that is the case.

    Oh Up North and the rest of the crew, just to let you know I bloody enjoyed a few beers when I got home tonight
    Mate bloody proud of you. Never lose the faith – no matter where you live or how much we get kicked in the guts we never walk away. Because we believe in a better Australia. You enjoy those beers cobber.

  19. ParkySP

    thank you for your work

    I wish we’d at least got a draw last week!

    Albanese made a good point about Whitlam, Hawke and Rudd all not having been ministers in the previous Labor government.

    I am looking forward to the next Labor government.

  20. Leigh Sales is also famous for saying on air “That’s great” when Barnaby Joyce won against Windsor in 2016 to the shock of many!

  21. I really wish the ABC had to publish the salaries it pays to people like speers and co. i feel like their license in the community would be diminished greatly by the plebs knowing they earn > 150K

  22. QA halfway through here in Croogsville. Albo doing a very calm, competent, and reassuringly workman like gig so far. Whatshisface doesn’t actually seem to me to have been that pushy so far? Yeah the odd gotcha sort of sally, easily dealt with and his interruptions are a bit half heated.

    Yeah, starting to notice Albo just mainly talking through the interruption attempts and speaking focused at the audience instead of at Whatshisface Stan Grant wannabee.

  23. I have no doubt Leigh Sales hated Bill Shorten and wanted him to lose because I have eyes and ears and watched the 2019 campaign and everything before it, but there’s no need to invent stories about her audibly admitting to it. On Reddit I’d just say “r/ThatHappened” and micdrop.

    It reminds me of the so called “Whispers In The Sky” scandal when someone claimed they heard AFL umpires gloating in an airport lounge about winning the contentious game they had just umpired…

    As for the scurrilous rumour du jour for which there is no public source (fringe websites with nothing to lose don’t count as a source any more than they count for antivaxxers), seriously people should cut it out already, especially on a site already provided to you for free by William’s goodwill. Don’t get him sued.

  24. south @ #1028 Thursday, May 5th, 2022 – 9:05 pm

    I really wish the ABC had to publish the salaries it pays to people like speers and co. i feel like their license in the community would be diminished greatly by the plebs knowing they earn > 150K


    Are you suggesting that they shouldn’t receive comparable pay with others in the industry.

  25. Yeah, i think at about 40 mins in, Whatshisface is starting to have a “can’t have a laugh without me”moment and trying to inject himself into it more. 🙁

  26. Ah yes, the tidal wave of “OMG, the famous TV guy earns as much as my cousin the plumber” would surely change perceptions of ABC presenters.

  27. Ok, 10 mins to go. Albo in stride. Bodes well for the Debates.

    Actually, i really dont think Spiers has been a particularly poor host on this. Obvious a bit of tension, but to be fair, Stan Grant rates much higher on the Sheer Irremediable Gitoid scale.

  28. “Ah yes, the tidal wave of “OMG, the famous TV guy earns as much as my cousin the plumber” would surely change perceptions of ABC presenters.”

    Thats good. 🙂

  29. Hmmmmmm….you know, im not sure that it was not the audience that needed time to loosen up rather than Albo?? Was Morriscum on Sky tonight and anyone know how that went??

  30. Before Tony Jones left he was the highest paid talent at the ABC as per an offical disclosure. At that time he was on 400k.

    Based on that one would assume Speers is on at least that and possible significantly more based on the assumption that it would have taken a lot to seduce him away from the cult

  31. I think Speers interrupts politicians to avoid the time wasting rambles they go on. It’s a well known tactic to talk as much as possible to reduce the number of questions the journo can ask you before ding, we’re out of time. However he interrupts them if they don’t directly address the question straightaway, which is never going to end well with politicians.

  32. RE warning regarding litigation concerning a circulating rumour .

    So thousands of people who shared or commented on stories being released by numerous small organisations will be collectively rounded up and sued??.

    Good luck !!

  33. I like to read the snippets of political analysis that offers hope that the govt may be kicked out here on this blog. I think I will give up posting here. I am sorry I upset people claiming that Leigh Sales and David Speers said something that was based on rumour. I am the first to admit I would assume it would be true based on my perspective of their media performances (amongst many other journalists). I started posting here as I am angry and emotional about the absolute destruction of the joint by the government and their media cheersquad this election, but I don’t actually need to. It is clear to anyone paying attention. But yeah politics is anxiety producing and I think I will drop out from commenting and find other places on the internet to express myself. I promise I won’t say they said it without seeing the footage, but I actually believe I saw the footage of David Speers saying we’ve won, maybe it was selectively edited from the comment posted above and why I believed it. Anyway apologies and bye.

  34. STF

    No need to be sheepish! Wouldn’t blame you if you wanted a mental break from politics tho. I’m hoping and praying Labor wins so I can immerse myself in the work of the parliament for 3 years. If not I’ll probably take a step back.

    All the best

  35. William Bowe says:
    Thursday, May 5, 2022 at 11:11 pm

    The prospect of being sued by Leigh Sales is not what keeps me awake at night.

    Dear Leader (soon to be elevated to the Great Helmsman) you can share your burden with us – not sure we can make you sleep better but we shall listen.

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