Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Poll Roundup: Turnbull Surge Alone Can't Explain Shorten's Problems

2PP Aggregate: 53.4 to Coalition (-0.2 in a week)
Coalition would easily win election "held now", probably with increased majority

(Updated on Friday to 53.8 to Coalition, then went to 54.0 to Coalition on weekly reset)

There are only two new federal polls and one state poll of federal voting intention to add so far this week, but there is still quite a lot to discuss.

Last week there was a sign of a possible Paris-attacks surge to the government in the 56:44 result from Ipsos, but this wasn't repeated by either Morgan or Essential.  The lack of replication from those two didn't mean a lot because Essential doesn't do dynamism and Morgan's behaviour under Turnbull has been strange, but this week Newspoll didn't play ball with Ipsos either.  I'm still inclined to wait to see what ReachTEL says before completely discounting it, but it looks likely that there wasn't really a Paris attack bounce in 2PP polling, and the Ipsos sample just had a couple of extra points of sample noise for the Coalition.  This week's Newspoll at 53:47 (which I aggregated as exactly that) and Essential at 52:48 (which I counted as 51.7 considering the primaries) have so far knocked two-tenths of a point off last week's result.  The smoothed tracking graph, however, does not yet show the surge as having peaked.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Wonk Central: Reverse Engineering Special Newspolls

Welcome back to Wonk Central, the occasional series of excursions into psephological arcanity that ... well, if you got past those big words and have some sort of head for maths, you'll probably be right at home here.  This one's not as hard as some, probably just a Wonk Factor 4/5.

Today saw the release of extensive results of a special Newspoll on various national security issues. These included:

* support for ground troops to fight the so-called Islamic so-called State
* how many Syrian refugees Australia should be taking
* whether priority should be given to Christian refugees over others
* the chance the so-called Islamic so-called State will carry out a large scale terror attack in Australia
* whether the Muslim community in Australia is doing enough to condemn attacks like the Paris attacks
* whether Muslims living in Australia are doing enough to integrate into something Newspoll calls "the Australian community"

I will comment on the results in the next Poll Roundup.  What I want to discuss now is whether or not we can use the results to guess at the voting intentions in this Newspoll.  My working will likely assist anyone seeking to do so in similar cases in the future.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Poll Roundup: Terror Bounce Kicking Labor When They're Down?

2PP Aggregate: 53.6 to Coalition (+0.8 in a week, +7.2 since Abbott was PM)
Coalition would win election "held now" with increased majority

Another three federal polls are out this week and the Coalition's aggregated polling lead just keeps on growing.  The relentless rise of the Turnbull regime has to peak sometime, but for another week the answer to the question "when?" is "not just yet."  There's now no sign on the smoothed tracking graph that it is even slowing down:

How Bad Is Bryan Green's Rating?

Last week I reported on the EMRS poll which has shown a probably Turnbull-led resurgence for Tasmania's Hodgman Liberal state government.  One figure has dominated discussion of the poll in the subsequent week:


19% is the preferred premier rating of Labor Opposition Leader Bryan Green (compared with Will Hodgman's 56).  I often rail here against the media overuse of preferred-leader stats to spin a yarn, and against polls that poll preferred-leader scores but don't also poll and release approval ratings.  I even have a piece here declaring such scores to be rubbish.  They're not totally meaningless, but they're messy indicators that are often biased to incumbents, they lag behind changes in approval rating, and they don't have a very good predictive record.

Part of the problem is that a preferred-leader score is a comparative indicator, so it's impossible to discuss what it says about one leader without thinking about what it says about another.  Does a big lead for an incumbent Premier say that voters really like the Premier and don't mind the Opposition Leader, or does it say that voters mildly like the Premier and can't stand his opponent?  EMRS have been polling the answers to these questions, but unfortunately they haven't been releasing the results.

As Matt Smith observes (in a notable piece that suggests Labor are disheartened and just going through the motions) numbers like this can spell a lot of trouble for a leader, and can ignite leadership speculation.  We shouldn't overstate the "trouble" angle; some state leaders have dragged on for years with miserable polling, but there have also been cases interstate where just one poll like this has been game over.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Another Unsound Attack On Proposed Senate Reforms

Advance Summary

1. A recent article by a former NSW politician argues that proposed Senate reforms will create an effectively first-past-the-post system that advantages the Coalition and eliminates minor party candidates and independents.

2. The article exaggerates the impact of the proposed system on minor party candidates, since minor party candidates would have won at least three seats in 2013 under the proposed system.

3. While parties polling very low vote shares would not win without group ticket preferencing, this is not specifically because many votes would exhaust.  Rather, it is because strong preference flows between obscure parties would not exist even if all voters assigned their own preferences.

4. The article's claims about the impact of exhausting votes on preference transfers from Green to Labor and vice versa are undermined by those transfers being much less often important in Senate than in House elections.

5. The article's assumption that it would always be an advantage to run joint tickets rather than split tickets (eg for the Liberals and Nationals, or for Labor and the Greens) is incorrect.  Whether it would be better to run joint or split tickets would vary depending on party vote levels.

6. There is simply no reliable evidence that proposed reforms disadvantage any of the Coalition, Labor or the Greens, or any other force with serious support in any given state.  They disadvantage who they are designed to disadvantage: preference-harvesters.


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Poll Roundup: Coalition Equals Term High

2PP Aggregate: 52.8 to Coalition (+0.1 in a week, +0.4 in two weeks)
Coalition would easily win election "held now"
(Article also includes comments on the voting age)

Eight weeks into the Turnbull Prime Ministership, we're still yet to see any lasting reversal in the polling trend towards the Coalition.  This week Newspoll, which in its new Galaxy-run incarnation has displayed a slight Labor lean, came out with a headline 53:47 in the Coalition's favour, the Coalition's best Newspoll 2PP since November 2013.  We also had a 53 last week and a 52 this week from Essential and a 55 last week from Morgan (56.5 by respondent preferences).

After considering the primary votes and Morgan's current house effect, I counted the Newspoll as 52.9 to Coalition, last week's Essential at 52.8, this week's Essential at 51.9 and last week's Morgan at 53.1.  This took my aggregate from 52.4 ("Newspoll Smells The Coffee") to 52.7 by the end of last week, and then to 52.8 now. On the assumption that no more polls are released this week, that will be the equal high for this term.  (Early in the Abbott era I did release a figure of 53.1 at one stage, but it was later revised after more accurate preferences were available).  The figure after Newspoll, 52.9, was also the equal highest point the aggregate has reached partway through a week in this term.  Here's the smoothed tracking graph:

Monday, November 9, 2015

EMRS: Liberals Rebound With Abbott Dead Weight Gone

EMRS: Liberal 48 Labor 25 Green 20 Ind 7
Interpretation: Liberal 49 Labor 29 Green 17 Other 5
Result of poll if election held now: Liberal Majority Government (probably 14-7-4)
Aggregate of all state polling: Lib 13 ALP 8 Green 4 (next most likely is 13-9-3)

A new EMRS poll of Tasmanian state voting intentions has been released and this one shows a massive eight-point shift to the Hodgman Liberal government since the previous poll in August. (Also see the trend tracker.) Really not a great deal has happened at state level since the August poll and I would interpret as much of that shift as isn't just random sample noise as being mainly down to federal factors.  The removal of Tony Abbott as Prime Minister has led to a general improvement in what little state Coalition polling has been seen around the country since the switch.  In the case of Tasmania, this is the Hodgman Government's best result from this pollster since a very similar result just after its election, and suggests it would retain its majority with one or maybe two seat losses.

EMRS polling tends to skew to the Greens and "Independent" and against Labor, so I interpret the poll as a little less dire to Labor than it seems.  All the same, the state swing is on paper only enough for Labor to pick up one seat in Braddon and one in Franklin.  In the case of the one in Franklin, a 1.3% swing is required, and while this poll points to about a 2% statewide swing, the Liberals would go into the election with three Franklin incumbents to Labor's one (compared with two each last time).  Thus I don't think Labor would regain that seat based on this poll.