Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 Site Review

That's another calendar year done for a site that's now a little over three years old.  Federal elections and Tasmanian state elections are this site's biggest events, so with neither of these in 2015 it's no surprise traffic here was down 43% on 2014 and down about 10% on 2013.  Still, with two state elections and the dumping of a sitting Prime Minister, the year was not exactly quiet.

The pattern for the year (the units are sessions per week) looks like this:

The two big spikes on the left are the Queensland and the New South Wales elections, and the Queensland one would have been bigger had my efforts not been limited by a major field trip.  On the right, interest fell sharply once the Canning by-election was out of the way.  The major difference between the Turnbull readings and even the quietest Abbott readings suggests to me that a lot of left-wing readers are more interested in reading about good polling for their side than bad.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Polling And Penalty Rates

(Note: this piece now has a follow-up.  See What Scientists Do)

Penalty rates have been on the political radar lately. A poll on the subject released by The Australia Institute on Sunday has attracted a fair amount of interest.  Many Coalition MPs support cuts to current penalty rates (which are required extra loadings on pay for certain occupations for weekend, evening or public holiday work) and the Labor Opposition is currently campaigning against such cuts.  This will probably be a significant philosophical divide between the parties at the 2016 election.

If we are to believe the poll's sponsor and reporting of the poll by the SMH yesterday, the government will face a massive backlash, including from its own voters, if Sunday penalty rates in the retail sector are reduced as recommended by the Productivity Commission.  The reality is that the views of Coalition supporters on the proposed change are rather less clear.

Friday, December 25, 2015

2015 Ehrlich Awards For Wrong Predictions

Secular seasons' greetings and best wishes for 2016 to all.  Since this site started a few years ago, I've developed a strange habit of posting something every Christmas Day. As I may be too busy playing chess badly in early January to post all that much around then, I've taken the risk of going early with this year's prize for the unwise, the Ehrlich Awards for the wrongest predictions in a field of interest to this site made in or concerning the year 2015.  The Ehrlichs are named for Paul Ehrlich, the ecological don of doom whose failed resources bet with Julian Simon and poor excuses for losing it (and litany of other false "scenarios") have given heart to those who snort derisively at the claim the world is rooned ever since.  For previous instalments, and to see the groundrules, just click on the Ehrlich Awards tab at the bottom.

As usual we briefly glaze over hard-to-quantify bogus puffery from politicians of all varieties, spearheaded this year by Bill Shorten's commitment to the National Press Club "that Labor will be defined in 2015 by the power of our ideas." In fact, Labor was largely defined as a mirror of the government it opposed: popular by default while Tony Abbott clung to power then deeply unfashionable once he was given the boot.  A few Labor policies attracted public attention (emissions targets, voting age, smoking excise) but it was not always the right kind of attention, and some of these were pilfered from the Greens.  Labor has been releasing policies but none are especially original and so far hardly anyone has noticed.  Mostly they smack of a strategy tried without success against John Howard: when you have nothing just trot out the usual, cover it with a sudden interest in technology and science and say you've discovered something new.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Poll Roundup: 2015 Year In Review

2PP Aggregate: 53.5 to Coalition (+0.1)
Coalition would win election held now with unchanged to slightly increased majority

It's just about the end of another year in federal polling; should any unexpected late polls appear I will edit this article to add them in.  After an update for this week's polling I'll launch into an annual review along similar lines to last year's.  From here on in the pollsters tend to go into summer recess with Morgan and Essential returning in mid-January and the heavy hitters coming back in late January and early February.

This week's polls

This week we have had readings from Morgan and Essential, which continue to sit at opposite ends of the Turnbull-era spectrum, this week returning 56-44 and 52-48 respectively.  The former was Morgan's highest reading for the Coalition this term, and the respondent-preferences reading was even higher (57.5%).  Essential has had the Labor primary at 35-36 in the last four weeks while Morgan has had it at 28.5 then 27.  Either both are wrong or one is very, very wrong.

Although both pollsters showed an uptick to the Coalition, this was tempered by the Ipsos from a few weeks ago falling out of sample, so the net result is just a 0.1 point gain, for the Coalition, after everything, to finish the year in exactly their 2013 election result position.  At least, that's my take; as usual recently, others may well be higher.  (Edit: Yep; Bludgertrack 54.1 Mark the Ballot 55 and Phantom Trend 55.2.  MtB assumes zero-sum and includes Morgan but not Essential, and Phantom Trend treats Morgan as having the same sorts of house effects it's had for decades, so those points explain why the latter two are so high.)

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Mackerras Piece Misleading On Senate Reform

As noted in the last part of my multi-volume series about people being Wrong On The Internet about Senate reform, nothing has happened publicly on this issue for some time.  But erroneous op-eds attacking the JSCEM-proposed model continue to appear in the media now and then, and the latest to muddy the waters (again) is Malcolm Mackerras in the Canberra Times.

While the consensus of psephologists Australia-wide favours scrapping the current Group Ticket preferencing system that has been gamed to death by preference-harvesters and other exploiters of confusing ballot papers (while retaining above-the-line voting for one or more parties), Mackerras has held out against this from the start.  Initially he argued that it would be acceptable to allow voters to stop after filling in 15 boxes below the line.  As the debate has progressed he has shifted to supporting a requirement for a minimum of six boxes below the line, which he now describes as "the easy and right thing" to do.  

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Poll Roundup: Turnbull Bounce Finally Peaks

2PP Aggregate: 53.4 to Coalition (-0.5 in a week)
Coalition would win election "held now" with similar majority to 2013

Almost three months since Malcolm Turnbull took over from Tony Abbott as Prime Minister, the massive surge in Coalition polling has finally hit its first speedbump.  The odd behaviour of a couple of pollsters compared to the rest has made it hard to say exactly when this happened, but my figures now have the Coalition peaking at a revised 54.0% two-party preferred at the end of the week before last.  On that basis I estimate that the Coalition gained 7.6 points over ten weeks.  I have this as the second largest polling surge in such a period in Australian polling history (the largest being at least ten points in a couple of months for the doomed Whitlam government during the lead-up to the 1975 dismissal).

Saturday, December 5, 2015

North Sydney Votes Live Comments (and postcount if needed)

North Sydney (Lib 15.9% vs ALP)
Trent Zimmerman (Lib) vs Stephen Ruff (Ind) and Arthur Chesterfield-Evans (Green)
Assessment: CALLED: Zimmerman (Lib) will be elected after preferences. 
Estimated final margin 60:40 if Ruff finishes second, more otherwise.

This is a rather hastily posted North Sydney live comments thread (refresh now and then for new comments) as the count in progress has so far been a bit more interesting than expected, and after seven booths the contest for the seat was still alive!  If it's still alive at the end of the night that won't be a good result for the Liberals (and if they lose it will be a shocker) but let's see if it is or not.  My apologies for not doing more advance coverage of this one; I have simply been too busy with work.

Here are some important things about this count: