Tuesday 24 April 2018
Statistics can be the most frustrating things with the stories they tell. Even on this blog, my personal stats go through a topsy-turvy journey of up and down readership that depends on the controversy of the day.
Then others post of similar content and figures of astronomical proportion arise for which I have no explanation as to the how and why of it.
And so it is with the latest Newspoll figures. The Government has a disastrous week with a bizarre interview by Barrie Cassidy with Kelly Dwyer and a refusal to apologise for not having a Royal Commission into the banks earlier.
Mind you there is nothing new in that. Their governance in six years of power has been nothing short of deplorable with nothing of any major consequence you could point a finger at. Yet the latest Newspoll shows them almost neck and neck.
How can it be that when one crisis has followed another, week after week, for as long as I can remember that a government improves despite of it?
A Facebook friend of mine put it this way:
“I see that the 31st Newspoll has hit the stands and to my complete amazement the coalition have moved another point closer, the margin is now 49 – 51% TPP to Labor. That is an increase of 2% over the last month. At the risk of becoming a conspiracy theorist are Newspoll playing a little loose with their data. The next Newspoll will be interesting what with all the Banking Royal Commission revelations. I do find these last 2 Newspoll results odd.”
As usual, I go to the best pollster for some explanation; The Pollbludger:
“The latest Newspoll has Labor’s lead down from 53-47 to 51-49, which is the Coalition’s best result since the start of what is now Malcolm Turnbull’s run of 31 successive Newspoll defeats.
This doesn’t reflect much activity on the primary vote, on which the Coalition and Labor are both steady at 38% and 37%, with the Greens down one to 9% and One Nation steady on 7%.
There is also encouragement for Malcolm Turnbull on leadership ratings, with his approval up four to 36% and disapproval down four to 53%, although Bill Shorten also improves by two on approval to 34% and three on disapproval to 53%. Turnbull maintains only a very modest lead as preferred prime minister, of 38-35, out from 38-36 last time. The poll also finds strong support for a reduction in immigration levels, with 56% rating the present level too high, 28% about right, and only 10% too low.
A point that should be noted about the Coalition’s apparent improvement in Newspoll is that at least part of it would seem to be down to an adjustment in their preference allocations, from a model based purely on results from the 2016 election to one which gives the Coalition a stronger flow of One Nation preferences, presumably based on the experience of the Queensland and Western Australian state elections.
The chart below compares the published two-party results from Newspoll with how the raw primary numbers convert using: a) a 50-50 split in One Nation preferences, as they were in 2016; and b) a 60-40 split in the Coalition’s favour, which seems more likely based on state election experience.
It will be noted that Newspoll (the grey line) closely tracked the 50-50 model (the blue line) until December last year when it snapped to the 60-40 model (the orange line).
Also noteworthy is the overshoot of the grey line for the very latest result, which reflects the fact that the Coalition may have been a little lucky with rounding this week.
As Kevin Bonham notes, a calculation from the published, rounded primary vote totals using the 50-50 preferences model yields a 52.4-47.6 lead for Labor – a result that would have generated considerably less buzz than this, the “best Coalition result in 18 months”.”
The question for me is did Newspoll after experimenting with the methodology of counting preferences and finding it beneficial to the Coalition, deliberately change its polling methods?
Otherwise what was wrong with the way they had been doing things for years?
Meanwhile today’s Essential poll, known for its consistency has Labor 6points ahead. Thats more like it when one considers the current political climate.
My thought for the day
“Finding the truth and reporting it is more important than creating a narrative where controversy matters more.”