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Day to Day Politics: Polls can be so bloody misleading

Sunday 8 April 2018

As the saying goes; “Polls are but a reflection of what people are thinking at the time.” That is entirely different from how they will vote. That we cannot know until an election is announced.

As I wrote yesterday; “Realistically though, forgetting the individual leaders for a moment, what we are looking at is a government that, come Monday, will have lost 60 Newspolls in a row and given its intention to go the distance, the figure may go to 90. Needless to say that the Coalition will have spent around four and a half years chasing the tail of their opposition.”

For me it’s difficult to fathom, given all the lying, cheating, unlawfulness, appalling leadership and anything else along those lines, just how on earth the Coalition are within a bull’s roar of Labor.

Yesterday, as reported by The Poll Bludger; “A new poll from Ipsos just about does for Malcolm Turnbull what he can apparently only dream of from Newspoll.” Hard to believe I know. But there you have it 52% Labor 48% Coalition.

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.

I am always puzzled as to why the National Party isn’t separated out to give the figures more credibility. They must have taken a battering over the Joyce affair.

At first blush all this might seem a bit fortunate for Turnbull but The Poll Bludger sheds some light on some small but nonetheless important factors:

“We have also had Roy Morgan publish results of its face-to-face polling for the second fortnight a row, which the pollster has hitherto been reserving for its massively expensive subscriber service since the 2016 election campaign. I’m not sure if this portends a regular return to publication, or if it will be appearing on an ad hoc basis, as the release a fortnight ago seemed to suggest. Whatever it is, the result is likewise on the high side for the Coalition, with Labor holding a steady 51-49 lead on two-party preferred. This is in contrast to the form of the Morgan face-to-face series of old, which was notorious for its skew to Labor.

However, as with Ipsos, it’s respondent allocation that’s making the difference – if previous election preferences were applied, Labor’s lead would be up from 51-49 to 53-47. The primary votes are Coalition 38.5%, down from 40% a fortnight ago; Labor 37.5%, up from 35%; Greens 11%, down from 12%; and One Nation on an unusually weak 3%, down from 3.5%. The Morgan release has two-party breakdowns by state and income category. The poll was conducted over the past two weekends from a combined sample of 1477.“

More revealing is Newspoll’s quarterly state breakdowns provide new grist for the BludgerTrack mill, highlighted by strong numbers for Labor in South Australia despite their unhappy state election result.

News polls BludgerTrack: 53.2-46.8 to Labor

The good news for Labor however is that re-distributions for the next election would appear to gift Labor with three extra seats.

Might I recommend the Bludgertrack for an in-depth analysis of all the polls. Monday Newspoll – Tuesday Essential.

A Meanwhile, the conservatives in the Liberal Party are playing a game. Making life difficult for Turnbull but with no real, at this stage, intention of challenging him.

B Next week the SA provisional redistribution will be released.

C When Abbott was in trouble, Howard did nothing to save him in a public sense. Actually left him out to dry. Yet backs Turnbull. What is that about?

D I quite like Jim Chalmers MP – SHARE THE FACTS: Under the Liberals, gross debt has blown out by more than $243 billion, crashed through half-a-trillion dollars for the first time in the nation’s history, and is growing with no peak in sight. Think the Liberals are better economic managers? Think again.

E Ciggies are $35. $11 is retail. Rest is tax.

F Robots expected to take 40 per cent of jobs. But cost of them expected to push prices up.

G Clive palmer facing criminal charges. His intelligence matches his physique. Highly inflated.

H Move on in Abbott’s seat to stack the branches with moderates. To try to force him out. Lose his pre-selection.

I Andrew bolt makes a good point. What Howard did by appearing on 7.30 only made things worse.

My thought for the day

To say that we are ambivalent about our politicians is an understatement. Now we are ashamed.


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  1. craig robson

    the statement of 60 newspoll losses in a row doesnt feel right

  2. Terry2

    I’ve observed before that, crazy as it once seemed, there is currently a public relations spin exercise underway to present Peter Dutton as a viable and acceptable alternative to Turnbull as leader of the Liberal Party and Prime Minister.

    An article in the Guardian today is quite revealing and quite unsettling : :

    Dutton : “Of course I want to be prime minister,” Dutton tells Guardian Australia. He pauses for half a beat. “One day”.

    “I think it’s best to be honest about that, that’s an ambition long-held and is only realistic if stars align and an opportunity comes up.”

    When they start saying things like “Dutton is a man with an unshakeable world view. A man of conviction. An ideologue” you have to be worried that these characteristics of recalcitrance, obstinacy and ignorance are being heralded as leadership qualities.

    We know that there are dozens of political advisers and media consultants working within Dutton’s Home Affairs department and already it is becoming evident that criticism of Dutton’s poor performance will be met with vigorous attacks on the so called crazy Lefties which we know are completely dead to him.

    Poor fellow my country !

  3. New England Cocky

    As a person with some statistical experience, I am skeptical that the “regular trend” of all poll results are so constant over time; damning the Liarbrals for 60 months or five years of government mismanagement. The MSM apologists are generally young inexperienced reporters lacking any depth of understanding of Australian political history.

    So I wonder why, when the electorate has only ignored government propaganda campaigns fully supported by the MSM, the polls show no significant movement. It may be the poll structure or techniques, or possibly, and in my opinion more likely, the poll results are “doctored” to make the Liarbrals look less bad than reality.

  4. Madios Laventie

    If the labour party is sincere in saying they will win power, then they have to drop Shorten NOW, as he has way too much LNP mud attached to his name for any LNP voter to vote for him. And the LNP voters have shown they just don’t care what their party does, they will still vote for them. Look at Tasmania and South Australia, the Murdoch press ran night after night stories about how bad it was/ is and how incompetent the police are, and since LNP have taken over not one word about crime, but the same police and officers are still there We have had any number of reason for the LNP to be on their knees, but the fact they are not speaks volumes to me.

  5. wam

    ‘Poll’ when I was young referred to herefords and had a specific meaning. It seems that you have stumbled on it in assessing newspoll?
    I like chalmers but he, like shorten. is too frightened of the gales of laughter should he suggest labor is the better economic manager. Nevertheless labor has that path as the road to victory fail to prepare their supporters properly with a slogan defence and the lnp lies will prevail.

    ps take time to prepare health come hard at our age.

    pps shorten finds his beaconsfield power or retires hurt for ‘family reasons’???

  6. Glenn Barry

    New England Cocky, normally I would not give any credence to a single word Clive Palmer utters, however in this instance I believe it suits his agenda to tell the truth – just co-incidence

    I think the fix is that the pollsters cannot put the Libs in front when their performance is so appalling, however they can keep the gap manageable to alleviate the possibility of the electorate completely deserting the LNP.

  7. New England Cocky

    @Glenn Barry; thank you for taking the time to post the informative link. Words from the mouth of the perpetrator are usually considered prima facie evidence. I agree with your analysis of this matter.

  8. Ross

    As I recall Julia Gillard had lost over 30 Newspolls, and she was a far better PM than Malcolm.
    She was replaced by Kevin Rudd to limit the number of seats Labor were about to lose, which he did.
    The Liberals have no Kevin Rudd to shore up the dyke as electoral wipe out looms. Individual polls don’t mean much but poll trends do.
    Rupert and the MSM have tried very hard but have failed to change the trajectory, the coalition is on track to get spanked heavily at the next election.
    As Malcolm himself told us “The one thing that is clear about our current situation is the trajectory. We have lost 30 Newspolls in a row. It is clear that the people have made up their mind about Mr Abbott’s leadership”

  9. cartoonmick

    My thought for the day
    “To say that we are ambivalent about our politicians is an understatement. Now we are ashamed.”

    Ashamed,,,,, then embarrassed,, now frustrated,,, and totally over the self-serving and non-statesman like bunch we have been stuck with in Canberra.

    They have no understanding of what the public mode is like.
    We’re tired of their deception, tired of being treated like fools, tired of being tired of them.

    Part definition of Democracy is; “elected members represent the people”. Doesn’t say anything about representing mega biz, mining companies etc “instead” of the people. They need to listen to ALL people. But first, they should get their ears cleaned out, they’re full of coal dust.

    I’m surprised any of them can actually count up to 30. Maybe all the Buzzz in the media has aided with their understanding of the number 30.

    This little video might help them see what could happen after the 30th is reached………………………


  10. diannaart

    John Lord

    I am always puzzled as to why the National Party isn’t separated out to give the figures more credibility. They must have taken a battering over the Joyce affair.

    Me too.

    Possibly a step towards reality too far for the Coalition. Can’t have people making sense of things.

  11. New England Cocky

    The Corea Mail FB thread is reporting that the Australian Electoral Commission is preparing for an August 2018 Federal election.

  12. John Lord

    Thanks Kaye. Mistake noted.

  13. diannaart

    Dutton can hardly wait …

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