Make of the polls what you will. In Australia we have four regular pollsters — Newspoll appears fortnightly in The Australian, AC Nielsen monthly in the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, the Morgan Poll, which has no major media home, has a fortnightly version based on face-to-face interviews and sometimes phone polls while the Essential Report, which Crikey’s Possum Comitatus seems to have adopted, gives weekly updates from its internet sample. All of them seem to be serious measurers of public opinion but for some reason I don’t quite understand why Newspoll is the one almost all commentators take most seriously. Goodness knows why. It must be a reflection of the standing of the national daily, The Australian, which publishes it.
Today’s Newspoll gives a quite different reading of the state of public opinion to the Morgan Poll from last Friday and yesterday’s Essential Report verdict. According to Newspoll the two party preferred position remains the same as the fortnight before — Labor 52% to the Coalition’s 48%. In early March, says Morgan, support for the ALP is 55.5% (down 1%) maintaining a strong two-party preferred lead over the L-NP (44.5%, up 1%). Essential Report’s latest reading at 56% ALP to 44% Coalition has support for Labor going up. The last AC Nielsen poll put things at 53% Labor to 47% for the Coalition.
Make of that what you will.
Those of you who like what Possum does on his Crikey blog and what Real Clear Politics does in the United States with “poll of polls” averaging everyone’s figures might also like to have a read of what the UK site PollingReport says about the practice: “As I would expect – the polling average is not better than the best individual pollster at the last three elections (this is a major reason why I don’t like polling averages — by averaging quality polls will ropey ones you don’t get better figures, you just make the better ones worse) but of course, in hindsight we don’t know who the best pollster will be. Since different pollsters use different methods, factor in don’t knows and likelihood of voting in different ways, there is no statistical reason why an average of polls should give you a better idea of where things stand. What the average does do, is give a nice shorthand for how the polls are at the moment and it is a prerequisite for giving a projection of what the result would be in an election tomorrow.”
Return of the old boys. We really have seen the return of yesterday’s men. John Howard and Paul Keating have been the stars of the political stage over the last few days and very pleasant it was to hear from them. Perhaps it’s because I’m an old fellow too but I wish neither had retired just because they suffered one electoral defeat. Both make their successors look inferior.
Another role for those UTS newshounds. Methinks the newshounds from UTS who produced that excellent material in Crikeyyesterday about the role of public relations in the generation of news let political writers off a little lightly. The 37% figure for political stories that are generated by the news spinners is clearly far too low as the study acknowledged with its comment that “lower figures for politics may be because more public relations activity happens behind the scenes through journalists’ relationships with politicians and their advisers and for that reason is harder to identify.” Let the students loose in the Parliamentary press galleries of the country for a week to listen to the gossip and talk with the political scribes and I guarantee they will come up with a figure well above the 50% mark of the business writers.
The first Liberal blunder. Things had gone quite smoothly for the Liberal Party in South Australia this year until yesterday. The internal factional feuding that has marked the Party for several generations looked to have gone away. And then there had to be a disgruntled leadership failure who could not lie straight faced for another couple of days and revived the memories of why Labor in SA tends to be the natural party of government.
As The Australianput it this morning, “deputy leader Vickie Chapman has exposed the fragile nature of Liberal Party unity in South Australia by refusing to rule out a challenge to Isobel Redmond during the next term of government. Ms Chapman, a central figure in destabilising former leader Martin Hamilton-Smith, twice yesterday refused to give Ms Redmond complete support.”
That blunder might just be enough to turn things back in Mike Rann’s favour.
Labor’s strange tactic. Things really must be going badly for Labor in Tasmania if they have had to play the “Greens plan to legalise heroin” card in the last days of the campaign. The flyer being sent to households willfully ignores the fact that whatever view the Greens might sensibly hold about treatment of drug addicts they will be in no position to pass any legislation without the support of Liberals, Labor and Independents.