The cumulative breakdowns of the last two Newspolls have been released, taken over the period November 2-11. It uses 3,402 survey respondents giving the headline two party preferred figure of 54/46 a margin of error of about 2%. When broken down by State, the margin of error is about 4% for each State, with the capital city/non-capital city breakdown being somewhere around 3%.

What is interesting between the headline result of 54 and the State based figures is the different number of seats they suggest would fall.

If we look at the State results by swing we see:

Using a 6.8% national swing and applying it to the national pendulum, we end up with the ALP winning 30 seats. Yet if we plug the State numbers into Antony Green’s spiffy election calculator we end up with the ALP gaining 39 seats including the regional seats of Dawson and Forde in Qld, and the heartland Liberal seats of Kooyong and Higgins in Victoria – with Goldstein hanging on by 0.03% and becoming the most marginal seat in the country.

Qld would deliver 13 seats, Victoria 9, NSW 7, SA 5 with another 5 coming from the rest of the country.

Now of course, things never turn out this neatly with pendulums, especially with sampling error up around the 4% mark for each state, but it provides a pretty good description of the depth of trouble the Coalition finds itself in, especially with Qld.

The two polls that make up this cumulative breakdown were spread over the period of the interest rate rise and came before the two national campaign launches. The letters from the banks advising of mortgage payment increases are starting to arrive in the electorates mailboxes at the moment, so the next Newspoll looks to be the key – it should contain at least a good part of any interest rate effect that might come out in the polling, any voter movement that may have been precipitated by the campaign launch porking as well as the initial responses to the flood of party advertising that has gone on since the respective campaign launches.

Another interesting thing that popped out of the demographic polling data was the swing back to the Coalition primary vote among the 35-49 age group. In the third quarter of 2007, Newspoll had that age group sitting on a 36% Coalition primary vote. That has jumped over the last 2 months to now be 43%. That’s a fairly sizeable swing of 7% back to the Coalition among the mortgage set. That movement seems to have been mostly made up of females which also swung to the Coalition by 5% over the same period, with males only swinging back to the Coalition by 1%.

In fact, the male vote has been very stable since the beginning of the year according to Newspoll, with the female vote being the volatile element in the voting mix.

Newspoll suggests that the difference between an absolute electoral annihilation for the Coalition and just a seriously major drubbing is resting with females between the ages of 35 and 49 who have provided about 80% of the primary vote movement back to the Coalition that has occurred over the last 2 months, and a large number of them seem to live in NSW to account for the 6% swing in primary vote back to the Coalition there over the same period.

Without those females coming back to the Coalition fold, the Howard government would be staring at the prospect of the ALP gaining well over 100 seats if the polling is accurate.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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