It’s the last Tuesday Newspoll of the campaign, and the second last Newspoll before election day itself and the big story is the same old story that’s been going on for months.

The polls don’t move.

The headline two party preferred figures came in at 54/46 with the ALP down 1 and the Coalition up 1 – the same type of business as usual that we’ve all come to get a little bored with. The reason for this is simple, the primary votes are consistent with the ALP coming down 2 at 46 and the Coalition up 1 to 41.If we look at the primary votes of the major parties, plus the “minors and others” grouping since June we get:

The major party vote is read from the left hand side, the minor party vote from the right hand side.

If we look at the ALP primary, we see that it’s reduced 1 point since the beginning of the campaign but it’s the same level it was back in August, and again in June. It just can’t seem to go under that 46 barrier.

The Coalition primary vote is similarly stuck, but this time around the 40 mark. It’s currently at 41, a 2 point increase from the beginning of the campaign, but still the same position as it was experiencing in September.

It’s that volatile minor party vote that is still causing the two party preferred estimates to wobble about the place. Do we really believe that a quarter of the minor party vote deserted in the first few weeks of the campaign, only to return strongly at the end?

Well you could if you were trying to fill column inches, but it wouldn’t be worth the effort for normal people.

These Newspolls continue to show what Peter Hartcher, in the line of the campaign so far, called “ chilling steadiness and deadly intent ”.

The one thing of interest in the Newspoll series now we are reaching the end of the line is the long term trend in the polls. If we look at every Newspoll since the 2004 election, where the ALP two party preferred estimate is on the left hand side, and the ALP two-party preferred swing is on the right hand side:

It looks as if the ALP vote has been slowly declining since the Rudd leadership. Also of interest was the slow growth in the ALP two party preferred vote between the 2004 election and November 2006. If we use a basic linear regression to measure that 2004-2006 linear trend and project it forward to today, we find something well worth chewing over.

The current ALP two party preferred vote is bang on where its pre-Rudd trend suggested it would be should that trend have continued. Now that is certainly worth a thought or two.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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