We often look at line charts of the polling here across time, which party has done what according to some pollster over some period of time – and while that gives us an interesting time series showing the trends, it only partially does justice to the way time itself must be taking its toll on the Libs, especially in terms of the despair that seems to be driving this never ending leadership kafuffle.

So rather than use a simple chart with the vote estimate on one axis and time on the other, it might be worth having a look at how many weeks the ALP and the Coalition have spent on various polling values. For this we’ll use just Newspoll data – which gives us 91 odd weeks worth of polling (though mostly done in fortnights). First up, we’ll take a look at the ALP primary vote.

alpprimtime

The ALP, for instance, have spent 18 weeks with a Newspoll primary vote estimate of 47. The problem for the Coalition  is that the ALP will win just about every election at the moment as long as their primary vote has a 4 in front of it – simply because of the relatively high Green vote over the last 2 years which flows back to Labor as preferences.

If we do the same to the Libs primary and two party preferred vote estimates:

lnpprimtime lnptpptime

Here we get a much tighter spread on both counts, with a primary of 38 and a two party preferred of 45 being the most regular results across time. Yet, if we change those results into a cumulative metric, which tells us the percentage of time that a party has spent on or below a given vote estimate – the despair of the Libs becomes pretty obvious.

alptime1

coaltime1 coaltime2

I’ve just rounded those values to the nearest percentage in the charts. This really tells the story – for 86% of their time in Opposition, the Coalition have been on a primary vote estimate of 38 or lower with Newspoll. That’s about 5 or 6 points shy of where they need to be to even think about winning an election with the Greens vote being what it is.

That comes through with the two party preferred estimates, where 90% of the time the Coalition has spent in Opposition, they’ve been on the wrong end of a Newspoll two party preferred estimate of 55/45 to Labor… or worse.

While 100% of the Coalition’s time in opposition has been spent facing defeat, 90% of that time has been spent facing complete electoral oblivion. That sort of grinding public rejection must take it’s toll – especially on members facing defeat – but it’s worth noting that most of the biggest leadership mischief makers are either in safe seats not facing the prospect of having to get a new job, or they’re in the Senate – safely ensconced regardless of any likely election outcome.

With two Coalition leaders now having faced identical polling, maybe it’s time for wiser heads to realise that it’s not the leadership causing the problems – but where the silly games over the leadership are not merely just compounding them, but where they are usually being driven by people in the party who have the luxury of fighting for the spoils of defeat.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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