Today’s Newspoll via The Oz comes in with the primaries running with the Coalition down 1 to 40, ALP steady on 35, The Greens are down 1 on 15 while the broad “Others” are up 2 to 10. When this gets 2007 election preference distributions applied to it – as Newspoll does – it all washes out into a two party preferred result of 52/48 to Labor – a 1 point increase to the ALP since last poll, a two point increase over the last 2 Newspolls and a 3 point increase over the last 3 Newspolls.
There are a few things that need to be said about now.
Firstly – do you know how many polls the Coalition has won since the last election?
As all three of those polls have occurred since the beginning of May, do you know how many polls have been taken since May?
From all the huffing and puffing emanating out of the various talking heads and one newspaper in particular, you’d think there was some, oh I don’t know, let’s say pattern of the ALP getting a 4 in front of it happening on the two party vote.
If we look at those two party preferred results since May, the reality of the results speak for themselves.
Remembering back to last week, the Newspaper that declared that only those who own the polls truly know the polls, gave us seven days running of complete horsefluff about how the leadership of the Labor party hinges on the next Newspoll. Not because it actually did mind you – far from it – but because they invented a line about the Labor party leadership where the evidence supporting it was as weak as piss.
The blatant stupidity of this nonsense was truly breathtaking.
Not only was it breathtaking in the way it bootstrapped what one blogosphere wit called the Ghost of Newspoll Futures into political commentary*, where estimates of public opinion that were not even known at the time (the next Newspoll – what public opinion would be next week) were treated as some actual piece of objective evidence for pushing their little billy cart of bluster on leadership speculation (in some professions, that sort of stuff is called “making shit up”). It apparently didnt matter what previous polls suggested – you know, actual objective evidence – it was all about what the next one might say and how, as a result of what that poll result might be, Kevin Rudd’s leadership was obviously in danger today. Of course, if today’s Newspoll actually did show even a single point of downward movement for the ALP on the vote estimates, you can bet your first born that The Oz would have upped the hysteria on the ALP leadership to a level that would have made Big Dirt look like the masters of nuance and understatement.
This gets us onto the truly breathtaking stupidity of it all – this argument the paper was making last week was effectively stating that the leadership of a country would be dependent on the sampling error of a poll.
I don’t think there’s another nation in the world where that sort of blatant arsehattery is treated as anything other than a joke.
On the satisfaction ratings, we’re seeing some more interesting dynamics:
Since October, Rudd’s dissatisfaction has been increasing and since December, Abbott’s dissatisfaction has been increasing – giving us the situation where overall dissatisfaction with our political leadership has been on the rise of late. If we build an aggregate net satisfaction of both leaders to measure this, where we add the satisfaction ratings together, add the dissatisfaction ratings together and then remove the undecideds/uncommitteds and recalculate the result as a percentage, this is what we get:
There were some interesting dynamics early on in the piece with the drop through to July 2008 before a sharp boom in September of that year– but the most important movement so far as been the rapid fall in the national political zeitgeist since April this year.
All the satisfaction measures moved in a particularly nasty direction. It appears to be this dymanic more than anything else which best descibes what is happening in federal politics at the moment – rampant disgruntlement.
Nowhere is this more obvious than the recent volatility in the minor party vote, suggesting that even though many voters arent happy with the major parties, their willingness to vote for the minors is erratic at best. If we look at the actual primary votes and the percentage change from Newspoll to Newspoll (to highlight the magnitude of the changes) of the Greens and broad “Others” over the last little while, this is what we get:
So we’re getting substantial movement in the minor party votes, but movement which for the broad “Others” is very inconsistent and erratic, and movement for the Greens which has come virtually out of nowhere.
A large part of this probably as a result of Abbott’s deliberate strategy of pig wrestling, where he’s dragging Rudd down with incessent negativity – never agreeing with the government over anything at all, backing all opposition to Labor policy that comes from any quarter, creating constant political conflict and taking a hit on his own satisfaction ratings as the cost of dragging Rudds generic political approval down into negative territory.
This tactic has the obvious consequnces of polarising the electorate – something we’ve been talking about showing up in issue polls here regularly – and we start to really see that polarisation come out in the beauty contest of Better PM. If we look at how that has been changing over the term, we get:
Abbott’s Better PM figure has been increasing at the expense of Rudd’s, and if the Newspoll metrics are showing the same thing as other pollsters (we don’t know for Newspoll because they don’t release Better PM results by voting cross-tabs), it’s coming from increasing numbers of partisan voters delivering Better PM ratings in the same direction as they vote – giving us polarisation in the Better PM figures much more strongly correlated with partisan voting lines than we’ve seen over the last couple of years.
* Ghost of Newspoll Future proudly brought to you by the netizen known as Bushfire Bill The Big Ship (as he’s helpfully pointed out in comments)