Over the next few days, we’ll be looking at some issues that came out of the Roy Morgan Polliegraph that Channel 7 overlaid on their leaders debate coverage. What makes the Polliegraph a more interesting version of real-time reaction tracking than many of its competitors is that, firstly, the audience  is demographically balanced and, secondly, they utilise dial technology rather than keypad technology as the mechanism by which audience members feed their opinion into the system.

With keypad technology, audience members have a hand held device with various numbered buttons on it – as you are viewing an event, you press buttons with a higher number to register a stronger positive opinion and buttons with a lower number to register a stronger negative opinion. Imagine using an old mobile phone to register your opinion by pressing numbers on the keypad – that’s pretty much what the keypads actually look like. Now contrast that to using a dial, where you simply twist it one way as you agree with something and turn it the other way of you disagree with something. Respondents don’t have to pay attention to dials, but they have to split their attention when using keypads between viewing the actual event and registering their opinion via pressing the right button.

Thanks goes out to Roy Morgan for giving us access to what is not only a spiffy piece of kit, but also a commercial piece of research data – so a little golf clap to the kind folks from Morgan please!

To start the ball rolling, it’s worth getting a feel for the way various demographics showed a natural predisposition or aversion to each candidate, and the strength of that relative lean. These relative leans were pretty consistent across the entire debate at a structural level. So if Gillard or Abbott produced some generic motherhood statement almost impossible to disagree with, the Polliegraph lines increased at the same rate among all demographics, but the magnitude of the gap on the Polliegraph lines between each demographic often remained the same –  the lines moved together from different levels.

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To get our heads around the basic structural differences involved – and it’s something we’ll be referring too over the next few articles on this – if we take 90 second to two minute snapshots of the Polliegraph during the closing remarks of each leader at the end of the debate, we can see how the Polliegraph of the leaders behaved for various demographics. The point here isn’t to see how respondents reacted to the content of the leaders statements (we’ll be doing that in other posts), but rather just to highlight the broad structural leans involved in the various demographics.

On these charts you’ll also see a black line called “active dials”. That’s the average response of the entire audience to provide some context. First up, Abbott and Gillard’s closing statements by party vote – the results of which shouldn’t cause too much of a surprise. Just click on the charts to expand them.

abbottbyparty gillardbyparty

Next, the gender split.

abottbygender gillardbygender

Finally, an age split of under 45 and over 45:

abbottbyage gillardbyage

Just have a bit of a chew on these, and later today we’ll look at something particularly interesting that popped up which will probably have a significant effect on the election result.

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