From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Push polling? So we have to ask … when did you stop beating your wife? Tips was bemused with this polling question asked by Galaxy for The Daily Telegraph:

The “exclusive” poll allowed The Tele to run this front-page hachet job on the new-old PM.

Readers of Tips have shown themselves to be very interested in the art and science of opinion polling. Plenty of us have never been polled (what’s a landline, Grandpa?), and we want to know how it all works. Crikey will be looking further into this issue, but in the meantime here are some readers’ recent experiences of being polled (drop us a line if you’ve had an interesting polling experience lately, or you’ve got a burning question about polling for us to follow up). This Canberra woman gamed the bot-poll admirably:

“I was polled on Wednesday night (first time ever). It was automated. A young American-sounding voice asked how I plan to vote in the House of Reps: “please press the keypad of your phone. If Labor, press 1, Liberal press 2, Australian Greens, press 3, Other,  including independents, press 4. I was asked how I will cast my vote for the Senate; same four options. Next questions sought to know how I cast my votes for Reps and Senate in the previous election. Same four options given in the same order.

Then: what is your gender? Press1 for male, 2 for  female. I pressed 2. Age: press 1 for 18-30, 2 for 31-40 and so on. Finally, please tell us your post code by pressing the numbers on your phone.

It was all a bit simple. I made sure that my message got across … I’m very dark on you, Kevin and your cronies. This is not necessarily how I will vote of course. I wanted to express my disgust right now, so I said I would be voting for the Greens this time. I hated the automated polling style. No chance for any passionate expressions of anger, frustration,  or fed-upness. No opportunity to elaborate on  the answers, and to point out any flaws in the survey.”

And this respondant was thrown by a rogue vitamin question (does this amount to commercial companies piggy-backing off legitimate opinion polls to get a higher response rate?):

“I was polled by Newspoll last year on Abbott and Gillard. About five questions relating to their policies. I had supported Gillard in all questions (still do!). The last question was whether I used vitamins. They hung up before I could answer the vitamin question, I’m presuming I wasn’t included in the poll results. My postcode is 4570, Gympie in Qld, a conservative  area.”

As for this practice involving a major bank — is it ethical for a company to check up on staff via an “opinion poll”?

“I changed my home loan to a fixed rate recently. Less than a week later was called by Roy Morgan for a ‘questionnaire about CBA Home Loans’. When  I said I will not do marketing surveys only political surveys, it finally became clear it was about the CBA home loans and the loans officer I had dealt with. The last I changed my home loan the same thing happened. That time I felt I was giving CBA free information about how to market their home loans. As they say, ‘once bitten twice shy’, the bloody CBA are not  going to get my money as well free information from me any more. They are such parasites.”

Dastyari in federal push? The media is still murmuring that NSW ALP wunderkind Sam Dastyari is headed for federal politics. This time The Sydney Morning Herald reckons ALP Senator Matt Thistlethwaite will try to nab outgoing minister Peter Garrett’s lower-house seat of Kingsford Smith, and Dastyari will slot into the Senate vacancy. We asked Dastyari if that were true; he replied “nope”.

Back in May The Daily Telegraph reckoned a deal had been cut for Dastyari to replace Bob Carr in the Senate if Labor lost this year’s election, prompting Carr to step down. Watch this space …

From MP to boffin. There was some talk on 3AW today that a senior pollie who is leaving politics will soon become a professor at a Melbourne university. Could this be Julia Gillard? Simon Crean? Martin Ferguson doesn’t seem like a tertiary type, but you never know … we’ll let you know if you hear more.

*Heard anything that might interest Crikey? Send your tips to[email protected] or use our guaranteed anonymous form