Is that a rogue poll?

Sep 17, 2012, 12:50 PM

Four polls came out today and Labor is celebrating. Prematurely I think. Of the four, Newspoll alone gives Labor any comfort. Perhaps Mr. O’Shaughnessy should have run it again.

Newpoll puts the two parties equal at 50:50. This is an improbable - but not impossible jump from last time. This result was 45: 50 in favour of the Coalition.

What makes it look like a rogue poll is that all the other polls say the Coalition would win at least comfortably, although there is a warning in one aspect of Morgan.

Newspoll says Julia Gillard is easily preferred as prime minister, rising from 39:38 to 46:32. Her disapproval rating fell 5 points from 57 to 52, and her approval rating rose similarly from 31 to to 36. Tony Abbott’s hardly changed – falling one point to an approval rating of 30% and rising up one on his disapproval rating to 60%.

Nielsen says the Coalition prevails comfortably in the two party preferred 53:47. Worse for the government, Labor friendly Essential agrees but at 55:45. Roy Morgan comes in with a finding in favour of the Coalition at 53.5-46.5.

Unlike the other polls Morgan is face-to face. Also Morgan actually asks people how they would apply their preferences. Everybody else applies them as in the last election. If Morgan did this, the coalition lead would fall to 50.5:49.5, closer to Newspoll.

Neilson also found that if Kevin Rudd replaced Julia Gillard, Labor would prevail over the coalition, 53: 47. This result is unlikely to be followed in an election. Were the ALP to overthrow Julia Gillard and return to Kevin Rudd, the Coalition would campaign on the many very vicious attacks on the public record made on Kevin Rudd by his own front bench during his last challenge. He would become the issue in any election. Neilson also found that Malcolm Turnbull, who is by far Labor voters preferred Liberal, is now also preferred by Liberal voters 53: 45.

In the last poll Tony Abbott was preferred by Liberal voters by a close 50:49.

It’s unlikely this will affect the Liberal backbench - unless the polls indicate, over time, that Labor would win. And the crucial measure is the two party preferred, not who is the most popular leader. This is not America.

These polls probably entrench Ms. Gillard in the Labor leadership. The caucus would have to be desperate to change leaders now, and Newspoll gives them hope. In the unlikely event that Newspoll’s conclusions hold and are followed in the other polls - and this continues over a few months - an early election is on the cards.