Polls don’t kill people, people kill people

Dec 21, 2010

First Published on The Drum 21/12/2010

If our politicians are feeling bloody and bruised after a torrid year of spills and thrills, spare a thought for the one group on the national stage that had a harder time of it in 2010 – the humble pollster.

This was the year when hand wringing about the malign impact of political research became a national sport; if there was a problem with politics, political research was the cause. We were to blame for the uninspiring election campaign; for the dumbing down of political reporting; for robbing the ALP of its soul.

So as a purveyor of the Dark Art I want to end the year with a plea for understanding for the minority group I am part of, stealing the catchcry of the Shooters Lobby in the 1990s to proudly declare ‘polls don’t kill people, people kill people’.

Before doing so, I will readily admit that political research can be put to poor use – running focus groups to get ‘permission’ from the electorate to pursue particular policies is to misunderstand the point of such research.
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Federal politics – voting intention

Dec 20, 2010

Q. If a Federal Election was held today to which party will you probably give your first preference vote? If not sure, which party are you currently leaning toward?

Q. If don’t know -Well which party are you currently leaning to?

sample size = 1,909

First preference/leaning to Election

21 Aug 10

4 weeks ago 2 weeks ago Last week This week
Liberal 42% 42% 43% 43%
National 3% 3% 3% 3%
Total Lib/Nat 43.6 45% 45% 46% 46%
Labor 38.0 38% 38% 37% 38%
Greens 11.8 10% 11% 10% 10%
Other/Independent 6.6 8% 6% 7% 7%
2PP Election

21 Aug 10

4 weeks ago 2 weeks ago Last week

This week
Total Lib/Nat 49.9% 51% 51% 52% 52%
Labor 50.1% 49% 49% 48% 48%

NB.  The data in the above tables comprise 2-week averages derived the first preference/leaning to voting questions.  Respondents who select ‘don’t know’ are not included in the results.  The two-party preferred estimate is calculated by distributing the votes of the other parties according to their preferences at the 2010 election.

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Approval of Julia Gillard

Dec 20, 2010

Q. Do you approve or disapprove of the job Julia Gillard is doing as Prime Minister?

Kevin Rudd Julia Gillard
31 May 5 Jul 19 Jul 26 Jul 2 Aug 9 Aug 16 Aug 20 Sep 18 Oct 22 Nov 20 Dec
Total approve 41% 48% 52% 49% 46% 45% 46% 45% 45% 43% 43%
Total disapprove 47% 27% 30% 33% 38% 40% 40% 37% 37% 38% 40%
Strongly approve 7% 14% 11% 12% 10% 13% 13% 12% 10% 7% 10%
Approve 34% 34% 41% 37% 36% 32% 33% 33% 36% 36% 33%
Disapprove 25% 13% 17% 19% 23% 24% 24% 21% 20% 23% 24%
Strongly disapprove 22% 14% 13% 14% 15% 16% 16% 16% 17% 15% 16%
Don’t know 12% 26% 18% 17% 15% 15% 13% 19% 18% 18% 17%

43% (no change) approve of the job Julia Gillard is doing as Prime Minister and 40% (up 2%) disapprove – a change in net rating from +5 to +3.

85% of Labor voters approve and 7% disapprove.

By gender – men 44% approve/42% disapprove, women 41% approve/37% disapprove.

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Approval of Tony Abbott

Dec 20, 2010

Q. Do you approve or disapprove of the job Tony Abbott is doing as Opposition Leader?

18 Jan 22 Feb 29 Mar 3 May 31 May 5 Jul 2 Aug 16 Aug 20 Sep 18 Oct 22 Nov 20 Dec
Total approve 37% 45% 33% 39% 35% 37% 38% 41% 43% 39% 40% 39%
Total disapprove 37% 36% 50% 43% 50% 47% 48% 44% 37% 45% 40% 39%
Strongly approve 5% 12% 8% 5% 5% 8% 8% 9% 12% 8% 6% 9%
Approve 32% 33% 25% 34% 30% 29% 30% 32% 31% 31% 34% 30%
Disapprove 20% 20% 28% 24% 28% 23% 27% 22% 21% 22% 22% 21%
Strongly disapprove 17% 16% 22% 19% 22% 24% 21% 22% 16% 23% 18% 18%
Don’t know 26% 18% 16% 18% 16% 16% 14% 15% 19% 17% 19% 22%

39% (down 1%) approve of the job Tony Abbott is doing as Opposition Leader and 39% (down 1%) disapprove – no net change from last month.

67% of Coalition voters approve and 16% disapprove.

By gender – men 44% approve/39% disapprove, women 34% approve/38% disapprove.

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Better Prime Minister

Dec 20, 2010

Q. Who do you think would make the better Prime Minister out of Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott?

5 Jul 16 Aug 20 Sep 18 Oct 22 Nov 20 Dec Vote Labor Vote Lib/Nat Vote Greens Kevin Rudd v Tony Abbott

21 Jun 10

Julia Gillard 53% 46% 47% 49% 45% 45% 88% 8% 72% 47%
Tony Abbott 26% 35% 35% 33% 34% 34% 3% 74% 7% 30%
Don’t know 21% 19% 18% 17% 21% 21% 9% 18% 21% 23%

45% believe Julia Gillard would make the better Prime Minister and 34% prefer Tony Abbott – no change last month’s figures.

Men favour Julia Gillard over Tony Abbott 45%/39% and women 45%/29%.

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2011 Outlook – Economy and Family

Dec 20, 2010

Q. Thinking about the next 12 months, do you think 2011 will be a good or bad year for each of the following?

Total good Total poor Very good Good Neither good nor bad Bad Very bad Don’t know/Not applicable
The Australian economy 48% 16% 5% 43% 32% 14% 2% 5%
Your personal financial situation 39% 20% 7% 32% 38% 14% 6% 3%
Your workplace * 47% 16% 8% 39% 33% 13% 3% 4%
You and your family overall 51% 14% 10% 41% 30% 11% 3% 4%

* based on working people

Overall, respondents were optimistic that 2011 would be a good year for themselves overall (51%), the Australian economy (48%) and their workplace (47%). They tended to be a little less optimistic about their financial situation (39% good/20% bad).

When compared with last week’s questions on perceptions of 2010, these figures suggest that respondents expect 2011 to be better than 2010.

In particular, more respondents believed it would be a good year for their personal situation (28% 2010/39% 2011), the Australian economy (41%/48%) and themselves and their families overall (43%/51%).

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2011 Outlook – Political Parties

Dec 20, 2010

Q. Do you think 2011 will be a good or bad year for each of the following political parties?

Total good Total poor Very good Good Neither good nor bad Bad Very bad Don’t know
The Liberal Party 35% 18% 7% 28% 34% 14% 4% 13%
The Labor Party 19% 40% 4% 15% 29% 29% 11% 12%
The Greens 22% 29% 4% 18% 35% 16% 13% 14%

Respondents expect that 2011 is likely to be a good year for the Liberal Party (35% good/18% bad) and a bad year for the Labor Party (19%/40%).

Comparing these results with last week’s questions about 2010, respondents expect the Liberal Party to have a better year  – 2010 33% good/27% bad compared to 2011 35%/18%.

Also, although the Greens were assessed to have had a good 2010 (42% good/21% bad) expectations are not so positive for 2011 (22%/29%).

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