Firstly, my apologies for posting later than I ordinarily would. Whilst I had these figures late last night, I was “otherwise occupied” finalising a matter which also took up a good portion of today. Anyhow, here we are.
I’ve read the latest Newspoll in The Australian with quite a little surprise, but not for the reasons being bandied around in other commentary today.
Elsewhere, today’s poll figures have been reported through the prism of “offering a glimmer of hope to Gillard,” heralding a “slight warming,” and so forth.
They herald nothing of the kind.
The surprise to me is that every movement in this poll — at least in terms of voting ratings and leader approval — is all inside the margin of error of the opinion sample.
ALP primary up 2, Greens up 1, Coalition down 2…this is possibly just static in the sampling methodology.
I expected a slightly better result for Gillard and the ALP: to at least close the two-party measure three points to 55-45.
Readers will recall my comments a fortnight ago that I expected the ALP to get some bounce, but that it wouldn’t be large and I didn’t expect it would be sustained. But this poll is a disaster for the ALP.
After two weeks of doing almost nothing apart from selling the carbon tax, with a disproportionately high amount of media oxygen, two points on the two-party measure is all the result Labor could muster.
The movements in approval/disapproval ratings for Gillard and Abbott, and on the preferred PM measure, are so statistically small as to be irrelevant.
And even though there is a small movement back to Labor in this poll, it is still the second-best result the Coalition has recorded in Newspoll since the election last August.
The last Newspoll — taken mostly prior to Gillard’s policy announcement — showed a spike in support for the Coalition, which I urged people not to get excited about: it was likely coloured by the impending appearance of the bogey tax everyone hated before they saw it.
This one, however, is more a “back to normal” result: broadly returning voting figures to where they were before last fortnight’s poll.
The point I guess informs my surprise is that, broadly, “everyone” who unveils a big, detailed policy package gets a poll bounce — irrespective of the merits of the package.
(Or of the ultimate election result that follows it).
John Hewson rocketed to the lead in 1991 on publication of his Fightback! manifesto. In 1998, John Howard received a similar — albeit smaller — bounce on release of his own GST-based package.
I expected something similar here; if anything, it has been a fizzer.
Let’s keep an eye on all the polls — not just Newspoll — but unless I’m wrong, all will record a similarly minimal rise in the ALP vote, and then bounce around at 53-54 Coalition, 46-47 Labor, until or unless someone does something that is either a positive game-changer or is incredibly stupid.
If I’m wrong, Labor will pick a point or two up every fortnight for the next couple of months, and suddenly find itself in an election-winning position heading into October.
Does anyone seriously see this happening? I can’t.
If you’re from the Labor Party, this poll shouldn’t excite you; it’s an early indication that the last and best chance has been wasted.
And if you’re from Coalition HQ, it’s a message: keep your heads down. It’s no accident that the worst figures the Coalition has recorded in the last three months coincided with Malcolm Turnbull passing himself around again as a leadership option.
The electorate is ready to put the Liberals and Nationals into government, but in the current environment I don’t think either government or opposition would tempt fate wisely.
And this poll illustrates, if nothing else, the sullen mood voters really are in…