Polls Blog
Latest Newspoll says budget most popular ever
Tuesday, 17 May 2005 20:39 | Written by Graham Young
Or that's what The Australian tells us. You can read the Newspoll summary here. We'll have some research out from our online surveys tomorrow on this issue, as well as the question of whether voters want Peter Costello or John Howard as Prime Minister.
 
What the people want feedback
Wednesday, 04 May 2005 09:03 | Written by Graham Young
I've summarised the email feedback that we've received from listeners. There is a wide range in interests, but we do consider what you say, and as you'll see, some of the ideas will be executed. C Gilbert suggests we discuss the "rash of high-rise developments that is increasingly blighting Brisbane" and hooning in suburban streets. Ross is concerned that the federal government will sign up to any free trade agreement going, and that it is deliberately creating an impression of a shortage of people in the trades to justify importation of foreign workers. Chris Cutler is interested in roads, and in particular a Western ring road. Darryl Campbell would probably share that interest as he expresses concern that infrastructure expenditure has decreased from 4.5% of GDP to 1.5%. Anne Edwards wants to discuss the failure of the SEQ Regional Strategy to discourage car use and encourage people to grow their own food. Doris has four issues. She wants to talk about Enterprise Bargainaing "Can the people of Australia, the people who pay taxes negotiate with the Politicians. I would love to see their wages and "lurks and perks" trimmed to the bone. I can not understand how they can just give themselves a pay rise and not a merger one like we achieve in EB of 3.5%, theirs is in double digits, what for ??" She also wants lower taxes and a less complicated national superannuation system. Finally she would like teachers to be at school longer so that they could supervise children doing their "homework" at school. On the tax issue she is in general agreement with an email from Richard Ward saying tax is important. He would like to raise the tax-free threshold to $20,000 to help the welfare to work transition. Rosina Gordon wanted abortion discussed as an issue, as well as the work/family balance. (We haven't obliged yet on either on the show, but On Line Opinion's current feature takes up her suggestion about work and family. Marylin is also interested in work/family balance and wonders whether parents "would rather work or not work provided they received a real value Family Allowance/Parenting Allowance?" Politicians should have more passion, according to Grant Carrey. Older listeners with children, or younger listeners with older parents, could be interested in an issue that Thomas Logan raises - the relationship between elderly parents and their offspring. "Why run large surpluses when services are running down?" is the proposition put by Michelle Piele. Sounds like a budget question, and On Line Opinion will be running a budget questionnaire with Springboard Australia immediately after the treasurer delivers his statement. Fred Scholten wants a concentration on health, and with this week's questionnaire, we agree with him. We received some really interesting proposals from Amanda Tyler who had a number of ideas for quantitative polling on education issues. Meanwhile Leiv Bornecrantz has major concerns with the whole WTPW process, and presumably the analysts. He writes: "Dear Graham Young, in my opinion, these type of surveys are meaningless unless performed by someone trained in the methodology and with some mathemathical education. Questions should have 1-10 responses and be analysed with reference to the standard deviation and a +- error rate. As the sample is not random, it is heavily skewed to start with. kind of regards." Ouch!
 
Latest Newspoll shows trend towards Labor
Tuesday, 05 April 2005 21:40 | Written by Graham Young
Newspoll's latest poll is of 1145 people and puts its accuracy at plus or minus 3%. So when it shows a swing towards Labor of 3.8% one should be cautious. However, there are grounds for thinking there might be something in this poll. The result is in line with the Morgan poll that I reported on a few days ago. It is more or less permissible to combine the two samples, which gives us 3,036 respondents (1891 from Morgan and 1145 from Newspoll). Except the sample isn't quite that large as Newspoll excluded 8% of their sample because they didn't answer this question with a preference. Adjusting for this (and assuming Morgan didn't do the same and didn't tell us) the total is 2,944. Still pretty large. The adjusted totals are 44% Coalition, 40% Labor, 7% Greens and 10% other with a sample error of plus or minus 1.8%. In other words this is a statistically meaningful move since the last election. Newspoll also tends to confirm the results in its own terms because of the trend. Unlike Morgan, where the results have bounced in both directions, Newspoll shows a clear trend since the election. This trend is important because just as I can combine results from different surveys that occur over more or less the same time period, you can do the same with different samples within the same survey over a time period. By producing a rolling average (which is all a trend actually is) you can get a more certain result. ABC news reports Opposition Treasury Spokesman Wayne Swan on the result:
"Labor treasury spokesman Wayne Swan says the result is welcome but it is a long time before the next election. He says the poll reflects the public's disappointment in the recent interest rates rise.
He's right to be cautious about the poll result, and politic on the reasons for the change. While we can measure movement on these figures we can't measure cause. That's why What the people want asks qualitative questions and combines them with regression analysis based on the ABS statistics, wherever possible.
 
Latest federal Morgan Poll and margin of error
Saturday, 02 April 2005 01:19 | Written by Graham Young
The latest Roy Morgan poll of federal voting intentions is out. You can read it at www.roymorgan.com/news/polls/2005/3848/. It shows the Government on 44%, 2.4% below their result at the last election, and the ALP on 39%, 1.4% higher. Gary Morgan spends some lines analysing the movement and concludes: "This latest Morgan Poll shows the Primary vote has stabilised after the reaction against interest rates in early March. Primary support for the ALP has risen and an election at this time would be close." In fact it shows nothing of the sort. At the bottom of the page Morgan has a table showing the margin of error inherent in samples of 1,000. At 1,891 the sample on which this analysis is based is much larger than 1,000, so this table doesn't help. However, I've found a web page that not only explains the concept of margin of error, but has a calculator where you can work it out for yourself. In the case of Morgan's sample, his margin of error for the Liberal Party vote is 2.2% in 95% of cases. In other words, the Liberal Party vote could be anywhere between 41.8% and 46.2%, meaning that on the basis of this poll it could have either lost an election decisively to Labor, or won it with a similar margin to last year - take your pick. We pollsters spend a lot of time making up reasons for why things appear to be happening, when nothing is really happening at all. This appears to be yet another case of this phenomenon.
 
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