Polls Blog
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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