Archive for the ‘Opinion polls’ Category

The curse of the petrified pollster

April 6th, 2015 Comments off
  • Election punditry is tricky when the polls are this greasy – “Miliband flops”, crows the Telegraph. “Miliband riding high”, replies the Mirror. But that brings us to the heart of the problem: the curse of the petrified pollster.
  • In poverty-stricken Philippine militant breeding ground, farmers plow in fear – Two months ago, the farmer’s marshland village of Tukanalipao was the site of a daylong battle between Muslim militants and police that left more than 60 people dead as security forces hunted down alleged top terrorists. The latest carnage has seriously jeopardized efforts to end a four-decade Muslim separatist rebellion that has claimed 120,000 lives, dimming hopes again that people such as Pangaoilan will be able to prosper in peace.
  • The hidden penalties of being a mother in the workforce – … it’s called the Motherhood Penalty. … According to Diversity Council Australia, mothers experience a 17 per cent loss in wages over a lifetime. They take an average 4 per cent pay cut after the birth of their first child and a 9 per cent cut for each subsequent child.
  • Malaysia opposition faces challenging times – Nurul Izzah, daughter of Malaysia’s jailed opposition leader, thinks Malaysia is becoming Islamicised, under the guise of a Malay agenda.
  • Johnston Press shows there is life in local newspapers yet – “The digital tipping point” has been reached, declares Ashley Highfield. He’s the man who swapped developing new technology at the BBC such as the iPlayer for an ink-stained desk at Johnston Press, owner of The Scotsman and the Yorkshire Post.
  • Science vs Conspiracy: Collective Narratives in the Age of Misinformation – In spite of the enthusiastic rhetoric about the so called collective intelligence unsubstantiated rumors and conspiracy theories—e.g., chemtrails, reptilians or the Illuminati—are pervasive in online social networks (OSN).
  • The mute button – The problem with free speech is that it’s hard, and self-censorship is the path of least resistance. But, once you learn to keep yourself from voicing unwelcome thoughts, you forget how to think them—how to think freely at all—and ideas perish at conception.

The Newspoll influence

March 25th, 2015 Comments off

I am not sure why it is but Newspoll is the pollster that has the most influence in Canberra. Perhaps it’s because of the regularity of appearing every second Tuesday.  Perhaps it’s because of being published in the nation’s only remaining broadsheet. Whatever. It is so. So Tony Abbott will leave the Parliament hothouse this week with his position secure.

But overall the  opinion polls as a whole show his government is still in serious trouble.


Labor gains in Morgan Poll

March 23rd, 2015 Comments off
  • Federal ALP increases lead as NSW prepares to vote in State Election – ALP support increased to 56% (up 2.5%), still well clear of the L-NP 44% (down 2.5%) on a two-party preferred basis.  If a Federal Election were held now the ALP would win according to this week’s Morgan Poll on voting intention conducted over the last two weekends, March 14/15 & 21/22, 2015, with an Australia-wide cross-section of 3,146 Australian electors aged 18+. Primary support for the ALP increased to 40% (up 2%) now ahead of the L-NP 38% (down 1%). Support for the other parties shows The Greens at 11% (down 0.5%), Palmer United Party (PUP) 1.5% (down 0.5%) while Independents/ Others were 9.5% (unchanged.
  • Will the real Netanyahu please stand up? – Doomed to endless occupation, Palestinians will become more not less violent, says Simon Schama
  • Alex Salmond predicts vote-by-vote deal with Labour – Alex Salmond has predicted a “vote by vote arrangement” between a minority Labour government and the SNP is the most likely outcome of the election. Scotland’s former first minister said his successor as SNP leader, Nicola Sturgeon, would lead the negotiations. Mr Salmond also said he wanted the SNP to form a “progressive coalition” with Plaid Cymru and the Greens.
  • Asia’s deadly secret: The scourge of the betel nut – It is used by almost a tenth of the world’s population. It gives people a buzz equivalent to six cups of coffee and is used variously as a symbol of love, marriage and a cure for indigestion and impotence.nBut it is also leading tens of thousands to an early grave. The culprit? The humble betel nut. Found across Asia, these nuts are harvested from the Areca palm and are chewed for their warming glow and stimulating properties. Such is its effectiveness, that alongside nicotine, alcohol and caffeine, betel nuts are believed to be one of the most popular mind-altering substances in the world.

sin city

Pernicious inflation and an imploding Europe – a few things for Joe to think about

February 22nd, 2015 Comments off

22-02-2015 consumerprices

  • Feeling down – Deflation can be a good thing. But today’s version is pernicious – “Deflation poses several risks, some well-understood, one not. … The least-understood danger is also the most serious, because it is already here. Deflation makes it harder to loosen monetary policy. … Policymakers should be more worried than they appear to be, and their actions to avert deflation should be bolder. Governments need to boost demand by spending more on infrastructure; central banks should err on the side of looseness.”
  • An orderly Greek exit is the only option for Europe – “The euro will eventually break up. But, before it does, we’ll see a lot more democratic transgressions as big countries, aided by the Brussels machine, impose their will on smaller neighbours.’If we aim deliberately at impoverishment, vengeance, I dare predict … will not limp,’ Keynes wrote in 1919. ‘But who can say how much is endurable, or in what direction men will seek at last to escape from their misfortunes?’ I’m not predicting war in Western Europe. But I am saying the eurozone will generate ever-rising tensions and spiralling financial instability until it finally implodes or is deliberately dismantled.
  • The hideous dialectic of Isis savagery – “The methods of the jihadi blackshirts are chillingly savage. But Isis is chillingly smart too.”
  • Facing Up to the Democratic Recession  – Democracy has been in a global recession for most of the last decade, and there is a growing danger that the recession could deepen and tip over into something much worse. Many more democracies could fail, not only in poor countries of marginal strategic significance, but also in big swing states such as Indonesia and Ukraine (again). There is little external recognition yet of the grim state of democracy in Turkey, and there is no guarantee that democracy will return any time soon to Thailand or Bangladesh. Apathy and inertia in Europe and the United States could significantly lower the barriers to new democratic reversals and to authoritarian entrenchments in many more states.”
  • Why Do Many Reasonable People Doubt Science? “We live in an age when all manner of scientific knowledge—from climate change to vaccinations—faces furious opposition. “Some even have doubts about the moon landing.”
  • The Great Jewish Exodus – “Israel is indeed the home of every Jew, and that is important, a guarantee of sorts. It is equally important, however, that not every Jew choose this home. That is another kind of guarantee, of Europe’s liberal order, of the liberal idea itself.”

22-02-2015 shape

Write it in Textor – competence versus chaos

February 4th, 2015 Comments off

I wonder if he’s told them how well it worked in Queensland?

competence versus chaos

From a Guardian story this morning on Crosby-Textor’s influence on the Conservative Party’s election campaign

Categories: Elections, Opinion polls, UK election Tags:

The death penalty for drug smugglers – majority in favour

January 29th, 2015 Comments off


The political difficulty for politicians in campaigning to have Indonesia spare Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan from the death penalty was shown by a recent Morgan Poll.

A special snap SMS Morgan Poll today shows a small majority of Australians (52%, down 1% since August 2009) say that Australians convicted of drug trafficking in another country and sentenced to death should be executed while 48% (up 1%) don’t. Of Australians, a larger majority (62%) said the Australian Government should not do more to stop the execution of Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan while 38% say the Australian Government should do more to stop the execution.


Categories: Opinion polls Tags:

A mistimed writ by the Queensland Premier?

January 24th, 2015 Comments off

I wrote at the beginning of the week that the Queensland election would be an interesting test of the power of radio talk host Alan Jones and the initial verdict is that he is capable of turning the subject of political debate even if the impact on actual voting is less certain. Without Jones’ intervention with a daily one hour session on Brisbane station 4BC, questions of the influence of big money on government decisions would not have featured in the campaign. The local media have spent three years largely ignoring questions about the Liberal National Party method of governing but Jones has forced them to change that.

Premier Campbell Newman spent this week dodging questions from his once subservient media chooks based on allegations that Alan Jones has aired. It has thrown his planned low-key, summer campaign strategy quite off the rails. That might not matter (see Alan Jones and the Springborg farm made for titillating listening for my guess on the subject) but Premier Newman is clearly worried. How else to explain his recourse late in the week to legal action for alleged defamation?

If this was a classic stop-writ, and it appears to have been, it has not worked as planned. Rather it has given the mainstream Queensland media an opportunity to give the allegations another kick along. Perhaps the LNP strategists are finding from their research that this morning’s Newspoll in The Weekend Australian is reflective of public opinion.


Or perhaps not. Pollster Mark Textor took to Twitter last night to suggest his followers have a look at some ANU research into marginal seat polling. (Read from the third message upwards.)


Textor views on polling deserve to be taken seriously but I do wonder about the likely accuracy of this one:


So far the market has been largely unmoved by campaign developments and opinion polls. The Owl’s election indicator still has the LNP clearly as the probable election winner.


Force me to bet on the Australian election and I’d back the Coalition

December 8th, 2014 Comments off

The opinion polls showing Labor with a comfortable lead over the Coalition keep coming. At the weekend there was Galaxy putting the twp party shares at 45% for the Coalition and 55% for Labor. This morning Fairfax-Ipsos had it 48% Coalition 52% Labor.

It is an uncommon thing to have a government so consistently behind the opposition for such a lengthy period in its first year or so in office but would you really like to put your own hard earned on Labor winning? I certainly wouldn’t and if you forced me to have a wager I’d be backing the Coalition. To me the Owl’s federal election indicator considerably overstates Labor’s chances of being the majority party come polling day.

Australian federal election indicator

Now don’t get me wrong. Tony Abbott is an unpopular Prime Minister. It’s just that with almost two years to go one of two things will most likely happen. Abbott will change his ways or his party will dump him. In both cases the voting public will start to look more closely at Labor’s Bill Shorten.

To my mind Shorten is a man who will fall short under real scrutiny, bringing the Labor vote down with him.


Jar Jar Binks and political popularity

November 30th, 2014 Comments off


People who think they’re entitled to standing—because they are brainy, rich, or famous—almost always lose. They forget you earn your standing, you are not entitled to it. That’s the best thing about democracy, the single reason why we’re not yet entirely governed by wealthy oligarchs.

I may have come into politics with an unacknowledged condescension toward the game and the people who played it, but I left with more respect for politicians than when I went in. The worst of them—the careerists and predators—you find in all professions. The best of them were a credit to democracy. They knew the difference between an adversary and an enemy, knew when to take half a loaf and when to insist on the whole bakery, knew when to trust their own judgment and when to listen to the people.

As I learned while watching wiser colleagues than I in a democratic legislature, it is really something in life to be utterly disabused about human motive, venality, capacity for double-crossing, and yet still come to work every day, trying to get something done.

Liberalism will become an enclave conviction of a shrinking minority unless those who call themselves liberal reconnect their faith in tolerance, equality, opportunity for all with the more difficult faith in the dirty, loud-mouthed, false, lying business of politics itself. This disdain is cynicism, masking as high principle. The ultimate allegiance of a democratic politician is not to party, not even to principle, but to the venal process called politics. So my final advice is this: Politics is not a vulgar means to a goal, it’s a noble life unto itself, and unless you love it, you can’t do it well. I didn’t get there, but I hope you will.

In Victoria is the election all over bar the voting? Maybe, but the Greens are providing plenty of interest

November 21st, 2014 Comments off

Two opinion polls today on the Victorian state election with one showing Labor on course for a comfortable win and the other suggesting a crushing defeat is in store for the Coalition government.

This morning Galaxy:

Untitled imageThis afternoon Roy Morgan:

roy morgan

Both pollsters are showing the Greens doing well – Galaxy has them with a primary vote of 13% while Morgan puts their support at a staggeringly high 19.5%.

Gary Morgan comments:

Gary Morgan says:

“Opposition Leader Dan Andrews has grabbed a significant lead with a week to go before the Victorian Election with the ALP (55%) well ahead of the L-NP (45%) on a two-party preferred basis. A victory for the Labor Party will mean the Liberal Government of Ted Baillieu and Denis Napthine will be the first one-term Government in Victoria since John Cain Snr. in 1952-1955.

“Although the two major parties are almost level on primary vote: ALP (35.5%) cf. L-NP (35%), the high expected Greens vote (19.5%) would ensure a strong flow of preferences to the ALP. If the high expected Greens vote is maintained over the final week of the campaign a strong Greens vote gives the Greens a good chance of winning their first lower house seat at a Victorian Election in one of the Inner Melbourne seats of Brunswick, Melbourne, Northcote or Richmond.

“The Liberal Party’s negative advertising against Labor Leader Dan Andrews has provided Andrews with ‘free’ publicity and not given electors any positive reasons to vote for the Coalition.”



No joy from Roy for Tony

November 17th, 2014 Comments off

Well the first verdict on Tony Abbott the international statesman is in and the verdict of the Roy Morgan poll won’t be encouraging for the Prime Minister.

“A week of international Summits, starting with the APEC Summit in Beijing and culminating with the Brisbane G20 Summit over the weekend failed to provide a boost to either Prime Minister Tony Abbott or the Liberal Party with the ALP (55.5%, up 1%) increasing its lead over the L-NP (44.5%, down 1%) on a two-party preferred basis,” pollster Gary Morgan commented this afternoon. “Abbott was widely criticised at the G20 Summit over the weekend for referring to domestic legislative difficulties in his opening remarks to foreign leaders which seemed to detract from the stated goal of the G20 Summit to provide a boost to world growth. There was also significant media coverage in the last few days about last week’s climate change deal between the United States and China which put the spotlight on the Abbott Government’s different approach to dealing with the issue.”

Nor will Clive Palmer and his now depleted PUPs have much to bark about. Their week of internal turmoil has seen their share of the vote drop to 2.5% (down 0.5%) – the lowest recorded since prior to the Federal Election last year. Primary support for the L-NP was down 0.5% to 38% while ALP support rose 1% to 38.5%. Support for the other parties shows The Greens at 12% (down 0.5%) with independents and others (excluding PUP) up0.5 points to 9%. Distributing preferences on the basis of how electors say they would vote resulted in the 45.5% Coalition 55.5% ALP split. Using the method of Newspoll with distribution on the basis of how people voted at the last election would see the Coalition on 46.5% to the ALP’s 53.5%

According to Morgan the ALP maintains a two-party preferred lead in all Australian States. Tasmania: ALP 59.5% cf. L-NP 40.5%; Victoria: ALP 58.5% cf. L-NP 41.5%; New South Wales: ALP 55% cf. L-NP 45%; South Australia: ALP 53.5% cf. L-NP 46.5%; Queensland: ALP 53% cf. L-NP 47% and Western Australia: ALP 51% cf. L-NP 49%.

Categories: Federal opinion polls Tags:

Morgan Poll also has Labor pulling ahead – just like Newspoll

November 4th, 2014 Comments off


A starling, one of the common European bird species found to be in decline in a new study. Credit: Tomas Belka,

A starling, one of the common European bird species found to be in decline in a new study. Credit: Tomas Belka,

  • A staggering 400 million birds have vanished from Europe since 1980
  • How marijuana will fare on election day – “Voters in four states will decide how the next chapter of marijuana reform will be written. If several of the measures pass, it will likely build momentum for a growing public consensus on legalization. On the other hand, if all or most of the measures fail, legalization proponents may need to take a step back and reassess their strategies for legalization efforts already planned for a number of states in 2016.”
  • The outlook: Prolonged low growth or another crisis – Contrary to widely held beliefs, the world has not yet begun to ‘delever’ and the global debt-to-GDP is still growing. Growth and inflation are also dangerously low. This Vox Talk discusses the findings and policy recommendations of the 16th Geneva Report. It argues that much more can and should be done to improve resilience to debt shocks and discourage excessive debt accumulation.
  • What Have Economists Ever Done for Us?

The Australian decides not to frighten the readers – relegate a bad poll to an inside page

November 4th, 2014 Comments off

The tale of some recent Tuesday front pages:


Big and bold as "Coalition closing gap"

26 August – Big and bold as “Coalition closing gap”

9 September - Down a point so make it smaller but accentuate the positive

9 September – Down a point so make it smaller but accentuate the positive

23 September  - A slight improvement so make it bigger

23 September – A slight improvement so make it bigger

7 October - Behind in every state but WA but Tony's doing better!

7 October – Behind in every state but WA but Tony’s doing better!

21 October - Hmm. Dropped again so back to the single column and at least they like one thing about tough man Tony

21 October – Hmm. Dropped again so back to the single column and at least they like one thing about tough man Tony

4 November - This is getting a bit depressing. Page 2'll do for it.

4 November – This is getting a bit depressing. Page 2’ll do for it.

The opinion polls are aligned and pointing strongly to a Victorian Labor victory

October 27th, 2014 Comments off

Two new opinion polls on the Victorian state election out today and they confirm the regular Newspoll in having Labor comfortably in the lead. Galaxy puts the two party vote at Labor 52% with the Coalition 48%; Morgan has Labor 52.5%, Coalition 47.5%; Newspoll is at Labor 55% and the Coalition 45%.

The new Galaxy result:

27-10-2014 galaxy


This afternoon’s  “special” SMS Morgan Poll on State voting intention in Victoria conducted over the last few days (October 24-27, 2014) with a representative cross-section of 1,860 Victorian electors shows the ALP (52.5%, down 1.5% since September 2014) with an election-winning lead over the L-NP (47.5%, up 1.5%) on a two-party preferred basis.

On primary voting intention the L-NP (37.5%, unchanged) still leads the ALP (34%, unchanged). The ALP’s two-party preferred lead is because the high primary vote for the Greens (18.5%, up 0.5%) is boosting the ALP two-party preferred vote into the lead. Other minor parties include the Palmer United Party (PUP), 2.5% (down 0.5%), Family First (2.5%, up 0.5%), Country Alliance (0.5%, unchanged) and Independents/Others (4.5%, down 0.5%).

Gary Morgan in commenting on the results said that “the Greens vote is currently very high and unlikely to be maintained at the Victorian Election – recent polling before several National and State Elections has shown the Greens vote high in the months before an election but dropping at the election itself. The high Greens vote is caused by ‘disenchantment’ with the policies of the two major parties. ”

Newspoll is by now a touch historical but its reading for the July-August period had Labor well in front. Like Morgan, Newspoll had the Greens with support well above their level at the last state election.

27-10-2014 newspollvictoria

Julie Bishop rates much higher with voters than Tony Abbott and other news and views for Tuesday 9 September

September 9th, 2014 Comments off


  • Julie Bishop knocks Malcolm Turnbull off popularity high in cabinet rankings – A new poll reveals the foreign minister is the most popular minister and Joe Hockey is the least popular. – “Julie Bishop has overtaken Malcolm Turnbull as the federal government’s highest-performing minister, while the budget has dragged Joe Hockey into last place, according to a survey ranking each cabinet member.McNair Ingenuity Research polled 1,004 voters late in August, just before the first anniversary of the Abbott government’s election victory. Participants were asked to rank each minister on a scale of 100 for excellent, 75 for good, 50 for average, 25 for poor or zero for terrible.
  • As the party faithful drift away, can Bill Shorten reinvent Labor? – “Bill Shorten, who seemed so impressive as a union leader and minister, is shaping up as the least inspiring opposition leader since Alexander Downer. … Shorten’s position is safe thanks largely to the complexities of choosing a party leader. But unless he can construct a new narrative and distance himself from the apparently moribund party machine that created him, he is unlikely to replace Abbott. Labor needs a leader who can simultaneously transform the party and create a new narrative of governance. Waiting for Abbott to self-destruct is not enough.”2014-09-09_worldorder
  • Long View of History Includes Today – In ‘World Order,’ Henry Kissinger Sums Up His Philosophy – “In this book’s most compelling sections, Mr. Kissinger uses his realpolitik lens (with its emphasis on balance of power, linkage and triangular diplomacy) as a revealing prism by which to look at, say, the roots of World War I and the sources of conflict in the modern Middle East. He similarly uses his knowledge of various countries’ historical proclivities and their self-image over the centuries as a frame of reference for current developments like the Arab Spring and America’s increasingly ambivalent role on the world stage.”
  • Bold reform is the only answer to secular stagnation
  • When Yes Means Yes – California Lawmakers Redefine Campus Sexual Assault
  • Dreams on hold, Brazil’s ‘new middle class’ turns on Rousseff – “… a faltering economy and mounting frustration over poor public services are dimming the outlook for Brazil’s ‘new middle class.’ As that happens, leftist President Dilma Rousseff is watching a once-loyal base – and her chances of re-election next month – slip away. Her main rival, environmentalist Marina Silva, has surged in the polls and is favored to win a likely second-round runoff against Rousseff.”
  • Adelaide poet David Ades wins $15,000 in inaugural University of Canberra poetry prize

The Scottish mood changing with support for independence apparently growing

September 9th, 2014 Comments off

A second opinion poll for the week shows the referendum on Scottish independence has become a close run thing. Reuters reports a surge in support for those who wish to break away from the United Kingdom. A TNS survey has the  number of people saying they would vote “No” to independence dropping to 39 percent, down from 45 percent a month ago. “Yes” support was slightly behind at 38 percent but had gained ground from 32 percent a month ago.

The late rally by the “Yes” campaign led by Alex Salmond’s Scottish National Party, the ruling party in Scotland, now makes the break–up of the United Kingdom – previously thought to be a pipedream – a distinct possibility after a 300-year-old union.

British financial markets tumbled on Monday after an opinion poll showed for the first time this year that Scots may vote for independence in the referendum next week.

The YouGov poll for the Sunday Times put the “Yes” camp on 51 percent and “No” on 49 percent, excluding don’t knows.

The referendum, in which more than 4 million Scots and residents of Scotland are eligible to vote, will take place on Sept. 18.

The England based national newspapers are now taking the possibility of a breakaway from the United Kingdom seriously.


A sharing of the front pages with a new royal baby gave a certain relevance to this tweet:

The Owl’s election indicator continues to have the “No” vote favourite.


A clue to the Murdoch view on what to do in Iraq and other news and views for Wednesday 3 October

September 3rd, 2014 Comments off

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  • Attempt to split Commons clerk role is no ‘power grab’ – “Since he did not have Commons approval to split the post, Mr Bercow advertised the job of clerk in its traditional form and hired recruitment consultancy to conduct a national and global search. A panel of senior MPs conducted interviews and ended up nominating Carol Mills, a senior official from the Australian senate. Ms Mills is a respected administrator but a person with scant knowledge of Westminster procedure. Mr Bercow admits there was “something a tad incongruous about expecting one person to be both the procedural expert and the top-flight manager/chief executive”. The panel decided to go for someone with the latter experience.”
  • Sandhurst’s sheikhs: Why do so many Gulf royals receive military training in the UK? – “Four reigning Arab monarchs are graduates of Sandhurst and its affiliated colleges – King Abdullah of Jordan, King Hamad of Bahrain, Sheikh Tamim, Emir of Qatar, and Sultan Qaboos of Oman. Past monarchs include Sheikh Saad, Emir of Kuwait, and Sheikh Hamad, Emir of Qatar. Sandhurst’s links have continued from the time when Britain was the major colonial power in the Gulf.”
  • Labour cannot be complacent about Ukip’s advance – “Ukip is creating a divide between those with the skills, education and resources to adapt, and those who have little and feel angry.”

You had to turn to page 37 last week to get the most appropriate political comment in the Sydney Morning Herald about Tony Abbott and his coalition government.



A victory for Jokowi and the Morgan Poll in Indonesia

July 10th, 2014 Comments off

2014-07-10_jakartaThey have reason to be feeling pleased with themselves at the Morgan Poll headquarters in Melbourne this morning after predicting with some accuracy the result of yesterday’s Indonesian presidential election. The snapshot results findings based on results from a sample of polling booths

The Jakarta Post says the quick counts from “the credible institutions”, based on results from a sample of polling booths, indicate that Jokowi won around 52 percent of the vote, with 48 percent going to Prabowo. The Morgan Poll’s final poll said:

Long-time favourite Jokowi (52%) holds a narrow lead over Prabowo Subianto (48%) according to yesterday’s Roy Morgan Poll on the Indonesian Presidential Election conducted in June 2014 with 3,117 Indonesian electors.The KPU is expected to announce the official result no later than July 22.

The KPU [General Elections Commission] of Indonesia  is expected to announce the official result no later than July 22.


The really bad news for Abbott from the opinion polls – influencing that odd assortment of Senators

July 4th, 2014 Comments off

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The Owl’s federal election indicator is lagging well behind the opinion polls when it comes to assessing the future prospects of the Abbott government (although it is moving in Labor’s direction) but then the indicator is trying to measure something quite different to the pollsters. The polls are trying to tell us what people think now while the markets the indicator is based on are looking forward to what will happen on a future election day. They are two quite different things. As I have written many times on this site I prefer to take the guidance of the money.

But with new Senators about to take their places in the red chamber it is opportune to repeat something I wrote back in May.

What opinion pollsters say two and a half years out from an election is normally of no interest at all to me. Just ignore them is invariably my advice. Today, though, I am breaking those habits of a political lifetime. The unanimous verdict of all the major pollsters suggesting that Tony Abbott and his government are on the nose does strike me as relevant.

Not because the figures suggest the Liberal-National coalition will lose the next election. Far from it. I’ll stick with the predictive power of the Owl’s federal election indicator which puts Labor well behind. The importance of the polls is the influence they will have on that maverick collection of Senators who will become the real power brokers of politics after 1 July and on the Labor and Greens majority from now until then.

A strong suggestion that voters do not like a government – and the polls are giving just that now – encourages an opposition to stick the boot in because of a belief that will help their own prospects of re-election. Ultimately it might do no such thing but in the meantime it sure does make governing harder.

Muslims don’t much like al Qaeda, Hamas and Hezbollah either

July 3rd, 2014 Comments off

There is a terrible tendency to tar everyone with the same brush when fear and loathing is in the air. Hence the importance of this Pew Research Center survey conducted in predominantly Muslim countries.

The headline findings:

As well-publicized bouts of violence, from civil war to suicide bombings, plague the Middle East, Africa and South Asia, concern about Islamic extremism is high among countries with substantial Muslim populations, according to a new survey by the Pew Research Center. And in the Middle East, concern is growing. Lebanese, Tunisians, Egyptians, Jordanians and Turks are all more worried about the extremist threat than they were a year ago.

3-07-2014 middleeastextremism

Meanwhile, publics hold very negative opinions of well-known extremist groups, such as al Qaeda, Hamas and Hezbollah.

3-07-2014 concernaboutextremism

In Nigeria, the vast majority of respondents, both Muslims and Christians alike, have an unfavorable view of Boko Haram, the terrorist group that recently kidnapped hundreds of girls in the restive north of the country. And a majority of Pakistanis have an unfavorable view of the Taliban.

Few Muslims in most of the countries surveyed say that suicide bombing can often or sometimes be justified against civilian targets in order to defend Islam from its enemies. And support for the tactic has fallen in many countries over the last decade. Still, in some countries a substantial minority say that suicide bombing can be justified.

3-07-2014 suicidebombing

These are the main findings of a new Pew Research Center survey conducted among 14,244 respondents in 14 countries with significant Muslim populations from April 10 to May 25, 2014. The survey was conducted prior to the recent takeover of Mosul and other areas of Iraq by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).


Pew Research helps you find where you fit in the political spectrum

July 3rd, 2014 Comments off

I admit to being a bit of a sucker for those online tests of where you fit in the political spectrum. It does a journalist good to be shown where the prejudices lie and it is no harm for readers either.

The latest I’ve tried is from that well respected non-partisan US organisation the Pew ResearchCenter for the People & the Press which tries to measure the shades and hues of the public’s political attitudes and values.

Partisan polarization – the vast and growing gap between Republicans and Democrats – is a defining feature of politics today. But beyond the ideological wings, which make up a minority of the public, the political landscape includes a center that is large and diverse, unified by frustration with politics and little else. As a result, both parties face formidable challenges in reaching beyond their bases to appeal to the middle of the electorate and build sustainable coalitions.

The latest Pew Research Center political typology, which sorts voters into cohesive groups based on their attitudes and values, provides a field guide for this constantly changing landscape. Before reading further, take our quiz to see where you fit in the typology.

The findings:

3-07-2014 pewtypology

But where would you fit? Well Pew has devised a little test so you can find out. Here’s the verdict on me after I pretended to be a US citizen:

3-07-2014 ideologyplacementSo what does that suggest I am? According to Pew I am a Solid Liberal along with 15% of the public which means:

2012 vote: 89% for Obama | 3% for Romney
Generally affluent and highly educated, most Solid Liberals strongly support the social safety net and take very liberal positions on virtually all issues. Most say they always vote Democratic and are unflagging supporters of Barack Obama. Overall, Solid Liberals are very optimistic about the nation’s future and are the most likely to say that America’s success is linked to its ability to change, rather than its reliance on long-standing principles. On foreign policy, Solid Liberals overwhelmingly believe that good diplomacy – rather than military strength – is the best way to ensure peace.

Nothing I can disagree with there. So keep that in mind when reading the Owl. It’s better to know the starting point of pundits than not.



The brave Morgan Poll offers an Indonesian forecast

July 1st, 2014 Comments off

I dip my lid to Morgan Polls for venturing into Indonesia to bring one of the few available guides to the presidential election. It cannot be easy to sample public opinion in such a large and diverse nation. Time will tell about the wisdom of trying.

Today’s Morgan report declares the result too close to call with just a week to go.

Long-time favourite Jokowi (52%) holds a narrow lead over Prabowo Subianto (48%) according to yesterday’s Roy Morgan Poll on the Indonesian Presidential Election conducted in June 2014 with 3,117 Indonesian electors.

Analysing the final Roy Morgan Indonesian Presidential Poll by location shows Jokowi leads in most areas of Indonesia, although it is only a very narrow lead on Indonesia’s most populous island of Java: Jokowi (52.5%) cf. Prabowo (47.5%).

Jokowi’s biggest lead is on the tourist, and Buddhist, island of Bali: Jokowi (93%) cf. Prabowo (7%). Jokowi also leads clearly in Sulawesi: Jokowi (60.5%) cf. Prabowo (39.5%); Kalimantan: Jokowi (55%) cf. Prabowo (45%); the Maluku Islands: Jokowi (65.5%) cf. Prabowo (34.5%) and in Nusa Tenggara: Jokowi (68%) cf. Prabowo (32%).

Jokowi’s challenger, Prabowo, leads in the westernmost region of Sumatra: Prabowo (60%) cf. Jokowi (40%) and in the easternmost region of Papua: Prabowo (51.5%) cf. Jokowi (48.5%).

Presidential support by Gender

Analysing by Gender shows Jokowi’s narrow lead is based upon his strong appeal to women. Amongst women Jokowi (55%) is clearly favoured to Prabowo (45%). However, men narrowly favour Prabowo (51%) over Jokowi (49%).

Presidential support by Age

Analysing the support for each candidate also shows a clear difference between Jokowi and Prabowo. Jokowi’s appeal is higher amongst older age groups whilst Prabowo has the edge with younger Indonesians.

17-24yr olds: Prabowo (52%) cf. Jokowi (48%);
25-30yr olds: Prabowo (51%) cf. Jokowi (49%);
31-45yr olds: Jokowi (52%) cf. Prabowo (48%);
46+yr olds: Jokowi (56%) cf. Prabowo (44%).


Making a monkey of the opinion polls

June 11th, 2014 Comments off

Every now and again we get a reminder that opinion polls are not an infallible guide to public opinion. In yesterday’s primary election to choose the Republican candidate for Virginia’s 7th congressional district the polls showed the incumbent Congressman Eric Cantor well ahead.

As The New Yorker reported: “According to Nate Silver, his internal polling showed him ahead by more than twenty points. A poll carried out on June 2nd by the Daily Caller did indicate that the race was narrowing somewhat, but even that poll showed Brat trailing Cantor by twelve points, forty per cent to fifty-two per cent.”

And the result? The challenger college professor Dave Brat ousted seven-term House Majority Leader Eric Cantor with 56 percent of the vote to Cantor’s 44 percent.

To make the result even more remarkable, the professor spent $122,000 on his campaign to his opponent’s $5 million plus.

Sticking with UKIP

May 18th, 2014 Comments off

A couple of new polls this morning with predictions on what will happen on Thursday when they vote in the UK to elect members to the European Parliament.

The  ComRes poll in the Independent on Sunday had UKIP clearly doing best and gave an explanation as to why its UKIP figure was higher than that of some other pollsters.

One of those other was a YouGov/Sun poll that had topline figures of CON 22%, LAB 28%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 25%, GRN 10%. Labour are just ahead of UKIP in first place but the Polling Report website commented:

A lot of this apparent difference is down to how they approach turnout – YouGov’s topline figures are based on all respondents, if they took only those certain to vote UKIP would be ahead. ComRes’s figures include only those 10/10 certain to vote, if they included those who say they are 5/10 or more likely to vote UKIP’s lead over Labour would be a far more modest 2 points.

The betting markets are pointing towards UKIP polling the most votes with the politicalowl’s indicator assessing the chances this way:

You will find my investments on the event at my political speculator’s site:

A rare exception to taking little notice of opinion polls

May 6th, 2014 Comments off

What opinion pollsters say two and a half years out from an election is normally of no interest at all to me. Just ignore them is invariably my advice. Today, though, I am breaking those habits of a political lifetime. The unanimous verdict of all the major pollsters suggesting that Tony Abbott and his government are on the nose does strike me as relevant.

Not because the figures suggest the Liberal-National coalition will lose the next election. Far from it. I’ll stick with the predictive power of the Owl’s federal election indicator which puts Labor well behind. The importance of the polls is the influence they will have on that maverick collection of Senators who will become the real power brokers of politics after 1 July and on the Labor and Greens majority from now until then.

A strong suggestion that voters do not like a government – and the polls are giving just that now – encourages an opposition to stick the boot in because of a belief that will help their own prospects of re-election. Ultimately it might do no such thing but in the meantime it sure does make governing harder.


More and more young people see politicians motivated by selfish reasons

May 5th, 2014 Comments off

The level of trust that young Americans between 18- and 29- years old have in most American institutions continues to fall at an alarming rate.

The latest Youth Poll of the Harvard Public Opinion Project finds that in the last 12 months, trust in the President has decreased from 39 percent to 32 percent, the U.S. military has decreased from 54 percent to 47 percent (the first time below a majority) and the Supreme Court from 40 to 36 percent.


The growing lack of trust in the President comes from Democrats (64% trusted the President to do the right thing all or most of the time in 2013, today the number is 53%) and Independents (31% in 2013, 23% today) — and not from Republicans whose opinion has not changed in the last year. Thirteen percent (13%) of Republicans trust the President to do the right thing all or most of the time. These findings stand in contrast to the U.S. Military; over the last year, the military has lost trust across all parties (Democrats are down 6 points to 44%, Republicans 5 points to 63% and Independents down 8 points to 40%).

There are somewhat depressing attitudes among the young to many aspects of the political process too. For example,since 2010, there has been a consistent six-point increase in those who agree with the statement that“elected officials seem to be motivated by selfish reasons,” more than three-in-five (62%) now agree with this; and a similar six-point increase with agreement that “political involvement rarely has any tangible results” (23% in 2010, 29% in 2014).We also have tracked a seven-point increase in the number who agree with the statement, “elected officials don’t seem to have the same priorities I have” (51% in 2010, 58% in 2014).



There is perhaps a clue to where the young are being influenced in their attitudes by the Harvard Study’s findings about the growing use of most social networking platforms and communications tools. 

Since a previous poll was taken in the fall of 2013, the percentage of 18- to 29- year olds who have a:


  • Facebook account grew from 79 percent to 84 percent;
  • Google+ account growth expanded from 37 percent to 44 percent;
  • Twitter growth increased from 35 percent to 40 percent;
  • Instagram from 30 percent to 36 percent;
  • Pinterest from 25 percent to 33 percent;
  • Snapchat from 16 percent to 23 percent; and
  • Tumblr from 10 percent to 14 percent.
With slightly more than three-in-five (61%) students in graduate school having a Google+ account, use among this cohort is significantly higher than students in high school (40%), college (41%), or those who are not in college and never attended (41%). Google+ is also more popular among young Blacks(54%) than young Whites under 30 years old.Facebook (87%), Twitter (47%), Instagram (45%), Pinterest (37%), Snapchat (34%) and Tumblr (19%) areall more popular among college students than among young Americans who are not in, or never haveattended, college.
When we asked the open-ended question, “What is the one website, social network, or app that youcould not live without?” we found that while Facebook was the overall winner by a significant margin (24% compared to 7% for the second most mentioned site, Google), there were significant differences based on what level of education one was enrolled in.










Categories: Opinion polls, US polls Tags:

What a difference a fortnight and a Liberal lead means to The Australian

April 8th, 2014 Comments off

Labor hits the lead on Newspoll and you will notice it on page one if you look closely enough.


That was then and this is now, a fortnight later, with Tony Abbott’s team back in front:

2014-04-08_APRIL8POLLWith such neutrality is “the heart of the nation” revealed.



The distinctive path into adulthood of the millenials and other news and views for Saturday 8 March

March 8th, 2014 Comments off

The Pew Research Center, in a major study of the differences in views between generations, describes the Millennial generation as forging a distinctive path into adulthood.

Now ranging in age from 18 to 331, they are relatively unattached to organized politics and religion, linked by social media, burdened by debt, distrustful of people, in no rush to marry— and optimistic about the future.

They are also America’s most racially diverse generation. In all of these dimensions, they are different from today’s older generations. And in many, they are also different from older adults back when they were the age Millennials are now.

Pew Research Center surveys show that half of Millennials (50%) now describe themselves as political independents and about three-in-ten (29%) say they are not affiliated with any religion. These are at or near the highest levels of political and religious disaffiliation recorded for any generation in the quarter-century that the Pew Research Center has been polling on these topics.

At the same time, however, Millennials stand out for voting heavily Democratic and for liberal views on many political and social issues, ranging from a belief in an activist government to support for same-sex marriage and marijuana legalization.

2014-03-08_institutionsThe Pew research finds Millennials have been keeping their distance from that core institution of society—marriage. Just 26% of this generation is married. When they were the age that Millennials are now, 36% of Generation X, 48% of Baby Boomers and 65% of the members of the Silent Generation were married.




  • Are Calorie Counts on Nutrition Labels Making Us Fat? – “Misleading calorie counts on nutrition labels may be steering us toward energy-dense, processed foods.”
  • The Death of a Language – “When does a language begin to die? When children raised to speak it struggle to acquire a native-speaker level, and therefore the “language community” fails to regenerate itself linguistically, Joe Mac Donnacha argues. According to that definition, the evidence suggests that the condition of the Irish language has indeed become terminal.”
  • Monnet’s Brandy and Europe’s Fate – “Strobe Talbott tells the story of Jean Monnet and demonstrates how his vision of European integration may serve as a guide to ending the current eurozone crisis.”
  • Why Russia Can’t Afford Another Cold War
  • London’s Laundry Business – “Britain is ready to betray the United States to protect the City of London’s hold on dirty Russian money. And forget about Ukraine. Britain, open for business, no longer has a ‘mission.’ Any moralizing remnant of the British Empire is gone; it has turned back to the pirate England of Sir Walter Raleigh. Britain’s ruling class has decayed to the point where its first priority is protecting its cut of Russian money — even as Russian armored personnel carriers rumble around the streets of Sevastopol. But the establishment understands that, in the 21st century, what matters are banks, not tanks.”


Prime Minister Abbott gives the Greens a boost

March 8th, 2014 Comments off

After last September’s federal election it was possible to think that the Green vote in Tasmania was about to sink away. The party’s Senate share fell to 11.1%, down from the 20.3% recorded in 2010 and its lowest this century. Perhaps the state election would see the Greens reduced to a meagre rump.

Not so it seems now. A ReachTel poll for the Hobart Mercury this week puts the likely Green vote at 18.2%. That is down on the 21.6% recorded at the last Tasmanian state election in 2010 but represents a minor decline compared with the complete collapse being forecast for the Labor Party it partnered in government until last months political divorce. Labor’s figure in 2010 was 36.9% and the ReachTel estimate with a week to go is 23,6%.


The Mercury commentary this morning observed:

2014-03-08_commentary Increasing the chances of the Greens actually emerging with as many or more seats than Labor surely is the crass attempt of Prime Minister Tony Abbott to back the repeal of parts of the Tasmanian forest put onto the World Heritage list. Being able to concentrate on trees rather than matters of social justice tends to maximise the Green vote and concentrate on trees in the closing days of this campaign the Greens are:

Proof of the need to laugh about opinion polls a long way out from an election

March 3rd, 2014 Comments off

From page one of The Australian this morning with the headline “O’Farrell steadies support after summer of discontent”.


Mark Coultan, the paper’s NSW political correspondent explained the poll results thus:

NSW’S opposition Labor Party has failed to dent the popularity of the state’s Coalition government, despite a summer dominated by controversy over alcohol-fuelled violence and the investigation of three Liberal MPs by the Independent Commission Against Corruption.

The latest Newspoll, conducted exclusively for The Australian, shows the Liberal-Nationals coalition remains in a dominant position, with a two-partypreferred vote of 58 per cent, largely unchanged from the previous poll, in September and October last year.

The one piece of good news for Labor is that Premier Barry O’Farrell’s personal satisfaction rating fell and his dissatisfaction rating rose, reversing all the gains of the previous survey.

Unfortunately for Labor, the satisfaction ratings of its leader John Robertson suffered the same fate, falling one percentage point, while his dissatisfaction rating rose three points over that time.

From page one of the Sydney Morning Herald on Saturday under the headline “Poll shock Labor takes the lead – Corruption fallout hits O’Farrell”


Sean Nicholls State Political Editor explained the poll results thus:

Voters have turned on the O’Farrell government and are threatening to throw it out of office after just one term in a dramatic resetting of the political contest in NSW.

If the 15 per cent swing was applied uniformly across the state it would see the Coalition lose up to 25 seats – wiping out gains it made in western Sydney, the central coast and the Hunter three years ago.

The poll of 1000 voters was conducted between February 22-26, shortly after the Independent Commission Against Corruption announced an inquiry involving former resources minister Chris Hartcher and two other government MPs, Chris Spence and Darren Webber.

It also coincides with ructions between the Liberals and Nationals over the push by Primary Industries Minister Katrina Hodgkinson to take over the seat of Goulburn from Community Services Minister Pru Goward.

So there you have it. The Liberal government two points behind on the two party vote one day and 16 points in front two days later. There’s something there for everyone.

Something remarkable must happen for Labor to survive in South Australia

March 1st, 2014 Comments off

Grim news for the South Australian Labor Government this morning. Newspoll in The Australian has it well behind with the election just a fortnight away.

1-03-2014 sanewspoll

Categories: SA election, SA Polls Tags:

Time to start taking notice of Victorian opinion polls

March 1st, 2014 Comments off

With only nine months to go before the Victorian state election we are now at the point where opinion polls start to tell us something relevant. And the message from this morning’s Nielsen survey result in The Age is that the Liberal-National coalition government has a real battle on its hand to win again. The Age reports that the poll of 1000 Victorian voters taken during the past week shows the Coalition’s primary vote stuck at 41 per cent, well below the peak of 45 per cent achieved at the November 2010 election, with Labor on 37 per cent and the Greens on 13 per cent.

1-03-2014 victorianpoll

Not of such relevance in my opinion is the Nielsen poll of voting intentions in New South Wales where the next election is 13 months away. As published in the Sydney Morning Herald the poll has Labor hitting the front on the two party preferred vote for the first time since its disastrous result in 2014. If I was a Sydney Liberal I would not be at panic stations yet but I would be trying to persuade the Daily Telegraph to stop taking cheap shots at Premier Barry O’Farrell.

1-03-2014 nswpollJust in passing I note that in Victoria, where the opinion poll probably does say something meaningful, The Age consigned it to an inside page. In NSW, where the next election is much further away. the new tabloid Saturday Herald used the egg beater to make it a tasty front page tale.


The “No” vote gains support in Scotland’s referendum election

February 24th, 2014 Comments off

The latest poll published in Scotland on Sunday shows sup0port for a “No” vote increasing.

2014-02-24_scotlandpollThe Owl’s referendum indicator shows a similar strengthening in support for the “No” vote.



Categories: Political indicators, UK polls Tags:

A century breaking vote for Labor in Tasmania?

February 16th, 2014 Comments off

Grim news for the Labor Party in Tasmania as the state election approaches. A poll in Saturday’s Hobart Mercury puts the Labor share of the statewide vote at just 24.6%. 16-02-2014 Taspoll If that happens it will be the worst result since the 10.6% recorded in 1903 when candidates stood under the Labor banner for the first time. 16-02-2014 laborvote

Fairfax in NZ shows how to responsibly treat an opinion poll

February 15th, 2014 Comments off

Sometime between now and 24 January next year, but probably no later than 6 December, New Zealand will go to the polls so the country is entering the peak opinion poll season. But not yet, on the latest evidence, to the ridiculous level at which the Australian media covers surveys of how the public would vote even in the non-election years like this one.

This morning the Fairfax owned Christchurch paper The Press publishes a new Fairfax Media – Ipsos poll that shows the National government well in front of its Labor opponent. On page one there is a pointer to the findings but none of the hysterical analysis that would accompany such a finding in the Fairfax Australian tabloids.

15-02-2014 thepress

Details of the poll findings are consigned to page seven where the analysis treats them with sensible caution.

15-02-2014 nzpoll15-02-2014 pollanalysis


Categories: Media, NZ election, NZ polls, Opinion polls Tags:

Labour continues to lead in the UK polls and on the Owl’s election indicator

January 18th, 2014 Comments off

Opinion polls in the UK continue to show Labour with a substantial lead over the governing Conservatives  and their coalition partner the Liberal Democrats.


From UK polling Report

The verdict of the Owl’s Indicator give Labour a 56% chance of winning the most seats when the election finally comes.

The Owl’s UK election indicator


Categories: Opinion polls, UK election, UK polls Tags:

The great opinion polling irrelevance

November 25th, 2013 Comments off

The great media obsession with opinion polls continues. The Fairfax tabloids this morning both report that Labor is now leading the Liberal-Nationals. Not only reports it but pretends it is somehow significant by putting it all over page one.


Mark Textor’s perfect partner?

November 24th, 2013 Comments off


It is turning into a very news making week for the Crosby Textor partners. In Australia Mark Textor has had his Twittering controversy. And now in Britain Lynton Crosby is starring in what the Labour leader calls the Crosbyisation of a Conservative Party that is turning to fear and smear.

From the front page of this morning’s Sunday Independent:



With this from the Ed Miliband column inside: