Saturday, August 31, 2013

If You Care About Gay Rights, Vote Below The Line In The Tas Senate

And no, I don't just mean same-sex marriage.  This goes way beyond just that.

If you care about gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights even to the smallest degree, and are considering your vote in the Tasmanian Senate, then I have the following strong advice:

Vote below the line and direct your own preferences

If you absolutely must vote above the line, consider doing so for the Pirate Party or the Sex Party, but only if you broadly support their policies and are happy with their preference allocations (which you may or may not be, depending on your politics). I should caution here that the Sex Party direct their preferences first to the Country Alliance, who are an unknown quantity (to me) on sexual rights issues. [Update: you can see their vague and socially-conservative comments on same-sex marriage here.] The Pirate Party is only a suitable choice for an above-the-line vote if you do not mind your preferences going directly to the Greens. Many people, of course, do mind this, but quite a few readers won't.

If you want help voting below the line, see the bottom of this article.  (If you're short of time and don't need me to explain the reasons for my advice, feel free to skip to that bit right away.)

Why am I suggesting voting below the line, even though this means numbering 54 boxes instead of one?  Because a vote above the line for any party except the two mentioned above could potentially help elect anti-gay-rights extremist Peter Madden of the Family First Party - who has a very strong above-the-line ticket flow - ahead of at least one of Labor, Liberal, or the Greens.  Yes, even if you vote Labor or Green above the line in the Tasmanian Senate, it is possible for your vote to elect Peter Madden.  If you vote below the line you can put him 51, 52, 53 or 54, and still support your chosen party.  Let's forget all the silly sparring between the big three about how a vote for Labor is a vote for the Greens or whatever - the bigger problem is that a vote for any of them above the line is potentially a vote, or part of a vote, for Peter Madden.  A vote for almost anyone above the line in Tasmania is potentially a vote for him.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Poll Roundup and Seat Betting Watch: New Dawn Fades Edition (August 27)

2PP Aggregate (Tuesday 27 August): 52.3 TO COALITION (+0.3 since last week)
Individual Seat Betting: Labor favourites in 59.5 seats (-1.5, Eden-Monaro, Brand becomes tossup)
Seat Total Market: Labor 61 seats (-2) (This figure is probably slightly skewed by longshot bias.)

This is week nine in a regular weekly series in the leadup to the federal election.  Week eight was here and through it you can click back to the previous weeks.  Or just click the "betting" label at the bottom.  As stated before, the aim of this exercise is not to claim that seat betting markets have predictive value, but to test whether they do, and to see which of the markets and the aggregated polls see the ultimate outcome of the election first.

This Week's Polls

It was a relatively quiet weekend for polling compared to the previous week's six-poll deluge.  Nielsen and Newspoll both returned 53-47 to the Coalition.  Roy Morgan returned 52.5-47.5 by last-election preferences.  Essential returned a second consecutive 50-50, but this one was off the back of a two-point fall in the ALP primary and a three-point rise in the Greens primary. My aggregate has gone to 52.3.  At the moment, it has one of the more benign readings for Labor doing the rounds - aggregates that benchmark solely off the last election are about a point worse, and those that handle sample size issues in a more sophisticated way, or weight heavily for accuracy of particular polls, are also showing slightly worse readings for Labor.  An aggregate of all the aggregators listed in Poll Bludger's excellent review of the state of things here comes out to 52.85.  My Newspoll rolling average, which I use heavily in historical modelling, is at 53.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

ReachTEL (State): The Same Story Told Many Times

ReachTEL (Tas State): Lib 51.1 ALP 24.4 Green 14.7 Other 4.2 Undecided 5.6
Interpretation: Lib 53 ALP 27 Green 16 Other 4
Outcome based on this poll "if election was held now": Liberal Majority Win (14-7-4 or 15-7-3)
Projection based on all polling: 14-7-4

This article concerns Tasmanian state polling.  For the Tasmanian federal poll from the same polling run see ReachTEL Says Tas Labor Still Losing Three.

A new State ReachTEL is out and it's another sad story for the Labor-Green minority government's re-election prospects, or even for anyone who believes that the prospect of a close election encourages accountability by both sides to the electorate.  It's a very happy story, of course, if you're a diehard Tasmanian Liberal. 

Saturday, August 24, 2013

ReachTEL Says Tas Labor Still Losing Three

REACHTEL: Bass Liberal 58.4:41.6, Braddon Liberal 56.6:43.4, Lyons Liberal 55.8:44.2, Franklin Labor 50.6:49.4, Denison Wilkie 45.5, Lib 24, ALP 18.7

Approx State 2PP 52:48 to Coalition 

(State analysis will be published on Sunday and some updates on age/gender stuff on Monday).

A new Mercury/ReachTEL poll has been released.   To summarise, the poll results, if reasonably accurate, would result in Labor losing three of its four House of Representatives seats and probably barely saving the fourth.  They would also result in Labor losing its third Senate seat, probably to the Liberals. (See Prospects for the Tasmanian Senate Race)

There are two things that can overturn this picture.  The first is a major turnaround in the national situation to a position in which Labor wins the election - which looks highly unlikely.  The second is that ReachTEL federal polling in one or more of the seats is consistently faulty - a view for which there is no convincing public evidence, but we must remember that this company has not been tested at a federal election in Tasmania before.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Poll Roundup and Seat Betting Watch: Ghost of '75 Edition (20 August - Updates Added)

TASMANIAN POLLING COMING: Check here on Saturday and Sunday mornings from 9 am and there will be extensive commentary on state and federal results.  ReachTEL are in the field tonight and I was even polled! Questions are federal voting intention, preferred PM, issue importance, state voting intention, and rate the performance of the state government.

(Apologies to Tas Times readers looking for that stuff; I send the wrong link!  Correct link goes here)


2PP Aggregate (Tuesday 20 August): 52.0 TO COALITION (+0.5 since last week)
Individual Seat Betting: Labor favourites in 61 seats (-2, Forde and Moreton)
Seat Total Market: Labor 63 seats (-2) (This figure is probably slightly skewed by longshot bias.)

In this issue:
* Newspoll to a place no-one has won from.
* Is Essential just a Poll-Shaped Object?
* Robopolls: confessional for homophobes #
* Why Rudd Is Not The Electorate's Dumped Ex-Girlfriend
* Non-zero estimate of Labor's chances!
* Ghosts of 93 ... and 75.
* ALP not favourites in any Coalition seat.
* Betting Market Debate: Do Punters Just Dawdle Like Sheep?

Friday, August 16, 2013

Tasmanian Federal Candidates Announced And Ballot Draws

The Australian Electoral Commission has announced the Tasmanian candidates for the House of Representatives election.  As part of a record total of candidates nationwide, Tasmanians will choose between 35 candidates for the five House of Representative seats and 54 candidates for the Tasmanian Senate.  There are stats on overall candidate numbers around the nation from Antony Green here.

The Senate total of 54 candidates smashes the previous state record of 32 set in 1998.  Even historic double-dissolution elections (where major parties need to run six or seven candidates) have not produced anything like this.

The House of Representatives ballots will include ten candidates for Denison, seven for Franklin, six for Lyons, seven for Bass and five for Braddon.  A total of thirteen parties are "contesting" House of Reps seats in the state, though in most cases I use that term extremely loosely.  Labor, the Liberals, the Greens and the Palmer United Party are contesting all Tasmanian seats, the Rise Up Australia Party and Family First are contesting four and three respectively, and the rest are all lone entries.  A rumoured Katter's Australian Party run for Denison did not eventuate.  Only one Independent (not counting the so-called "Australian Independents", who are actually a party) is contesting the House of Assembly, and that is the Denison sitting member, Andrew Wilkie.  A single independent, Andrew Roberts, is contesting the Senate.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Anti-Wilkie Denison Billboard Stoush

What's all this about, then?

Denison independent Andrew Wilkie has taken exception to a billboard that shows him shaking hands with Tony Abbott, next to a slogan "IF ANDREW WILKIE WINS DENISON,  {big space} TONY ABBOTT IS ONE VOTE CLOSER TO BECOMING PRIME MINISTER" and above a slogan "VOTE WILKIE = GET ABBOTT".  See photo here.  Wilkie has claimed the billboard to be defamatory and misleading (here).  ALP national secretary George Wright replies here.

What does the billboard actually mean?

A billboard has a received meaning that goes beyond just the literal meaning of the words.  In this case, a handshake implies a deal, and the billboard therefore alleges that Andrew Wilkie either would deal with Tony Abbott, or has already dealt with Tony Abbott, in a way that could cause Abbott to become Prime Minister.   Lin Thorp's claim that there is no intent to imply a deal is irrelevant even if it is true, which it probably isn't.  The implication exists whether it is intended or not.

Is it true based on Wilkie's own statements that Wilkie winning Denison instead of Labor could cause Abbott to become Prime Minister?

Poll Roundup and Seat Betting Watch: Scruff Of The Neck Edition (August 13)

2PP Aggregate (Tuesday 13 August): 51.5 TO COALITION (+0.7 since last week)
Individual Seat Betting: Labor favourites in 63 seats (-2, Forde to Labor; Banks, Reid, Brisbane to Coalition)
Seat Total Market: Labor 65 seats (-2) (This figure may be slightly skewed by longshot bias; see below.)

This is week seven in a regular weekly series in the leadup to the federal election.  Week six was here and through it you can click back to the previous weeks.  Or just click the "betting" label at the bottom.  As stated before, the aim of this exercise is not to claim that seat betting markets have predictive value, but to test whether they do, and to see which of the markets and the aggregated polls see the ultimate outcome of the election first.

Things aren't looking too good for the Government after a few weeks of apparent competitiveness.  The polls say they're losing at the moment, the punters strongly think they'll lose, the voters think they'll lose and the modellers think they'll lose.   Still left expecting a Labor victory are really just the true believers, the Abbott-haters (and not even all of those), the Sawford formula devotees and Peter Brent.  There's a general perception that the Coalition now has this election by the scruff of the neck, that the first month of the Rudd comeback polling was partly bounce and that the government won't be going up from here and may indeed be going down further. Is it really quite that hopeless for Labor?

Sunday, August 11, 2013

A Field Guide To Australian Opinion Pollsters

As of September 2016 this is an archived old edition that is no longer being updated.  For the 45th Parliament (2016-) edition go here.


There are a lot of polls about in Australia these days.  But how do they all work, which ones have runs on the board and which ones can you trust the most? 

With an increased number of pollsters now polling in Australia, it's been suggested that an article describing what is known of each pollster and its strengths and weaknesses might be useful to many people.  So I thought I'd put one up, and edit it over time as the need arises.  (Now edited post-2013 election.  Last major edit 30 Nov 2013. Last minor edits 21 June 2016.)

The gold standard for success for an opinion pollster is that its polls at election time get the result as close to right as possible.  However, many of the new pollsters are little-tested against actual elections, and getting a specific election right is a combination of skill and luck.  In elections where there is a swing on the last day or two of the campaign, a pollster that is actually not polling correctly may have its errors cancelled out by the swing, and hence record a lucky hit.  There is more to being a good pollster than just getting it right at election time - a good pollster should also provide useful data between elections and do so using well-designed questions that are easy to interpret.  And a pollster should also present their data in a way that makes sense and isn't misleading or confusing.

Bob Ellis: Embarrassment To The Left

Bob Ellis is the Unskewed Polls of Australian politics.

A digression: once, I used to feel some sympathy for Ellis.  Some may recall Bob Ellis cost his publishers $277,000 with basically a single multiply false sentence in the book "Goodbye Jerusalem", which defamed Tony Abbott, his wife, and Tanya and Peter Costello.   When the full facts about Tony Abbott's abandoned "son" came to light, I thought that the discrepancy between Abbott's former personal life and Abbott's religious-morality attitudes as a Howard Government minister said far more to Abbott's detriment than any scuttlebutt falsely claiming he was sexually seduced into the Liberal Party ever could.  There are some small things in that case that might have gone down differently had Abbott's full biography been known when it was heard. 

However, the sympathy I had for Ellis from that has been wiped away many times over by his recent series of comically bad attacks on mainstream opinion polling in Australia.  Quite aside from his the defamatory and tinfoil-hat nature of much of his work, a big problem with Ellis's comments is that what he writes about opinion polls is riddled with easily avoidable factual errors.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Poll Roundup and Seat Betting Watch: Five Weeks To Go (August 6)

2PP Aggregate (Tuesday 6 August): 50.8 TO COALITION (+0.7 since last week)
Individual Seat Betting: Labor favourites in 65 seats (no net change, Reid and Forde become tossups)
Seat Total Market: Labor 67 seats (-1)

In this issue:
* Bad weekend of polling for the Government
* Rudd just not that popular
* Strange views of Green voters on asylum seeker issues
* Seat poll of Melbourne is suspicious
* A small 2PP shift can mean a lot