Newspoll Leads, Media Narrative to Follow…


According to the latest Newspoll, ‘the narrowing’ is on. Or something. Because with Labor still on a primary of 48 per cent, it’s evident that some of any genuine movement that’s being picked up is coming from elsewhere perhaps Independents or Family First.

Newspoll appear to believe this because as far as I can tell they’ve changed the allocation of preferences to 60/40 to Labor. It’s quite possible that there is some polarisation of the minor Party Right-wing vote towards the Coalition, but claims that Labor’s two-Party preferred (TPP) lead has been cut in half should be coloured by that shift in methodology.

As the always informative online psephologist Possum remarks:

It has actually been the fluctuations in the minor Party vote estimates that are behind most of the volatility in the TPP figures over the last 10 months.

Not that you’d pick that up from Dennis Shanahan’s latest column in The Australian, which I think refers to this Newspoll, though oddly he talks about ‘the latest series of Newspolls.’ Perhaps it’s some sort of aggregated News Ltd psephologist wizardry.

And I have no idea why Shanahan thinks the latest Galaxy four-seat poll in NSW is in any sense bad news for Rudd, or that it indicates that NSW isn’t going to be fertile ground for Labor.

I was pretty dubious about the week one Galaxy Queensland poll, and it’s worth pointing out to Shanahan that it’s two weeks old and if you’re going to claim a shift back to Howard on the basis of a poll taken over this last weekend, then you can’t talk about one a few weeks ago as if it’s contemporary evidence. But I’m sure I’m whistling in the wind.

Image thanks to Bill Leak.

The alternative hypothesis, which isn’t inconsistent with my first one, is this from commenter PoliSci 101 at the election blog, The Poll Bludger:  

Is there any reason to reject the Null Hypothesis that there has been no change in the Labor TPP vote of 56 per cent?

No. This latest poll result is within the Margin of Error (MOE).

All you political scientists can leave now the political witch doctors want to pore over the entrails of this poll to make their superstitious prognostications.

I think that’s probably right, and the most likely explanation is that public opinion is more or less where it’s been all year. Both this week’s Newspoll and last week’s movements were within the margin of error, with the former being an outlier at the top end, and probably this is one at the bottom end. You’d want to see where it travels next, at the very least, before jumping to any conclusions.

But the media machine powers on, and devours polls for their horse race value.

What will be interesting will be the development of the ‘media narrative’ as pundits who’d ‘scored’ week two as terrible for the Coalition scramble to invent some justification for the apparent ‘narrowing.’ It’s a rare pundit who mentions the margin of error, because it destroys all the fun of ‘reporting’ swings and roundabouts, and coming up with suitably punditorial and pompous reasons for them.

As the much touted betting markets predictably move in tandem with Newspoll, it might be much more fun to open a book on which explanation will be seized on. Costello’s ‘tsunami‘? The scary unions? Was it all Paul Keating’s doing? The forceful and impressive leadership of the PM and Treasurer? Or even the logical and coherent narrative that the Coalition are better economic managers because interest rates are going up

PS: I’ve just discovered momentous matters: Newspolly warrant two columns from Dennis Shanahan today. The other one’s here.

Update: My bad. Of course, the second one is ‘news’ whereas the first one is ‘opinion.’

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One Response

1. Grifteron 30 Oct 2007 at 7:40 am

When this election is over, there should be a national competition: which Dennis Shanahan article is ‘news’ and which is ‘opinion’?

Pravda would be proud.

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