catallaxy files

catallaxy in technical exile

Sampling error

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Labor’s support has rebounded after a fortnight dominated by the AWB scandal and the new industrial relations reforms.

That’s on the front page of this morning’s Australian, trying to explain why Labor has jumped six percentage points in the two-party preferred voting intention, to lead the Coalition 53% to 47%.

But over at The Age, the story is quite different:

KIM Beazley has been dealt a massive personal blow in the latest AgePoll and the shockwaves of Labor disunity are hitting the party’s support. …Labor’s primary vote fell 3 points in the ACNielsen poll to 37 per cent, while its two-party preferred vote was down 2 points in the past month, putting it equal with the Coalition on 50 per cent. But had preferences flowed as they did in the 2004 election, the Coalition would be marginally ahead on the two-party vote.

Now they can’t both be right. Though Newspoll doesn’t have a bad overall record, their result is the less believable of the two. For a start, the last fortnight hasn’t been dominated by AWB or IR. It’s been dominated by sport and cyclones. And even though attentive readers and viewers would have spotted AWB and IR stories, both are old news. Along with the voting preference poll, the Fairfax papers have this morning produced the latest survey results on the IR reforms, and as I noted last year opinion on this has been remarkably stable all along – in the Fairfax ACNielsen series both support and opposition have fluctuated only 2 percentage points through 4 surveys from July last year to March this year. It looks as if people made up their minds almost immediately and haven’t changed since. Unless there is some scandalous and widespread employer misuse of the legislation, I’d say that the negative reaction to IR reform was factored into the polling long ago. AWB is hardly a plus for the government, but apart from journalists people are not talking about it. As the government certainly did not receive or pay bribes – the kind of scandal that does bite – and the Australian public were not negatively affected I don’t think it will have any significant effect on voting behaviour.

In the absence of any genuinely big issues, a six percentage point shift in two weeks is not credible, and the fact the ACNielsen couldn’t find it supports the conclusion that there has been a sampling error. As for The Age‘s spin on their figures, the “shockwaves” of Labor disunity may be hitting Kim Beazley’s popularity, but their two-party preferred is still 3 percentage points higher than the 2004 election and one up on the January figures – not a bad result after weeks of destructive in-fighting and navel-gazing.

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Written by Admin

March 28, 2006 at 7:53 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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