2 sleeps. Day 35. Lies, damn lies and opinion polls

Three opinion polls out this week, all conducted by the same company and polling the same 1200 ACT voters, painted a pretty bleak picture for the ACT Liberal Party in this weekend’s election. Many are now suggesting Saturday’s result is a foregone conclusion.
I’m not convinced. I know that four years ago the same pollsters got it pretty well spot on, even though few others believed the Greens could win four seats.
For starters I think the rates issue has hit much harder than the poll would suggest. The sheer volume of traffic on the 666 SMS account, the emails, the phone calls, all suggest this has been a big concern. And almost every single candidate this week, from all parties, admitted they’d had to deal with constituents worried their rates are about to skyrocket.
And a lot of ratepayers have just received their latest rate notices, and they’re none too happy. Admittedly others may have been pleasantly surprised, but you don’t hear people ringing talkback radio or writing letters to the paper saying how wonderful their rate cut is.
It comes back to Labor’s failure to sell the reforms in the first place, and its arrogant attitude not to try and fix the misconceptions up. Labor’s handling of the tax reforms has frustrated many within the party, it’s frustrated the Greens and it’s confused the community.
If Labor is returned on Saturday, it will owe Greens leader Meredith Hunter. Hunter has done a much better job of selling the tax reforms than Andrew Barr, and may have saved the ALP a few votes. Barr is widely regarded as a polished political performer and is likely to one day be Chief Minister of the ACT. But he hasn’t had a great election campaign, leaving a lot of the heavy lifting to Katy Gallagher.
The other reason I’m cautious about this week’s poll is the level of undecided voters. There’s enough there to make a difference, and we might still see some surprise results.
But I don’t think the poll is wrong about the poor level of support for Chic Henry, and I reckon it got it pretty right in regard to Gallagher’s popularity. Even the Libs concede she has enormous support.
As for Seselja’s support, I find that a bit harder to comprehend. Whatever the result on Saturday, there’s bound to be lots of tough questions asked post-election about the performance of both major parties, and a couple of their key players in particular.
I’m still predicting seven Labor, seven Liberal and three Green.

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2 responses to “2 sleeps. Day 35. Lies, damn lies and opinion polls

  1. Ross
    Good question about Andrew Barr – a similar question might be asked about some of the other experienced Liberal candidates Brendan Smyth comes to mind.

    On the polls: There are always undecided voters usually of similar proportions a couple of days out from an election – the pollster said about 10% if memory serves me. That is not a big proportion of undecideds – they will only shift things if they all break the same way and there is not a lot of reasons in the information in the rest of the polling for thinking that will happen. If rates are biting as an issue in terms of people’s answers to the question on important issues then there are a lot of people who lied when answering the pollster. Given the way the question was asked – an open question with no guidance that doesn’t seem likely.

    Mind you given the margin of error for a 400 person survey in each electorate (5%) the Greens could finish up with between 1 and 4 seats and we could even have a majority ALP government – not likely but just possible.

  2. Ross – very interesting you said the ALP would have to thank Hunter if they got another term. I was campaigning for the Greens, and frustrated that we seemed to be the only ones selling the reform from months back – the ALP seemed to step in with almost a week to go. In the fortnight leading up to the polls, over a dozen people who had voted for the Greens at the last election told me they would vote ALP this election because they were worried about a Liberal win. I have wondered in the last few days if the ALP strategised this rates issue would hurt Greens the most – we don’t bleed votes to the Liberals, from Green to Liberal is a wide spectrum for a progressive voter to cross.

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