It doesn’t matter if the election is three years or three days away, we’re constantly reminded who the most popular party is, who’s got the preferences, and who’s the preferred prime minister. It never seems to be the actual prime minister or the opposition leader, which is curious.
Every time I see one of these polls, I’m reminded of how I constantly check my phone for messages from my girlfriend. There never is any, because I don’t have one. Political polling is that pointless.
Where do these numbers come from? A surprisingly small number of people, often barely over a thousand. The polls claim a margin of error of only a few per cent, but in Australia we’re talking about complex issues and over 20 million people. I fondly remember a ‘Yes Prime Minister’ sketch that exposed political polling for the farce that it is (see above).
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So a crack commando unit of researchers from the University of Western Australia has found that people who place Australian flags on their cars are more likely to express racist attitudes than people who don’t.
The team of researchers discovered this through a comprehensive census of a vast crowd of 102 car-flag-bearing Austrayans havin’ a rip-roarin’ Oz Day barbie in Perth last year. It’s an incredibly groundbreaking and revealing set of data.
Except for the fact it’s a load of codswallop. And we’ve beaten them to the punch, if you’ll excuse the pun.
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The Prime Minister has been strutting her stuff in the Oval Office, but back home, her popularity has gone pear-shaped. There has never been a poll plunge so swift as this week’s Newspoll.
So what can she do to rediscover her mojo? is there any way back? Here’s what The Punch team thinks ...
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When should Australia wage war? Has anyone asked you? Have you given it much thought or is that a job best left to the government?
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that twenty one Australian men lie dead, lost on the battlefields of Afganistan. Each of them is easy to admire - young, supremely fit, highly trained, brave soldiers.
It’s pretty clear they all possessed courage and commitment to their task, their training and their mates most of us would struggle to emulate. They all have families and friends - even more tragically, a number of them have young children who will never see or know their dads.
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Sometimes a response to a polling question comes along that makes you re-evaluate your preconceived ideas, where the public’s refusal to confirm your gut instincts forces you to have a fresh look at the evidence before you.
Asking people to cast stones at the media’s reporting of the federal election seemed like a simple enough exercise, the public would confirm the media did a poor job and we could all wring our hands about democracy once again denied.
But hold the presses. Something is amiss. Fewer than a quarter of respondents to the Essential Report join the party. One third rate the coverage at election time ‘good’, a further 40 per cent ‘average’. And far more say the media ‘gave fair coverage of all parties’ than thought they favoured a particular side.
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When the political history of 2010 is written, every element of the closest election in a generation will be rightly scrutinized. The winning side will get home by a hair’s breadth but could it be hair that determines the result?
Because there is a minority group whose natural connection with their chief advocate did not translate into votes on August 22 Australia’s rangas turned on Julia Gillard at the moment she needed their support most.
Exclusive hair-based research from the Punch shows that redheads turned their locks away from Gillard, being the least likely hair coloured group to support the ALP.
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It was one of the funniest exchanges on television since Homer Simpson was interviewed by Kent Brockman on Smartline about his decision to form a vigilante gang.
Simpson: “Oh, Kent, I’d be lying if I said my men weren’t committing crimes.” Brockman: “Well, touché.”
On The 7.30 Report on Tuesday night, Greens Leader Senator Bob Brown came under some fairly routine questioning from Kerry O’Brien about asylum seekers. O’Brien asked Brown whether he thought that any of the people who arrived illegally in Australia should ever be sent back to any of the countries they had fled.
Brown had a “this does not compute” moment and blanked out, and then shot back at O’Brien to ask him whether he thought that any of them should be sent back.
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There is a wildcard hanging over the upcoming election, a factor outside the control of the any politician – it resembles an angry fish, and it is looking for someone to bite.
It is the long-term trend line on people’s economic confidence, and it shows that after we sounded a collective sigh of relief last year, we are beginning to fear the worst again, a sense of economy insecurity that can affect our work, our home lives - and the way we look at politics.
The story of the fish charts the highs and lows of first term Labor, it also offers some tantalising clues about what happens next. Why a fish? As the graph above shows, the competing stories of confidence and despondency have taken a wild journey over the past two years. With fear surging as the GFC hit, curtailing as stimulus stabilised the economy, but now rising again.
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UPDATE 8.05am: Kevin Rudd has just appeared on AM saying “We’ve got a huge amount of work to do to explain my plans”... saying Tony Abbott’s plan is clear, cuts to health and the return of WorkChoices. “The key challenge for the government is to explain very clearly what our plans are for the future…” He refused to acknowledge that he’s broken any promises. He also said the RSPT was about “making our companies more competitive globally.”
Another week, another shocking poll result for Kevin Rudd’s Government.
This time it’s in the Fairfax papers, who are now reporting that the Rudd Government would be “wiped out” if there were an election held now.
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Tony Abbott’s foray into progressive social policy has backfired, with his conservative base rejecting has plan to tax big business to pay for improved parental leave.
In the first serious signs that the Mad Monk’s honeymoon as leader is over, this week’s Essential Report finds the Liberal leader has cashed in his credentials as an economic conservative for no real gain, with little support for this family plan.
After watching the polls narrow to within striking distance over the summer, the Coalition heartland must now be wondering whether Mark Latham has returned to politics in a different set of Speedos.
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The debate around the Sri Lanka asylum seekers is beginning to spiral into Tampa territory with the Australian public ready to support tough action over compassion and prepared to believe the boats are harbouring terrorists.
For the PM it is a diabolical political dilemma, with this week’s Essential Report showing his attempts to play tough cop are failing to translate into public approval for his handling of the issue.
Given the bind, I reckon his only option is to follow the lead of his predecessor John Howard – not in sending in the troops, but by shifting debate through invoking the nation’s obsession with sport.
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It’s a political mystery worthy of Dan Brown. Why is it so difficult to find anyone who actually likes our most popular Prime Minister since Bob Hawke?
The PM is rightly grinning from ear to ear at the moment, on the back of his triumphant turn at the UN and the stream of figures showing the national economy has somehow managed to avoid falling into recession during the global downturn.
His job approval ratings are stratospheric. Nielsen polls regularly find his approval ratings at 70 per cent or higher, and this morning’s Newspoll finds around two-thirds of Australians say he’s their preferred Prime Minister.
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The Punch’s unscientific Punters Poll is broadly in line with most of the “scientific” research – the PM is broadly popular and people think he’s the smartest kid in the class.
That’s probably what happens when you beat the GFC, reorganise global diplomatic structures and can explain all it in Mandarin.
While no politician admits to reading polls, Kevin Rudd would be quietly satisfied with these findings – 58 per cent saying he has delivered on expectations, with strong support for his economic management.
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Old people never die – in fact they are feeling good and just want to keep voting conservative way into their second century.
Like the kids from Fame, Coalition voters want to live forever, long after they can remember their own name, laying down a unique challenge to policy makers on the Left.
These are the alarming findings from the Punch’s inaugural Death Survey, where we link attitudes to death with voting behaviour in an effort to drag the national political debate down to a new low.
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In the absence of a genuine contest in Canberra, serious political junkies are wondering what sort of team could give the Rudd Government a run for their money.
Today, we give readers a chance to put their own Cabinet in the House, with the launch of the Punch’s Federal Cabinet Fantasy League.
It’s simple. Assemble a Cabinet from Ministers who have taken the oath over the past 40 years, ensure your team comes under the $2 million super cap and get ready to Rumble the Ruddster.
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