3 Jun. 2007

A Tale Of Two Polls

UPDATE: Thanks to the commenters at Oz Politics for pointing out that the timing of this Galaxy poll is distinctly advantageous to Howard. The next AC Neilsen poll is not due till Monday June 18. Assuming Howard calls an early election, that's possibly enough time to hold back a leadership challenge.
Forget Canberra. The real election battle is currently being fought between the journos at Fairfax and Murdoch's "we create our own reality" mob. With a little help from some very interesting pollsters.

Today Fairfax newspapers leaked a Labour poll indicating that voters do not like Peter Costello, don't want to see him become PM, and would not vote for him if he took over from Howard now. Bryan at Oz Politics suspects the poll was deliberately leaked (and manipulated?) as an election ploy by the Rudd Labour camp.

On the other hand, we have a new Galaxy poll reported in three News Ltd papers, showing a sudden rise in the Liberal vote. Although the poll was commissioned by Rupert Murdoch and is out of synch with every other major poll, even the ABC is now dutifully reporting the Sun King's line that "support for the Government has risen". Has it actually risen? Who knows? And who cares?

Thankfully, some at the ABC are doing a bit more diggging into the poll:
MARK COLVIN: The Galaxy poll is a relatively recent arrival in the Australian opinion sampling business, but it had a good result at the last federal election and its latest numbers are the latest in a long list to show Labor enjoying a thumping election-winning lead over the Howard Government.

But few who watch the polls closely actually believe that a real general election would see a Labor landslide, as Chief Political Correspondent Chris Uhlmann reports.

CHRIS UHLMANN: David Briggs was General Manager of Newspoll for nearly 20 years before heading off to set up another polling company, Galaxy.

In its short history that company has developed a very good reputation with poll watchers and the Prime Minister is known to regard it highly...
The feeling appears to be mutual:
DAVID BRIGGS: This is not a terrible Federal Government. They do not deserve to lose in a landslide. And I think that there will be a recognition of that between now and election day.
No wonder John Howard likes the company so much! He is even featured on the Galaxy company website, giving them an endorsement after the last election.

David Briggs used to work at Newspoll, which is half-owned by News Ltd. And Newspoll results, which are always published first in Murdoch's flagship paper, consistently lean towards the Liberals (when compared to AC Neilsen and Morgan). Surprised? You shouldn't be.

Peter Brent of Mumble Politics had an interesting article about David Briggs in Crikey last April. He said Briggs has implemented some "crazy ideas" at Galaxy in relation to the "secret formula" stuff of pollster work. Could Briggs be manipulating data in Howard's favour, at the behest of Big Rupe? Maybe.

Then again, maybe not - Brent suggested that one of the key's to Galaxy's success could be that they take more account of minor party votes. And as I suggested yesterday, that could be very important.