Monday, October 8, 2007

Pulp Mill Polling

The SMH and the Australian have two different takes on the Howard government's fortunes in the polls. The Herald's version is based on its latest Nielsen poll, which shows an "entrenched" lead for Labor in the two-party preferred. Labor's share of the primary vote, however, has dropped two percentage points, although it's still healthy enough at 47% (versus 40% for the Coalition).

The Oz, meanwhile, takes the slightly peculiar tack of headlining internal Liberal polling in Tasmania, which shows the Coalition's figures rising in all but the electorate of Lyons, where the Liberal candidate has been speaking out against the pulp mill. The Australian chose to see the results thus:

Despite widespread opposition to the mill among local residents and businesses in northern Tasmania, the internal Liberal Party polling of 300 voters in Lyons suggests approval for the pulp mill may work in the Coalition's favour. The polling in the days after Mr Quin's public criticism of the mill found the Liberals' primary vote had crashed from 42 per cent at the 2004 election to just 30 per cent, with its two-party-preferred vote slumping from 46 per cent to 35 per cent.

This seems an odd way to spin the Libs' awful poll result in Lyons. Yes, Ben Quin's support fell in the wake of announcing his opposition to the pulp mill, and the Coalition has since approved the mill. But the situation in Lyons is hardly looking up for the Coalition. Quin, apparently a man of some conviction, has quit as the Liberal candidate over his party's support of the mill, and is now considering running as an independent, possibly with the Greens' preferences. The Greens' share of the primary is a not-inconsiderable 11%.

Of course, the seat is currently held by Labor, so it's not like Lyons is a must-win for the Coalition. (Luckily for them.) But nor is it a good example to pick if you're trying to paint a picture of an imminent Coalition resurgence.

Meanwhile, despite the Oz's upbeat headline - "Coalition buoyed by mill" - grave fears for the marginal, Liberal-held seat of Bass are buried deep in the ninth paragraph:

Bass MP Michael Ferguson, who last week expressed fears he could lose the marginal seat over the issue. Polls show he is likely to lose the seat, held by just 2.7 per cent, to Labor's Jodie Campbell.

So, to recap: the polls say Coalition is probably not going to reclaim Lyons, despite approving the pulp mill, and also that it stands to lose Bass, which the candidate says is because of the pulp mill. Nevertheless, the pulp mill "will significantly boost [the Coalition's] chances in the state's key seats".

Enough. The opinion poll thing is getting silly. Please can we have the election already?

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