Late last year, I observed that the final Newspoll of the year was “probably an outlier” (Labor’s 2PP lead was 59-41). I also observed that the pundits and the more excitable members of the political class would nevertheless take it seriously, and while we’ve been spared the leadership speculation (unless you count the Barnaby Joyce speculation), we’ve also been spared any real reflection on the continued electoral weakness of the Coalition. And that looks set to continue with the first Newspoll of 2009, as The Poll Bludger reports:
The first Newspoll survey after the end-of-year break shows the Coalition recovering to 54-46 after the shock 59-41 result of December 9. The Australian spruiks this as the Coalition clawing back support, but a more likely explanation is that the previous poll was a rogue. Kevin Rudd’s lead as preferred prime minister is down from 66-19 to 60-22.
Get ready, I guess, for more of the same old same old from the ever astute punditariat.
Of much more interest for the fortunes of political war, I’d suggest, are the findings from the Essential Research survey. Not the ones about the enduring love people supposedly have for Howard (and The Poll Bludger has some good points to make on this one too), but the findings about people’s confidence in the resilience of their financial position. I think it’s still moot as to whether we’re going to be in recession this year, but it’s worth remembering that not everyone does badly in a financial downturn. The government, at any rate, will be banking on that, and hoping that the optimism displayed in this survey is warranted.
Update: Possum, who also thinks the volatility in Newspoll compared to the relatively static trend in other polls suggests the last one was an outlier, makes a number of interesting observations. Aside from discussing the number of uncommitted and refused respondents, he trains his eye on Malcolm Turnbull’s numbers:
Looking at Truffle’s Net sAtisfaction ratings, since he gained the leadership the gap between his raw net satisfaction and his net satisfaction with undecideds removed has closed while simultanously having his raw net satisfaction ratings drop. This means that as people have made up their mind about Turnbull, more of them have been dissatisfied with his perfomance than were satisfied, on balance. It’s not a dramatic movement, but it’s there and it’s something he probably needs to keep an eye on – it’s certainly not as bad as Nelson’s ratings where the undecideds were actually holding up his raw net satisfaction ratings.
Update: Just caught up with this post from Possum giving a breakdown on the financial and job security numbers.