QED

The PM ‘Soars’! Really?

The PM’s backers are hailing the latest Newspoll, which registers a significant gain in his personal approval ratings. But here’s a sobering fact: Turnbull remains four points less popular than Donald Trump and, on the latest numbers, his principle-free Liberals would still lose

Losing poll #32 has come for this Team Turnbull Coalition government. The budget that did next to nothing to cut spending and which has only the palest of insipid hints of the big time Trump-style tax cuts has not delivered Mr. Turnbull that winning Newspoll he so desperately craves to halt the 32-and-counting tally.  In fact Monday morning’s Australian, by far the country’s best source of news but nevertheless an overt supporter of  Turnbull’s leadership, did all that was possible to paint a still-losing 49-51 Newspoll as good news for the Prime Minister, leading off its reporting of the losing poll with the headline ‘PM soars’. Yes, really.

But it wasn’t referring to the key two-party preferred outcome. That remained unchanged from the fortnight previous.

No, it was referring to Turnbull’s improved results in terms of approval/satisfaction as preferred PM, and these are massively flawed measures.  Half the Labor Party’s supporters might well prefer Turnbull as PM, given he’s the most left-wing Liberal leader ever, but that doesn’t mean such Laborites will vote for the Coalition. Indeed, the two-party-preferred tells us they will not. All this poll item measures is appeal to many voters who won’t vote for you anyway, a bit like when a Liberal leader gets an easy ride from the ABC. You know it’s because he’s as left-wing as a Liberal can be and the ABC likes to encourage that sentiment wherever it is found, even in the party it won’t be supporting come election time.

As for the approval rating, Turnbull’s went from 31% to 39%. Is that really worth crowing about? I ask because the authoritative PEW survey in the US now has President Donald Trump at 43% approval, four points above Turnbull’s equivalent score.  Now I don’t recall our national paper of record crowing about that.  But then the Oz is seemingly much more comfortable with the Davos Man-type, ie., Turnbull, than with an arch disruptor like Trump.

For what it’s worth, though, notice that when you have a figure who bends over backwards, a la Malcolm, trying to shrink the political space with his opponents (by moving the party left, left, and further left), and when you swear off going to the wall to fight over really (not pretending to, but really) cutting spending, or paring back the world’s biggest immigration rate per capita, or fighting the stupid and impoverishing renewables and energy policies, you find yourself at 39 percent approval. And that’s it.  Here is what hoisting the white flag on conservative principles gets you.

Trump, by contrast, actually fights on every front.  He leaves the Paris Accord.  He calls out the mainstream media for being wholly in the pocket of the progressive left (which it patently is, with a recent US survey showing Trump garnering over 90 percent negative coverage); he moves the US embassy to Jerusalem; he pulls out of the Iran deal. All these and more were his election promises, which he honoured in the full knowledge they would infuriate the usual suspects.  Trump goes ahead anyway. He fights for his policies.  And he is four points better off than Turnbull.

So that measure is meaningless and only the two-party preferred one matters. Or, if a leader’s approval does matter, what we learn is you are better off living by your core right-of-centre principles (which I realise are not Turnbull’s principles). If you fight for your beliefs, at least those on your own side of politics will approve of you. And they are the ones who count in the end.

Then there is the fact the Newspoll result is significantly out of whack with the Ipsos poll for Fairfax, out at the same time.  Ipsos has the two-party-preferred ballooning Labor’s way to 54-46.  That’s election massacre territory.  In other words the gap widened in Shorten’s favour, the “unpopular” Shorten, says Ipsos. Why the big difference between Newspoll and Ipsos?  I can’t say.  I know that Newspoll not that long ago changed the way it calculates the likely flow of One Nation preferences, due to the Queensland election, and this can be taken as favouring a better Coalition result. But there were some pretty unique circumstances in the Sunshine State, so I am not so sure about this change or the numbers it is producing.  Plus, I doubt this new methodology takes into account the former Liberal voters who deserted the party over Turnbull’s treachery and coup.

Speaking for myself and given the present leadership and policies, I will preference everyone above the Liberals (except the Greens), so in that negative sense I’ll be voting Labor.  At least that’s my intention unless and until Turnbull is removed.  Yes, Shorten is awful, appalling, untrustworthy and as many other unsettling things you might care to mention.  But in the long-term Turnbull is moving the Libs too far left. It’s take your medicine now or later, as far as I am concerned.

Plus, if the Liberals get rid of Malcolm, they might actually win. With him at the helm, I can’t see it, however much the Oz puffs him up.

James Allan is Garrick Professor of Law at the University of Queensland and the author of Democracy in Decline

16 comments
  • Jody

    Turnbull will fizz soon enough; but we have to wait until after Shorten returns as Opposition Leader.

    • en passant

      Jody,
      Didn’t we have a $1,000 bet that Trump would not last a year?

      • whitelaughter

        The countrywide dummy spit after Trump was elected ensured him a 2nd term, as it was massively insulting to the swinging voters who elected him; the long list of achievements he’s managed in less than half a term are just gravy.

        Meanwhile: what are Trumble’s achievements?

        • rodcoles

          Establishment of the Turnbull Coalition Team, perhaps?

      • Jody

        Indeed we did; I lost it. But I’ll pass on paying the dough. You are wrong on Turnbull. He’s still there…”won’t last till Xmas (last year) they all said…lose government because of the precarious minority….will be rolled by the party”.

        Even stevens, I’d say.

      • Jody

        Oh, and did I tell you I think they’ll win the next election. Ross Cameron, my husband and myself are the only ones who believe it. All thanks to “Baby Head” Shorten.

  • ianl

    > “Speaking for myself and given the present leadership and policies, I will preference everyone above the Liberals (except the Greens), so in that negative sense I’ll be voting Labor”

    A neat enough description of insoluble existential angst.

    • Jody

      Cutting off your nose to spite your face, is what this is called. “Insoluble” I thought that related to chemistry, not to angst. How does this sound; “intractable existential angst”. And this can all be blown away in a heartbeat; a week in politics is a ‘long time’.

      • ianl

        1) Insoluble: [synonyms] unsolvable, insolvable, unable to be solved, without a solution, unanswerable, unresolvable

        or: (of a substance) incapable of being dissolved.

        Two separate meanings, related by concept. How can you cope ?

        2) Still you insist that personality beats hard, costed, accountable, detailed policy before an election. All of us are just an aneurism away from lining refractory bricks as ash. So, what does that have to do with policy ? James Allan is on the point. You just flipflop around personality. Tedious.

        • Jody

          Not like James Allen and his hatred for Turnbull, aye?!!

  • Keith Kennelly

    Turnbull soaring. Rubbish. His personal rating might be higher but the polls two party preferred haven’t budged. Except for when they changed the method of calculations to work out the preference flows. The poll before this latest one at 51-49 was also 51-49. The poll before was 54-46 then they changed the methodology.

    Ipsos still has the difference 54-48.

    The by elections will finish Turnbull. He can’t win.

    If Shorten loses seats he’ll be replaced. Put Albo up against Turnbull and Turnbull is toast.

    If Turnbull loses seats or margins reduce, Turnbull will be replaced.

    Can’t win.

    And still no bounce after the budget. He’s history.

    • Jody

      Shorten and his band of robber brigands are the only thing propping up Turnbull. They should keep up their shrill class warfare as it’s the only thing keeping the Coalition in the game. Vile. Wretched. Labor is beyond redemption.

  • [email protected]

    Excellent article. I have not and will not vote Liberal Party again since Tony Abbott was very unjustifiably white-anted, etc and back-stabbed. Depending how soon all the back-stabbers go I may never vote Liberal Party again, it is no longer the Party I previously supported all my life.

    The Australian has very seriously – perhaps irretrievably – damaged itself by firstly campaigning hard against John Howard for dud Labor Rudd and then and still campaigning hard against achieving Tony Abbott for dud Labor Turnbull.

  • Jody

    My husband has spent part of the today for his 75th birthday watching that skunk at the National Press Club, Chris Bowen. This man who wants to rob self-funded retirees to pay ‘battlers’. Not one and the same I see daily at my local Stockland super centre eating pies, chips, cakes and drinking coffee – in their absolute hundreds. Every say I say to my husband, when we go up there, “look; more of Howard’s battlers’. At least Katherine ‘Croaker’ Murphy (a Guardianista_ asked Bowen what would happen to ‘aspirationals’ with this tax plans. Bowen shrugged it off with ‘everywhere we go people tell us that our plans are really good’. I couldn’t go on watching that grub and his class warrior theft project.

  • en passant

    Best we put Oz up for sale – freehold, of course. The Chinese are still paying good prices, the faux tribes can have their share for free and the swamp hordes can have the rest if they can reach our shores. Now there is a plan …

    What do you mean that really is the globalist plan being implemented right now ….?

    Fortunately, we have the Defence Force to throw them back – as soon as the diversity and non-lethal combat training courses are completed … What could go wrong?

    Actually, what really disturbs me is that I now have seven Demonbrat Trumpian refugees who have invaded my condo + I see more Australians infecting my preferred home city. Looks like I will have to start lobbying for a cap on letting Australians in before they start trying to change the culture ….

  • [email protected]

    Misread the title as “PM’s sores”. But it makes sense

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