A Newspoll reported in The Australian today asked another of its ‘does X make you more likely to vote for Y’ questions, and like its Budget version last week really only showed what little value these results have.
In a question about the government’s change to WorkChoices (or whatever it is called these days) to introduce a fairness test for AWAs, 12% said that it was more likely to make them vote for the Coalition and 15% less likely. The people most likely to be aggrieved by this change are small-business owning Liberal voters, but only 2% of Coalition voters said that it made them less likely to vote Liberal or National. By contrast 26% of Labor voters declared themselves less likely to vote for the Coalition. As Labor voters are the group most opposed to WorkChoices this backdown by the government should go some way to easing their concerns, but a quarter of them claim that it has made them even less inclined to vote Coalition.
Given that in net terms Newspoll would have us believe that both the Budget and the WorkChoices have made a Coalition vote less likely, we should be seeing the Liberal primary vote falling even more. Yet according to these same Newspolls, that is not happening. Since mid-April, Liberal primary support in the Newspoll series has been 35%, 37%, 36%, and 39%, the last two polls being conducted after the WorkChoices backdown and the Budget. Genuine vote changers, if any, are so mixed in with poll respondents playing the pollster that we cannot identify them and so the question is pointless.
It would have been far more interesting to directly ask people what they thought of the WorkChoices changes. As it is, we learn nothing at all about attitudes towards fairness tests and nothing about partisan preferences that isn’t more accurately recorded in the question about which party the respondent plans to support.