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ACM Home arrow Opinion Polling

Opinion Polling
 

An opinion poll is a survey of public opinion from a particular sample.

The sample and questions are designed to indicate the opinion of a larger group, for example the nation.
 
 Some general comments on opinion polling and opinion polling in relation to constitutional change follow these initial comments.  

In a nation obsessed at the political and media level in polling, it is worth at this point introducing some cynicism about polling.

The nation’s eminent psephologist, Malcolm Mackerras, once read out a definition handed to him by an ACM supporter.

It went something like this: “An opinion poll consists of the answers of those willing to respond to uninvited questions put without notice on matters on which the respondents have not had the time to consider.”



...from intial polling to the actual vote...



Before we come to our conclusions on polling on a politicians' republic, we should bear in mind that polls taken before a debate on a referendum proposal will normally record  significantly support than during the referndum.

The trend line indicates that support for a vague undefined republic  is at the time of writing,  as a percentage, only in the low forties.

Because the people will have the opportunity to hear both sides, it is likely to fall even further at the actual vote.

This happened in 1999 even with a highly biassed mainline media and a wealthy Yes campign supported by twothirds of the politicians.


This will be exacerbated by the precise question which must introduce a model. Many hitherto Yes voters opposing the model chosen will then prefer the constiutional monarchy.  

This is the reason why republicans prefer an intial plebiscite or plebiscites. They are even divided on the number of plebiscites.



...15 Conclusions...



At the present time polling and other evidence suggests fifteen  conclusions:

1.  Since the 1999 republic referendum, there has been a long term decline in support for a vague undefined ( politicians’) republic. Polling from just before the federal election in 2013 indicates that overall support for such a republic ranges between 33%  to  40%   

2.  From before the referendum, polling has indicated that the middle aged are the most supportive of a vague undefined republic, with lower support among the young and until recently even lower support  among the aged. This can be represented by a slightly lopsided bell curve.

3. From 2013, the young have turned more against a vague undefined republic and in most polls are less supportive than even the elderly.

4. Support for a vague undefined republic is strongest among inner city voters, especially middle aged males and supporters of the Greens.

5. Once a republican  model is announced as the preferred republic, the Condorcet principle espoused by psephologist  Malcolm Mackerras applies and  support for a republic will fall. In other words, a significant number of republicans will always prefer the constitutional monarchy over the opposing model. Accordingly the ARM  has since 1999 been in the paradoxical situation of refusing to reveal what sort of republic it is actually campaigning for.

6. Interest in republican change is generally weak and declining.  According to the July 2014 Newspoll, strong supporters of change fell from 25% in 2011 to 22%. Among the young, strong supporters were down from 20% to 17%. The contrasting experiences of ACM and the ARM in calling  public demonstrations leads us to conclude that many more monarchists are strong supporters of their cause than are republicans.

6. The latest poll on the republican model which provides that  the people rather than the politicians elect the president - the ''direct elect model''- indicates no greater support than for the 1999 alternative. But when  asked how the president should be chosen if Australia were to become a republic,  respondents indicate a very strong preference for direct election. In the 2014 Newspoll, the young were, at 87%, the most supportive of direct election. At the same time they were least supportive of change to any republic. Australians seem to be saying: ''We don't want a republic, but if one is forced on us, we- and not the politicians - will choose the president''.

7.  As with any other polling, a "rogue" poll will from sometimes go against the trend. But the trend lines across the polls and over time indicate declining support for a vague undefined ( politicians’) republic.

8.  From this data we conclude that another referendum on the 1999 model would be overwhelmingly defeated and that a referendum on a model involving the direct election of a President would also be defeated ( republican Professor Craven says the defeat of the latter would be greater than in 1999);

9. A referendum delaying change until the end the reign has been proposed by former prime minister Bob Hawke. No significant group has adopted this.  

10.  ACM has always been opposed to what it calls the ''blank cheque plebiscite''. We  believe that if a plebiscite were to be held, the question would be manipulated by taxpayer funded ''spin doctors''. We warn there is likely to be substantial taxpayer funding  for “education” and “information”, probably little or no public funding for the No case,  possibly no Yes/No booklet, and with strong support from about two thirds of the politicians and  from the mainstream media. 

11. Experience indicates that in a referendum campaign, support for the affirmative case falls significantly  between the announcement of a proposal and the actual vote. This is because the voters have then had some opportunity of hearing both sides of the debate and reading the Yes/No booklet.

12. In a referendum campaign, those who in opinion polls say they are undecided  tend to move to the No case or  have not revealed their intention to vote No. In a republican referendum, this  could be  because the republican camp including media outlets has suggested the monarchist case is old fashioned, dated, etc or respondents fear that there may be consequences for those who are known to have voted No.

13. Polls taken now indicating opinions at some future date, say, the end of the reign, are clearly unreliable.

14. Much has been made by republicans about the role of the then prime minister John Howard in 1999. It is untrue that he fixed the convention or the question. His opposition -which was unusual- no doubt encouraged his supporters, but they were unlikely to be republicans.  On the other hand it may be that the support of an unpopular Prime Minister and/or government  may harm the Yes case. This was said to be one of the reasons why Paul Keating chose not to put a referendum on a republic.  Even if the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition were to support the Yes case in a referendum, this will not ensure success, as was demonstrated inone of the referendums in  1967. But if  the Parliament  unanimously supported the referendum, there would be no official No case, which would disadvantage opponents.

15. The theme of any referendum on a republic will probably be around the proposition that only a politicians’ republic can deliver an Australian Head of State. This was mentioned nine times in the official No case in 1999. To counter this, constitutional monarchists will need to be as well informed on the relevant law and practice and as organised and as disciplined as they were in 1999.




...general comments on polling...

  


Opinion polls do not claim absolute accuracy and will usually indicate a margin of error. They are not predictions as to the future but an attempt to measure opinion at the time of the poll. This applies to views about what may or may not happen at the end of the reign. These are views held now, not one swhich will emerge at the end of the reign.

There can be errors or a bias in taking the sample. For example a telephone survey excludes those who do not have landlines. Some people will be reluctant to answer, or may give an answer they think the questioner wants.

By looking at trends from different polls taken over time, differences can be neutralised.



...the right question?..




Opinion polls can be biased in formulating questions. This
can be unintentional.

The question may vary considerably from the referendum question. A referendum necessarily involves agreeing to a specific republican model. But some  polls purporting to measure voting attitudes in the 1999 referendum ignored this and tested support for some vague undefined republic.

But in questions concerning constitutional change certain words can mislead.

For example, there is a debate between republicans and constitutional monarchists over the meaning of Head of State, and the question to be answered in the referendum may not even use that word.

 “ Do you think an Australian should be Head of State instead of The Queen ?” assumes we do not already have an Australian Head of State, which is a principal point in issue in the debate.

This is important. In the 1999 referendum, the Yes case used the argument that only in a republic could we have an Australian as Head of State nine times, more than any other.

Even asking whether Australia should become a republic assumes we are not already a republic, albeit a crowned republic


...have they heard both sides? ...



When referendums are announced, it is common to find polling indicates strong public support. But this can change after the public has heard both sides.This was exacerbated in the nineties because the mainstream media supported the republican movement. At the same time the media thrives on conflict and even a biassed media is forced to allow the other side to be heard at least partially.

In the early stages of the campaign in the nineties the public had not really heard both sides of the debate.  They had heard more by the time of the referendum. 





...polling trends...



Isolated polls should be treated with caution. The trend in polling from different pollsters over time is a better indicator. It is particularly unwise to rely on one poll which goes against the trend. 

In 2009 the republicans released a poll to coincide with the tenth anniversary of the referendum. This indicated that 59% support for “a republic.”  This went against all the trends and was what may best be called a “rogue poll”, which, we hasten to add,  suggests no impropriety.



...pollsters...



In Australia the best known pollsters are:
 

  • Newspoll - published in News Limited's The Australian newspaper
  • Roy Morgan Research - published in the Crikey email reporting service
  • Galaxy Polling - published in News Limited's tabloid papers
  • AC Nielsen Polling - published in Fairfax newspapers

Although less well known,  UMR has also conducted polls on this issue. Its polls have always found substantially more republican support than any of the others.

Essential media is a new pollster more associated with the unions, without this resulting in any bias.Its political polling produces results broadly in line with the other polllsters. 



Why do republicans exaggerate? Print E-mail
Written by Professor David Flint AM   
Sunday, 13 November 2011

Why do republicans exaggerate?   We have just sent this letter to the Sun Herald:

13 November 2011

Dear Editor,

 In his column (13/11) Peter Fitzsimons makes the statement “ is it is also a known fact that broadly half of Australians want a republic.”

 

This is not so. 

 

According to a detailed survey prepared by Roy Morgan Research, support for a vague  undefined republic is around one third, not one half . Support among the young is lower than in the general population: see http://bit.ly/eA6Gyn

 

Mr. Fitzsimons should also be aware that voting in a referendum is invariably lower than polling would indicate.

He complains about $5000 being spent on the Diamond Jubilee - about half a billion has been spent so far in trying to foist his politicians' republic on a reluctant nation.

 Sincerely,

 

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[The first of sixteen visits...so far ]

 
"State of the Nation" paper released Print E-mail
Written by ACM   
Tuesday, 08 November 2011

Just one month ago, on 9 October, before The Queen’s visit, Roy Morgan Research presented Australians’ views on our constitutional monarchy to the 12th National Conference of Australians for Constitutional Monarchy.

This was frequently reported in the media during the Royal Visit, confirming  that support for an undefined vague republic has been trending down and is now less than 40%.  This would mean that in a repeat of the 1999 referendum, the Yes vote would, as a percentage, fall to the low thirties or even twenties.

Image

One matter not mentioned in most reporting was something ACM has long observed. This is that support among the nation’s youth for a vague undefined republic is even lower. And republicans say a (politicians’) republic is inevitable.

Minister Nicola Roxon once said “no new monarchists are being born”, and former Senator Susan Ryan suggested that the republican movement need only wait until the older generation of monarchists “fell off the perch”.

All who attended the presentation on the "State of the Nation"  by Roy Morgan Reseach at Parliament House Sydney yesterday morning seem to agree that it was superb. 
 
It will be televised in full on Foxtel and we hope to have extracts on our channel.  Once the broadcast is scheduled, we shall advise you.

A copy of the paper can be downloaded here:

 
Televised Morgan Poll Report: Support for the Constitutional Monarchy - State of the Nation Print E-mail
Written by ACM   
Tuesday, 08 November 2011

Image

Roy Morgan research will assess support for the constitutional monarchy and on the fundamental issues which are shaping the national debate at this function on 8 November.

With the media likely to be in attendance, this cobranded event will probably attract a capacity audience. The full programme is being filmed for broadcast on television.  

there is no charge but donations are gratefully accepted. A flyer may be downloaded here.   

 
Televised Morgan Polling, ACM event : 8 November Print E-mail
Written by Professor David Flint AM   
Wednesday, 02 November 2011

Australia has just seen one of the most successful Royal Visits with the Morgan Poll released at the ACM National Conference informing the media and the nation on the true level of support for the Crown.( Download the flyer here.)

It is clear that most Australians recognise the extraordinary devotion to duty which has been the hallmark of this reign, and indeed that of The Queen’s father and her grandfather.

Now that the visit is over, the level of support for the Crown will be reviewed in a  televised event from Sydney’s Parliament House on 8 November.

 

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...Morgan Polling...




Roy Morgan polling - the nation’s oldest - has been consistent in measuring support for constitutional change. When we were planning the recent 12th national conference, we decided to invite Morgan polling to present a survey on trends in public opinion since the referendum.

We wanted to know to what extent our conclusions on polling on this  website  are consistent with expert opinion in this field.)That survey set an important context for the Royal Visit. Its conclusion that support for a politicians’ republic has been trending down and is now below support for the constitutional monarchy was featured on the news in Australia and around the world.

This was an important background influence on media reporting of the event.

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[ Gary Morgan explains the groundbreaking survey; CEO Michelle Levine concurs ]





...state of the nation...


 

Read more...
 
Royal Visit 2011 - Poll Print E-mail
Written by Professor David Flint AM   
Thursday, 27 October 2011

The latest Morgan Poll (25 & 26/10) confirms that without doubt a referendum held on the removal of the Crown from the constitution would be overwhelmingly defeated.

It would be a bigger landslide than in 1999 .

Image
[ Her Majesty and His Royal Higness take the tram ]
 

The poll also reflects the error of the federal government in keeping the Queen for far too long in Canberra.  Although there are many loyal royalists in Canberra, it is dominated by republicans, as was the Parliamentary reception. The Morgan Poll may be seen here

The result was that the people of New South Wales and in particular Sydney said they felt rebuffed.  This explains the fact that  New South Wales is the only state in this poll to record a higher than 40% support for a republic.  The monarchy would still easily prevail in any referendum in New South Wales but this polling results in the state is most unusual; New South Wales  usually records  strong support for  the constitutional monarchy.  

But on this occasion it didn't.  Almost everyone from New South Wales who spoke to me about the Royal visit lamented the fact that the Queen would not be in Sydney. 

The city is known worldwide and it is the oldest.  The Opera House and the Harbour Bridge are often use as symbols of Australia .There is no doubt that the people of Sydney New South Wales were hurt by the absence of a visit . 

I would not of course be so paranoid as to say the republican politicians did this deliberately.  They would not do that, would they?




...reading the poll...




Read more...
 
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