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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, currently between 35% to 48% by one poll which is consistently higher than the others;

2.     Polling continues to indicate a bell shaped curve revealing lower support among the young and continuing strong opposition among the aged. In the latest poll, the Morgan Poll in 2011, support for a politicians'  republic among the young was at 31% and among new immigrants (28%);

3.     Support is strongest among inner city voters  especially middle aged males and supporters of the Greens;

4.     Once a republican  model is announced as the preferred republic, the Condorcet principle espoused by psephologist  Malcolm Mackerras applies and  support falls further ( that is a significant number of republicans always prefer the constitutional monarchy over the opposing model);

5.     Interest in republican change is generally weak. Those who describe themselves as strong supporters were, according to the April  2011 Newpoll, down to 25%. Among the young this was 20%. The contrasting experiences of ACM and the republicans in calling for public demonstrations supports a conclusion that many more monarchists are strong supporters of their cause than republicans.

6.     The latest poll on direct election ( by Morgan polling)  indicates no greater support for this than there is for a vague undefined republic;

7.     As with any other polling, occasionally a "rogue" poll going against the trend will emerge, as with the 2009 UMR poll released at the time of the tenth anniversary of the referendum;

8.     Another referendum on the 1999 model would be overwhelmingly defeated and a referendum on a model involving the direct election of a President would also be defeated ( republican Professor Craven says the defeat would be greater than in 1999);

9.     A referendum delaying change until the end the reign would be defeated overwhelmingly;

10.  If a plebiscite were to be held, it will be weighted in favour of a Yes vote. This will be done carefully designing the question. This will be done by taxpayer funded specialists, aided by substantial taxpayer funding including provision 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 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.

12. Those who are uncommitted in a poll tend to move to the No case, or in the poll do not reveal an intention to vote No. This is because the republican camp has been successful in suggesting the monarchist case is old fashioned, dated, etc.

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

14. That even if the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition were to support the Yes case ina referndum, this will not ensure success, as was demonstrated in 1967. But if there is no No case, i.e. the Parliament unanimously supports the referendum, this can significantly help the Yes case. 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.

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. To counter this, constitutional monarchists will need to be as well 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. 

 



Youth support for republic crashes Print E-mail
Written by ACM   
Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Youth support for a politicians' republic has collapsed, according to a poll by Fairfax Nielson published on 16 April 2014.

Support among those aged 18-24 is 28%, with overall support 42%.

Support among those aged above 55 is 45%, for those between 40-54, 44% and between those aged between 25-39, 48%.

In the meantime ACM's convenor David Flint  re-issued a solemn warning on the Royal Visit, one he has been issuing since the nineties:

''Never stand between royalty and celebrity republicans. Otherwise you'll be knocked over in the rush.''  

 

 

  Photo: Support for a vague undefined republic (without any model) over 22 years as polled by Fairfax Neilson. Follow the blue line    

 
Bogus youth claim Print E-mail
Written by ACM   
Tuesday, 08 April 2014

Now there's a bogus youth claim by republicans timed for the Royal Visit.

They're claiming  all polls for the last   for 30 years show young people are the most republican of all.

 They don't - the one's we've seen all  show exactly the opposite.  Even one by the republican movement's own pollster.

The lack of support among young people for some politicians' republic is a time bomb for the republicans.

 

Read more at  http://bit.ly/1jjvGK2

 
Republican leader revives long abandoned myth - shooting himself in the foot Print E-mail
Written by Professor David Flint AM   
Sunday, 06 April 2014

In trying to ridicule the awards to the Governors-General and his predecessor, the Australian Republican Movement's executive director, David Morris, is pushing an obviously false claim.

This is that all polls for 30 years have shown the nation's youth are the most republican of all. They certainly do not - they show the opposite. We've listed just 15 below. 

Morris is actually reviving a myth about the nation's youth, one his predecessors long ago  dropped. And why did they do that?  They realised it was embarrassingly wrong, and not something they should draw attention to.  Doesn't he know this?

Image

 

If Morris had read his own pollster - the one the ARM pays a lot of money for - as well as the string of polls we list below, he'd realise he was talking nonsense.  He should withdraw his claim. 

But Morris continued to claim this after a recent media appearance. It makes you  wonder about his dramatic claims that the restoration of knighthoods has had the dramatic effect on the membership of the ARM.He actually  claims a 5000% growth rate. 

Peter Fitzsimons agrees with me that these would probably be coming off a low base.  But 5000%?




...broadcasting his false claim...
  

ACM's young executive director Jai Martinkovits had said on 3AW on 26 March 2014 podcast 260314 that support for a politicians' republic among the young was low and that this was a time bomb for the republicans. David Morris responded to Jai's correct observation by this furphy:

"Young people are the most republican and Jai knows that every poll in the last 30 years has shown that."

When Jai protested David Morris shouted over him.




...the facts... 

 

So what are the facts? I was looking at a number of polls before the referendum. I noticed that whenever polls broke up the responses according to age, the result was a ''bell shaped curve.'' Support for a vague politicians' republic peaked with the middle-aged. Both the old and the young are less supportive.So I used this fact - republicans are not good in mastering facts - in responses in debates.

The republicans with typical arrogance thought they had the young, indigenous and immigrant in the bag. Typical was Senator  Susan Ryan's cruel but famous observation on the ABC that all the republicans had to do was wait until my generation ''dropped off the perch''.This got the laughs she hoped for . But it was so wrong.

Much later former  Attorney General's  Nicola Roxon issued the  barb that "no new monarchists are being born."  Like David Morris she hadn't bothered to check whether she did in fact have the nation's youth in the bag.

A passionate republican if ever there was one, almost her first act as A-G was to stop the appointment of Federal QC's who are rarely created anyway. 

The plain fact is that anybody who knows anything about this issue knows that the lack of support among the young is a time bomb for the Republican movement.  They would be wise not to mention the issue.

 

....3AW...

 

 

After the 3AW debate the presenter, Neil Mitchell read figures from a recent poll showing the youth a not the most republican. In fact there is a string of polls over the last few years which come to the same  conclusion.

But here's something surely Morris had read. 

 

 ...the ARM's own pollster...

Read more...
 
Another questionable claim by republicans Print E-mail
Written by Professor David Flint AM   
Thursday, 27 March 2014
The republican boss claims that as a result of the restoration of knighthoods, their site ''almost'' crashed and their ''annualised membership growth rate spiked at more than 5000 per cent".

Is this claim as reliable as his demonstrably false claim made on the same day that all opinion polls over the last 30 years show support for a republic is strongest among the young?

Is it like their specially commissioned polls on carefully chosen questions. This included one published by a gullible media where the question was not revealed in breach of press council guidelines? 

Image
 
ARM chief should apologise Print E-mail
Written by ACM   
Thursday, 27 March 2014

For the benefit of ARM chief David Morris, who claimed on Melbourne radio station 3AW that every poll over the last 30 years has shown that young people are most republican, please read this graph.

Will he apologise over 3AW?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo: For the benefit of ARM chief David Morris, who claimed on Melbourne radio that every poll over the last 30 years has shown that young people are most republican, just read this graph. Are you going on 3AW to apologise?

 

 
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