Bob Ellis: Inside Newspoll

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Bob Ellis has been called a conspiracy theorist by expressing his doubts about polling companies, but after Clive Palmer’s revelations and this conversation with a Newspoll employee, can he be so easily dismissed?

EMMA ALBERICI: In 11 days time you expect to win as many as 15 seats at the election, what gives you that confidence given the latest Channel seven ReachTEL poll has you winning no seats at all?
CLIVE PALMER: ReachTEL never have you winning anything. When I was former party director there were polling companies I used to give large donations to and they would write
EMMA ALBERICI: Are you saying the polling's rigged?
CLIVE PALMER: Of course the polling's rigged. Rupert Murdoch owns Galaxy poll and Newspoll and the media tries to set the agenda and determines the result of an election before it's been held. That's not a democracy, it's up to the people. We'll win a lot more seats than 15, there's no doubt about that and people are looking for a change. The current lot are so boring.
EMMA ALBERICI: So you're saying there's some sort of a fraud being perpetuated out there?
CLIVE PALMER: There has been but there won't be in the 2 party system. Let's face it on one side we've got one group being run by Rupert Murdoch, a foreign citizen of the another country and on the other side we've god Kevin Rudd bringing over Obama's team of people to counter it. It's not about an Australian debate at all.

(ABC Lateline, 27/8/13)

Skewpoll 2

YESTERDAY, I had a conversation with an employee of Newspoll.

He was put on the phone by a friend of mine and he did not tell me his name.

The average respondent, he said, was sixty-five years of age, or older. The best time to ring was on Saturday after lunch. The calls lasted eleven minutes or so, and dealt not just with voting intention but with products and issues other than politics.

Ninety per cent of the calls were unsuccessful apparently. Eleven thousand aborted calls would be made, and twelve hundred successful ones. ‘A good score,’ he said, ‘is two successful calls in an hour.’

They were specific to a region, which meant they could be biased towards a demographic, Wahroonga, say, rather than Woy Woy. They were asked to ring ‘every house in the street’.

He was paid twenty dollars an hour. He hoped to get that up to twenty-four dollars an hour when he was “promoted”.

The figures were ‘adjusted’; that is, they were changed, to reflect – or imagine – the younger demographic. The younger demographic, however, was based on the few young people they actually talked to — the ones that had a landline, or were using their parents’ landline. Which pointed to it being a more conservative demographic.

The conclusions from this are, of course, explosive.

It means Newspoll has been underestimating the Labor vote, and the Labor preferred vote, for years now, from when mobiles started taking over the market. And Newspoll could have been underestimating it, if required by its owner Murdoch, even more; as it did last year when it had Romney always ahead, or competitive.

And all the panic in the Labor backroom for two years has been unfounded.

And so it goes.

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