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Bob Ellis has 9 serious questions and an answer about the results from the tiny combined Newspoll of Dobell and Robertson.

MartinO''''Shannessy
Newspoll boss Martin O' Shannessy has some questions to answer, says Bob Ellis.

THERE ARE NINE QUESTIONS that arise from the Newspoll in Robertson and Dobell.

Why was the sample a mere 505 and not 800 — the statistical minimum?

What was the average age of the respondents?

Why was it of two seats, not one?

Why did it not show the vote for Craig Thomson — the most contentious candidate?

Why did it not show the vote for Nathan Bracken, the ‘celebrity’ candidate?

Why were no mobiles rung?

Why were the respondents not asked what their preferences were?

Why were outdated preferences, from 2010, used instead?

Why, if the margin of error is 4.4, print the poll at all?

Why it came out now, obviously, was the news about Peter Slipper standing, and looking confident and competitive. Col Allan wanted to obliterate Craig Thomson, a similar figure, without even mentioning him.

The poll suggests that Craig and Nathan got only 4 per cent between them. What rubbish that is. It allots, also, Craig’s preferences to the Liberals.

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Newspoll owner Rupert Murdoch: using every tool at his disposal to swing the election his way. (Caricature by John Graham / johngraham.alphalink.com.au)

It also, amazingly, shows Abbott as preferred prime minister on the front page, but not in the details: on page 6, under Better PM, are the categories Satisfied, Dissatisfied and Uncommitted, with no names attached. Once again, a Newspoll has been cobbled together at the last minute and shows panicky typos.

It gives no indication of why Abbott’s approval has gone up 15 percent in a week. The debate? Hardly. It would have been nice if they had asked some of these good people why they had suddenly gone mad.

It sounds as if the polling was done in the daytime, on landlines, among seventy to ninety year olds. I ask, again, and Rudd should ask ‒ and Albo ‒ how old the respondents were.

If they do not answer, we can assume their actions were criminal — the equivalent, as cheating, of drugs in sport.

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