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March 2014

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In the final week of the Tasmanian state election campaign, the Tasmanian ALP has been accused of push-polling.  This follows the apparent leaking, by forces unknown, of an internal Labor UMR poll.

I have also obtained the contentious poll, which was conducted by telephone interviews with a sample size of 300 voters in each of Lyons and Franklin.  The Liberal Party needs to win three seats in at least one of these electorates, and is very likely to do so in Lyons, but lineball in Franklin.

The questions for the two electorates, conducted 5-6 March, appear in a results section entitled "Messaging".  Each question has the opening question "Does the following statement make you more or less likely to vote Labor in the state election or does it make no difference?"  The statements then are:

"Tasmanian Labor will restore the school kids bonus to help low income families make ends meet, that will be axed by the Liberals and Palmer United."

and:

"Just as Tasmania is starting to pick up, the Liberals plan to axe more than one thousand two hundred jobs, will destroy confidence and see many families without a breadwinner."

The results are presented in a format that looks like this (this one's for Lyons):
 

In this case, 73% of respondents must have said it would make no difference, or that they did not know.  The figures for Franklin for the same question are 9-21 based on the same format (7% much less likely, 2% little less likely, 14% little more likely, 7% much more likely) for a net +12.

For the second question the figures in Lyons are 9-20 (4-5-12-8) giving +11 and for Franklin 6-21 (3-3-11-10) giving +15.

The charge from the Liberals is that this is "push polling [..]  grubby, gutter tactics to try and launch another negative smear campaign" (Vanessa Goodwin.)

The defence from Labor's John Dowling is that the results show "a large amount" of votes can still be shifted, and that the research indicates that "thousands of voters are more likely to support Labor when they receive this information".

Dowling also said the Liberals displayed a "complete lack of understanding of research methods” and that the claims were based in fact and “the challenge for the Liberal Party is to identify what in the statements is false". [Read More]

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