Opinion polls conducted by the mainstream media over the last year and a bit have delivered disastrous results for the Government and show that Julia Gillard is locked in a tight battle with Tony Abbott as the country’s preferred Prime Minister.
The Newspolls, in particular, are followed up with the most imaginative dribble of spin from analysts employed by the same organisation that conduct the poll. Even bumps in popularity for the Government are explained away as something negative and assures folks that the next poll will wipe away any illusion of a Government comeback. I’m sure most of you are familiar with the rubbish I’m referring to.
The polls themselves are conducted simply enough. Respondents are selected randomly and are phoned by the polling interviewer. Only landlines are phoned as it is illegal for a pollster to call a person’s mobile phone as many people have phone plans where they may be charged for taking a call.
So who’s missing out on a call? The younger voters, that’s who.
I’ve found the results of many surveys on the internet about mobile phone user demographics and they all provide the same story: The younger cohort groups do not use a landline and the older ones are less likely to use a mobile. (I won’t bore you with the statistics as I have many of them to follow).
If you look at the Primary Vote results for the latest Newspoll you’ll notice that support for the Coalition jumps dramatically with each increasing age group. The healthiest support is in the 50+ age group (yes, that same group who mostly rely on a landline phone). When a pollster phones a landline number, the chances are high that a person aged over 50 will answer the call and respond to the pollster’s questions.
So how do we know what the younger generations think? Again I relied on the results of surveys found on the internet and guess what I found? Younger people are more likely to be engaged with the internet and social media than the older generations. And again I won’t bore you with statistics. You’ll just have to take my word.
Turning to the social media sites it was soon apparent that the results from media ran opinion polls do not reflect the opinions of a hell of a lot of people. Facebook is a good starting point.
The Facebook Page for Julia Gillard has almost 129,000 followers. The Facebook Page for Tony Abbott has a sprinkle over 24,000 followers. From those figures it’s not too hard to deduce who the younger generations prefer.
The Liberal Party of Australia has its own Facebook Page and has a miserable 23,000 followers. The ALP does not have its own official page.
Kevin Rudd, incidentally, has over 70,000 followers.
Twitter also has Labor people as clear winners in the social media ‘opinion polls’. Julia Gillard has 245,000 followers, leaving behind Tony Abbott on 70,700. The ALP has 18,200 followers whilst the Liberal Party is yet to work out what Twitter is.
Kevin Rudd clearly has. He has almost one and a quarter million followers.
My conclusions might be a bit pie in the sky but what I see is a lot of younger people out there engaging with, ‘following’ and ‘liking’ Labor politicians many times more than their Liberal counterparts. These are the people who are not likely to be taking calls from pollsters and responding by blowing kisses at the Liberals.
Do you get the picture?