Getting it wrong while getting it right

the polls, the press and the 2007 Australian election

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In the 2007 election, which the Labor Party won comfortably, some political journalists and some of the polling organisations hedged their bets: despite the fact that every national poll, after allowing for preferences, showed Labor ahead, several predicted a close race and the possibility of a Liberal-National Party win. This paper examines the plethora of polls on voting intentions published during the campaign. After the election, the diversity of this polling allowed journalists and pollsters to assess the performance of the polls against their own criteria of 'success'. The paper tracks the polls across the campaign period, assesses their performance against various criteria, and compares their performance in 2007 with their performance in earlier elections. It shows the difficulty of using the polls to identify when the Opposition's lead narrowed, the devices pollsters used to hedge their bets, and the possible use by pollsters of a last-mover advantage.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115-133
Number of pages19
JournalAustralian Cultural History
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • Australian elections
  • opinion polls
  • the press

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