How good are the polls? Australian election predictions, 1993-2019

Murray Goot*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


None of the polls predicted the winner of the 2019 Australian election, the first such failure since 1993 when all the polls started reporting a two-party preferred (2PP) vote estimate of the vote share as well as the parties' first preferences. But the idea that the polls had enjoyed a very good run until 2019 is misleading: from 1993 to 2016, a fifth had predicted the wrong winner. This paper examines the performance of the polls against several measures: the outcome; margins of error; size of the errors; and estimates of the gap between the Liberal-National Party (LNP) and Labor. It shows that about a third of the estimates of the 2PP vote, Labor's first preferences, and the LNP's first preferences, involved errors greater than those attributable to sampling error.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-55
Number of pages21
JournalAustralian Journal of Political Science
Issue number1
Early online date30 Sep 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Australian politics
  • Elections
  • opinion polls
  • predictions

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