2 major Aussie papers to stop polling

SYDNEY • Two of Australia's major newspapers have ceased running opinion polls in the wake of last week's shock election win by Prime Minister Scott Morrison's government, which defied every major public survey.

The Sydney Morning Herald and Melbourne Age newspapers decided against renewing a contract with global market research firm Ipsos, whose final poll published the day before last Saturday's election showed the opposition Labor Party leading the centre-right coalition 51 per cent to 49 per cent.

Newspoll, used by Mr Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, had similarly called a Labor win.

The Herald's national editor Tory Maguire yesterday said the paper had a responsibility to put resources into journalism, noting its articles that best reflected the electorate's mood were done by journalists out on the road.

Australia's election shock followed similar surprises abroad, such as Britain's vote to leave the European Union and the United States election victory of President Donald Trump. All three outcomes contradicted polling.

"The last 50 or 60 Newspolls showed Labor comfortably ahead," said Mr John Utting, a veteran pollster for the Labor Party.

"What if, in reality, Labor was at best level pegging or even behind? How has this affected our political commentary and political behaviour? Did polling create a parallel universe where all the activity of the past few years, especially the leadership coups, were based on illusions, phantoms of public opinion that did not exist?"

The rise of social media, fewer landline telephones, cost cutting and the difficulty of constructing mobile phone samples have all made it more difficult to get a representative sample of the population, he said.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 25, 2019, with the headline '2 major Aussie papers to stop polling'. Print Edition | Subscribe