Mr Denniss' article “Smoothing out the peaks and troughs of the Democrat vote” has been brought to my attention. Mr Denniss has taken issue with the graph I have been supplying the Democrats for many years, that shows two decades of polls and eleven leaders. It responds to my article, “Democrats - now known as the 'Others'”, which follows up one from John Cherry in On Line Opinion on February 16, 2005, ). This moving average graph permits useful historical comparisons and analysis. Statistically speaking, the use of the moving average graph is the appropriate way of dealing with trends over the long run and the long term outcomes of the polling data.
This trend analysis from the moving average graph has the useful if dismal result of showing that ever since the high point with Democrat Leader Janine Haines, over 15 years the Democrats polls have been on a slow steady downwards slide.
Mr Denniss has a shorter time frame in mind and focuses on two leaders over the last five or so years, and on the peaks and troughs of the periodic polls during their tenure. Unfortunately he omitted to supply the relevant graph to support his case.
I am happy to assist. The graph below shows the periodic polls and all the peaks and troughs for the period Mr Denniss wants emphasised and compared.
The graph shows Senator Lees polling after the 1998 election until the end of her leadership and, Senator Stott Despoja's polling over her entire leadership period. This graph plots them against each other in an attempt to compare the overall situation in each leadership period, which I gather was Mr Denniss' aim.
Mr Denniss failed to draw attention to a better average polling result by Senator Stott Despoja over the period of her leadership, compared with Senator Lees. Senator Lees had an average of 4.56 per cent while Senator Stott Despoja had an average of 5.26 per cent. As I did, he rightly points to the highs of Senator Stott Despoja's period as leader, reaching 9 per cent. Perhaps it was because he lacked the aid of a supporting graph, but he fails to point to polls hitting 4 per cent for both Leaders early in their tenure, in the case of Senator Stott Despoja reaching 3 per cent 9 months after taking over the leadership.
Whether you use the moving average graph, or the peaks and troughs graph, with respect to the two leaders Mr Denniss wants us to focus on, the trend of the polls is the same - steady for Senator Lees within a band and a dramatic downward fall from high early polls for Senator Stott Despoja.
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