AFR/Freshwater Strategy most accurate poll before the ‘Voice’ referendum

The final votes are in, and it looks like the Australian polling industry is in pretty good health.

Freshwater Strategy conducted polling for The Australian Financial Review ahead of the Voice referendum in Australia held on October 14th. Polling results were highly accurate, well within the margin of error.

In the run up to the ‘Voice’ the final AFR/Freshwater Strategy Poll showed support for a Yes vote at just 33 per cent, a fall of 15 percentage points since May, while the No vote was 50 per cent support and 17 per cent are undecided.

When the undecideds were excluded, the final published No vote was 60 per cent and the Yes vote just below 40 per cent.


With all the votes counted the ‘Yes’ support now stands at 39.9%, almost precisely matching the final AFR/Freshwater Strategy Poll of 60% (or 39.8% to 1 decimal place).

A table containing the final standings of all the 'Final' polls conducted ahead of the 'Voice' referendum is detailed below. Once again, Freshwater Strategy accurately called the result, and was closest to the final result, with an 'error' of just one tenth of one percent.


However, it is important to note that all 'Final' published polls called the outcome correctly, and the vast majority of 'Final' polls placed estimates fairly close to the result, well within the margin of error.

Four pollsters even did so within 1pt of the 39.9% result for 'Yes'. A great sign for the health of the polling and market research industry.

Please note that all polls are only ever snapshots and all public opinion polls have variance because they are samples of the public, not an overly precise tool.

So readers should note that it is unreasonable to suggest that one poll is 'better' than another based on differences that are just a fraction of one percent. On this occasion Freshwater Strategy was closest, but on another occasion the order will change, and it is more appropriate to simply say that all polls consistently and successfully indicated the correct result for several months, and the majority of polls landed well within the margin of error; which is all anyone can expect from opinion polls on 90-95% of occasions.

The team at Freshwater Strategy would like to congratulate all pollsters for their excellent work ahead of the referendum. Particularly; YouGov, Newspoll, Focaldata, Demos, Redbridge, Pollinate and JWS.

Please also note that all data in the table above (table 1), was sourced from the AEC website count, as well as any published polling results, Wikipedia, Pyxis Polling & Insights, and William Bowe's Poll Bludger website.

The industry-wide polling trend for the referendum is shown in figure 2, below.


Some readers may ask why voters changed their mind to support 'No'.

Of those 'Yes'-'No' switchers, a majority said that they did so because they feel the voice is detracting from bigger priorities for the nation such as cost of living and housing (60%) and the more information they received, the less they liked the idea. (52%).


Results for the AFR/Freshwater Strategy poll on the ‘Voice’, conducted on 22-24 September, were published in the AFR here.

Methodology note

Freshwater Strategy interviewed n=1,003 eligible voters in Australia, aged 18+ online, between 22-24 September. Data are weighted to be representative of voters.

*Final published figures for Newspoll were confirmed by Newspoll contractor, Pyxis Polling & Insights, in a social media post here.

Deploying empirical strategies, we shape opinion, manage risk, and identify opportunities in shifting environments to help our clients gain a competitive advantage in commercial and political spheres.

Office address

Level 8
4-6 Bligh Street
Sydney, NSW, 2000

Postal address

PO Box R1806 | Royal Exchange | Sydney, NSW, 1225 | Australia