uComms: 50-50 in Queensland

Labor draws level in a Queensland state poll for the first time in over a year.

The Courier-Mail has a uComms poll of Queensland state voting intention showing a tie on two-party preferred, compared with a 51-49 lead for the LNP in a similar poll just before Christmas, shortly after Steven Miles succeeded Annastacia Palaszczuk as Premier. This is the first Queensland poll not to show the LNP in front since December 2022, although its leads tended to be fairly modest. After allocating a forced follow-up question for the 12.5% initially undecided, the primary votes come out at 34.2% for Labor (down 0.2%), 37.3% for the LNP (down 0.7%), 12.2% for the Greens (down 1.1%), 7.7% for One Nation (up 0.4%) and 3.9% for Katter’s Australian Party (down 0.1%).

David Crisafulli nonetheless recorded a narrow 51-49 over Miles on a forced response preferred premier question, in from 52.2-47.8 last time. Steven Miles was rated positively by 44.2% (up from 42.7%), neutrally by 25.2% (down from 27.6%) and negatively by 25.2% (down from 27.6%). Crisafulli was a 41.7% for positive (up from 37.8%), 31.2% for neutral (up from 30.2%) and 18.7% for negative (down from 22.8%). The sample for the poll was 1743, with field work dates not provided in the Courier-Mail report.

Further news related to the state election to be held on October 26:

• Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath announced yesterday she would retire at the election, creating a vacancy in her northern Brisbane seat of Redcliffe, which she holds on a margin of 6.1%. Kerri-Anne Dooley, founding director of a home care nursing firm, will make her fifth attempt to win the seat for the LNP. The Australian reports Corinne Mulholland, former federal candidate for Petrie and now in-house lobbyist for Star casinos, is the favoured candidate of Steven Miles, “but several sources say she is reluctant to stand”.

• The southern Brisbane seat of Mansfield, held for Labor by Corrine McMillan on a margin of 6.8%, will be contested for the LNP by Pinky Singh, Indian-born public relations consultant, Order of Australia medal recipient and candidate for McConnel in 2020.

• James Ashby, high-profile adviser to Pauline Hanson, will be One Nation’s candidate in Keppel, which the party came within 3.1% of winning on 2017. Brittany Lauga hold the seat for Labor with a margin of 5.6% over the LNP.

Tasmanian election minus five weeks

Multiple developments from the Tasmanian campaign, as prospective candidates caught on the hop by an early election scramble into place — and out of it.

There is now a semi-complete Poll Bludger guide to the Tasmanian election, featuring the usual extensive guides to each of the five electoral divisions, complete with displays of past election results in chart, table and booth map form, and an overview page that reviews the electoral terrain and a term’s worth of political developments in the state. The sections detailing the party candidates and their backgrounds will need updating after nominations close at the end of the month, with the parties presently scrambling to get their line-ups in place for an election called over a year ahead of time, and independents both entering and dropping out at a bewildering clip. Notably:

• Observers were surprised when Liberal advertising appeared for Franklin promoting the candidacy of former Police Minister Jacquie Petrusma, who resigned from parliament in July 2022 after a career going back to 2010. Petrusma is yet to be formally endorsed, but has confirmed that she is indeed seeking preselection, which will presumably be a formality. This compounds the challenge faced by the electorate’s two Liberal incumbents, Nic Street and Dean Young, who already had Eric Abetz to contend with.

• Jane Howlett, who has held the Legislative Council seat of Prosser for the Liberals since 2018, has announced she will run in Lyons. Prosser will be up for election in any case when the annual periodic elections are held in May, and there will be nothing to stop Howlett running again if she is unsuccessful in Lyons. Labor will likewise run a Legislative Council member, Josh Willie, in Clark, presumably having made the same calculation that familiar candidates will improve its chances overall.

• The number of former major party members running as independents has hit four, and nearly made it to five. Sue Hickey has announced she will seek a comeback in Clark, where she was elected as a Liberal in 2018 and was narrowly unsuccessful in a bid to retain the seat as an independent in 2021, having quit the party four days before the election was announced. Elise Archer also announced she would run in Clark on Wednesday but withdrew the following day, owing to a “health circumstance”. According to David Killick of The Mercury, “concerns were expressed for Ms Archer’s welfare after an appearance on ABC Radio on Thursday in which she did not sound like her normal self”.

• The Greens have announced Hobart deputy lord mayor Helen Burnet, who has run for the party on a number of previous occasions, will be a candidate in Clark. The party will be hoping the new regime of seven-member electorates will put it in contention for a second seat in Clark, which Burnet came close to achieving even with only five seats on offer in 2010. The party’s sitting member in Clark is Vica Bayley, who filled a vacancy created in July 2023 when former leader Cassy O’Connor stepped aside ahead of her run for the Legislative Council seat of Hobart in May.

Freshwater Strategy: 51-49 to Labor (open thread)

Labor pokes its nose in front in what has been its weakest polling series through the term, though the primary vote records little change.

The Financial Review has a federal poll from Freshwater Strategy, the pollster’s first for the paper since mid-December, though it conducted one for the News Corp papers in early January. It has Labor leading 51-49, after its previous two polls both recorded a dead heat. There is little change on the primary vote, with Labor on 31% and the Coalition on 38%, respectively steady and down one from both the two previous polls, and the Greens on 14%, up one from the December poll and steady from January.

A preferred prime minister measure has Anthony Albanese leading Peter Dutton 42-38, little changed from 43-39 in December. A question on the tax cut amendments finds 44% supportive, 26% indifferent and 15% opposed, with 32% expecting to be better off, 12% worse off and 43% anticipating no difference. The poll was conducted Friday to Sunday from a sample of 1049.

Weekend miscellany: Moore preselection, and so forth (open thread)

Preselection action for the Western Australian Liberals, including a heavy defeat for a federal incumbent in Moore.

Despite a looming onslaught of by-elections (see the top of the sidebar for more information), there is not actually a huge amount to report at the moment. The only poll sure to report this week is the regular Roy Morgan, though Resolve Strategic for the Nine Newspapers (which was last heard from in early December) and Freshwater Strategy (which reports irregularly for the Financial Review, most recently in early January) are always possibilities. Which leaves:

• A party preselection ballot for the northern Perth seat of Moore yesterday ended with a 137-39 defeat for incumbent Ian Goodenough, the member since 2013, at the hands of Vince Connelly, who held the seat of Stirling from 2019 until its abolition in 2022. Connelly also mounted a narrowly unsuccessful challenge against Goodenough ahead of the 2022 election, and was made to settle for the lost cause of neighbouring Cowan. The preselection occurred against the backdrop of power struggles in the northern suburbs between the remnants of “The Clan” faction, which drew support from evangelical churches and of which Goodenough was a key member, and an alliance encompassing Connelly and state hopefuls Simon Ehrenfeld and Scott Edwardes.

• Further developments involving the WA Liberals with Senator Linda Reynolds’ announcement this week that she will not contest the next election, bringing her parliamentary career to an end when her term expires in the middle of next year. Dylan Caporn of The West Australian reports the front-runner to succeed her is Trischa Botha, who is of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander background, although she may be set for the uncertain prospect of third position on the ticket behind incumbents Slade Brockman and Matt O’Sullivan. Botha is the co-founder of an evangelical church in Perth’s northern suburbs with her husband, whose messianic language has been known to raise eyebrows. Also mentioned in a report by Katina Curtis in The West Australian is Kristy McSweeney, who ran unsuccessfully in Swan in 2022. McSweeney is a former adviser to Tony Abbott, founder of public relations firm The PR Counsel and daughter of former state MP Robyn McSweeney. UPDATE: The West Australian elsewhere reports that “former diplomat and long-time senior bureaucrat Jennifer Mathews” is a contender.

• The Poll Bludger’s guide to the Tasmanian election has been cobbled together in fairly short order, offering a general overview and extensive detail on each of the five multi-member electoral divisions replete with the usual charts, tables and maps. A few corners remained to be filled out, with the parties still getting their complete candidate line-ups in order.

UK by-elections live: Wellingborough and Kingswood

Will the UK Conservatives lose another two seats held by large margins at by-elections today? Also: a wrap of recent international elections.

Live Commentary

10:08am Saturday Wikipedia says the Weliingborough result was the largest Tory to Labour swing at a by-election since 1994 and the second largest since WW2. It was also the largest drop for the Tories at a by-election and the largest for any party since 1948. It was the worst Tory vote share in Wellingborough’s history, falling below the 25.4% they received in 1923.

3:28pm So another great UK by-election night for Labour and a dismal one for the Tories. I will cover the Feb 29 Rochdale by-election, which is interesting after the disendorsement of the Labour candidate. Before that, I will cover the Feb 24 South Carolina Republican primary, where Donald Trump looks set to effectively seal the Rep presidential nomination. Both these events occur the next day AEDT.

3:12pm Labour GAINS Wellingborough from the Tories by over 21 points. This seat went to the Tories by almost 37 points at the 2019 election. Another high vote for Reform, this time 13%.

2:46pm There’s a limited recount taking place in Wellingborough, just of two trays of votes, both on the same table.

1:53pm This was Reform’s best by-election result this term, easily beating 5% at Tamworth in October. The BBC reported at 1:40pm that the Wellingborough result should be soon.

12:56pm Labour GAINS Kingswood from the Tories, winning by 10% in a seat they lost by nearly 23% in 2019. Far-right Reform won 10.4% (new here).

12:26pm Unconfirmed reports from journalists that Labour has won Wellingborough. This is the more difficult one for Labour to win.

12:13pm Wellingborough turnout 38%, down from 64% at general election.

11:46am BBC live blog says turnout in Kingswood was 37%, down from 70% at the 2019 general election. Turnout is usually well down for a by-election.

11:39am Guardian says Wellingborough result expected about 3pm AEDT today, while Kingswood will be between 1pm and 4pm AEDT.

Guest post by Adrian Beaumont, who joins us from time to time to provide commentary on elections internationally. Adrian is a paid election analyst for The Conversation. His work for The Conversation can be found here, and his own website is here.

Polls close at 9am AEDT today for by-elections in the UK Conservative-held seats of Wellingborough and Kingswood. Wellingborough Conservative MP Peter Bone was suspended from parliament for six weeks in October over a male employee’s allegations of bullying and sexual misconduct.

An MP can be recalled if suspended for more than ten days, with a recall triggered if at least 10% of registered voters in the seat sign a petition, with the petition open for six weeks. Bone was recalled when 13% of voters in Wellingborough signed the petition. Recalled MPs can contest the by-election, but the Conservatives chose a new candidate. In 2019 Bone won Wellingborough by 62.2-26.5 over Labour with 7.9% for the Liberal Democrats.

Kingswood Conservative MP Chris Skidmore resigned from parliament in early January in protest over the UK government issuing more oil and gas licenses. In 2019 Skidmore won Kingswood by 56.2-33.4 over Labour with 6.9% Lib Dem.

While both seats should be safe for the Conservatives, they’ve lost safer seats at by-elections this term. Labour won the October 19 Tamworth by-election by 45.8-40.7 over the Conservatives. At the 2019 general election, the Conservatives had won Tamworth by 66.3-23.7 over Labour.

In UK national polls, Labour continues to be far ahead of the Conservatives. However, two polls taken in the last week gave Labour 11-12 point leads, down from the normal Labour lead range of 15-25 points. The next UK general election is likely to be held by late 2024, though it could be held as late as January 2025. It’s been a long time since the last UK general election in December 2019, when Boris Johnson led the Conservatives to a thumping victory.

There will be a by-election in Labour-held Rochdale on February 29 owing to the death of the previous MP. In an embarrassment for Labour, they were forced on Monday to disendorse their candidate after nominations had closed owing to comments he made implying that Israel knew of the October 7 Hamas attacks, but did nothing to stop them. Labour defeated the Conservatives by 51.6-31.2 in Rochdale in 2019, with 8.2% Brexit Party and 7.0% Lib Dem.

Pakistan, Finland, German and Tuvalu elections

Former Pakistani PM Imran Khan’s party was banned from running at the February 8 election, but independents linked to him won the most seats, but were far short of a majority. Of the 336 seats, 266 were elected by first-past-the-post, with a further 60 for women and ten for non-Muslims elected by proportional representation based on the number of FPTP seats won. On Tuesday, a coalition government was formed by various parties to shut out Khan.

At Sunday’s Finnish presidential runoff election, conservative Alexander Stubb defeated Green Pekka Haavisto by a 51.6-48.4 margin. Both candidates had qualified for the runoff by finishing top two in the January 28 first round.

A repeat of the 2021 German federal election was held Sunday in 455 of Berlin’s 2,256 polling booths owing to irregularities in the original election. The only change in seats was a one-seat loss for the pro-business FDP, with that seat also removed from the total number of MPs. The governing coalition of centre-left SPD, Greens and FDP retains a majority, but polls are bleak for them ahead of the late 2025 election.

Tuvalu’s previous government had been pro-Taiwan, but at the January 26 election the incumbent PM lost his seat. Tuvalu’s population is estimated to be just 11,900, but the China-Taiwan issue was significant internationally. There are no political parties, with all 16 parliamentarians elected as independents in eight two-member electorates representing the islands by FPTP.

US House special election and Indonesian election live

Can US Democrats gain George Santos’ former seat at a special election? Also: the right-wing Prabowa likely to win Indonesia’s presidential election.

Live Commentary

11:17am Thursday Wikipedia says quick counts gave Prabowa between 53.4% and 59.8%. In the official count, with 39% reporting, Prabowa has 56.0%. The legislative count is far less advanced than the presidential count.

7:44pm Al Jazeera reports that quick counts from all polls have Prabowa leading with 58% to 61% with 26% to 35% of votes counted. So Prabowa will be the next Indonesian president, winning a first round majority.

6:13pm From Al Jazeera, election law prevents publication of “quick counts” before 8am GMT (7pm AEDT). So we should get some quick count results, which have been accurate in the past, after that time.

5:31pm This is the Al Jazeera live results blog.

5:10pm All polls have now closed in Indonesia. Al Jazeera has a live blog, but no results so far. Preliminary results are expected to be released this evening.

4:11pm With 93% in, Suozzi’s margin drops slightly to 53.9-46.1. Biden won this district by 8.2% in 2020, so there’s virtually no swing from the Biden 2020 margin. The big swing is from Santos’ 53.8-46.2 win in 2022.

3:50pm Recycling this paragraph from the Intro for those getting carried away by the special election results: Democrats have been successful at state and federal by-elections (called “special” elections in the US) since the Supreme Court’s abortion ruling, overturning Roe vs Wade in June 2022. But New York Times analyst Nate Cohn says turnout at these by-elections is much lower than it will be at the general election this November. Voters who show up at by-elections are far more motivated by abortion than the general electorate.

2:57pm With 84% in overall, Suozzi leads by 54.2-45.8. 83% now counted in Nassau, and Suozzi is down to a 53-47 lead there. These latest results make the polls look more accurate.

2:35pm More results from Nassau (70% counted there now) reduce Suozzi’s overall lead to 55-45.

2:28pm It will actually be a 219-213 Rep House majority owing to a Dem’s resignation on Feb 2. There are special elections to come between late April and June to replace the two Reps and the Dem who have resigned.

2:07pm Race CALLED for Suozzi, and that’s a Dem gain, reducing the Rep House majority to 219-214. Should have put link to results in earlier.

2:04pm 45% of Nassau now in, and Suozzi leads there by 58-42 and overall by 59-41. Looks very good for Suozzi.

1:31pm Suozzi leads by 63-37 in Queens with 86% in and 51-49 in Nassau with 2% in. The large majority of this district is in Nassau, but counting is slow there.

1:16pm With 9% in, Suozzi (Dem) leads Pilip (Rep) by 63-37. However, the NYC borough of Queens has 60% counted already, with Suozzi up there by 63-37. There are few votes so far in the regional county of Nassau.

Guest post by Adrian Beaumont, who joins us from time to time to provide commentary on elections internationally. Adrian is a paid election analyst for The Conversation. His work for The Conversation can be found here, and his own website is here.

Polls close at 1pm AEDT today for a US federal by-election in New York’s third congressional district. I wrote in January that this seat was formerly held by Republican George Santos before he was expelled from the House of Representatives on December 1.

Santos had gained from the Democrats at the 2022 midterm elections, winning by a 53.8-46.2 margin. Joe Biden had won this seat against Donald Trump at the 2020 presidential election by an 8.2% margin.

The by-election candidates are Democrat Tom Suozzi and Republican Mazi Melesa Pilip. A mid-January Emerson College poll gave Suozzi a 45-42 lead over Pilip. Two early February polls from Emerson and Siena gave Suozzi three-to-four-point leads.

Republicans won the House in 2022 by a 222-213 margin, but there are currently three vacancies in Republican-held seats including this one. A Democratic win in this by-election would reduce the Republican House majority to 219-214.

Democrats have been successful at state and federal by-elections (called “special” elections in the US) since the Supreme Court’s abortion ruling, overturning Roe vs Wade in June 2022. But New York Times analyst Nate Cohn says turnout at these by-elections is much lower than it will be at the general election this November. Voters who show up at by-elections are far more motivated by abortion than the general electorate.

On February 8, Biden gave a press conference in response to a special counsel’s report on classified documents that had been found at his home. The line in the report that was most damaging to Biden described him as a “well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory”.

Most national polls have Trump leading Biden by single-digit margins for the general election. The US Electoral Vote system is likely to advantage Trump over national polls. Biden’s net approval in the FiveThirtyEight aggregate is -16.9, while Trump’s net favourability is -9.3.

Polls will close at 9am AEDT Friday for by-elections in two UK Conservative-held seats. I will have more on these by-elections in a separate post, and also more on recent international elections.

Updates on the presidential primaries

Republican presidential candidates in Nevada had to choose to contest either the February 6 primary or the February 8 caucus, which allocated all of Nevada’s delegates. Trump contested the caucus, while Nikki Haley contested the primary.

Nevada has a “none of these candidates” option on its ballot papers. In the primary, “none of these candidates” crushed Haley by 63–30. Trump won 99% in the Nevada caucus, where he was effectively unopposed. Trump leads Haley nationally by 76-18 in the FiveThirtyEight aggregate and by 65-32 in Haley’s home state of South Carolina, which holds its Republican primary February 24.

Biden won the February 3 South Carolina Democratic primary with 96% and the February 6 Nevada Democratic primary with 89%, and will easily win the Democratic presidential nomination.

Prabowo likely to win Indonesian election

I covered the presidential and legislative elections in Indonesia in January. If no presidential candidate wins a majority, there will be a June 26 runoff. The 580 lower house seats are elected by proportional representation in multi-member electorates with a 4% national threshold. Senatorial candidates cannot be members of a political party. Four senators are elected per province for a total of 152.

Indonesia spans three time zones, with polls closing between 3pm and 5pm AEDT today. This Al Jazeera article says a preliminary result is likely to be announced this evening, but the final results could take 35 days.

The latest polls all give Prabowa Subianto over 50%, so it’s likely that he wins outright today. Prabowa is the candidate of a religious and right-wing alliance who lost to incumbent president Joko Widodo in both the 2014 and 2019 elections. Gibran Rakabuming, the eldest child of Joko, is Prabowo’s running mate. The other two candidates are Ganjar Pranowo, who represents the secularist PDI-P (Joko’s party) and independent Anies Baswedan, the former governor of Jakarta.

Tasmanian election announcement announced

Assuming no last minute change of heart, Tasmanians will go the polls for an early election expected to be called today for March 23.

Tasmania is headed for an early election for the second term in a row, with Liberal Premier Jeremy Rockliff announcing yesterday that he will visit the Governor today to seek an election anticipated for March 23. This follows a breakdown in relations with former Liberal MPs John Tucker and Lara Alexander, who reduced the government to minority status when they quit to sit as independents last May. Rockliff has spent the last week attempting to extract from them a commitment only to vote for government-backed motions and amendments in parliament, which would have rendered them independents in name only.

This unexpected development will leave parties scrambling over the coming weeks to get slates of candidate in place for an election that will enlarge parliament from 25 seats to 35. Each of the five electoral divisions (the same ones that apply in the state at federal elections) will now elect seven rather than five members under the state’s Hare-Clark variant of proportional representation, returning to the situation which prevailed before 1998.

The change lowers the quota for election from 16.7% to 12.5%, making life substantially easier for minor parties. A desire to reduce the footprint of the Greens was the principal motivation for the cut in parliamentary numbers in 1998, but the minor party environment has grown more complex since that time. Tucker and Alexander joined a cross bench which, together with two Greens members, included Clark MP Kristie Johnston, who in 2021 became the first independent to win election since 1986.

There is also the question of the Jacqui Lambie Network, which at last report planned to field candidates in every division except Clark, and which was credited with 20% support by a YouGov poll conducted over New Year. However, it must reckon with the disappointing precedent of its attempt to establish itself in state politics in 2018, when promising early polling evaporated during the campaign period and it emerged empty-handed.

I hope to have a preliminary version of an election guide up later today or tomorrow, to which further detail will be added as more candidates are confirmed. On that front, local observer Kevin Bonham is keeping a running tally of all confirmed starters on his site.

Essential Research 2PP+: Labor 50, Coalition 46 (open thread)

More static poll results in the wake of the tax cuts revamp, of which more than half say they know little or nothing.

The fortnightly Essential Research poll adds to an overall picture of static voting intention despite the government’s income tax overhaul, with Labor down a point on the primary vote to 31%, the Coalition recording 34% for the sixth poll in a row, the Greens up a point to 14% and One Nation steady on 7%, with undecided steady on 5%. Respondent-allocated preferences nonetheless cause Labor to perk up a little on the pollster’s 2PP+ measure, which has Labor up two to 50% and the Coalition steady on 46% (again with 5% undecided), Labor’s biggest lead on this measure since the start of October.

The poll also includes the monthly leaders’ favourability ratings, with differ from the separate approval ratings in inviting respondents to rate the leaders on a scale of zero to ten. This gives Peter Dutton his strongest result so far, with a four-point increase among those rating him seven or higher to 32% and a four-point fall in those rating him three or lower to 33%. Anthony Albanese improves slightly from December, when he recorded the weakest results of his prime ministership, with 33% rating him seven or higher (up one) and 35% three or lower (down two).

Questions on the tax cut changes confirm what was already established in finding 56% in favour and 16% opposed, while telling us something new with respect to awareness of them: only 10% consider they know a lot about the changes, with 37% for a bit, 40% for hardly anything and 13% for nothing at all. The poll also found 59% per cent for the “right to disconnect” laws working their way through parliament with only 15% opposed. Other questions cover fuel efficiency standards, party most trusted on tax, the importance of keeping election promises and the ubiquitous Taylor Swift, who scores a non-recognition rating of 3%.

The weekly Roy Morgan poll has Labor’s two-party lead in from 53-47 to 52-48, but this is due to changes in respondent-allocated preferences rather than primary votes, on which Labor gains one-and-a-half points to 34.5% – its strongest showing from Morgan since October – with the Coalition and the Greens steady on 37% and 12% and One Nation down half a point to 4.5%. The poll was conducted Monday to Sunday from a sample of 1699.

In by-election news, of which there will be a fair bit to report over the next six weeks, the ballot paper draws were conducted yesterday for Queensland’s Inala and Ipswich West by-elections on March 16, which have respectively attracted eight and four candidates. Ipswich West is a rare no-show for the Greens, who are presumably more concerned with the same day’s Brisbane City Council elections. Further crowding the calendar is a looming state election in Tasmania, which is covered in the post above.