BludgerTrack: 52.5-47.5 to Labor

Not much doing in the one published poll to emerge since the start of the election campaign, reflected in a stable reading from the BludgerTrack poll aggregate.

Despite the onset of the election campaign, there is only one new data point to add to BludgerTrack this week, which is a status quo 52-48 result from Newspoll that has duly little effect on the national vote trends. Such movement as there is is away from One Nation and towards the Coalition on the primary vote, with next to no impact on two-party preferred or the seat projection, where the Coalition makes a single gain in Victoria.

Since there is no new state-level data this week, the breakdowns continue to record an unnatural looking lurch to the Coalition in New South Wales, which I would want to see corroborated by more data. The leadership trends are interesting in that an upswing in Scott Morrison’s net approval has returned him, just barely, to net positive territory. The effect on preferred prime minister is more modest, but there appears to be a slight trend in his favour there too.

However, the biggest news in BludgerTrack this week as far as I’m concerned is that a helpful reader has told me how to fix the bug that was preventing the state breakdown tabs from working much of the time. If this was causing you grief before, there is a very good chance it will not be doing so if you try again now, which you can do through the link below.

Campaign updates: Bass, Chisholm et al.

A private poll turns up a surprisingly strong result for the Liberals in the Labor-held Tasmanian state of Bass, while a Liberal candidate stumbles in a key Melbourne marginal seat.

Latest electorate-level campaign news updates for the Poll Bludger election guide:

The Australian reports a uComms/ReachTEL poll for the Australian Forest Products Association gives the Liberals a surprise 54-46 lead in Bass, the north-eastern Tasmanian seat that has changed hands at seven of the last nine elections, most recently in favour of Labor incumbent Ross Hart in 2016. The primary votes from the poll are Liberal 42.8%, Labor 32.6% and Greens 10%, though I would guess the balance includes an undecided component of around 6% that hasn’t been distributed. The two-party result suggests a much more favourable flow of preferences to the Liberals than in 2016, when Labor received fully 89.2% of Greens preferences as well as about 55% from the other two candidates. That would have converted the primary votes in the poll to a two-party total more like 51-49. The poll was conducted on Monday night from a sample of 847.

Rachel Baxendale of The Australian reports Labor is “distributing postal vote application forms across the blue-ribbon Liberal seats of Goldstein and Higgins for the first time ever”. As for the Liberals’ assessment of the situation in Victoria, you can take your pick between reports yesterday from The Australian and the Daily Telegraph. The former spoke of the Liberals “becoming less pessimistic about a wipeout”, with optimists speaking of the loss of two to four seats. But according to the latter, “the Coalition fears its losses will be worse than it expected before the campaign began”, to the extent of being “seriously concerned about the loss of up to eight seats”.

• The Melbourne seat of Chisholm has been much in the news over the past few days, partly on account of Liberal candidate Gladys Liu’s overreach as she sought to bat off a question about her views on gender identity and same-sex marriage. Liu helped organise anti-Labor activity on popular Chinese language social media service WeChat at the 2016 election, much of it relating to the Safe Schools program, as she discussed at the time with Doug Hendrie of The Guardian. Confronted over her comments to Hendrie, Liu appeared to claim his report was “fake news”, and that she had been pointing to views that existed within the Chinese community rather than associating with them herself. However, Hendrie provided the ABC with a recording that showed Liu had been less careful on this point than she remembered. Thomas O’Brien of Sky News reported yesterday that a planned interview with Liu as part of its electorate profile had been cancelled by party headquarters, following earlier efforts to insist she not be questioned about the matter.

• Gladys Liu’s comments on Sunday were made at an Australian-first candidates’ debate conducted in Mandarin, the first language of Labor’s Taiwanese-born candidate Jennifer Yang, but only a third language of Liberal candidate Gladys Liu, who identifies her first languages as English and Cantonese. Rachel Baxendale of The Australian quoted a Labor strategist saying they expected Liu “use Ms Yang’s Taiwanese heritage against her with mainland Chinese voters”, but also indicates that Labor has a better handle on the importance of WeChat than it did in 2016. The service was also much discussed during the New South Wales state election campaign, with respect to the controversy generated by Labor leader Michael Daley’s statements of concern about the impact of Asian immigration on the employment and housing markets.

• Leaning heavily on the passive voice, a report in The Australian today says it is “understood” Labor polling shows it is unlikely to gain the regional Queensland seats of Capricornia, Flynn and Dawson, in addition to facing a “growing threat” in its own seat of Herbert.

Odds and sods

Betting odds continue to point towards a sweeping Labor victory, even as intelligence from both sides of politics suggests a much tighter contest.

Speaking on RN Breakfast on Friday, Ben Oquist of progressive think tank the Australia Institute voiced the beltway consensus that “the bookies have got this one wrong at the moment – they’re forecasting a much bigger Labor victory than anybody seems to be predicting”. Betting markets at first appeared to respond, if not to Oquist specifically, then to the view coming through in media reports that both major parties were expecting a tight contest. Labrokes was offering $5 on a Coalition on Thursday, but by Sunday this was in to $3.50. Then came Newspoll, showing Labor maintaining its lead, and the Coalition blew back out to $4.50.

The individual seat markets have been more consistent, pointing to a Labor landslide of even greater dimensions than the one currently projected by BludgerTrack, which I would have thought quite a bit too favourable for Labor, particularly in Queensland. Ladbrokes rates Labor as favourites in five Coalition-held seats in New South Wales (Banks, Gilmore, Page, Reid and Robertson), four in Victoria (Chisholm, Corangamite, Deakin and Dunkley), three in Western Australia (Hasluck, Pearce and Swan), one in South Australia (Boothby), and a Kevin Rudd-equalling nine in Queensland (Bonner, Brisbane, Capricornia, Dawson, Dickson, Flynn, Forde, Leichhardt and Petrie).

There has been some movement to the Coalition in the seat markets, notably in Flinders, where Liberal member Greg Hunt has edged to very narrow favouritism. Other significant movements have been recorded in the Liberals’ favour in Banks ($3.50 to $2.25), Lindsay ($3.50 to $2.05), Page ($2.40 to $1.90), Lyons ($5.50 to $4), Chisholm ($5 to $3.75), although Labor remains favourites in each. However, there has actually been movement in Labor’s favour in Gilmore, where they are in from $1.30 to $1.18, with Liberal out from $4.50 to $4.75.

Of the independent contenders, Albury mayor Ken Mack is rated equally likely to succeed against Liberal member Sussan Ley in Farrer as Zali Steggall is against Tony Abbott in Warringah, each offering a payout of $2.00. Both are trumped by Rob Oakeshott in Cowper, the most highly fancied non-incumbent independent at $1.75. In Mallee, where Andrew Broad of the Nationals is retired hurt, Ladbrokes is offering $3 for an independent to win, be it Ray Kingston, Cecilia Moar or Jason Modica. (Sportsbet has it at $4.75). Dave Sharma is favoured to recover Wentworth for the Liberals from Kerryn Phelps, with the two respectively at $1.57 and $2.30.

Among the many features of the Poll Bludger election guide, you can find Ladbrokes’ seat odds listed on the bottom right of each of the electorate pages, which are linked to individually throughout this post.

New South Wales election one more time

Final results for the New South Wales Legislative Council: David Leyonhjelm of the Liberal Democrats misses out, Mark Latham has company with a second One Nation member elected, Animal Justice gains a second seat, and a nearly four decade winning streak ends for the Christian Democrats.

No details results yet that I’m aware of, but the button has been pushed on the New South Wales upper house count, and the last two seats that seemed in doubt to me at the time of my previous post on Wednesday have gone to One Nation’s second candidate and Animal Justice’s first. Those in the hunt who missed out are, notably, David Leyonhjelm of the Liberal Democrats, along with the Christian Democrats, who together with their predecessor Call to Australia had hitherto won a seat at every election since 1981, and Keep Sydney Open.

The overall result is eight seats for the Coalition, seven for Labor, two for the Greens and One Nation and one each for Shooters Fishers and Farmers and Animal Justice. Combined with the 21 members carrying over from the previous election, the numbers in the Legislative Council are Coalition 17, Labor 14, Greens four (UPDATE: make that three and one independent, owing to Justin Field’s resignation – hat tip to GhostWhoVotes), One Nation two, Shooters Fishers and Farmers two, Animal Justice two and Christian Democrats one.

UPDATE: Distribution of preferences here.

Newspoll: 52-48 to Labor

The first published opinion poll of the campaign records no change in Labor’s modest yet decisive lead.

The Australian brings us a second Newspoll in consecutive weeks, perhaps portending weekly results from now to the election. It shows no change from last week on two-party preferred, with Labor maintaining its 52-48 lead, but both major parties are up on the primary vote – Labor by two and the Coalition by one, leaving them tied on 39%. The Greens are steady on 9% and One Nation are, interestingly, down two to 4%. All we are told of the leaders’ ratings at this stage is that they are “virtually unchanged”. Scott Morrison is unchanged on 45% approval and up one to 44% disapproval; Bill Shorten is unchanged on both measures, at 37% and 51%; and preferred prime minister is likewise unchanged, at 46-35 in favour of Morrison. The poll was conducted Thursday to Sunday from a sample of 1697.

Election minus five weeks

Candidates on both sides of the aisle drop out of contention, Peter Dutton suffers a self-inflicted wound in Dickson, and Shooters Fishers and Farmers rein in their expectations.

Two days in the campaign, and already much to relate:

• Labor’s audacious gambit of running former Fremantle MP Melissa Parke in Curtin has proved short-lived, after a controversy brewed over comments she had made critical of Israel. Parke announced her withdrawal after the Herald Sun presented the Labor campaign with claims she had told a meeting of WA Labor for Palestine that she could “remember vividly” – presumably not from first-hand experience – a pregnant refugee being ordered to drink bleach at a Gaza checkpoint. Parke is also said to have spoken of Israel’s “influence in our political system and foreign policy”, no doubt bringing to the party hierarchy’s mind the turmoil that has lately engulfed the British Labour Party in relation to such matters. In her statement last night, Parke said her views were “well known, but I don’t want them to be a running distraction from electing a Labor government”. James Campbell of the Herald Sun notes the forum was also attended by Parkes’ successor in Fremantle, Josh Wilson.

• Meanwhile, Liberal Party vetting processes have caused the withdrawal on Section 44 grounds of three candidates in who-cares seats in Melbourne. They are Cooper candidate Helen Jackson, who dug her heels in when told her no-chance candidacy required her to abandon her job at Australia Post, so that the integrity of executive-legislative relations might be preserved; Lalor candidate Kate Oski, who is in danger of being Polish; and Wills candidate Vaishali Ghosh, who was, as The Age put it in a report I hope no one from overseas reads, “forced to step aside over her Indian heritage”.

• Peter Dutton has been under fire for his rhetorical overreach against Ali France, the Labor candidate in his marginal seat of Dickson. Dutton accused France, who had her leg amputated after being hit by a car in 2011, of “using her disability as an excuse” for not moving into the electorate. France lives a short distance outside it, and points to the $100,000 of her compensation money she has spent making her existing home fully wheelchair accessible. Labor has taken the opportunity to point to Dutton’s failed attempt from 2009 to move to the safer seat of McPherson on the Gold Coast, where he owns a $2.3 million beachside holiday home, and by all accounts spends a great deal of his time. Dutton refused to apologise for the comments yesterday, while Scott Morrison baselessly asserted that they were taken out of context.

Greg Brown of The Australian reports Robert Borsak, leader of Shooters Fishers and Farmers and one of the party’s state upper house MPs, concedes the party is struggling to recruit candidates, and will not repeat its state election feat of winning seats in the lower house. Nonetheless, it has Orange deputy mayor Sam Romano lined up as its candidate for Calare and plans to run in Eden-Monaro, Parkes and possibly New England. This follows suggestions the party might pose a threat to the Nationals in Parkes and Farrer, which largely correspond with the state seats of Barwon and Murray, which the party won at last month’s state election. Calare encompasses Orange, which Shooters have held since a November 2016 by-election.

• “I don’t trust our polling at all”, says “a senior federal Liberal MP” cited by John Ferguson in The Australian, apropos the party’s prospects in Victoria. It is not clear if the source was being optimistic or pessimistic, but the report identifies a range of opinion within the Liberal camp extending from only two or three losses in Victoria – likewise identified as a “worst case scenario” by Labor sources – to as many as seven.