Freshwater Strategy: 50-50 (open thread)

Level pegging from the Financial Review’s Freshwater Strategy poll, which records only very slight changes on last month.

Newspoll has not reported according to the three-week schedule it usually observers, but the Financial Review fills the void with the monthly Freshwater Strategy poll. This records a tie on two-party preferred after a 51-49 result in favour of Labor last time, but it’s based on only the slightest changes on the primary vote, with Labor steady on 31%, the Coalition up one on 40% and the Greens down one on 13%. Anthony Albanese is up a point on approval to 38% and steady on disapproval at 45%, Peter Dutton is up two to 32% and down two to 41%, and Albanese’s lead as preferred prime minister narrows from 47-38 to 45-39. The poll was conducted Friday to Sunday from a sample of 1055.

Cook by-election live

Live coverage of the count for the Cook by-election.

Click here for full display of Cook by-election results.

7.33pm. Most booths have reported now on both the primary and two-candidate preferred, and with the Liberal primary vote at over 60% and the two-candidate preferred over 70%, there’s not much to commentate on.

6.53pm. Four booths in on the primary vote and one in on TCP, and my Liberal win probability is as expected now at 100%. The Greens are running a clear second so the AEC got it right on the two-candidate preferred count.

6.43pm. The first result in is 262 formal votes from Miranda South, 57.6% of which have gone to the Liberals. This gets my Liberal win probability to 86%, which you can rest assured will get to 100% with a few more results in.

6.00pm. Welcome to the Poll Bludger’s coverage of the Cook by-election count. The link above is to a page featuring updated results, including full booth details in both tabular and map display (click on the button at the bottom of the page for the latter) and swing-based projections and probability estimates. The main chart displays on the top right are also be shown at the top of this post. A Liberal win here should be a formality, but for what it’s worth, the Australian Electoral Commission will be conducting its indicative two-candidate preferred count between the Liberals and the Greens. This post will offer live commentary as the results come through, the first of which I imagine will be in a bit before 7pm.

UK local elections minus three weeks

The Conservatives are set to suffer large losses at UK local elections. Also covered: other recent and upcoming elections.

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.

UK local government elections will be held on May 2. Owing to COVID, there were no elections in 2020, so the large majority of the seats up were last contested in 2021. At the 2021 local elections, the Conservatives under Boris Johnson had a big win. With national polls now showing a huge Labour lead, the Conservatives are virtually certain to suffer large losses.

Local elections are contested on a four-year cycle, with different wards up every year. Some years are more Conservative-leaning and others Labour-leaning. The BBC’s Projected National Share (PNS) attempts to correct for bias in the particular year. In 2021, the Conservatives won the PNS by 36-29 over Labour with 17% for the Liberal Democrats. In 2023, Labour won by 35-26 with 20% Lib Dems.

The biggest prize at these elections is the London mayoralty. Previously, mayors were elected by preferential voting, but the Conservative government regressed to first-past-the-post. Labour incumbent Sadiq Khan, who is running for a third term, has a large lead over Conservative Susan Hall. These local elections will be the last before the general election, which is likely to be held in late 2024, though it could be delayed until January 2025.

There will also be a parliamentary by-election on May 2 in Conservative-held Blackpool South. Former Conservative MP Scott Benton resigned on March 25, while a six-week petition to recall him after he was suspended from parliament for 35 days was ongoing. The recall petition was to close on April 22, with at least 10% of registered voters needed. The Conservatives gained Blackpool South from Labour at the 2019 election, winning by a 49.6-38.3 margin with 6.1% for the Brexit Party.

Other upcoming elections

The US general election will be held on November 5. I covered the upcoming US and UK elections for The Conversation on March 19. Since this article, Joe Biden’s net approval in the FiveThirtyEight aggregate has improved from -16.8 to -15.4, while Donald Trump’s net favourability has slipped from -9.7 to -10.2. National general election polls are close to even between Trump and Biden, an improvement for Biden. However, Trump is probably advantaged by the Electoral College system.

The Indian election takes place in seven stages, from April 19 to June 1. No interim results will be released, with vote counting set for June 4. The 543 MPs are elected by FPTP. The right-wing alliance of PM Narendra Modi, who is running for a third successive term, has a high-single to double-digit lead in polls.

The European parliament election will be held from June 6-9, with vote counting starting once all countries have finished voting. The 720 seats are elected using proportional representation in each EU country. Far-right parties are expected to make gains.

Recent elections

The 230 Portuguese MPs are elected by PR in multi-member electorates. At the March 10 election, which was held early owing to scandals in the governing Socialists, the conservative AD won 80 seats (up three since the last election in 2022), the centre-left Socialists 78 seats (down 42) and the far-right Chega 50 seats (up 38). The AD has formed a minority government.

The final results for the February 14 Indonesian election have been released. In the presidential election, Prabowa Subianto, who represented an alliance of right-wing and Islamist parties, won 58.6% of the vote, far ahead of his nearest opponent who had 25.0%. By winning a majority, Prabowa avoided a runoff.

In legislative elections, the 580 seats were elected by PR in multi-member electorates with a 4% national threshold. While the centre-left Democratic Party of Struggle won the most seats, it lost 18 seats to fall to 110, while right-wing and Islamist parties all made gains. There’s a clear majority for right-wing and Islamist parties.

Two Irish referendums were held on March 8, and both were heavily defeated. The first referendum proposed to expand the definition of family to include durable relationships outside marriage, and it lost by 67.7-32.3. The second referendum proposed to replace references to women’s “life within the home” with gender-neutral language on supporting care within the family; this lost by 73.9-26.1.  Perhaps as a result of these defeats, Leo Varadkar announced on March 20 that he would resign as Taoiseach (PM).

Polls: Essential Research, Morgan and more (open thread)

Essential Research finds Labor taking the lead, Roy Morgan does the opposite, YouGov has results on deportations policy, and uComms suggests no surprises at Saturday’s Cook by-election

The fortnightly Essential Research poll has Labor recovering a lead on the 2PP+ measure after a distinctly poor result last time, with Labor up four to 48% and the Coalition down four to 46%. However, Labor remains at its lowest ebb for the term of 29% on the primary vote, with the Coalition down two to 34%, the Greens up three 14%, and One Nation down one to 6%. For both measures, undecided is steady at 6%.

A regular question on the economic outlook finds an eight point drop since February in the expectation that conditions will get worse over the next twelve months to 48% and a two point rise in expectations of improvement to 21%. Further questions focus on housing, including a finding that 51% support removing “tax concessions like negative gearing and capital gains tax discounts for property investors”, with only 19% opposed, and 40% wanting lower house prices against 15% for higher and 45% for “stabilised”. The poll was conducted Thursday to Sunday from 1165.

The Essential poll also asked about the two specifics of the government’s deportation bill that was blocked in the Senate last week, with 51% support for one-year prison terms for non-citizens who refused to co-operate with deportation against 17% opposed, and 50% support for blacklisting countries that refuse to accept deportees from further visa applications against 14% opposed. However, a poll published yesterday by YouGov found only 31% support for the government having “the power to ban all visa applications from a particular country” when the alternative option was to “treat all visa applications on an individual merit basis regardless of country origin”, support for which was 60%. The YouGov poll was conducted March 29 to April 6 from a sample of 1517.

The weekly Roy Morgan poll contradicts Essential Research in finding the Coalition leading for first time since its first poll for the year, with a 51-49 Labor lead last week making way for a 50.5-49.5 lead to the Coalition. The primary votes are Labor 29.5% (down half), Coalition 38% (up half), Greens 13.5% (down two) and One Nation 6% (up two-and-a-half). The poll was conducted Monday to Sunday from a sample of 1731.

The Australian Institute has a uComms poll for Saturday’s Cook by-election, which unsurprisingly finds Simon Kennedy assured of retaining the seat for the Liberals. After distribution of a forced-response follow-up for the initially undecided, the primary votes are 52.8% for Kennedy, 17.3% for the Greens, 11.7% for independent Roger Woodward, 8.0% for Animal Justice, 5.7% for Sustainable Australia and 4.4% for the Libertarian Party, with Kennedy leading the Greens 65-35 on two-party preferred. There were also numerous attitudinal questions, including a finding that 51.2% rated former member Scott Morrison’s legacy as prime minister as good against 43.6% for poor. The poll was conducted March 28 from a sample of 914.

Tasmanian election endgame

A down-to-the-wire preference count in Braddon adds yet more interest to the Tasmanian election result.

Click here for full display of Tasmanian first preference results.


Craig Garland has won the final seat in Braddon reasonably comfortably with 7861 votes after preferences, or 11.1% of the total, to fourth Liberal Giovanna Simpson on 6481, or 9.1%. So the Liberals emerge with 14 seats against ten for Labor, five for the Greens, three for the Jacqui Lambie Network and three independents, which will leave the Liberals relying on both the Jacqui Lambie Network and at least one independent, none of whom are natural ideological allies, to keep the show on the road.


The odds on independent Craig Garland reducing the Liberals to 14 seats by winning the last seat in Braddon continue to shorten. As things presently stand, three seats remain to be decided between six candidates left in the count. One is certain to go to Labor’s Shane Broad, who is 67 votes short of a quota, and another to Miriam Beswick of the Jacqui Lambie Network, who will be elected when party colleague James Redgrave is excluded, the two between them having 917 votes to spare over a quota. Darren Briggs of the Greens, presently on 4901 votes, will then go out. With the distribution of these preferences, Garland will need to close a gap of 5870 to 5479 against the remaining Liberal, Giovanna Simpson. The assessment of Antony Green is that “there are certain to be enough preferences for Garland to gain the required votes to pass Simpson”.


The Tasmanian Electoral Commission is now at a fairly advanced stage of conducting its preference distributions, results for which it unusually reports progressively rather than having a computerised system that calculates it all in one hit. These can be found only on the TEC’s site – the numbers shown on my own results facility, linked to above, are finalised first preferences.

This process has made the result look still more interesting, shortening the odds on the Liberals finishing with 14 seats rather than the generally anticipated 15, with Labor on ten, the Greens on five, the Jacqui Lambie Network on three and two independents. In doubt is one seat in Braddon that could either go to a fourth Liberal, which would get them to 15, or Craig Garland, putting independents at three. What follows is my summary of the situation in each of the five divisions, listed this time in order of interest rather than alphabetically.

Braddon. My assessment shortly after the election was that the Liberals would win four, Labor two and the Jacqui Lambie Network one, “barring some impressive preference-gathering from independent Craig Garland on 0.40 quotas or a late-count surprise for the Greens on 0.52”, potentially reducing the Liberals to three and making the parliament yet more unpredictable. The progress of the count so far has shortened the odds on the first of these scenarios coming to pass, with Garland enjoying such strong preferences from Shooters and leakage from excluded Greens candidates that Antony Green now rates him “favoured to win”.

Garland was outpolled by the collective Greens ticket by 4728 to 3637, but now leads the only Greens candidate remaining in the race by 5118 to 4632. With two Liberals elected and two excluded, their three remaining candidates have a combined 14834, 8875 of which will be used to elect Roger Jaensch, leaving 5959 to spare, some of which will leak when the next Liberal is excluded. Garland, meanwhile, should be further boosted as the one Greens and two Labor candidates are excluded.

What is clear in Braddon is that Liberal incumbents Jeremy Rockliff, Felix Ellis and Roger Jaensch will be returned (the first two having already done so) and incumbents Anita Dow and Shane Broad will win the two Labor seats. None of the three JLN candidates has been excluded yet, but it is clear that Craig Cutts soon will be. His preferences will decide the winner between Miriam Beswick on 3612 and James Redgrave on 3325. Based on the JLN’s form elsewhere, it would be unusual for these preferences to overturn an existing lead.

Bass. It is clear the result here will be three Liberal (Michael Ferguson, Rob Fairs and one to be determined), two Labor (Michelle O’Byrne and Janie Finlay), one Greens (Cecily Rosol) and one Jacqui Lambie Network (to be determined). The front-runners for the third Liberal seat are incumbent Simon Wood and Julie Sladden. Preferences so far have favoured Wood, who has added 1457 to a primary vote of 1949 to reach 3406, over Sladden, who has added 930 to 1747 to reach 2677, and will presumably continue to do so. Similarly, in the race for the Jacqui Lambie Network seat, first preference leader Rebekah Pentland has added 1165 to 2409 to reach 3574 while Angela Armstrong has added 1057 to 2033 to reach 3090, which probably leaves Portland home and hosed.

Clark. My post-election assessment was that Labor had a chance of winning a third seat at the expense of either independent incumbent Kristie Johnston or second Greens contender Helen Burnet, but I may have been out on a limb even then. It now appears clear that the result will be Labor two (incumbent Ella Haddad and former upper house member Josh Willie), Liberal two (incumbents Simon Behrakis and Madeleine Ogilvie, the latter seeing off a threat from Liberal rival Marcus Vermey on preferences), Greens two (incumbent Vica Bayley and the aforementioned Helen Burnet) and independents one (Kristie Johnston).

Lyons. As seemed likely from the beginning, the result here is three Liberal (incumbents Guy Barnett and Mark Shelton and former upper house member Jane Howlett), two Labor (Rebecca White and Jen Butler), Greens one (Tabatha Badger) and Jacqui Lambie Network one (preferences for the first excluded Lesley Pyecroft seemingly deciding the result for Andrew Jenner over Troy Pfitzner, the two having been closely matched on first preferences).

Franklin. The only vague doubt here after election night was which of the Labor newcomers would win the party’s second seat, and preferences have confirmed that it will be Meg Brown, as always seemed likely. The result is duly three Liberal (former Senator Eric Abetz, Jacquie Petrusma making a comeback, and incumbent Nic Street) two Labor (Dean Winter and Meg Brown), one Greens (Rosalie Woodruff) and one independent (former Labor leader David O’Byrne).

Morgan: 51-49 to Labor (open thread)

The weekly Roy Morgan brings Labor slightly good news on two-party preferred, but bad news on the primary vote.

There being nothing else on in the world of polling this week, the weekly Roy Morgan gets a rare guernsey. After a tied result last time, Labor recovers a two-party preferred lead of 51-49, despite equalling their worst primary vote result for the term, down one-and-a-half to 30%. The Coalition is also down half a point, to 37.5%, with Labor’s two-party result benefiting from a one-and-a-half point rise in the Greens to 15.5%, their equal best result for the term, and a one point drop for One Nation to 3.5%. The poll was conducted last Monday to Sunday from a sample of 1677.

Newspoll quarterly breakdowns: January to March (open thread)

A quarterly aggregation of Newspoll results suggests a deterioration in Labor’s standing in Western Australia and among the 18-to-35 age cohort.

My diagnosis of a quiet week for polling hadn’t reckoned on Newspoll’s quarterly breakdowns, brought to you by The Australian. The headline-grabber here is Western Australia: whereas the other mainland states record changes in two-party preferred no greater than one point either way, Labor has gone from leading 54-46 to trailing 51-49 in the State of Excitement, for a swing to the Coalition of 6% off the 2022 result. However, the sample would have been below 400, putting the margin of error north of 5%. Elsewhere, New South Wales has gone from 51-49 in favour of Labor to 50-50 (a Coalition swing of about 1.5%); Victoria is unchanged at 55-45 to Labor (also little changed from 2022); the Coalition’s lead in Queensland has narrowed from 54-46 to 53-47 (a 1% swing to Labor); and Labor’s lead in South Australia has narrowed from 55-45 to 54-46 (unchanged from 2022).

Two other movements stand out: Labor’s lead among the 18-to-34 cohort is in from 66-34 to 61-39, which reflects parallel five-point movements in both major parties’ primary vote share rather than anything to do with the Greens, who are in fact down a point and no longer lead the Coalition; and its lead among non-English speakers is in from 60-40 to 55-45. The gender gap has re-emerged, with an aberrant 53-47 lead to Labor among men last time making way for 50-50 this time, while Labor’s lead among women is out from 52-48 to 53-47.

These results are compiled from three Newspoll surveys conducted between January 31 and March 22, from an overall sample of 3691.

Easter miscellany: hate speech polling and Liberal preselections latest (open thread)

Five federal Liberal preselection sorted, a vacancy opened, and a change in the party balance of the Senate.

A lean period of polling awaits, given the interruption of Easter and the no doubt related fact that every single pollster in the business unloaded results last week. If you’re desperate, Nine Newspapers has further results from last week’s Resolve Strategic poll finding 56% support for “stronger laws to ban hate speech on the basis of religion and faith”, with 19% opposed; 74% in favour of criminal penalties for “doxxing”, with 4% opposed; and 57% saying there had been a rise in racism and religious intolerance “as a result of the Israel-Gaza conflit”, with 15% disagreeing.

Other news:

Troy Dodds of the Western Weekender reports that Melissa McIntosh, the Liberal member for the marginal outer western Sydney seat of Lindsay, has secured preselection after the withdrawal of Penrith deputy mayor Mark Davies. The expectation that Davies would have the numbers in conservative-dominated local branches to topple McIntosh had been a source of consternation among the party leadership, with Paul Sakkal of the Sydney Morning Herald reporting earlier this month on “the prospect of a rare federal division intervention in the NSW branch” if the challenge went ahead. McIntosh was promoted from the shadow assistant ministry to outer shadow ministry status in a recent reshuffle.

• Tim Wilson won a Liberal preselection vote for Goldstein last week, setting up a rematch with teal independent Zoe Daniel, to whom he lost the seat he had held since 2016 in 2022. Wilson won the local party vote ahead of Colleen Harkin, research fellow at the Institute of Public Affairs, and Stephanie Hunt, lawyer and former staffer to Julie Bishop and Marise Payne. Paul Sakkal of The Age reports Wilson won a second round vote ahead of Harkin “by about 160-130”.

• Amelia Hamer, a former staffer to then Financial Services Minister Jane Hume who has more recently worked for financial technology start-up Airwallex, has won the Liberal preselection vote for the Melbourne seat of Kooyong, which teal independent Monique Ryan won from Josh Frydenberg in 2022. The Australian reports Hamer won the party vote by 233 to 59 ahead of Rochelle Pattison, director of an asset management and corporate finance firm and chair of Transgender Victoria.

• Former state government minister Andrew Constance has again won Liberal preselection for Gilmore, where he narrowly failed in a bid to unseat Labor’s Fiona Phillips in 2022. Constance won a party vote by 80 to 69 over Paul Ell, lawyer, Shoalhaven councillor and long-standing hopeful for the seat who was persuaded to stand aside in favour of Constance in 2022.

The Australian’s Feeding the Chooks column reports that Margaret Forrest, a commercial and criminal law barrister, has been preselected as the Liberal National Party candidate for the Brisbane seat of Ryan, which the party lost to Elizabeth Watson-Brown of the Greens in 2022.

• Rowan Ramsey, who has held the regional South Australian seat of Grey for the Liberals since 2007, has announced he will retire at the next election.

• Tammy Tyrell, who won a second Senate seat for the Jacqui Lambie Network at the 2022 election, quit the party last week. Tyrell issued a statement saying the move was made on Lambie’s suggestion, saying it had “become clear to me that I no longer have the confidence” of the party.

• I have a page up for the Cook federal by-election, to be held on April 13.