Nowhere fast

The Sydney Morning Herald has just previewed a poll to be published tomorrow which shows Labor leading 57-43 in New South Wales. This hardens my impression that, for all the government’s extensive list of negatives, the Coalition will make very few inroads at the March 24 election. I will now set to work on charts tracking opinion poll results through the current term and add them to this post when I have finished. In the meantime, you might like to take another look at my election guide: seats on the Labor side of the table down to and including Heathcote have been brought up to date with photos, further candidate information and, in some cases, analyses of booth variations.

UPDATE: It’s even worse for the Coalition in Newspoll – Labor leads 59-41, "its best result on the two-party preferred measure since the eve of former premier Bob Carr’s third election victory in March 2003".

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.

104 comments on “Nowhere fast”

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  1. All I can say is wow

    Will need to look at first prefs tomorrow and how Nielsen distributed prefs for the TPP result.

    Still suspect big other vote, which would be difficult to preference in a poll…

    Still Debnam looks stuffed

  2. WOW! I’m a little shocked! I can accept Labor is ahead, but not by this much!
    The print media and radio in Sydney are running very heavily against Iemma, and they can’t believe Debnam would be that far behind in the polls. It goes to show that perhaps Cross City Tunnels and traffic jams aren’t major electoral issues after all.

  3. If Iemma wins with this margin this surely would prompt a serious rethink amongst some of the commentariat over what is going on in Australian politics. There still seems a vast under-estimation of the profound realignment underway. The fact is that elections are becoming about one thing only – provision of public services and Labor has a natural advantage that the Libs can never take away.

  4. I think NSW state Labor will do better than expected on election day. Labor could pick up Terrigal. Oddly enough an another landslide for NSW state Labor is bad news for Kevin Rudd. Voters in NSW especially like to split their vote in federal and state elections.

  5. This poll result is not a surprise to me. I believe the IR laws are biting hard. Ever since they were introduced governments that should have been severely challenged at election time were returned easily. It is also for this reason that I don’t think having a State Labor government will deter people from voting Labor federally. In fact they will punish the party that introduced these laws. What else can it be? Yes, the Libs in the states are not strong but when people are angry or had enough that wouldn’t stop them from voting for the other side even just as a protest vote.

  6. Evan Says:
    February 26th, 2007 at 6:32 pm

    WOW! I’m a little shocked! I can accept Labor is ahead, but not by this much!

    “Stunned him just as he was waking up…..”

    Err….. didn’t I say exactly the same yesterday? [see above]. With the Nielsen result added to the pot, the graphical prediction for a TPP inches up to 59.1% TPP, a swing of 2.9% to the ALP. “Droop” [also see above] might occur, but, if it’s a repeat of 2003 (no sign of this yet), the end results will be 55.7% TPP, a negligible swing on 2003.

    To help William with his calcs, I am sending him all this data.

  7. Adam Says:

    February 26th, 2007 at 10:13 pm
    “As I have said before, the best thing that could happen for Rudd would be for all six state Labor governments to lose office.”

    I see again we get this old chestnut that people will vote one way for state and one for federal to explain the all-Labor-state thing. When did this supposedly sophisticated practice of voting one way for state and another for federal begin? It wasn’t a feature of the 1990s, 1980s, 1970s 1960s 1950s 1940s ….

  8. Yes it was, Cred. In the 1970s NSW voters happily voted for Fraser in 1975, Wran in 76, Fraser in 77, Wran in 78, Fraser in 80 and Wran in 81. But now it’s become much more widespread. I haven’t done the sums, but there must be a million people who voted for Howard in 2004 but Labor in their last state election.

  9. Adam, bit NSW-centric to use the 1970s isn’t? If there was ever a decade that disproves the divergence theory was then. Victoria was happily Liberal in the 1970s, SA almost went Lib in 1975, ALP was destroyed in Queensland in 1974 and so was Tonkin in WA.
    We can always find examples of opposite trends but generally the trend has been concurrency not divergence. (ALP split 1950s hit state and federal. ALP modernisation in late 1960s benefited state and federal, revamped ALP in early 1980s benefited state and federal).
    The point is that explaining voting behaviour by saying that people are voting one way state and another federal is not saying very much at all.

  10. Everyone I know votes the same State and Fed, though differently for upper and lower.

    A more reasonable explanation for different state/fed governments is the state of the party structure.

    Look at Rann, Beattie, Bracks, Bacon/Lennon, Carr and Howard. All of them had/have strong structural support behind them plus are arguably some of the best political minds around.

    Now look at their opposition. For the most part they were all handed victory by an opposition full of infighting.
    Vic 02 and 06
    Qld see the claims about who would lead the coalition.
    Howard faced hopeless opposition except it wasn’t really the opposition who lost in 2001 after Tampa and Sept 11. I doubt anyone could have changed that result.

    But now Howard faces a largely focused, organised opposition with a leadership team better then his.

    If he wins it will be by either a couple of seats or by bribing everyone again.

  11. Cred

    I tend to remember late 80s and early 90s, where all the state labor gove got evicted because of rot and every state was Coalition and Federally was Labor, so it is not a recent

  12. There has to be an anti-Howard factor at work here – protest vote against work choices/Iraq war/David Hicks etc. Maybe Debnam would be smarter to distance himself from Howard during the next few weeks?

  13. I don’t see it as a protest vote against the commonwealth. Despite media hype, the Iraq War and David Hicks will not shape the result of the federal election. Debnam has just failed to communicate effectively to the electorate. Althought the AC Nielson poll is fairly conclusive, it is important to note that: “The latest Newspoll, [was] conducted exclusively for The Australian over the past two months”. Does that fact remove some of the polls value?

  14. I seriously doubt the accuracy of these polls, let alone any kind of opinion poll. What I want to know is how many people were surveyed and in what seats? Yet, The Daily Telegraph’s election site shows the Coalition giving the ALP an absolute flogging! Talk about from one extreme to the other. I will stick with the predictions of the psephologists for now.

  15. Like most of you, I had been thinking that Morris would get returned, but with a reduced majority, a result which would be good for the democracy of the state, and probably also good for the ALP, in that it would clean out a bit of dead wood. So today’s poll results are something of a surprise, and I would expect the margin to be a bit closer on 24th March.

    However, Labor has three big advantages. The first of these is the good run that Kevin Rudd is getting, which makes the Labor “brand” look good. Related to this is the second plus the ALP has, which was alluded to before. These are the IR laws, and I don’t think many commentators really understand how these laws bite into the apolitical voter’s well-being. The fact that the Nurses are running an ad campaign has kept it in the public eye. The third and most significant advantage for the government is Debnam himself. The man is an A-grade dud, and I suspect he is the real reason that the Libs can’t get any traction.

    The only threat to the government now is a protest vote, especially is voters think the government is home and dry. It will all be about managing expectations now, but I suspect that, given the choice before them, people will not be entirely unhappy with the return of the Iemma government.

  16. Debnam an A-grade dud: I completely agree!
    He’s falling into the Baillieu trap: far too many stunts, parading around in speedos, drinking recycled water etc.
    One particular radio station in Sydney is running a very anti-Labor campaign: yes, I’m talking about Alan Jones, Ray Hadley and co.
    I don’t believe the huge margins in these polls: I suspect Iemma will be reelected with a slight loss of seats and a 52-48 2PP margin.

  17. A Labor win seems assured. The best barometer is Centrebet. Sorry to read in today’s SMH that Morrie (in the electorate of Tweed at the moment) will not be attending the ceremony tomorrow at the Woodenbong Showground involving the handover of native title in World Heritage listed national parks to the Githabul people of far northern NSW.

  18. These margins are very hard to believe but it does seem as though Labor will win.

    From my discussions with people, there are plenty of them looking for a reason to vote against Labor but Peter Debnam is not giving them one.

    Alan Jones and 2GB always run against Labor, but he’s preaching to the converted. He has 15% or thereabouts of the audience. I would venture to say that the other 85% can’t stand him.

  19. The Telegraph website poll is a complete and utter joke. It’s an online poll, and like most it is completely lopsided and unreliable. But we can see that more clearly in this case because they have actually done some analysis.

    They are predicted a Liberal majority of 35 (that’s right, 35). They’re also predicting Greens winning in Lismore (!) with over 60% of the primary vote, and 57% support for the Liberals in Camden. I’m in the seat of Camden, and it’s simply not the case. The map has almost all of Sydney turning blue.

    Although it shows most clearly the right-wing leaning of Telegraph readers.

  20. These polls seem hard to credit. It just does not seem possible for a 12 year old unpopular, scandal-riven government to lead 59-41. Surely Debnam cannot be that much of a dud?? And the ‘it’s the federal issues driving it’ argument doesn’t wash, given the electorate have given Labor thumping state wins all over the country for a decade while happily voting for Howard federally.

    I’m not from NSW, so can someone tell me what gives? Dodgy polling? Iemma not as bad as is portrayed? Good local ALP candidates? Or is Debnam really that hopeless?

  21. The Telegraph has the highest circulation of any paper in NSW so I do not understand how it can be said in a State trending Labor according to the Newspoll and ACNielsen polling of statewide opinion that its readership is “most clearly…right leaning”. Perhaps a majority of those who bother to vote at its website poll (and that is a very small number) may be “right leaning”, whatever that means. Labor barrackers please be refrain from making generalisations even if you think (rightly or wrongly) that News limited papers have a consevative bias.

  22. As your not from NSW, I guess your only source of indepth news are the online papers. I still don’t know what their game is but I am just not hearing the hatred of Iemma that they are reporting. It seems that many interstate contributers are starting from a basis that the state has become a basket case under Iemma. Once again I don’t know where this comes from. health and education services are stable. Transport was difficult while new timetables were put in but this is now less of a problem. Eastern suburbs folk did not like the cross city tunnel and the private developer has gone broke because of over-estimating use but the eastern suburbs have a fairly insignificant effect on elections. As for scandal – this is nothing compared to the last years of Unsworth. The only minister still there with a significant problem is Hickey who likes speeding in his ministerial car.
    Against this we have an oppositition that has failed to make there policies known apart from recycling and appears to have factionalised under an ineffective leader. I don’t know what you hear in other states but the polls do not come as a surprise to me

  23. Yes, Debnam really is that hopeless. He’s running too hard on water, given that it’s started raining around the city, and forgetting the rest of the environment. He’s threatening to slash and burn but doesn’t explain what that means. No public servant can think straight as a result and they all have parents, siblings and children. He’s going to hand over all sorts of powers to the Feds, including work choices. He’s promising the moon, but not explaining what has to go.

    People are pissed off with Labor. Very. But they can’t see an alternative. And there’s a decent respect for Iemma out there on the ground.

  24. re Kerry Hickey – I have heard it said that the speeding fines have raised his profile for the better in his seat of Cessnock, where everyone loves tooling along back roads in their cars.

  25. So David Charles, February 27th, 2007 at 12:09 pm, are you saying you believe the Daily Telegraph poles? People are able to vote each day. Online polls are so unreliable unlike the published opinion polls such as Nielsen and Newspoll.
    People don’t seem to want to believe this but the IR laws are pure poison for the Liberals. I agree with Hugo. I’m not going to go back over what I’ve already stated in detail here in the past but suffice to say recent history in state elections proves my point. If it is not IR then please venture another suggestion. Something is decidedly putting people off the Libs. I also believe it will be the IR laws that do Howard in.

  26. From the primary votes in the ACN poll it is difficult to say that people are pissed off with Labor or that the government is particularly unpopular.
    For those who have not seen the full results the primaries (with difference from 2003 election are:
    ALP 46 (up 3)
    Coalition 37 (up 3)
    Green 8 (steady)
    Independent 7 (down 1)
    Other 1 (down 5)
    On issues it is noted that the number who say the government is doing a good job is down from 2003 but so are the number who say the government is doing a bad job. The comment is that Iemma’s policy of distancing himself from Carr and presenting as a new man in the job is working. When asked if the opposition could do a better job, there were no issues on which more than a third of people said yes.

  27. Obviously the Telegraph poll is completely unreliable, but there is something to be deducted from the fact that it clearly leans so strongly to the Liberals. What do you think would cause that?

    It’s a poll with 25000 people. As unreliable it is, that’s a bit too large to be rigged by the Liberals asking people to vote their way (as happens so often in these polls).

  28. you are assuming that on the online poll there are no individuals with multiple votes. As well as those not from NSW. Online polls are very easy to skew. I ‘voted’ 8 times from several locations, and I am not from NSW.

  29. blacklight absolutely correct. I too have voted and I’m in Victoria. I wonder how many of that 25000 are from NSW. We’ll never know. I wonder how many are Liberal Party members voting daily. We’ll never know. I’m afraid there is nothing to be deducted from these polls in the Daily Telegraph, nothing at all.

  30. Is David Charles the former federal member for Isaacs of that ilk?

    People need to remember we live in an age of sharply declining newspaper readership. The Herald and the Tele are read only by the literate minority, and each by a different sub-minority within that minority – right-wingers read the Tele and left-wingers read the Herald. So of course a Tele online poll will produce a meaningless pro-Liberal result. I don’t know why they bother.

  31. Don’t assume that the Tele is being read for the politics. It has a fantastic and very accurate sports section, the rest of it is probably best used for wrapping fish and chips.

  32. I’ve found it a lot of fun though, it’s just completely divorced from reality. It’s a laugh looking at the Greens in with a chance in Murray-Darling (20% of the vote) or Liverpool (31%).

  33. Stig, that’s quite true, but people still buy their prefered paper. In Melbourne, for example, the Herald Sun has a bigger and better sports section than the Age, but I still read my footy news in the Age, because as a member of the left intelligentsia I won’t buy the Hun.

  34. I think we can safely assume that the Telegraph poll is a marketting exercise and not serious polling. Even if it were only Tele readers voting (and this is obviously not the case) it would still show up the biases of its readership.

    On the other hand the ACN & Newspoll results do show a rather depressingly low Coalition vote. Equally, it shows a low Greens vote too, which may well be because of (as the Herald reports) that much of the fire and brimstone has been Iemma & Debnam arguing over who’s ‘greener’. I find this quite different from 2003, as Carr had an instinct (like Howard) had a knack for knowing when to play the law & order/terror card. Debnam doesn’t and Iemma is in defence mode (apologising to the public twice within a week is a a lot!).

    The only person playing the race/ multiculturalism/ law and order/ terror card at present seems to be the lone Australia First candidate (which isn’t even a registered NSW party – maybe they really meant AAFI, who stood 46 candidates in 2003) in Cronulla.

  35. David Charles: Given that, no matter how badly Debnam does, at least 1.3 million NSWelshpeople will be voting coalition on 24 March, and the circulation of the Tele is just shy of 400,000, of course the readership of NSW’s biggest-circulation paper can be clearly right-leaning and the ALP miles ahead in the polls. (Tele ‘reader’ numbers are claimed to be over 1 million, but that’s just marketing twaddle.)

    To say otherwise is to think that there’s no way that the most popular radio program (Alan Jones’) can have a listenership that is ‘clearly right-leaning’, when the state is trending to Labor.

    In the highly unlikely event that the web poll is a representative sample of the Tele readership, a split of readers 34% ALP: 46% Lib (the current online poll figure) actually makes them less pro-Lib than I’d expected.

    While these polls confirm that Debnam can’t win government, the high level of publicity attached to them, certainly represent bad news for Iemma. Watch the ‘even if you don’t like Debnam, we can’t give these jokers an increased majority’ protest vote bandwagon gain momentum over the next couple of weeks. Remains to be seen if it will actually translate into Lib votes, or just a better showing by independents.

  36. So watch out for more “leaks” of ALP “internal polling” showing Labor in danger of losing this seat or that. It seems an obvious ploy, but it worked a treat for Beattie. It does seem astonishing that a government with a record as lousy as Iemma’s should have to be hosing down expectations of a landslide win. It’s a real tribute to the masterminds now running the NSW Liberal Party. I don’t know why people on the left make such a fuss about the far right crazies taking over the Liberal Party. Let ’em – they seem to be doing an excellent job. One can only hope they will be running Howard’s campaign as well.

  37. Would it be fair to say these polls are good news for barry O’Farrell, he is the deputy, and the most influential member of his faction in the parliament. If debnam is responsible for a train wreck then the moderates have a chance to strike back

  38. Perhaps the media has made too much of this silly idea about the ‘NSW economy’ being in recession. it’s largely meaningless to talk about a state economy 106 years after Federation.

  39. I think very few people expected the coalition to win this election, although these poll results certainly are surprising, which would see the Liberal Party losing seats such as Terrigal and possibly others. Even if Labor does not gain an increased majority, two credible polls such as this means that it appears likely that Labor will be winning in another land slide. Personally I expect roughly a status-quo result.

    The return of the Iemma government is not good news for Kevin Rudd, based on previous federal election results such as 1993.

  40. I would love to see Barry O’Farrell as Opposition Leader after the election, and maintain that position for the full term, however the right have immense control within the party and as such, this is highly unlikely. O’Farrell can communicate clearly, thinks before he does so, and is able to actively debate. All traits absent from Debnams CV..

  41. re the Telegraph poll
    just because it has a large size does not mean it is representative
    how many people voted twice or multiple times?
    where was the sample drawn from ? Darling point?
    Did they drawn out those who supported the Telegraph’s inherent anti- labor bias etc
    probably all the polls are wrong but the 2 other polls are done by reputable
    companies. I suspect the ALP will poll at most 56% 2 party preferred
    however either of the 2 polls if right suggest very close to the status quo
    I would be suprised if Labor gained anything extra except for holding
    Peter Black’s seat

  42. Very Very Sad Result,

    Just look at how many public service heads or deputies are former ALP staffers from 1995.
    We are going to be Victoria circa 1991 – talk all you like about WorkChoices but there is a serious serious crisis in this state and it will only be when it is really ballsed up that the dubbos are going to get it.
    The ALP In NSW is congenitally incapable of taking hard choices when it comes to the public service and sadly raising taxes is only going to exacerbate the existing economic problems- and sadly there is not going to be a property recovery to save their backsides – We are all going to reap the whirlwind of this result.

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