Idle speculation: 59-41 Newspoll edition

Noteworthy developments of the past however-long-it’s-been:

• For the second time in as many months, Newspoll has defied conventional wisdom that Kevin Rudd’s political difficulties were set to take the shine off his opinion poll dominance. Despite bad press over the Sunrise/Anzac Day affair, today’s poll has Labor’s two-party lead widening to 59-41 from 57-43 a fortnight ago, with Rudd’s lead over John Howard as preferred prime minister up from 48-38 to 48-36.

• The NSW ALP’s decision to delay opening preselection nominations in Charlton, Fowler, Blaxland and Chifley is reckoned by Michelle Grattan to spell trouble for their respective members, Kelly Hoare, Julia Irwin, Michael Hatton and Roger Price. The decision was reportedly made so that turf wars over these seats would not interrupt this month’s national conference. Andrew Landeryou talks of a deal in which Charlton will go to the Left (Greg Combet, if he wants it, which it seems he might), with the others used to accommodate aspirants from the Right, possibly including Warren Mundine and Mark Arbib. Grattan, Landeryou and Adam Carr all concur that Price, an early Rudd leadership backer, is unlikely to be toppled. Carr writes in comments: “I can only guess that he is intending to retire, and the preselection is being held over so the right has time to find a candidate”.

• Bruce Baird, factional moderate, Peter Costello backer and one-time NSW government minister, has announced his decision to retire after nine years as member for Cook. The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Baird’s decision was partly motivated by “the possibility he would have been challenged for preselection”, after branch stacking by the Right reportedly swelled numbers at the Miranda branch from 200 to 600. However, the widely rated front-runner for preselection is Scott Morrison, former Tourism Australia boss and state party director, with whom Baird appears to have been on good terms. Morrison has also been mentioned as a possible successor to Alan Cadman in Mitchell. Potential rivals to Morrison reportedly include PBL Media executive David Coleman, Optus executive Paul Fletcher, “consultant” Peter Tynan and barrister Mark Speakman. The Liberals hold Cook with a margin of 13.8 per cent.

• The Queensland Liberal Party has preselected Sue Boyce to replace outgoing Senator Santo Santoro, in what The Australian described as a “comfortable” win over former state party leader Bob Quinn after the “third round of voting”. Boyce has also been promoted from number four to number two on the ticket for the imminent half-Senate election, over the head of number three candidate Mark Powell. This would appear to be a double victory for state party leader Bruce Flegg over the Santoro faction, which switched its backing from Powell to Quinn in its determination to thwart Boyce. Powell will most likely have to compete with the Nationals for a third Coalition seat.

• Laura Anderson of The Advertiser reports that South Australian Senator Linda Kirk has rejected Kevin Rudd’s offer of preselection support for the lower house seat of Boothby, offered as a consolation prize after she lost Right faction support for Senate re-nomination. The Right is reportedly backing Adelaide lawyer Tim Stanley to take the factionally reserved second position at the expense of Kirk, who “broke ranks” with the faction in supporting Rudd’s leadership bid in December. The top position will remain with rising star of the Left, Penny Wong.

• Comments thread barfly Adam Carr has turned his hand to the federal election guide caper, in typically fine style. All the electorate links above lead to the relevant entries in his guide, which I will continue to do until my own effort is up and running (which won’t be for a while).

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.

333 comments on “Idle speculation: 59-41 Newspoll edition”

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  1. Oh lovely. So Linda Kirk is being punished by the factional bosses for breaking ranks and voting for a leader who actually had a chance of winning the next election and who is now sailing ahead comfortably in the polls. Don’t you just love those Labor factional bosses? This truly highlights everything that is wrong with the Labor Party. And why would she contest Boothby -a seat that is probably unwinnable despite its margin? (yes, I know there was a protracted discussion about this in the last thread).

    Thanks for the updates William -much appreciated and very interesting

  2. These Newspoll seem to confirm that people have made up their minds already about this year’s election, and Rudd will have to blow up both the AFL and NRL grand finals to lose from here. It may surprise my fellow blogsters to realise that the average punter doesn’t pay too much attention to the everyday political stuff like we do.

    There seems little doubt in my mind that WorkChoices is the primary cause of the government’s difficulties. Labor went ahead in the polls in March 2006 (when the Act came into force) and they haven’t really been headed since. This lead has been consolidated by the rise of a credible leader. WorkChoices and AWAs are electoral poison for the government, but a combination of hubris and having no genuine understanding of the budgetary pressures that the average family goes through (despite their rhetoric, the Liberal Party is still largely made up of people with a private school, upper-middle class background) means that they just don’t get it. It’s no surprise that the ALP is miles ahead in every state except WA, where the mining boom and desperate mining companies make AWAs seem not so bad.

  3. Hugo, you are an ideological warrior! “Political poison”, maybe, but spare us the class rhetoric please. I think Labor’s ascendancy in the opinion polls since about March 2006 (the tenth anniversary of the Coalition government) probably has more to do with the public being sick of JWH together with a growing realisation that it might be time to let the other mob have a turn at the crease. The Australian Labor Party and its federal parliamentary leader must continue to nurture that perception in the community.

  4. David Charles April 17th, 2007 at 12:03 pm. There maybe an element of that David but how do you explain these unheard of figures. Howard didn’t have these figures going against a very unpopular Paul Keating. As much as Howard maybe unpopular he is no Paul Keating in the unpopularity stakes surely.
    Just as a general question off topic – where are Howard’s head kickers?

  5. Hugo and David, it’s likely that both factors are at work and are reinforcing each other.

    There was some surprise expressed at the end of the last thread that federal Labor appears to be doing so well in South Australia. Looked at in the long-term, this is not surprising. SA was a strong Labor state from the 1940s onwards, mainly because of Playford-era industrialisation and a high urban/rural ratio (ie Adelaide dominates the state). Labor’s strength was concealed in the 1950s by the Playford malapportionment, but once Labor broke through in 1965 it dominated state politics for 25 years. To the blue-collar base was added the liberal middle-class vote brought in by Dunstan. All this came unstuck in the disasters that befell the Bannon government. These, coupled with the decline in SA’s manufacturing base, produced a 10-year anti-Labor reaction. It now appears, thanks to Rann and Rudd, that the reaction has ended and SA has returned to its pre-1992 level of Labor support. If this is correct, the shift will hard for the Libs to turn around in six months, and they can say goodbye to Kingston, Wakefield and Makin, quite likely to Boothby (which is on much better boundaries for Labor these days) and maybe also to Sturt. Linda Kirk might be well advised to take Boothby while it’s on offer.

  6. Is anybody out there aware of any polling done – by either side – on whether an alternative liberal leader would arrest the libs decline? Is it a John Howard thing or a whole of government thing? By my reckoning there are about 6 weeks left – until the end of may – for someone to give JWH the tap on the shoulder and the quiet word! At least then there would be 6 months max to salvage something from the possible train wreck – and give the the new Lib leader their own honeymoon period.

  7. the answer is clear

    Howard needs to get arrogant and smug, plan fake events on special days to maximise tv exposure, attempt to intimidate and interefere with the media and associate with known undesirables.

    if he does these things he is sure to get a bounce in the polls, what works for one, must surely work for the other

  8. Howard just seem old and tired, he should have retired when he became longest serving prime minister

    Quite simply, we need new ideas at the top and Howard carries too much political baggage now. I think someone like Costello or Abbott would be a much better chance at beating Rudd, but it is too late to change now.

    I think Rudd was a very good choice for labor leader, he does not have the political baggage that someone like Beasley carries, therefore Rudd is much more able to carry the fight to an old and tired Howard. That is why Howard is

    Workchoices has definitely taken effect, policy wise it is a very good policy for Australia, anything that make us more efficient will make us better in the future. However, whenever you put someone’s job at risk, or threaten someone’s pay, whether it is just a perception (and at 4% unemployment, it is really just a perception) people are not going to be happy with you.

  9. Linda Kirk should definately take up the opportunity in Boothby. I think Boothby might well be one of those seats “wow” seats that the Libs didn’t expect to lose and then spend the next decade figuring out what went wrong (the Libs’ equivalent of a Makin or Lindsay!). The Libs definately need to keep their eyes on their supposedly safe turf, especially given the much forgotten 2004 swing that went to Labor in many inner-city areas and, in more than a few instances, unfavourable redistrubutions that have hurt the Libs in some seats.

  10. According to the AEC website, the last time the ALP received a majority of the 2PP vote in SA was in the 1987 election, receiving 50.24%.

    In terms of the SA vote, I don’t think the popularity of Mike Rann here should be underestimated in terms of transferring votes to the federal arena. Mike Rann and his government remain extremely popular. In many ways, I think Kevin Rudd has probably learnt a lot from Mike Rann, who in my opinion is probably the most professional politician in the country. The “Rann gets results” campaign in SA at the last state election was nothing less than a spectacular electoral juggernaut.

  11. From memory, in 1987 labor won the SA seats of Grey, Port Adelaide, Hawker, Hindmarsh, Kingston, Bonython, Makin, Adelaide.
    The Libs won Mayo, Sturt, Boothby, Wakefield and Barker.

    Between 1987 and 1990, the Libs won the Adelaide by-election (1988?) campaigning against timed local calls.

    The 1990 result in terms of seats won was the same as 1987 except that Christine Gallus (Libs) just won Hawker. (Hawker and Hindmarsh was melded together before the 1993 election and she won Hindmarsh in 1993).

  12. Longest serving PM dovif? How short are people’s memories…
    Hugo – ok, I’m from WA but I see Workchoices as ideologically important but practically irrelevant. Again – I’m from WA where individual contractual style arrangements have been in place for some time. I have yet to meet a single person who feels they have been negatively effected by either individual contracts or Workchoices and I know plenty who feel much better off. I also know of many people who would freak at the suggestion that their contracts could be disbanded.
    Of course, in case I haven’t mentioned it, I’m from WA!

  13. Aha, I didn’t see that page on the AEC website. I didn’t realise neither WA or SA had given Labor more than 50% of the vote since 1987. I thought Labor broke the threshold in WA in ’98 but I am mistaken. Anyway, it looks increasingly likely that the drought will break in SA at least.

  14. I am also in WA and the great polling for the Govt in the marginals is about 50:50% (roughly a 5% swing to labor from the last election).

    Unlike my Statesman (or if you believe in ‘if at first you don’t secede try try again’ my fellow countryman) VPL i have heard and seen a great deal of negative WPA AWA press.

    Also if my memory serves me well Gallop killed the Court Agreements and the mining industry thrived – so I would expect a certain amount of resilience from the mining sector knowing the little difference.

    Mining is a great example and employees know all about mining companies and their good attitude to workers – I’ve stated often and long my reasons for full time employed people not to like AWA’s etc but the mining industry is a great example. They will know the field is tilted against them and that first sign of a slow down the miners will crush them (pun intended). You talk to anyone in the industry VPL they seen ‘restructure’ after ‘restructure’ they are very cynical and know how the big boys operate.

    I don’t care if WA gets a 2pp majority for Labor a 4% ish swing will get back Stirling and Hasluck and be two cherries for Rudd at the end of the night win or lose.

  15. True, and there’s little chance Labor will be able to take any other seat … Kalgoorlie, methinks, is out of reach. So Labor doesn’t even need a majority of the 2PP.

  16. Yes, all Labor needs from WA is the small swing required to pick up Hasluck and Stirling and not to lose Cowan and Swan. There will need to be a swing to retain Cowan because Edwards was worth at least 2-3% in personal vote. Do our WA friends not think Labor has a chance in Canning? I would rank Don Randall with Kelly Hoare as “most useless federal MP.”

  17. Nah, Julia Irwin and Alan Cadman are the most useless by a country mile…

    Don’t forget that Latham was worth between -2 and -3% of the vote in Cowan as well. So Edwards positive vote was probably offset by Latham’s negative.

  18. At this stage, it would most probably look like a desperation move, but whoever took over from JWH would not be taking over the stench that Joan Kirner and Carmen Lawrence took on. Total desperation is anything less than 6 months out i.e Mike Moore in NZ (1990).

  19. Hello all i will be taking my leave from here as of now to start my campaign. I will pop in from time to time. Thanks William for a great site.

  20. Bill, I hope you enjoy the campaign. Campaigning in the real world will probably be much more productive than writing many comments on pollbludger.

    PS, I know nothing about the campaigns of any of your opponents, but I wouldn’t be surprised if some of your comments here reappear in the campaign for Kingston.

  21. On the recent Newspoll state-by-state polls, they showed a 2PP swing to Labor in WA of 6.4% (not trivial by any means, just less than the rest of the country). With that, holding Cowan and Swan wouldn’t be even questioned, and winning Hasluck and Stirling would be a certainty.

    Adam, my gut feel is that should Labor get this sort of swing in WA, then Canning would be indeed in play – it’s just not a seat that should have a 9.6% margin; at every election there’s seats that go way over and under the national swing, and I’m almost certain Canning will swing more to Labor than any other WA seat, and could be a viable win if the statewide swing is anything over 5%. To be honest, I’d actually rate Labor’s chances in Canning above those in Kalgoorlie, but probably poor in either.

  22. The trend just keeps continuing. Whilst Rudd has had dinner with Burke, a fake ANZAC dawn service etc, the people are probably thinking how does this issues compare to Iraq, Climate Change and the biggy of them all, Workchoices. And the last issue was never mentioned at the last election and thats what people have not forgotten. The public know that politicians lie (hell its a prerequisite for the job) but what they don’t like it is not being told about something and having it bought in. As I said, consider the two camps – dinner with Burke/false dawn service versus IR laws – that is it in a nutshell, one is clearly minor compared to the other. Rudds flaws are minor compared to the Coalitions and I think it is now clear that no-one is listening to them any more and frankly don’t care.

  23. You can bet the budget will be full of electoral bribes, in the form of tax cuts, family payment increases. extra goodies for the over 55s(Howard’s constituency) etc. Will it work this time for Howard, Costello etc ?
    Labor would be well advised to support all this in the Senate, no silly stunts like last year.
    Kevin Rudd: on Kerry Anne’s show tomorrow, before he jets off to the U.S.
    Channel 7’s loss is Channel 9’s gain?
    Why is he so popular? I get the impression a lot of people are desperate to throw out this government, and Kevin is the sort of nice guy who won’t frighten the horses. But, I’d be amazed if the ALP is getting nearly 60% of the 2PP vote in November.

  24. On WA: As discussed in a previous thread, I think Canning is perfectly doable, given the mess at the 2004 election in that seat. Kalgoorlie should now be beyond reach – with the new enrollment provisions taking indigenous people off the roll (or stopping them getting back on) this would damage the ALP vote. That said, I think the ALP will do well in the areas where the local population is growing – in the Kimberley particularly – so Haase should keep on campaigning! I think Labor will hold Cowan – it always struck me as the kind of seat that should be Labor, but aspired to be Liberal…now’s the time for it to swing back to the ALP.

    On a slightly different note – NSW – I was wondering what people thought of Danna Vale’s chances in Hughes were (esp with bruce Baird stepping down in neighbouring Cook), given that the ALP retained both Menai, Miranda & Heathcote in the state election – will the Rudd factor cause Danna to see her 11% buffer prove insuffucient?

  25. I love it that whenever I post about WorkChoices being the primary reason that the ALP is so far ahead in the polls, some of our (no doubt Coalition-leaning) blogsters just write it off as left-wing sloganeering. My point (and I clearly need to re-iterate it) is that WorkChoices is poison for the government and that the Libs just don’t get it, one assumes because the average Liberal does not have to survive on the minimum wage, nor do they know many (any) people who do. This includes a good many contributors to this site. Of course there are many other issues at play, but WorkChoices was the “tipping point” issue.

    Let’s also not forget that the last PM to lose his seat (Stanley Bruce in 1929) did so in the last Federal election to be fought over industrial relations.

  26. I know I’ve brought it up before, but I continue to find the Queensland Coalition joint Senate ticket proposal quite puzzling.

    Despite the Nationals previously rejecting the deal, Howard is still pushing for it to happen. Even though this would mean abandoing the strategy that saw the Coalition win a Senate majority.

    Let’s review what happened in Queensland in 2004.

    The Liberal Party polled about 2.6 quotas.
    The National Party polled about 0.5 quotas.

    With this huge surplus divided between two candidates, both Trood (Lib#3) and Joyce (Nat#1) were able to survive deep into the count. Eventually each formed a full quota with the preferences of other parties.

    Now let’s suppose the Coalition ran a joint ticket. Adding the above figures together produces 3.1 primary vote quotas. That means three candidates are elected instantly but only a small surplus remains for the theoretical fourth candidate. With such a modest vote, that fourth candidate is likely to be eliminated as the count progresses.

    And whilst I think the 2004 result was a fluke that is most unlikely to replicate itself in 2007, it is nonetheless odd that the Coalition should discard even the possibility of a repeat result.

    More surprising still is that it is the Nats who are balking at the deal. As the above figures show, they were outpolled by the Libs (on primaries) even after the election of two Liberal candidates. The Queensland Nationals will look terribly foolish if Ron Boswell loses his seat as a result of their obstinacy.

    P.S. (Just to make a long post even longer.) What would the implications of a joint ticket at the next half-Senate election be? The Coalition would have four sitting Senators to fit on a ticket with three winnable spots.

  27. Sutherland is liberal territory now, they lost miranda by four hundred votes and had a four % swing in menai. Dana Vale isnt going anywhere.

    Similarly even though pat farmer has all campbelltown he now has most of wollondilly shire, so he should be safe.

  28. can anyone find polls saying that when the polls were taken whether the alp vote were people saying they were certain to vote labor, compared to likely, i couldnt find it.

    this information would assist in gauging how soft this 59% is.

  29. What would be really interesting is a poll asking whether people would be more or less likely to vote for the Coalition if Howard goes. I’m sure the 59-41 numbers are an exaggeration, but it’s been nearly four months of bad polls for the Coalition. It’s odd that nobody is seriously talking about a challenge to Howard.

  30. Re: Qld joint coalition ticket

    The PM’s refusal to countenance Boswell at number two on the ticket, while welcoming a “joint” ticket, is Howard having two-bob each way.

    He knows Boswell, standing at the top of a Nats ticket, is in deep trouble. He’s no Barnaby, and the feeling among the coalition in Qld is that Bossie may not get over the line.

    By backing a joint ticket, the PM shows he is still a coalitionist. But by wanting Boswell at three, which is going to be a tough race for the coalition, he can also lose a Nat senator while guaranteeing himself two Libs.

    The Nats biggest chance of long-term survival is either for Costello to become PM soon after the election (if the coalition wins), or for the govt to lose, and see Costello become Opposition Leader. John Winston Howard might be keeping the coalition in office, but he’s popularity in the bush is bleeding the Nats to death.

  31. Hugo – I’m 100 percent behind you on IR being a poisonous issue for the coalition. Hockey is not as confident in interviews now. To those people who are still sceptics answer this one question. If it isn’t IR then why are the polls so woeful for the coalition? What is it causing this massive shift in thinking while we still have very good economic times? The numbers in ALL of the polls are consistent. We can argue about the actual numbers being exaggerated but one thing is clear – a big swing is taking place. Why?

  32. “The trend just keeps continuing. Whilst Rudd has had dinner with Burke, a fake ANZAC dawn service etc, the people are probably thinking how does this issues compare to Iraq, Climate Change and the biggy of them all, Workchoices.”

    Indeed. If in a months time Rudd has another minor, ultimately irrelevant ‘character’ slip that the Govt and right-wing punditariat get all worked up about it might be time to consider the possibility that its a deliberate tactic 🙂

  33. I think the polls are a reflection of two things:
    – Workchoices
    – Election Cycle/Old Tired Government

    Things its *not* a reflection of:
    – Iraq
    – Climate Change

    Howard’s not dead yet. Anything could happen. A disaster, terrorist attack etc

    If I was Howard I’d water-down Workchoices. It might save him yet.
    It makes him look responsive to the public – “Im listening to the voters”.

  34. Sutherland Shire is firmly Liberal territory. Danna Vale, despite her dopiness, will be returned. Am I correct in saying that she is the only MP to have 4 consecutive swings to her in the past 4 elections?

  35. dana vale had a swing to her last time

    she is also a very nice lady,

    and much better in dealing with people than robert tickner the previous member.

    sutherland is very closed minded, the liberals won cook and hughes for the next twenty years because of howard and the cronulla riots.

    i lived in menai a couple of years back, and there is definately a sutherland culture.

  36. The Speaker – to counteract the “Im listening to the voters” idea would be “could you trust/believe Howard to not go further with IR after the election” and we know the evidence that would be used there. I’m not convinced a change of heart now would save him.
    As for a terrorist attack, you may be right but I wonder how many people would blame him for getting us involved in this war on terror. I’m not sure what type of disaster you mean but a natural disaster wouldn’t necessarily help him. I can’t see why it would.

  37. “Im listening to the voters” – I wonder how many people are now listening to Howard. There is another problem for him.

  38. Comments bagging islamic lebanese are electoral gold in the shire.

    it is a wasp haven that feels under threat from the bankstown hurstville lakemba people

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