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. I did agree with you that Sutherland Shire is solid Liberal territory. There were reasons why I believe that to be the case. I’m just explaining why I called her a dope 🙂

  2. I agree that Labor is not likely to win Hughes or Macarthur, although Hughes now has a chunk of Liverpool in it where Labor polls 70%. Sheik Hilali is of course the best friend the Liberals in Sydney have got.

    The Coalition is certain to win three Senate spots in Qld so if Boswell can get No 3 on a joint ticket he should take it. I agree he is at some risk of losing to the third Liberal if he doesn’t. I’m amazed he wants to stand again at all. He’s 66 and looks very unwell up close.

  3. While most expect the numbers to even up as the election approaches, it could be useful to consider other possible eventualities, even if they go against the grain of experience. For example, could the polls now be painting the first scenes of a collapse in the Liberal vote? It may not be entirely unthinkable, especially if more and more people come to believe the ALP will win.

    Network externalities like this could bite the Liberals hard. A bandwagon of Rudd and his Roosters could just be arriving in town. In its current serial form, their story may prove captivating. Dickens’ novels were published in that way: punters packed the docks of New York to get their hands on the latest episode.

    To stop the bandwagon, something big and arresting must be rolled out. Here is the Liberals’ problem. No single conventional idea is likely to do it, not even off-loading JWH, still less fiddling with Work Choices. A suitably impressive financial inducement might help, although having the Federal Treasury go on strike could be less than a good look.

    The Government has to find some unconventional, mold-breaking innovation that could be propagandised relentlessly with public funds. Try, for example, removing income tax for the majority, and raising the GST astronomically. Very risky. Sure.

    But the Liberals are not going to go anywhere with continued tactics-centred strategies. Some clearly think that Rudd will not survive a election campaign. They could be mistaken about him. Again.

    More to the point, where will the Liberals find the money for a long campaign? Who would like to be a Liberal Party fund-raiser these days?

  4. With the addition of Liverpool Hughes’ margin is only 8-odd percent, inflated by a big swing to the Liberals in 2001. If Labor wins the election I’d say they’re even money to win Hughes. Outer suburban seats are capable of big swings.

  5. Hughes and Macarthur are chances for Labor if they can lock in the blue-collar IR vote. We’ve all seen popular and seemingly entrenched local members swept away by electoral tidal waves in the past. Both these areas have a lot of traditional Labor heartland that stuck solidly at state level again in March but went to Howard over 9-11/Tampa and interest rates in the last two federal polls. If this vote goes back to Labor it will go en masse and both seats could change hands despite the 2004 margin.

    I wouldn’t put it past Vale or Farmer to start distancing themselves from Workchoices closer to polling day. Then we’ll know they’re in trouble.

  6. I stood next to Ron Boswell in the tallyroom on Queensland Election night and eavesdropped on his mobile phone conversation.

    He looks like a slob from down the pub.. complete with liverspots. I’m not a doctor but he’s a prime candidate for a heart attack.

    Still, I’m informed by a number of people he’s a good person. He does have a personal following of sorts here in Queensland, however nothing like Barnaby.

  7. A split ticket in Qld at the last election could just as easily left the Coalition with two seats as four. Shave a few % of the votes of both partners and this could well be the case if a split ticket is run in 2007. Their best chance of picking up 3 seats is on a joint ticket, and even at number 3 Boswell’s chances of reelection will be higher than getting there under his own steam.

    A split ticket will play into Labor’s hand since they need to limit the Coalition vote to 2 in at least 2 states to wrest control of the Senate from them. There safest play to keep control of the Senate will be a combined ticket. If they get too greedy they could lose there once in generation opportunity.

  8. Better to settle for Silver than to go for Gold and end up with Bronze. 2004 was a bumper year for Qld Federal coalition, that the polls say will not be repeated in 2007. So Gold (4 seats) is out of the question.

  9. It couldn’t have left them with only two positions. If they had fallen slightly short, and either the third Liberal or Barnaby Joyce were knocked out, their preferences would have elected the other, as preferences don’t leak in the Senate.

  10. In 2004 the combined Lib + Nat + FF + ON + Hanson Senate vote in Qld was 55.9% or 3.91 quotas. Even in my rosiest fantasies of the Coalition being ground into the dust I can’t see it falling below 42%, which is what would be needed for Labor and/or the Greens to win four seats. In NSW that figure was 49.0, in Vic 50.5, in SA 52.9, in WA 55.3 and in Tas 46.6. In other words Tas is MUCH the best prospect of Labor taking a seat from the Coalition, while Qld is the LEAST likely. Labor has to take two seats from the Coalition to deadlock the Senate and three to get a Labor-Greens majority.

  11. Rudds new stance on IR is great for every unionist who took to the streets for the YR@W campaign. We have been sold out! This has not gone down well with my work mates.

  12. Actually I’m wrong – the best prospect for Labor or the Greens taking a seat from the Coalition is in the ACT, where the combined Lib + CDP vote was only about 40%, though they got some prefs from the Dems and Meg Lees’s group. A 7 to 8% swing would leave the Libs below quota.

  13. Shouldn’t that be one seat to deadlock the Senate, Adam? Two to give the ALP, Greens, Democrats (if they’re lucky) and Family First control?

  14. Off topic, but since we’ve had a few questions about the upcoming WA state redistribution, I note the WA Electoral Commission has released what appears to be a preliminary document on the new distribution.

    There must be some huge changes they’re expecting in the region boundaries for North Metropolitan not to be getting at least three more MLAs since all 14 existing electorates in the area would be already at least 30% over the new quota.

  15. Charlie, Adam mustn’t be considering FF as part of the opposition. If you consider the Senate as a Coalition/Family First bloc and a Labor/Greens bloc, then the numbers are 40-36, so one seat loss will leave it 39-37, two 38-38, and three will give Labor and Greens a majority. So if one or two seats are lost Family First will be in the driver’s seat, which is probably cold comfort to a lot of left-wing voters, let alone Labor and the Greens.

  16. Adam,

    Your right if you consider that the conservative minors contribute to a coalition win. But the tables could just a easily be turned to deliver the seat to a conservative minor instead. FF, ON, or even Hansen weren’t that far short in 2004.

  17. Ben – I’m certainly not going to be happy with FF control of the Senate. 🙁

    If the Democrats wanted to be Macchiavellian, they’d direct prefs to the Coalition ahead of the ALP. The best chance they have of surviving is a DD in 2008, so if they have any sense at all they’ll want the Coalition to hold on to control against a Rudd government.

  18. I’ve heard the Democrats called many things, but not Macchiavellian. Their survival strategy at present seems to be move to the left – Ruth Russell, their candidate in SA, is waaaay left. And Sanda Kranck has suggested recruiting Hicks as a candidate. A good thing Don Chipp didn’t live to see that.

  19. Yeh Adam, I saw Ruth Russell.. ugh what were they thinking. “Iraq Human Shield” might play well with socialist alliance types, but in the suburbs where the former-democrat liberal voters lurk, thats as popular as R&B at an ACDC concert.

  20. Unless there is a huge swing on, Libs+FFP will likely exceed 3 quotas in all states. Therefore the only hope of denying the coalition senate control is for ALP to prefernce exchange with FFP.

    FFP will only exchange with ALP if they are placed above Greens on the ALP ticket. They can work with the ALP, but have little in common with the Greens. They would not want an ALP government controlled by a Greens BoP.

    This will not deny them of a third seat as it did in Vic in 2004, because I expect they will be close to, or above 3 quotas in all states. If this tactic pays off for them the sixth seat may go to FFP or the ALP 4th candidate, either way denying the coalition a third seat.

  21. Except that a fair chunk of Labor voters won’t follow the ticket. In Victoria at any rate there would be an organised campaign to get them to vote below the line and preference the Greens, and I would guess that maybe 20% would do so. Even rotten right-winger me would probably do so.

  22. All the better for Labor if they do vote BTL. It still denies the coalition.

    I’ve just done some calcs. With a swing of 4% which should be enough to deliver government to the ALP, most states would split 3-3. Victoria and Tassie are the ones that would deliver a seat to the cross benches, FFP and Green respectively.

  23. I noticed in the linked-to-information pamphlett on the WA redistribution that each upper house region will return 6 members instead of the current 5 or 7. What do people knowledgeably about WA politics think this will mean for the results? Is it very likely that there will be 3/3 type splits in each district?

  24. Given the way the Labor party handles Senate preferences, I think it’s a safer bet for most Labor supporters to vote Green in the Senate!

  25. It would (yet another) quirk of the system that the most progressive state in australia, with the highest green vote outside of tasmania, would elect a Family First member again. I wonder how effectively the greens can run a campaign of ” a vote for labor in the senate is a vote for family first” in order to negate any preference deal done between the parties.

    I am surprised how many erstwhile green supporters voted labor in the last vic state election because of the effecive scare campaign they run about green-lib preferencing deals. It is also important to rememeber that many people dont understand that preferencing is ultimatiely up to themselves, and talk of ‘deals’ usually gets interpreted as future ‘voting coalitions’.

    It might be time the Greens campaign got dirty if a labor/ffp deal becomes the case

  26. Refering back in this thread a way (its what happens when you don’t go near a computer for a day…) Miranda is still held by Collier for the ALP, so I would suggest that with the addition of the ALP areas of Liverpool (its why I mentioned Menai) there is a chance with a big swing for Vale to go close to losing. The same arguments about Sutherland Shire and Lebanese people etc can also be made about other areas of western Sydney, so I’m not convinced this will be such a big issue – especially as the ALP has not essentially deviated from a restrictive immigration policy. Rudds IR message is termperate and will play well to soothe Howard-whipped fears of “unions running the country”.

    re Sasha’s Q on WA: the results on the 6 member electorates will depend very much on each electorate – the 3 city electorates are just as likely to return 3 ALP:3 Lib (North Metro), 4:2 (East Metro) 3:2:1 (South Metro), with country electorates more likely to return 3:2 (Mining & Pastoral), 2:4 (Agricultural) 1:4:1 (South West). Now this is guess work, and very much depends on the boundaries, but this would throw up a 16 ALP:15Lib/Nat:2 Green Council. It could just as easily, though, show a 17:16 house if the Greens don’t build there vote back to 2001 levels. Worse still, they could just as easily run into a falling ALP vote (no preference flows) and a rising Coalition vote (taking 3 quotas) and still get nothing. I have to say that on my original modelling of the 6×6 model on the 2001 results it would have produced a 13 ALP: 13 Lib: 2 Nat: 4 PHON: 4 Green. With PHON gone you might expect a 15:15:2:0:4 result, but I know that the modelling on 2001 used only the atl votes, and was subject to variation dependent on btl votes – to the extent that seats might change hands. So that why I’d be suggesting that some seats (like North Metro) could become more evenly split.

    Leastways, thats how I saw it – maybe people with more up to date modelling/thoughts would care to venture a comment?

  27. “She [Kanck] today told ABC radio she would not oppose a bid by Hicks to run for parliament as a Democrats candidate. I would be happy for that to be considered by the party’s candidate assessment committee,” Ms Kanck said. I think people, if they make a mistake in their lives, should have the right to redeem themselves.”

  28. Andrew, perception is everything.

    Whenever someone brings in legislations that reduce the safety net, people start to “fear” what would happen, if they loses their job. It is a natural occurrence. Even through all indicators over the last year showed employment is up, wages is up and full time employment is up.

    Alternately, everyone is happy when minimum wage goes up, does minimum wage help poor people?
    a. if you look around people working in Myers/Big W/Target/Coles today compared with 20 years ago, you sees a lot more young staff on part time jobs and junior wage. The people on minimum wage has now became part time staff or had lost their job to cheaper employees
    b. the manufacturing industry was where a lot of the minimum wage jobs were located, the opening of trade market and minimum wage (higher cost) has destroyed these jobs in Australia
    c. A person coming into Australia knowing very little English, are they likely to get a minimum wage job? I would suggest quite a few of those people are on the dole and are working with employer who would not pay them minimum wage.

    IR law might be electorate poison, but it does not means it is not good law that will benefit Australia. A wage floor won’t help the poor, increasing demand for job will.

  29. Sorry to get off subject .. but do you think it’s possible that the ALP already has plans to do a deal with some state business chambers to get their support if they lift that definition of “a small business” from 15 up to, say 50. It would still fall short of the 100 under Howards legislation but it offers a more realistic ideal. It also would give comfort to those fledgling businesses that want to grow?

    A possibility? T’would be a big coup for Rudd

  30. The democrats are incompetent fools. 90% o people who voted for them wanted a centrist party, who can limited the excesses of the Labor and Liberal government, but they did not want to be that and wants to be the greens, they moved themselves out of existence.

  31. It would not be Macchiavellian for the Domocrats to preference Liberals in the Senate and force a DD, it would be suicidal. The Democrats are in such a mess they would not even get a DD quota. FFP however would go close to a DD quota without preferences in both SA and Qld. They represent much more of a centrist option on socio-ecomonic policy.
    10000 people is a good sample size for a focus poll.

  32. re WA speculation: the modelling is not pointless when it comes to writing up the legislation…although the boundaries are not know in their specifics there is a reasonable clarity about the possible outcome for the Council given previous results, demographics, population size etc – yes there are always changes, but I spent a reasonable time looking at potentials within the WA electoral system to see likely outcomes (obviously with a fair margin of error, not taking into account new parties, and not knowing future voting etc) – what I modelled at least gave an indication of likely wins/losses. The speculation around the Vic redistribution posited the likely areas for Green wins and was largely correct in terms of the vote – preference deals can always through a spanner in the works though!!

    What was perhaps more interesting is that the 6×6 model is a gamble on the part of the Greens (WA) – if the vote stays up then they should return 1-4 MP’s. If however it does not it could see them locked out of the Council. A safer way would have been to have a whole-of-state elected Council which would have all but guaranteed the Greens 2-3 seats at every election, but probably not more than that. The other option on the table was a 5×7 model (5 seats of 7 seats) which again may have provided the Greens with 3-4 seats. perhaps a better solution, but the internal desire to replicate the HoR-Senate model (and a commitment to rural constituents – remembering that 3 of the 5 GWA MP’s at the time represented rural constituencies) wouldn’t allow moving the system any closer to 1v1v.

    On the Dems and a DD – I agree with Ray (not that I necessarily consider the FFP as a centrist option) that a DD would be disastrous for the Dems – a result not unlike what happened to the DLP.

  33. Adam, Sandra knows very well that he wouldn’t pass the assessment process, so why would she worry if he were put forward for consideration? It’s a hypothetical, he’s not a member and won’t be any time soon. It’s as much a beat up as the Sunrise thing – there’s about as much truth in both of them (i.e. not much beyond the odd word that signifies absolutely no action whatsoever).

    FWIW, there is a large movement within the party to move back to the centre. I, for one, am heartened by Rudd Labor’s move to the economic centre. Voters should be able to say “Hey, I want this (economic centrism, or maybe even soft-right policies) without _that_ (being a right-wing death beast)” and that’s good. I just wish it hadn’t been accompanied by what is perceivable (NOTE: I didn’t say actual) as a rightwards move on social issues.

  34. The seventies are a fascinating time in Australian politics..

    when the DLP were wiped out of the senate during a DD, the quota was 9.1%. ( 100/(10 + 1) )

    They received 6+% in Victoria from memory. (Psephos text file is missing)

    I’d love to know how the other parties preferenced, because it’s pretty tough to lose from 2/3 of a quota, especially considering the senate voting relied on HTVs, making preference leakage much higher..

  35. Yes I know, I must get my reformatting of Psephos finished, but I have been distracted by my award-winning Election Guide. I am off to Europe on Sunday, so it will have to wait until I get back.

    1974 Senate Vic (10 Senators, quota 9.1%):

    ALP 5.135 quotas
    Lib/CP 4.729 quotas
    DLP 0.764 quotas
    Others 0.372 quotas

    Labor directed its surplus to the Libs to ensure the defeat of the DLP, getting Alan Missen up as the 5th coalition candidate, although 35% of the surplus actually went to McManus. Sorry Chris, but given the DLP’s behaviour at that time, that was the correct decision.

    My recollection is that the demise of the Democrats began with Meg Lees’s deal with Howard passing the GST through the Senate, hardly evidence of a lurch to the left. She was trying to be a good centrist.

  36. lets all wish adam well on his trip, Adam is very hopeful of getting a letter opener and coffee maker job in a certain mp’s office on his return. he may even be promoted to head mail sorter if labor wins.

  37. It just goes to show just how idiotic much of the political world is that some hack feels the need to cyber-stalk Adam using an alias.

    If you had any guts at all Isabella, you’d use your own name, as Adam does. I hope all of your fellow Liberals are wasting precious election year days pursuing vendettas instead of trying to dig yourselves out of the grave.

  38. Oh shut up Isabella.

    I’d say that if we picked the first thing that started the downfall of the Democrats, it was Cheryl Kernot defecting, but truth be told there was a serious of points which made it worse, at any of which point they could have turned it around. Kernot’s defection, Lees’ GST deal, the white-anting over Stott Despoja’s leadership.

  39. Sounds like Isabellla is becoming more optimistic about that labor win. In any case, i would rather make the coffee for a labor MP than write policy detail or speeches for the unethical and Human Rights abusing current mob. Something tells me that Isabella is just a lonely guy that got picked on at Uni and wants revenge on the world. I’ll have mine black with 2 sugars thanks adam and enjoy your trip.

  40. The Majority of voters (50.9%) in the the `98 election preferenced Labor ahead of the Liberals so the GST should have been rejected in Parliament on one vote one value grounds.

  41. Is the GST a bad thing (in retrospect) ? I certainly don’t want to go back to the old system with 22% tax here and there. I don’t even notice it.

    I almost feel as if many people don’t like the GST based on remembered dislike – they don’t re-evaluate their initial opinion of years ago.

  42. The Dems problem is that their voters are very close to Labor voters in their views. With Labor in opposition they can’t pick up a protest vote from Labor-ish voters, particularly as the Greens have picked up the left vote the Dems used to get.

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