Newspoll: 56-44

Lateline reports tomorrow’s Newspoll has Labor’s lead widening to 56-44 from 55-45 last fortnight. Similarly, Kevin Rudd is up 1 per cent as preferred leader (to 44 per cent), and John Howard down 1 per cent (to 39 per cent). Thanks as always to the commenters who passed this on. More to follow as news comes to hand.

UPDATE: News reports the primary vote too has switched 1 per cent either way, with Labor up to 48 per cent and the Coalition down to 39 per cent. Interestingly, there was an 8 per cent narrowing on the question of which party was better for handling national security, despite 49 per cent support for the government’s handling of the Haneef case.

UPDATE 2: Report by Dennis Shanahan in The Australian.

UPDATE 3: The Australian’s graphic here.

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.

457 comments on “Newspoll: 56-44”

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  1. Steven Kaye: Rudd was recently mobbed when he visited a shopping centre in Miranda, Sydney.
    And does anyone take seriously anything written by Matt Price?

  2. I’ve lived in Perth… it wouldn’t surprise me. But this election isn’t going to be won by convincing rusted-on conservative people to vote differently.

    Oh… and Adam, I’ve also lived in Malaysia… and the xenophobic tendencies of their ruling UMNO party have lots of correllations with our current ‘conservative’ government.

    And even THEY managed to change leaders.

  3. Tristan

    how much have you bet on a Howard win? You’ll find several betting agencies happy to take your two dollars I think.

  4. I’ve noticed the DAILY TELEGRAPH at least becoming more even handed.
    Today’s front page all about RUDD’S BATTLERS – Particularly in N.S.W, a large proportion of the Howard Battlers are abandoning him and switching back to Labor.

  5. The PM should be given credit for even agreeing to appear on the 7:30 Report as often as he does; he knows he’s not going to get a fair hearing, that O’Brien will constantly interrupt him and sneer at his answers. Perhaps he keeps reminding himself how much fun it is dashing Kerry’s hopes election night after election night – 2004 was especially fun, the most amusing part being when O’Brien, grappling with Latham’s loss, said that he had “grown” as Opposition Leader. Perhaps he was thinking of Mark’s man boobs.

    Evan, the PM was given a rapturous reception in Devonport recently.

  6. Special interest groups aren’t going to save the coalition, when 49% of the vote is going to the opposition as a primary. And the ALP is spending as much time thinking about the latham loss in 2004 in this election, as howard spent time thinking about the hewson loss of 1993 in the 1996 election.

  7. Those of us that are hoping for a Ruddslide should hold off on the champagne.

    Howard could still win this.

    The polls look good but there is only one poll that counts.

    I think Howard is worried and is one hell of a political animal and will do anything if it will get him back in power.

  8. Adam,

    I think the hippy thing could explain things. I used to live in this area about twenty years ago, and it was called “the Rainbow Region.” The distribution of those red Labor regions follows the alternate lifestyler pockets (as far as I remember). The region itself is (or was) at the same time very National Party conservative.

  9. I’ve studied and written about electoral regulation and constitutional issues for a decade.

    I’m absolutely gobsmacked at the PM’s announcement today that he’d try to run informal plebiscites on Qld local govt amalgamations through the AEC.

    It’s the most bizarre bit of politicking masquerading as policy I’ve come across. (And we’ve had some doozies recently: from State inquries into ‘WorkChoices’ to Cth inquiries into a State dam). This new form of ‘competitive federalism’ – political meddling is past being a game: it is seriously dysfunctional.

    It is so bizarre, it might even work – as a political tactic, especially if timed on fed election day, and backed up with the usual unlimited govt ad campaign. (Note that this isn’t a real ‘referendum’ so there will be no rule to stop fed govt money being used to whip up an anti-Beattie and by extension anti-ALP campaign at taxpayer expense).

    But I’m scratching my head to work out the constitutional basis for this move. It’s clearly been dreamed up over the last week, with minimal legal advice.

    The Feds can appropriate money for broad purposes, so I assume they will try to package any legislation to enable this as purely a matter of bespoke expenditure (like the Hospital ‘intervention’). But legislate they must: the AEC currently has several functions under the Electoral Act, but none of them involves holding plebiscites, let alone on state issues.

    How the Feds will be able to override the clear State legislative prerogative to determine Council activities is unclear. Councils are created by State law, and can only act within that law. It may be Howard is just goading Beattie to go further and appear undemocratic, by restricting Councils abilities to co-operate with the AEC. Or it may be Howard will just pay the AEC to run some half-baked plebiscite across Qld on election day, that says ‘do you approve of council amalgamations’.

    But it’s desperate stuff: reminiscent of Gough, nay Joh, at his worst. Imagine the Qld govt holding a straw poll on Qld election day into whether Qlders approved of the Feds…

  10. It is not about what Howard can or cannot do – it is the perception that he is trying to help the councils out – thus win votes over from angry voters.

  11. @7:02 pm Tristan saith: “The Liberals have Nelson”

    Yes dear boy. But you will recall that Labor used to have him. And had him regularly or so I am told.


    PS Apologies I have just been watching Brideshead on Ovation. It gets to you.
    PPS Don’t forget to click the PayPal donate button you pollBLUDGERS.

  12. Graeme

    Agree with your assessment of Howards play re the councils.
    It is desperation stuf and I’m not sure whether he would go ahead with his threat to hold referendums on the same day as the Federal election.

    The state governments could easily counter with referendums of their own, eg
    Should the states switch to Work Choices which offers only 5 basic conditions and no protection or bargaining.
    Should the states now disband their OH&S system now that Howard has passed his legislation overidding state OH&S that lessens employer responsiblity and prohibits safety inspections on the worksite.

    The states could run these on the same day as the Federal election, maybe even for ease of voting make it the above two questions are answered first before the voters then go to place their vote in the federal booths.

  13. Adam 9.08pm

    Thanks for sharing. Given the tendency for rural seats to have less enrollments than metro ones this suggests that a couple of electorates could be pushing the 100,000 barrier! Maybe the governement’s legislative changes to electoral laws can be viewed as a noble attempt to prevent electoral division overcrowding, with resulting consequences of overwork and stress for our poor benighted representatives.

    13.5m eligible voters … this means that Howard must convince 810,000 of them to switch their votes, in order to get back to 50-50 TPP on election day. Or nearly 5500 per electorate. A pretty stark indicator of the task facing Howard, and he only has 3 months to achieve it.

    PS: William might have to enlarge this blog if one his threads cracks the 1000 barrier. Does the blog program permit threads to be broken up into pages, a la The Australian’s blogs? This would make it less of a pain to refresh threads … I guess a rise in the dross-to-quality ratio is an inevitable consequence of a blog’s increasing popularity.

  14. William’s threads wouldn’t get so long if he didn’t allow idiots like xxx and xxx to fill them up with repetitive mindless political spam.

    How many people would be interested in a new blog strictly confined to matters psephological, from all which all political spam was ruthlessly banned by the blogmeister, namely moi? I will create psephosblog if I get some expressions of interest (assuming it is within my rather limited techy skills)

  15. No, please do not break threads up into pages – makes following a thread a nightmare. And good job with the moderation and requests to keep on topic (and to paricipants for mostly staying on topic and generally not responding to trolling and abuse).

    Re the continuing poor primary and 2PP for JWH, is it now set in stone that he will contest the next election? Assuming he’s around to mingle with world leaders at APEC, and turn up to get booed at football finals, might he then say: “well, I’m retiring, and given that an election can be held as late as January 19, that gives my successor up to three months to turn things around”?

    I realise such a scenario is unlikely. But it’s not as if he’s a mate of Costello’s.

  16. “I might think about betting some spare cash I have on the Coalition winning.”

    You do that, Tristan.

    Put a smile on the bookies dial.

  17. Adam, you’d be surprised how much normal spam appears on WordPress blogs (that readers don’t see) in addition to all the political nonsense that some people spew out. I feel sorry for William as is, and I *really* should throw some money his way for this place.

    I wouldn’t tout it as an idea until this place really starts going to hell.

  18. Adam. Those booths such as Uki, Dunoon, Kunghur etc are exactly like Nimbin, just without the reputation. Hippies, lifestylers, arts/crafts people, treechangers and the like. Many would be likely to vote ALP in the Reps and Greens in the Senate.

    I think you will find that in Page the same phenomenon will manifest itself in booths at places such as Kyogle and the small villages to it’s north, if not at this election then certainly at the ones following. I was surprised that your map didn’t portray a beginnings of such a change already.

    Possibly it could be argued that the newer coastal settlers are conservative pensioners and their white collar service providers, whilst the rural settlements attract a generally younger or at least more active settler.

    My wife is from Richmond.

  19. On the outskirts of Canberra there is a timber mill which mostly processes saw logs from NSW. Due to a dispute with the NSW govt over future intentions it lost its rights to these logs and has abruptly locked its doors and appointed receivers, leaving approx 100 employees without entitlements, including Super (isn’t the ATO supposed to ensure super entitlements are paid regularly into an approved fund?). Most of these employees are from Queanbeyan and very fortuitously for them that is in the ultra marginal seat of Eden Monaro. The Govt has jumped in and offered to pay the outstanding amount. Apparently about $5m is the figure, although nobody seems to have any real idea as yet.

    A bloke from the CFMEU told me that at the grand announcement set up by Gary Nairn, the Lib local member, the ALP candidate Mike Kelly turned up and said a few words. He received a huge cheer from the workers and Nairn was apparently spewing that his election stunt had been hijacked.

    Nothing to do with Workchoices of course, but any employee bastardry automatically turns voters attention to places the coalition would prefer not to have it.

  20. RE: Richmond

    I lived in Richmond (at the northern end of Byron shire) before migrating to what is now Page.

    I agree with what Hoots said about the hippy thing. That area also has a large population of artistic types.

    Byron Shire which takes in a large proportion of those booths has a popularly elected Greens mayor.

    Reading the Byron Shire Echo newspaper will give you a feel for the area – especially the letters to the editor.

  21. I note that Richmond in 2004 had a very tight Greens-to-ALP preference flow. Whereas you’d generally expect preferences to flow less tightly in a rural electorate.

    Is this further evidence of the ‘hippie’ element in Richmond? As distinct from say, middle class (sub)urbanites that would be Greens voters in other electorates.

    And Adam’s proposed new blog sounds interesting.

  22. Do we see the signs of the current Coalition tactic (attack the State Govt and act like the saviour) developing in more and more key marginal Coalition seats ?

    Recent examples indicating Coalition strategists have given up on the ‘made up my mind already’ primary vote and are targetting swinging voters for the 2PP seems to developing momentum.

    (1) The JWH ‘save the Devenport hospital’ pork barrelling which back-fired because Burnie residents like my old’s dont particularly like the idea (true or not) that this decision could have a negative impact on the viability of their hospital. For each vote gained another vote questionable.
    Braddon is held by the Coalition by a very vulnerable margin.

    (2) The JWH intervention in QLD regarding local Govt Council amalgamations. Forcing a vote on a State Govt issue on a Federal election day would muddy the waters in the swingers minds (very clever) to one degree or another [Beattie could counter that with a pleb.on industrial relations or mortgages] in key seats the Coalition want to keep on their side of the ledger in provincial-rural QLD including the new seat of Flynn with a 7.9% notional National majority.

    (3) Gary Nairn going to the timber mill outside Canberra and saying the Federal Government will pay the outstanding amount in entitlements (including Super) due to 100 timber workers who have lost their jobs after the company called in the receivers following a dispute with the NSW Labor Government (thanks for the heads up Mike Cusack who notes that

    “Most of these employees are from Queanbeyan and very fortuitously for them that is in the ultra marginal seat of Eden Monaro”.

    So far then, we have had the Coalition pork barrelling Braddon , Flynn and others in Qld, Eden Monaro and Solomon, depending on your perception of the + or – impact Indigenous interventions will have on the electorate in the NT.

    If we take these examples of a form guide, can we expect similar interventions in Kingston, Makin, Wakefeild, Boothby,Sturt, Stirling, Hasluck, Wentworth, Corangamite, Parramatta,Macquarie and several others ?

    No surprises here, it is part of Australian electioneering history some would say. I just wonder how much value the Coalition will get out of this ‘awful State Govt, here’s a carrot’ approach to swinging voters in a election climate that suggests many have a cynical, distrusting view of JWH and whatever he does (at the moment) is being read as the last desperate efforts to keep PM on his business cards.

    His motives may well be admirable in some cases, but the electorate don’t seem to trust him and when your credibility is shot to hell whatever you do comes undone. Targetting swingers in marginals with ‘pork barrels’ is a high risk strategy for JWH in these circumstances I would have thought.

  23. Adam Says:
    August 7th, 2007 at 11:36 pm

    How many people would be interested in a new blog strictly confined to matters psephological, from all which all political spam was ruthlessly banned by the blogmeister.

    I would be interested in the concept Adam, but ‘if it aint broke, dont fix it’ is a good concept too- Perhaps William should be given the opportunity to decide to ban all ‘political spam’ first- If he says no, that is a green light from where I’m sitting.

  24. Hi William and particularly Adam,
    Thanks for the tips on Nurnberg. I wasn’t able to get to the parti tag grounds but the palace of justice was interesting. I am actually in Bavaria for the Wagner festival, so more proto-Nazi than nazi tour. That said I have just been to Dachau. I did not realize that this was the first concentration camp, established for SDPs and KPDs who did not quickly fall in line after the Reichstag fire
    Why have I said all this? The trip to Dachau was deeply disturbing – It appears to me that respect for an opponent’s views is the only guarantee of a continuing democracy. I think a blog like this should be open to all views but bloggers should respect the views of their opponents. “Krudd”, “Dudd” and “the lying rodent” were all mildly amusing when I first heard them but now they just show a lack of political maturity and respect. I would like this blog to keep going as it is but perhaps their should be more emphasis with the masthead or at the start of each page to say that this is a blog for psephology not political opinion and a condition of use is respect for all political views.

  25. Adam, RE: Richmond

    Most of the rural ALP booths in the south, are people who have bought up small land holdings (waste of good agricultural land if you ask me – good red soils) in the hills south of Mount Warning, these are ‘lifestylers’, people trying to get away from the rat race , hippies, ferals etc. The blue rural booths in the north are all sugar cane growing areas.

  26. 325
    Grooski Says:
    August 7th, 2007 at 6:05 pm
    Evan, I actually like Gillard, I think she will be a future PM….

    Kina Says:
    August 7th, 2007 at 7:02 pm
    Julia Gillard did an excellent job when she filled in for Rudd in Parliament. Eyeball Howard calmly all the way through and spoke fairly well.

    I agree she is a potential PM one day – but she will have competition with Shorten. She seems to appeal more the more you see her and get used to her voice.

    True blue Lib voters will of course hate her.

    Personally I have nothing in particular against Gillard (and nothing in particular for her either). But, regardless of her individual merits, I don’t see how she can become ALP leader while affiliated with the Left faction.

  27. 338
    Adam Says:
    August 7th, 2007 at 6:42 pm
    William, font is fine.

    J-D, I think if a Rudd government tried to enlarge the Reps it would be attacked with a shrill populist campaign about wasting the taxpayers’ money on more politicians etc etc by the Opposition and its media attack dogs. Hawke (who had control of the Senate with the aid of Don Chipp) was prepared to weather that – I doubt Rudd be. It’s a second-order issue and Rudd will need to conserve his political capital for bigger battles with a hostile Senate.

    Point taken, Adam. I think you’re probably right, at least in the short term (that is, until the composition of the Senate changes). For the record, however, it wasn’t Democrat votes that let the Labor government get its expansion of Parliament through the Senate in 1984. The Democrats opposed it; it was the support of National Party Senators that got it over the line. (Or at least, that’s the way Graham Richardson told the story in _Whatever It Takes_, and I see no reason to doubt him on this point.)

  28. 419
    Ophuph Hucksake Says:
    August 7th, 2007 at 11:18 pm
    Adam 9.08pm

    Thanks for sharing. Given the tendency for rural seats to have less enrollments than metro ones this suggests that a couple of electorates could be pushing the 100,000 barrier!

    Rural seats had to have lower enrolments than metropolitan ones under the pre-1984 electoral laws, but the 1984 amendments eliminated that rule.

    There definitely are seats not only pushing the 100,000 barrier but over it: the two ACT seats. But this is not because of a rural-urban distinction, it is because the ACT is only a little below the population figure that would give it three seats. The Northern Territory is only just on the population figure that gives it two seats, and so its two seats, of which one is urban and one is rural, have the lowest enrolment figures.

  29. 341
    Tristan Jones Says:
    August 7th, 2007 at 7:01 pm
    Personally I would like to see the states abolished and their powers distributed to both local (give them urban planning for example) and federal governments, along with other organizations (like schools being ruled by councils of parents and teachers).

    Steven Kaye Says:
    August 7th, 2007 at 9:38 pm
    Yes, Tristan Jones, yes! Exactly what I’ve been thinking for years.

    If we’re going to talk about impossible fantasies, mine has changed from getting rid of the States (which I used to favour for years) to de-Federation. I agree that we have more levels of government than we need, but if we’re going to get rid of one, I now think we’d do better to get rid of the Commonwealth.

  30. Richmond has a number of alternative lifestyle communities and these have been boosted by writers, film-makers,artists, musicians and the like moving up from Sydney and Melbourne into those rural communities. I know people who live in many if these areas and they are what the old cockies call “blockies”.
    Some of the highest Green votes in the country are in these communities.
    They are extremely antipathetic towards John Howard.
    You could call Richmond a safe Labor seat.
    I guess we’ll find out in about 12 weeks.

  31. Howard’s promise to fund local plebiscites on the proposed amalgamation smells a bit like the kind of campiagn angle that Republlicans often use in the U.S – does anyone else get that impression? What I’m referring to is the way that when a Presidential election is held in conjunction with state legislature and Gubernatorial (love that word) races, the issues are often deliberately confused in order to force a candidate to take a position on an issue that is of no relevance to the office thay are pursuing. A clear example is the way that gay marriage or abortion issues are played by Republicans (i’m sure most of you have seen season 7 of the West Wing).
    These issues are almost exclusively the responsibility of States to worry about, however they get thrown into the mix of issues that candidates for Federal office have to respond to – the aim being to play these issues up in a hope of getting a reaction from conservative voters on the essentially irrelevant positions taken by Presidential or Congressional candidates – the end result is people end up having their vote for a federal or presidential candidate influenced by an issue that the cabndidate has ZERO control over. Howard seems to be hoping that Queenslanders will take their anger oat Peter Beattie out on Kevin Rudd if the plebiscite takes place on election day….on reflection, I a bit suprised that Howard didn’t offer to fund a plebiscite in Victoria in 2004 to decide whether the Scoresby tollway should be free. Anyone else getting this sense or is it just me?

  32. ArbieJay, if Howard is serious, he certainly will plan council plebiscites on federal election day. (1) for maximum political mischief (2) to say he’s saving money. How much mischief does he stand to gain though? Reinforce some otherwise safe Coalition communities and hence gain some votes in Longman, Blair, Hinkler and a very few in Herbert. Maybe it is more about shoring up a Qld Senate seat.

    But you are right, if he pushes this through, he opens a huge can of worms: why shouldn’t a State have a plebiscite about withdrawing troops from Iraq? Howard risks trashing a core principle of the Commonwealth Electoral Act: State elections can’t be held on Federal election day, to avoid unnecessary confusion/admixing of issues.

    Essentially Howard (if he is taken at face value) is endorsing a US style system: logical extension is CIR on any issue on polling day.

    My guess is he’d like to push ahead with this and wedge Beattie and Labor generally. Beattie would be wise to back down and let regional councils let off steam by having their own plebiscites. For what it’s worth, I’d prefer fewer amalgamations as local govt is inherently democratic, and I think Beattie has been too crash through on this issue.

    Hope this is not off-topic: unlike Mersey hospital, this is at least about voting/polls!

  33. Richmond like Page does have a significant alternative lifestyle crowd, they are big supporters of Labor and The Greens. It explains why Labor last election won big majorities in many of the smaller towns and cities like Byron bay and the Coalition did better in the bigger communities like Murwillumbah and Tweed Heads (although Labor won three booths there)

  34. While I agree that the election is not over, Howard could still win, the idea that it is because of his strong team is just laughable in my view.

    While I think people respect Costello even if some dislike him it doesn’t extend much further than that in my view.

    I hear a bit of hostility to Nelson since the whole Kovco thing. Alexander Downer is almost universally despised. Labor voters hate him, moderates hate him and even most of my Lib supporting family / friends are hard pressed to say something good about him. Tony Abbott ain’t real popular either.

    Beyond that most people don’t have much of an opinion about anyone else although I have had a couple of people say to me that Helen Coonan frightens them.

    On the Labor side; Rudd is liked except by Liberal diehard partisans, some people dislike Gillard (mostly based on her voice as far as I can tell) but most don’t seem to mind her too much, while Wayne Swan doesn’t float anyone’s boat but no-one seems to think he’s incompetent, he’s just kind of annoying.

    If Howard hangs on, the frontbench will have bugger all to do with it IMO.

  35. I would guess the coastal booths in Byron Bay (including Suffolk Park) have a “Byron Bay hippy” effect, with a gradient down through Lennox Head to the (higher than I expected) National vote in Ballina in Page.

    What surprised me was the Labor vote levels in Ocean Shores and Brunswick Heads. Perhaps my local knowledge is too out of date now and these booths are similar enough to Byron Bay.

  36. As for increasing the size of parliament, the reason why I think there’s a good chance a future Labor govt would do this is because of the unfavourable present Senate configuration.

    With no natural spoilers on the right, the Coalition is well placed to continue winning half the Senate seats at half-Senate elections; even when Labor is winning House of Reps majorities. That’s going to be problematic for a future Labor govt.

    Now everyone thinks the next Labor govt will call a double dissolution during it’s first term. So do I. But surely the ALP wouldn’t keep doing this every couple of years. Increasing the size of the Senate is a better long-term strategy.

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