Inside dope

That most intensely scrutinised of federal electorates, Wentworth, is again the subject of an internal party polling “leak”. Many argue that all internal polls that make it to the public view are self-serving fabrications, but I personally am naive enough to think they might sometimes be authentic. This time we have The Australian reporting results from a very thorough survey of 400 voters conducted for Labor in June by UMP Research. The key finding is that Labor has a decisive lead on the primary vote, of 44 per cent to 42 per cent. The report also informs us that the Liberal Party has “doubled the number of seats it was treating as ‘marginal’ in the face of Labor’s consistent lead in the polls”.

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.

169 comments on “Inside dope”

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  1. Has Cousins got someone else in mind for Coalition leader down the track ? His attack on Turnbull as Environment Minister is consistent with his passion about Tasmania’s environmental splendour and long held views on pulp mills messing things up down there, but I wonder if there is another agenda [added bonus] for Cousin’s in this.

  2. William I read The Australian link to this stream, but it says nothing about Labor Party ‘leak’ surveys. Can you provide a link to that information please.

  3. This is an old poll, leaked by one side of politics. It is meaningless and should be disregarded.

    I do think Turnbull is at risk, as half the coalition is if the national polls prove correct. But I think he has a bigger real margin than 2.4%, and a better chance of hanging on than Howard in Bennelong. By-election swings seldom reflect the picture at a full election.

    There are some solid Labor areas in his seat though, like Bondi Beach and Clovelly. He’d be helped if same-sex legal rights were improved, and he’s obviously pushing for that.

  4. I wonder if the ACTU will be encouraged by the Liberal panic to double the number of seats that the ‘Your Rights at Work’ campaign considers marginal.

  5. George Newhouse on ABC 702 today coulden’t condem the pulp mill, instead deflected comment to “turn coat” Labor “posterboy” ,spokes person for Un-enviromental activities.

  6. In post #6

    Forgot to mention Peter Garret said Shadow Minister for Environment and Labor disinformation spokesperson and no friend of the environment. Re Nucear Mining, logging, etc,…

  7. In 2004 the left did notably poorly among unskilled workers and the private sector managerial-professional group. There are plenty of later in Wentworth, Turnbull would have some personal appeal to this stratum, but Wentworth is vulnerable to the national swing. An extra Labor vote in Vaucluse counts as much as in Redfern.

  8. The report also informs us that the Liberal Party has “doubled the number of seats it was treating as ‘marginal’ in the face of Labor’s consistent lead in the polls”.

    This item of the report highlights the issue of ‘real margins’ discussed by me and others here recently. The Liberal Party seem to be acknowledging that there was a significant Latham factor in 2004 which gave them increased margins and that now those ‘healthy’ margins are not so solid and will evaporate quickly on election day.

  9. 5 pondie84:

    “Turnbull will not lose his seat. I think that’s plainly obvious for most people.”

    OK thanks pondie, we’ll just take you word for it. Don’t worry about any evidence to back up your wishful thinking.

    I’m feeling a lot more relaxed and comfortable now.

  10. The ALP has a much better chance of picking up Macquarie, Parramatta, Lindsey and Eden Minaro than Wentworth…The seat of Wentworth still is a blue-ribbon Liberal seat and i doubt it would fall even in a Ruddslide…

  11. What is Cousins background/connections to the conservative side of politics (if any. Or is he a mate of Newhouse?). Why would he be so publicly targeting Turnbull – there are much less personal or retributive – and hence effective – ways of campaigning against an environmental decision.

    The conspiracy theorist in me wonders if parts of the Liberal party aren’t already jockeying for a future in opposition, ie turning against potential rivals for leadership and influence.

  12. Glen, maybe you missed it but the Megaphone activities out of the PM’s office and Defence Dept. have been pulled.
    The Liberals abuse of taxpayers money to rewrite history has been busted.
    Who would have thought WickapediaGATE.

  13. Interesting to look at King’s preference flow last election. 61.2% to Turnbull. 38.8% to Patch.

    So those assuming that the vote for Peter King will all flow back to Turnbull are deluding themselves.

    Also 88% of green prefs. went to the ALP.

    He has a fight on his hands.

  14. As i said on the previous thread…the Libs private polling (i know the people running the Libs marginal seat campaign in NSW) show Turnbull is well placed…. though obviously it will be a fight


  15. With a poll size of 400 (margin of error 5%) means few conclusions can be drawn. I’d argree the margin of Wentworth is understated.

    I suspect Turnball will hold Wentworth but the fact it is clearly close for a high profile candidate means ALP can comfotabely win at least 4 seats
    (Parramatta, Lindsay, Eden-Monaro & Dobell) with Page Patterson and Robertson being quite likely.

    If it ends up being a landslide you can add Bennelong and Wentworth to that list.

  16. Graeme @ #14.
    So I’m not the only one to be suspicious of the motives of a friend of the PM coming out in opposition to a republican contender for leadership of the conservatives when (if) Capt Queeg runs them onto the rocks in Nov/Dec.

    I don’t doubt that the hard heads of the party are looking at the possible makeup of the party after the election and the probable leadership contenders and factional alignments. Thus far, the religious right of the party have proven to have the hardest heads of the lot. I dont know what grouping Cousins falls into, but if he is a friend of the PM he is unlikely to be a moderate.

  17. Re the gay/lesbian vote in Wentworth: The Libs have – again – deferred reforms (they’re currently ‘under consideration’ by Howard but after nearly 12 years of holding one’s breath you only turn blue), ceding to the strong anti-queer Lib figures like Abbott and Andrews. I can’t imagine Malc’s is a happy chappy about this, and unless the reforms become a reality before the election this will really hurt him.

  18. I tend to agree with those who reckon that Wentworth is not likely to fall, unless there’s a swing of historic proportions on the cards. Even though the redistribution has brought in a number of strong Labor areas (such as Darlinghurst & Paddington), it’s still dominated by the old money suburbs of Rose Bay, Double Pay and Vaucluse – and it’s hard to see the good burghers of these areas voting Labor. Additionaly, others have pointed out that the notional margin was distorted by the third party running in 2004. Howard in Bennelong may also be safe for similar reasons. However, this has already been a strange year politically, so I guess anything’s possible.

    But Labor has not pre-selected high profile candidates for Wentworth and Bennelong with the idea that the ALP will defintely win them, but rather that such candidates will require the incumbents (who as we all know are also the Prime Minister and the high-profile Environment Minister) to campaign a lot more in their own seats that they expected to. So even if Labor don’t win either of these seats, the two candidates will have pushed two of the Libs’ more high profile people off the national stage.

  19. Geoff Robinson @ #9
    In our system a vote in one area is not worth the same as in another area. One vote for the ALP in Redfern (Sydney) is worth not as much as a vote for the ALP in Vaucluse (Wentworth) where it may effect a change.

  20. Hugo Says: I tend to agree with those who reckon that Wentworth is not likely to fall, unless there’s a swing of historic proportions on the cards.

    I agree. I think John Howard has to be very worried about losing his seat, much more than Malcolm Turnbull. There would be a lot of ALP-leaning voters in Wentworth that would vote in Turnbull (I doesn’t really have the baggage, and he does actually come from a representative part of that electorate), than there would be in Bennelong. There would be a lot of people in Australia that view Turnbull as a real contender for leading the liberal party. Dare I say it… he’s really the only one that has any real chance of being elected.

    The ol’ australian ‘hedging your bets’ story. If Wentworth voters think Howard is going to lose (either the election, or his seat), they’ll probably support Turnbull. If they think it’s going to be close, they’ll probably vote against both of them.

    Either way, Turnbull is in a much better position than Howard, where most people would consider it a win (even if they’re liberal) if Howard loses, regardless of which party won the election. There are a lot of liberal supporters that would be happy with that outcome.

  21. By the way Pi, in the unlikely event that Howard won the election but lost his seat (I say unlikely, because he is going to win both), it would not be the end of him as PM. Under the Constitution he has three months during which he can remain PM during which he has to become an MHR. This would be achieved by the simple expedient of making a sitting MP resign so that Howard would contest and win that seat. He would then continue on as PM until he chooses to retire.

    It’s been done before, in various forms. In the ealr part of the 20th century PM Billy Hughes was in danger of losing his seat at one election, so he simply switched to another, safer, seat and won that one instead.

    More recently, in 1968, Senator John Gorton was elected by the Liberal Party as leader to replace the missing Harold Holt. Gorton became PM immediately, but had three months in which to contest and win a seat in the House of Reps. Fortunately there was one available (Holt’s), whcih Gorton contested and won.

    More recently still, in 1986 Neville Wran retired as Premier of NSW and the State Labor Party elected Barry Unsworth, a member of the Upper House, as his successor. Unsworth took office as Premier, but had to switch to the Lower House. On this occasion there was no seat available, so the hapless Labor Memebr for Rockdale was ordered to resign his seat so that Unsworth could have it, which he did. Unsworth won the ensuing by-election in Rockdale (albeit narrowly), and remained Premier of NSW until his defeat by Nick Greiner two years later.

    It helps to know something of history, and the Constitution.

    So says Cerdic Conan.

  22. Thanks Crispy, I was really looking for the way the votes went for the whole spectrum of parties not just the 2pp.
    The AEC seem to have them for a short time after the election, but they have disapeared now.

    Talking about disapeared Glen, Nostro, Steven K…WickapediaGATE…Sorry BxTom, I just coulden’t help myself.

  23. No, you’re right envy, they seem to have all the numbers for the seat as a whole, but not the individual booths. Bound to be a cache of them somewhere. Maybe Adam will drop in with the good oil.

  24. From mumble:

    If Labor gets a national swing of 7% or more, all sorts of seats will fall, probably including Bennelong and Wentworth. It would be Labor’s biggest win since WWII, which doesn’t mean it won’t happen, but that it probably won’t.

    Personally I think the polling around that falls around 55:45 level (and I’m happier at the 57:43 level personally), assuming this is the best approximate measure, combined with the marginal seat stuff (if this actually helps, or in Wentworths case Turnbulls unlimited bucket of money) could help one to conclude that the signficant destruction of the libs probably (ie more than 50%) wont happen.

    That past elections say it probably wont happen I don’t quite get. But I’m just a girl and I remember we aren’t supposed to run for seats in SA.

  25. I should relearn the quote thing .. there is only one paragraph of quote, from the paragraph starting “Personally” it is jas waffling not mumble mumbling.

  26. Envy might i point out this…,21985,22299984-5005961,00.html
    PM denies order to edit Wikipedia

    “PRIME Minister John Howard today denied ordering his staff or department to edit entries in the Wikipedia online encyclopedia to remove details that might be damaging to the Government.”

    Envy its just another beat up and will hurt as Howard as much as Burkegate, Sunrisegate, Theresegate, and Strippergate…

    God isnt adding the word gate on the end of a word so much fun lol!

  27. [Envy its just another beat up and will hurt as Howard as much as Burkegate, Sunrisegate, Theresegate, and Strippergate…]

    Surely government staffers have more important things to do than editing Wikipedia? Don’t they have to like, um, run the administration of the country?

  28. The joke is Turnbull would fit reasonably well into either a Keating or Rudd led ALP. (Not to say he’d find a seat the union dominated pre-selection system – as opposed to one open to pouring lots of individual members into his branches!)

  29. The wikipedia stuff is an amusing revelation. To be fair on these political warriors, aren’t they are in part just doing it to wipe material put there by the political warriors on the other side? And so on, ad infinitum.

    Who’d rely on wikipedia for info about anyone who is not dead?

    I used to teach in an (ahem) progressive law faculty. A pair of disgruntled, arch-conservative students used to regularly re-write the entry about the university and faculty, often in libellous or plain wrong ways. Offended staff would delete the libels. They’d return. The most that can be said for this silly cat’n’mouse game was it enabled us to see, sincerely, what a couple of students really thought about us.

  30. As if Turnbull would fit well into the ALP its like having a Union boss run for the Liberal Party…he’s centre-right Graeme not centre-left…

    “Surely government staffers have more important things to do than editing Wikipedia? Don’t they have to like, um, run the administration of the country?” – couldnt agree with you more Simon heads should roll but id say there’s enough Humphrey Appleby’s in the staffers and civil servants to stop this.

    Simon and Graeme do you think the Libs will cede marginal seats to the ALP if they dont think they’ve got a chance of winning them, so as to spend money/time on other electorates???

    Maybe Howard could give up on SA and TAS (even though he’s spent a bucket load on Braddon) and focus on QLD and WA?

  31. My law faculty wasn’t at all progressive, Victorian era is closer to the mark, but even without seeing them libellous posts I can bet I agreed with them (in relation to my law school)!!!!!!!!!!!

    Now I’m a conservative middle of the road girl, who didn’t mind the politics of the victorian era law school but why would arch conservatives go to one of those progressive type law schools?

  32. [The joke is Turnbull would fit reasonably well into either a Keating or Rudd led ALP.]

    [As if Turnbull would fit well into the ALP its like having a Union boss run for the Liberal Party…he’s centre-right Graeme not centre-left…]

    In 1994 Turnbull asked Keating to make him a Labor senator. This was around the time that he was an advisor to Keating on the Republic.

    [Simon and Graeme do you think the Libs will cede marginal seats to the ALP if they dont think they’ve got a chance of winning them, so as to spend money/time on other electorates???]

    Yes. I think they will give up on all seats that have margins below 3% and concentrate on retaining seats with margins around 5% and above.

  33. Can anyone tell me why the betting agencies are showing a slight trend back towards the government and Howard in particular?

  34. And Malcolm declined his invitation Simon…

    I’m not sure they’ll do it for every seat below 3% but perhaps a few seats they’ll think if the swings on they wont be able to hold it and try to hold on to enough seats to maintain a slim majority…

  35. On Wentworth, I’ll leave Antony Green to point out that this ALP poll just shows the effect of a uniform swing across NSW of the order of 5-6%. That would be high, but not historic. Sure King ran last time; but who thinks Latham (for all his anti-Iraq war credentials) was a hit in that electorate?

    I’m bemused by the report in The Oz, citing local Libs saying a poll by the ALP, because it only mentioned party labels, was dodgier than a poll that seemed to only mentione candidate names. T Turnbull might have a big name factor (mind you it wouldn’t all be positive). But people vote in polling booths with party labels in front of them. An opinion poll pitting ‘Turnbull vs Newhouse’ wouldn’t be worth the time.

  36. Have some betting agencies stopped taking bets on the election??

    I was going to put some money on the ALP in the off chance they win the election ill have something to be happy about $$$ lol.

  37. Hmmmm can anyone tell me with Hasluck, which everyone but Glen seems to think is marginal, the Government seem to have stopped the pork, barely after it started. Assuming pork has less and less credibility as the election nears (particularly govt promises when it looks they will lose) has the Govt given up on Hasluck?

    There is still some pork falling in Cowan to be fair. Perhaps the Cowan projects are almost genuine needs.

  38. [And Malcolm declined his invitation Simon…]



    It was the Graham Richardson’s seat which became vacant when he retired. Keating probably would’ve let him take it if it was held by a Labor-left senator.

  39. jasmine – good question. two answers: (1) opportunity/marks – the newer law schools aren’t limited to OP 1s and 2s or TERs of 98 or 99. (2) teaching – the newer law schools have better teaching ratings, at least in my state (Qld). Not saying they are inherently better on teaching, just that they have younger/fresher staff and courses.

  40. Glen: The problem the PM has is that he has no credibility these days and no one believes anything he says. He has just broken too many promises and told too many lies.

    Even Costello and his own wife don’t believe him.

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