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. It’s ok Simon chill out…i obviously stand corrected i misread your post…i havent heard that story about Turnbull but one can assume it was because of his close relationship over the Republic issue…

    Jasmine…i never said Hasluck was not a marginal seat it is and if the Coalition loses a seat in WA it will most likely be Hasluck…
    Cowan and Swan are far more likely to fall to the Libs than Stirling and Hasluck are to both fall to Labor…more likely status quo in WA but i wouldnt put it past the Libs to make up more ground.

  2. Simon Howson: “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.”

    Agreed. In the United States they call this the “firewall strategy”. Under this strategy, a party resigns itself to losing seats below a certain margin, and instead focuses on holding its ‘safer’ (but still vulnerable) seats on a higher margin.

    The firewall stratagy was tried by the Republicans in the 2006 mid-term elections – and failed. When a big swing is on, ain’t nothing gonna stop it. Still, on paper, the firewall is not a bad idea for a party desperate to hold onto its majority.

  3. [The firewall stratagy was tried by the Republicans in the 2006 mid-term elections – and failed. When a big swing is on, ain’t nothing gonna stop it. Still, on paper, the firewall is not a bad idea for a party desperate to hold onto its majority.]

    This strategy won’t work though, because the last quarter Newspoll showed the ALP is getting swings of over 10% in government SAFE seats. This is a side effect of the 2004 election where the Latham factor made numerous coalition marginals seem more safe than they really are.

  4. Gary (post 42) I am not sure why the betting agencies are showing a slight trend back to the Coalition parties. Perhaps there is some doubt about the concept of “locked in” voters. I was surprised to see the relatively high number of ‘unsure’ voters in the EMRS survey on Bass and Braddon.

  5. Yes, Simon, Tas has been in the 60s for labor all year. I dont know why Team Rodent is bothering with the Mersey hospital – those seats are simply gone.

    Effectively, ALP needs 14 seats on the mainland to win government.

  6. Obviously in Bradden the pork barrelling has had some effect. I wonder if Rudd’s health announcement will stem the flow.

  7. Left E that is correct yet the ALP have to hold on to every single one of its marginals and i think Labor will struggle in Cowan and Swan in WA if the Libs can pick up those seats the loss of Bass and Braddon will be negligible…

    David picks up on an important point…with the unsure or undecideds at 10-15% and Labor’s vote dropping around 8-10% in those Liberal marginals perhaps its closer than we think?

  8. [David picks up on an important point…with the unsure or undecideds at 10-15% and Labor’s vote dropping around 8-10% in those Liberal marginals perhaps its closer than we think?]

    Look at the data carefully, most of the ALP vote is going to the greens, then back to the ALP on preferences.

    The Liberals are struggling to take votes directly from the ALP.

    I’m waiting for Lefty E to devise a term for a sitting environment minister losing their seat. 😛

    Maybe the term TICKNERED or LAVARCHED could be the generic description?

  9. Glen I would want a poll of far more than 200 in any one seat for me to be convinced of the 60% showing for Labor, the “swing back” in Braddon or the large undecided vote. I can see why you are grasping at any lifeline that comes your way (I would too) but let’s get real.

  10. [Why should we accept this poll and not Morgan?]

    Because it shows a swing back to the Wikipedia Party of Australia?

  11. Agree with Gary (58) – you can’t break these polls down into seat-by-seat numbers because then you’re increasing the margin of error. MOEs will even out if the sample is large enough and the polling method is random enough, but a sample of only 200 voters is probably going to have an MOE 5% or greater. Not being a hard core statistician, I’m just guessing at that number, but in terms of what we’ve seen for the more recent polls (3.9% for Morgan, with 600 electors) I’d say it’s probably even a bit on the low side.

    Still looks like the ALP will definitely get back the seats that they lost in ’04, however.

  12. Hmm, interesting challenge Simon. Of course, Wentworth himself was a proponent of introducing a landed aristocracy, so Turnbull Bligh fits well.

    So, how about:

    Ticknered out.
    Campbelled (with full honours, for the good of the party)
    Over the Hill, and far away

    I could go on all day, But lets face it, all we really need is a good Stanley Bruceing on the night..

  13. The margin of error of those Tasmanian numbers is, for each electorate, around 7% at a confidence level of 95%. Compare this to around 3% if the numbers are aggregated.

    On that basis, the ALP TPP could be anywhere from 47 to 61. Use with extreme caution (unless, of course, the poll confirms your prejudices, in which case shout it from the rooftops).

  14. Probably the drop in Labor’s primary [1% went to the Greens], Strip-non-gate and ‘Aspirational-Horse-Scaring’ encouraged some Lib supporters to put money on and, this is why a closing in the prices.

    Rudd’s Hospital policy I suspect will be a great help. Sounded good, got mostly good press, the States basically supported it and it had user choice in it [referendum].

    I notice Keating was more circumspect last night on Labor’s IR policy.

    What are the odds for a rate increase and when?

  15. That was before the Brian Burke scandal exposed how corrupt the WA ALP are…and i think that more than anything will help get Swan and Cowan into play…

  16. Simon Howson (Post 57). I do not think it is appropriate for you to admonish Glen or anyone else for that matter, because in your estimation they have neglected to read the EMRS data carefully. Braddon and Bass on current polling, including Morgan, are ALP gains. The number of ‘unsure’ voters in the latest data suggests there may (not necessarily, will) be movement on voting intentions between now and polling day. This is particularly important with Tasmanian seats because they have less electors in each seat relative to mainland seats so blocks of undecided voters could make a difference when it comes to making predictions. Having said that, there is no doubt a dip in the ALP primary vote must be matched with a corresponding rise in the Liberal primary vote, for there to be any joy on election night for Liberal supporters.

  17. David is correct…while the Liberals have yet to pull enough votes off the ALP nevertheless the ALP vote has dropped into the Greens and undecideds thus it is reasonable to assume that if the Libs can take a bit more off Labor’s primary then they may have an outside chance of holding Bass and Braddon…10-15% undecided in a big number even though this poll had a smaller sample size.

  18. In terms of bettings markets edging back to the Coalition, I think the simple answer is that the Coalition was having a fairly good media run over the last couple of weeks – Mersey got the agenda back, good sitting fortnight for the Government, Newspoll nudged closer, etc.

    Look to see that little run end as Scoresgate and the hospital announcement get the ball back for Labor.

  19. Wentworth is not the seat is used to be, it used to be centred around Woollahra-Vaucluse, which is a safe liberal area even at a state level.

    However it has gained areas which cover the state seat of Randwick which votes Labor and bits of Bligh while currently independent held is a safe Labor area. Future redistribution’s are going to add more areas to the South and West which are Labor voting areas.

    Malcolm Turnbull won’t even get much of a personal vote because the electorate is full of people who move often.

    If Labor wins the election, they will win Bennelong and Wentworth.

  20. Can someone please explain to me why voters flock en masse to elect the worst crop of state governments we’ve ever had, and are now going to turf out an efficient, competent federal government which has been in power for less time than some of its state counterparts?

    I really am perplexed.

  21. Re betting. For what it’s worth, I heard Tony Delroy on nightline the other night say that a friend of his had just punted $120K or so on the Libs with a betting agency. He described his friend as, inter alia, a reckless punter. It doesnt take too many people like that to move the odds one way or the other. Also, we are now approaching the period where the real punters are likely to get involved, in comparison to the desperadoes who were punting several months or more ago.

    Their betting may be large, but they can only be going on the information which is largely available to us plus their predjudices.

  22. [If the next Galaxy shows a 56/44 does that mean leadership issues are back on the table?]

    Surely if that happens Howard would very privately offer to resign. Galaxy has been the poll most favourable to the government all year, if even that starts to show a swing away from the government, then even Howard would have to conceed that remaining PM probalby isn’t in the best interests of his party.

    I don’t think anyone will challenge Howard, he will either die, or resign.

  23. A-C could it be that your perspective on what is good government is somewhat coloured by your blind faith and devotion to a party?

  24. #73

    Compared to performance of the various state Labor governments, the federal coalition is doing pretty well. I think the electoral landscape of the country has changed gradually since Whitlam to favor the Labor party.

    Australia has little of the conservative Christians the USA has, which support the Republicans very strongly. Means the Liberals cannot remake themselves into a US style Christian Conservative Party.

  25. Actually Call the election please if you look at the result of the State Governments in how they’ve run their jurisdictions, its clear that the Commonwealth has been run better than the current batch of Labor State Governments…

    And don’t continue to belittle people by saying their opinions are blind faith i dont call your beliefs that and you shouldnt either.

    If Galaxy is above 55-45 then of course they’ll be rumblings in the interior.

  26. They should release a joke ALP internal poll for Dolly’s seat showing TPP 53/47 just so I can see him get a ladder in his stockings.

  27. A-C: Here are the answers your seek

    1. Iraq debacle
    2. AWB debacle
    3. Hicks debacle
    4. Haneef debacle
    5. Howard’s damage to our international reputation
    6. Workchoices
    7. Pork-barrelling and corruption
    8. Lack of cogent future strategy
    9. Dishonesty and links to cults
    10. Broken “interest rate” promise
    11. Failure to invest in infrastructure
    12. Failure to perform any significant tax reform
    13. Failure to recognise climate change
    14. Incompetent ministers on the front bench.

    100 more reasons in this link.

  28. I know you’re keen on this line of argument, Glen (ie that Labor might/will lose a few of their own marginals, in particular Swan and Cowan), but the numbers dont really back you up. Labor is getting swings of between 7-10% since the last election, and it would be statistical blip of some size for the ALP to lose any seats at all in that scenario. Basically you’re expecting a seat to swing TO the Libs in the context of an election where the nation as a whole swings substantially to Labor. It’s possible, but highly unlikely, and it would take some sort of almighty local issue for it to happen. As for Swan and Cowan, the polls from the West have mostly indicated a 4-5% swing to Labor since 2004 (smaller than the national average, but still a swing), which suggests that Labor is far more likely to win Hasluck and Stirling and they are to lose Swan or Cowan.

    Still, strange things can happen in elections, so I suppose anything’s possible.

  29. Glen please explain exactly what the States are doing wrong. I’ve yet to read a single explanation that’s credible. When it comes down to it the performance of any Government is coloured by which party you support.

    Nobody will ever be happy with specific State services (eg. hospitals, public transport). It doesn’t matter which party is in, the supporters of the other party will say “This State Government is incompetent… they can’t make the trains run on time!”.

    On the other hand you can point to many things the State Governments are doing right that are directly benefiting the people. For instance, the Mandurah rail line in Perth is going to be brilliant when it’s operational. It’ll see mass development of areas that were previously “in the sticks”. This contrasts to a lack of planning and vision from the ex Richard Court Coalition Government who did not lay down even one metre of extra rail line in the State in their entire time in office.

    Also, if you look at social policy, I’m much happier with the States than the Federal Government. WA has seen the relaxation of the age of consent for homosexual people from 21 to 16 (in line with everyone else). It has seen the decriminalisation of abortion, prostitution etc. It has seen the combination of a mass of tribunals into one super-tribunal that assists people with access to administrative law, which would previously have been highly costly.

    I’m much happier with the State Governments than I ever have been with the Federal Government… and I’m not even a party member.

  30. The answer to your question, A-C (and may I pee in your pocket momentarily when I say you are by far the most rational Right-leaning poster here), is simple. It’s WorkChoices. This is a policy that (rightly or wrongly) freaks people out. As I suggested yesterday, there is no obvious upside of WCs for your average Joe (or Jo), and all they can see is that it means longer hours for less pay with less control over working arrangements. It’s dynamite politically because it affects people who don’t otherwise give a rats about politics. The fact that it most concerns the so-called “Howard battlers” means that it was also breathtaking dumb (in a political sense) to introduce it. But then hubris is a powerful force.

  31. [Actually Call the election please if you look at the result of the State Governments in how they’ve run their jurisdictions, its clear that the Commonwealth has been run better than the current batch of Labor State Governments…]

    This doesn’t make much sense. I live in S.A. where Mike Rann’s approval rating is around 76%, admittedly it was previously 80%.

    Howard’s approval rating is stuck in the 40s. Rann is much more popular than Howard.

  32. I’d also like to know what the Federal Government has done right. Being in Government is more than balancing the books, ensuring you’re in surplus etc.

    You have to look at the big picture and at the benefit of the country. Medicinal costs have blown out massively under this Government. My mum, who has severe health problems can not afford to see a doctor regularly, people cannot see a dentist without having to pay huge sums of money. In fact many of my friends can only afford to go to training dentists, and have had the wrong teeth pulled out or botched procedures.

    Welfare has been stripped away. My mum’s best friend who has chronic asthma and can’t even be in a room with carpet or air conditioning can not now receive disability payments because her Centrelink doctor told her she can go to work. Another friend who has a mental disability after being born without enough oxygen lives in constant fear that her pention will be cut or removed. This is what she has to get by on and it isn’t nearly enough.

    Same sex couples are ignored by this Government, with them being treated as second class citizens.

    I could go on, but when it comes down to it A-C and Glen, you and I have different ideas of what makes a good government. We will never agree.

  33. No wonder Rann is popular in SA…he appears regularly on State Government Ads to boost his popularity last time i saw a Commonwealth Government Ad i didnt see John Howard front and centre…

    Same sex couples are ignored by this Government, with them being treated as second class citizens.

    What do they deserve that they dont already have now??

  34. Actually A-C, I think it’s because there is a credible opposition leader. All governments eventually outstay their welcome… that’s just how it works, but none of the state Coalition parties have had anyone worth voting for in the last umpteen elections, hence their predicament.

    I think the state governments are probably about as unpopular as the feds right now, but they don’t have an opposition worth taking office to trouble them. Howard does.

  35. To quote my old mate Alex Smith “What about me?”.

    Poeple are told we live in a prosperous society, everything is rosy, the economy is going gangbusters, profits are up etc. etc.

    But they feel that they are somehow missing out, John Howard made a huge error with is “Never had it so good” statement. He would never had said such a thing when he was in his prime.

  36. Glen plenty, the superannuation scheme for public sector employees should be equal to that of heterosexual couples. It was a promise of the Howard Government which was forgotten once they won control of the Senate at the 2004 election.

    When you have a system that denies the spouses of one of the High Court justices the equal treatment deserved to all prior High Court justices you know the system is wrong.

    Same sex war widows are not entitled to pensions. That is a crime.

    Also, see the Human Rights & Equal Opportunity Commission which found official discrimination in over 50 different laws. It’s easy to ignore these things if you’re a party follower, to push them to one side and say they’re not important.

    But you go and speak with one person who experiences the discriminative practices of this Government and you will see why they don’t think this is a good government.

  37. Re: state governments

    Every party in opposition at the state level promises to get tough on crime, fix the hospitals, get the trains to run on time, etc and none of them ever do. Here in Victoria all the things we complain about the State Labor Government not doing are exactly the same things we complained about under Kennett. While I’ve supported the State Libs in the past I really don’t think they have much credibility. State Labor may not be great but I think most people feel they’re doing as much as could be expected and the other mob wouldn’t do any better.

    As far as the Federal Government being efficient and competent is concerned. Don’t get me started.

    As I’ve said before I think for most people it’s just a matter of selecting the lesser of evils. Neither side is perfect.

  38. Yes but granted many of them wouldnt vote for the Coalition or any centre-right party…and it would put off some centre-right voters from supporting us to supporting FF or the CDP.

    The fact is Howard is right for many people Australians have never had it so good its a fact there’s nothing wrong with our country we’ve grown too used to living in relative prosperity compared to other western countries and as people are greedy they always want more…that’s why people’s votes are swayed by big spending election promises…

  39. Glen. 94

    You just hit the nail on the head. John Howard does things that are in his political interest. Not what is in the national interest.

    Thanks for the confirmation 😉

  40. But what prosperity Glen? What is it? Where do you get this idea of prosperity from? Real wages? What about the cost of a trip to the doctor or dentist? What about the cost of pharmaceuticals? I’m telling you a lot of people I know aren’t feeling better off. They live from pay to pay. I won’t go into house prices etc. because that’s something extremely hard to say either way whether a Government has control over.

    Your assertion that the Coalition are centre-right is at least questionable. How many of its ranks are crazy religious nut-jobs now? Kevin Andrews? Tony Abbot? Christopher Pyne? Why is Tony Abbot the Minister for Health? Why was Senator Santoro the Minister for Ageing?

    To me, the Coalition don’t seem centre-right. Where are the so-called moderate conservatives? Where’s their voice?

  41. How is going out of his way to help a small percentage of the population in the national interest???

    Ruawake your statement seems without logic…

    As if the ALP would support small business instead of the Unions…thus then your argument would also be relevant for the Labor Party and not just the Coalition…

  42. Glen, do you work with a slab of VB next to the desk? I’ve noticed you start the day as Nice Glen, and as the hours wind on your punctuation disappears and you get more provocative (eg ‘why should we do the right thing by same sex couples they won’t vote Liberal?’) and soon you are Narky Glen, and by ten o’clock Angry Raving Glen. Just wondering.

    Or is there just a shift change in there somewhere?

    Not criticising. Just curious. There’s definitely a pattern.

  43. Actually Crispy i support same sex couples having the same financial rights as hetrosexual couples i would considered more on the wet of social issues of the Liberal Party…but like the ALP who has a hard left faction we have a hard right faction and i dont like the fact there are alot of right wing christians in our party but i have to accept it…

    I hope this is a more of a nice Glen post instead of an evil redneck Glen one…

  44. Glen, removing discrimination against a minority HELPS the nation as a whole because the present state of affairs DEMEANS the nation as a whole. We all participate in the society, though it seems many people do not feel or understand that fully. It is why they can wash their hands so easily of the Iraq debacle or turn their backs on Aboriginal disadvantage. So many do not see themselves as ENGAGED in civil society. This also partly answers A-C’s question. The economy is such a small part of who we are. Even if you accept the government is a brilliant economic manager (debatable), they have let us down with the rest.

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