Westpoll: 51.6-48.4 to Labor in WA

Westpoll’s monthly survey of 410 voters in Western Australia, conducted last weekend and published in today’s West Australian, has federal Labor with a 51.6-48.4 lead on two-party preferred. This points to a 7 per cent swing to Labor which, if uniform, would cost the Liberals Hasluck (1.8 per cent), Stirling (2.0 per cent) and Kalgoorlie (6.3 per cent). The Coalition can at least take comfort from the fact that this is better than Labor’s 54-46 lead in the previous poll, although that result always seemed hard to credit. Preferred prime minister ratings of 47 per cent for Kevin Rudd and 41 per cent for John Howard are unchanged from last month, prompting pollsters Patterson Market Research to argue that the shift to the Coalition on voting intention is meaningful and not the result of sampling issues. No primary vote figures are provided, but the Patterson site should come through here eventually.

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.

122 comments on “Westpoll: 51.6-48.4 to Labor in WA”

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  1. So this means a 3 seat gain to Labor on approx 52/48 which is a long way below the 57/43 of ACNeilsen for the whole country [ex NT]. Thus allowing for WA makes the 57/43 a little higher for Labor in the remaining States. Not to mention the likely 1 seat gain in the NT.

  2. Rounding to one decimal place is novel.

    The most interesting thing is that Labor’s 2PP in WA is (very roughly) some 5 or 6 points below what other pollsters say is the national figure.

    So if Labor’s national support is unsustainably high (haven’t we been saying that for a while?) then you’d expect their support in WA to snap back to under 50%.

    But Labor only needs a 2PP figure of 46-47% in WA to pick up the two Liberal marginals. That strikes me as the most likely outcome: a return to the pre-2004 configuration in WA.

  3. “Thus allowing for WA makes the 57/43 a little higher for Labor in the remaining States. Not to mention the likely 1 seat gain in the NT.”

    You can’t compare polls from two different firms.

    In any case, I’m predicting an 8-7 Coalition majority in WA.

  4. Sad for WA. Still in line at the ballot box, whilst the rest of the country has voted and the count has begun.

    Did not someone suggest suggest changing the voting hours for WA?

    This poll suggests, however slight the swing, it is on, even there.

    My theory, as said, people go with the flow. Who backs a loser?

  5. [Did not someone suggest suggest changing the voting hours for WA?]

    Well with the Daylight Saving Trial on in WA, we will still be 2 hours behind the east, which means that we won’t suffer the problem with the 3 hour time difference in 2004.

    Mind you it was pretty heartbreaking hearing the 2 Tassie seats while travelling with the ALP Candidate for Pearce to the combined Pearce/Hasluck wake when Sharryn Jackson lost 🙁 I predict the ALP will regain Hasluck because of Wankchoices and the fact that the electorate covers the low socio-economic demographic which includes single mothers roloted by welfare to work.

  6. “Westpoll’s monthly survey of 410 voters […]”

    Barely worth considering a poll, really. The margin of error on that one must be staggering.

  7. “5%, Pete.”

    That’s about what I worked out as well. So even at the lower boundary , it would be about 46.5/53.5. Allowing a 2% reduction for Labor in the campaign (which I don’t necessarily believe will happen), this would leave an unchanged situation in WA.

    Of course, it won’t work like that, I imagine both parties have a fairly comprehensive marginal seat strategy worked out.

    Also, the ‘real’ result is just as likely to be 56.4/43.6, given the error range.

    Perhaps someone who managed to stay awake in their stats classes (7am is an unholy time for an undergraduate to attend lectures) could confirm what I read the other day: that even with the error range, because of the underlying distribution (I assume it is a normal distribution – do the polling companies test this?), the real result is much more likely to be at the middle of the error range than at the edges.

  8. Ratty has reared up on his hind legs and squealed defiantly he is King Rat and that’s that.
    Besides, Dolly(my how that man can speak French) simply won’t have it any other way thank you very much.
    Jolly decent of them to “lock-in” our election night “money shots”, I would have thought.
    We are still on track for “The Moment”. (phew!)

  9. Given the 5% sampling error, there is no statistical significance in the ‘change’ between polls. The latest figure is in the same ballpark as the Newspoll quarterly amalgamation of their polls for April to July 2007, which gave a 50-50 2pp for WA, and almost certainly had a larger total sample.

  10. Based on 51.6-48.4, the ALP is up seven points on 2004 when the state moved 3.8 p/c towards the Liberal Party (the biggest state swing in the country).

    It’s a huge move, in or outside the margin of error.

  11. 6 months ago, if you’d been told 52-48 in AUSTRALIA, with 6 -8 weeks to go, you’d have been ecstatic. A swing of 7%.. golly.
    BTW, publishing results to 1 decimal place for a sample this size casts a little doubt on the nous of the pollsters.

  12. Must i remind the Rudd Huggers that this poll was of just 410 people and you are taking what 410 people have said in WA as ‘the swing is on’?? Have you lost grip on reality??? How on earth could any Westpoll even those favouring the Coalition be valid when they have a + or – 4% error rating the ALP could be 55 45 in WA or the Coalition could be 52 48 in front giving these polls any credence is pathetic.

  13. Glen (he said in a gentle tone, as if addressing a 5yo), when all the polls trend in the same direction, month after month, you can’t go on about “margin of error”, OK? Errors occur randomly, not all in the same direction. If you want to question the polls, you have to argue systemic bias, not margin of error. But if you do that, you have to have some evidence, otherwise you’re just engaged in denial of reality. Anyway, even if the Coalition is ahead in WA 52/48, Labor still wins Stirling and Hasluck, which is all they need to do in WA.

  14. I think it is fair to say there will be a swing to Labor this election, the only questions are

    a) how much?
    b) will it be enough?
    c) will there be any votes left over for the third parties?

  15. Either way though Glen, it looks as if Labor will regain Stirling and Hasluck. Kalgoorlie is probably a bridge too far, so I agree with Karma Policeman, 8-7 Coalition.

  16. ” John Howard says he will remain Liberals’ leader and denies panic has gripped the party. ” [quote from The Age]

    Uh Johnnie …. the days for proclaiming your view of reality and having the electorate say “oh because he says it is so must mean it is so” are OVER …. we are NO longer listening to you …. You can’t keep on going back to that well because it is empty

  17. Even if the Westpoll is right, I doubt Labor can win Kalgoorlie. But Canning is much more winnable than its margin suggests. On a statewide swing that big I would expect Canning to go. Anyone with local knowledge?

  18. Glen (he said in a gentle tone, as if addressing a 5yo)

    At least hid claim that this poll was a rogue, like every poll so far this year except the June Westpoll and Galaxy has apparently been.

  19. Possum,

    Because Canning recorded a 9.1% swing to the Liberals in 2004, on the back of the Latham effect and a terrible campaign by the ALP (I think they went through 3 candidates in total).

    Before 2004, it was one of the most marginal seats in WA – 0.4% margin for the Liberals. As such, the 9.5% margin seems to be softer than it would ordinarily suggest.

  20. Only a few months ago, people were arguing quite rightly, that Labor losses in WA, ie.Cowan and Swan, would make a win very difficult. The spectre of the ALP winning the 16 seats required in the east and falling short due to these losses had more than a few Labor voters in a cold sweat.

    However to my mind it looks more and more likely that there will be no coalition gains in WA or anywhere else. And if Labor gains in every state and territory, except the ACT, I can{t see the Coalition holding on.

  21. Possum Possum Possum ‘particularly WA type thing’!!!!!!!!!

    Just really bad campaign(s) last time, an interesting seat with some upper middle end land developments (possibly particularly sensitive to interest rates), and Don Randal. Perhaps he is a good local member. I hope he makes an excellent former member.

  22. PM – Thursday, 16 September , 2004 18:50:39
    Reporter: David Weber
    MARK COLVIN: The seat of Canning in Western Australia is the scene of one of the tightest battles in the election, but the sitting Liberal MP has been making the headlines for all the wrong reasons.

    Yesterday, Don Randall said Mark Latham wasn’t popular with voters because he’s not Christian – a comment the Prime Minister, who was there, backed away from.

    Today, Mr Randall’s been under attack for saying, not for the first time, that Mr Latham has a “road rage personality”.

    But Labor’s had its share of problems too, including the 11th hour resignation of the candidate, amid claims that the party hadn’t put enough resources into the campaign.

    David Weber reports.

    DAVID WEBER: Canning is the Liberals’ third-most marginal seat nationally, but Labor’s campaign to take it back has been affected by tragedy and farce.

    Labor’s original candidate, the former MP, Jane Gerick, died unexpectedly on Christmas Day.

    Then, Cimlie Bowden was pre-selected, but she resigned in the middle of August. She claimed there was a lack of support from head office. She also said there was a personal campaign against her from within the Labor Party.

    This left virtually no time to find another candidate.

    Labor called on Kay Hallahan.

  23. Since the ALP ‘lead’ in WA is so small even if there is one then it would suggest that the Coalition can make up more ground and stand a good shot a defending Stirling at least and possibly picking up Cowan or Swan if there is s swing to the Coalition in those seats…Adam your hubris amazes me truly you have little regard for the voting public it would not surprise me if you like Rudd were going round town saying Rudd has already won…be careful what you wish for Adam look what happened the last time we elected an inexperienced Labor Party to Government in 1972 and their leader had 3 years of leadership experience compared for around 1 year for Rudd what a complete and utter mess that turned out to be and to top it off we had a constitutional crisis. If that is any measure of the Labor Party i would hope that the Australian people can stick with a party with a proven track record rather than a party full of semantics and empty platitudes….

  24. Labor’s best candidate for Canning died suddenly on the eve of the 2004 election. They could barely raise a campaign – especially considering Latham was an unpopoular figure in WA. In underlying terms, Canning is at least as winnable as Hasluck and Stirling. It was held comfortably for Labor by George Gear during the Hawke-Keating era, I recall. In some ways, it looks better for Labor than Kalgoorlie.

    There are two other seats that are possibles for Labor – Moore and Forrest. They look hard on paper, but Forrest has been undergoing a lot of demographic change. Moore is harder, but possible if the swing to Labor picks up, then it is a winnable prospect.

    The Liberals are hoping they can hold everything in WA, but they will probably lose at least 3 and could lose 6.

  25. It was interesting to re-read that.

    The very sad loss of the candidate aside, Mr Randal seems to have hit the Latham road rage personality on the head, when the media (and many of us) hadn’t picked it up at that point. The story even says he was in the news for the ‘wrong’ reasons – history says he has at least one of the reasons directly right and got great publicity for it.

  26. Glen honey you have been saying that since before the Internal Liberal party stuff was leaked last week, and it put a complete end to any ambiguity that you might have been able to spin from rare and small polling here in WA.

    I understand in Forrest there was a very strong independent (TV presenter locally I think) that was causing headaches for the Lib candidate who libs I speak to describe as ‘weak’.

    Apparently the TV personality ‘is resting’ from exhaustion even before the campaign starts; perhaps they been promised some sweets with their tea and lie down.

  27. cowan is open and tough

    hasluck could change

    stirling could change


    canning will become marginal again

    all in all sfa will happen in wa

  28. I read the following posted to the comments blog on Annabelle Crabb’s article in the SMH. Might be worth it to hope that there will still be a spill this week.

    “Forget about the talk of Costello taking over; it won’t happen.


    My West Aussie mole tells me that Wilson Tuckey’s head is set to explode at tomorrow’s Liberal party room meeting, and that Old Man Ironbar is going to put forward the name of a fellow Sandgroper and key factional colleague.

    The Curtin will be drawn for Howard tomorrow.”

  29. While we’re on WA, I notice that the Nationals are running an extremely well-qualified candidate against Tuckey in O’Connor – Phil Gardiner, a wheat farmer from Moora, old local family, has an MBA, was a merchant banker, long record in the area etc etc. Labor is “running dead” with a 20yo student as candidate. Tuckey is 71 and increasingly eccentric and cranky. Anyone with local knowledge think he might lose? The Nats haven’t won a Reps seat in WA since 1972 but this looks their best chance in a while.

  30. Interesting to note that Neil Brown in today{s Australian, claiming to be an objective outsider, has already called it for the Coalition.

    Apparently, IR and Iraq are potential vote winners??

    The Coalition will win a good majority, with different seats from the present one. No mention of which Labor seats they will gain though.


  31. the Coalition can make up more ground and stand a good shot a defending Stirling at least and possibly picking up Cowan or Swan if there is s swing to the Coalition in those seats

    More insightful analysis from Comical Ali.

    Yes Glen, if the Liberals can turn a 7% swing against them into a 2% swing for them then they will pick up the ALP marginals in WA.

    And if the Liberals can produce a 9% swing from current polling results in the rest of the country then they will probably win the election.

    But how will they do this? How likely is it?

    (And please do not say “by pointing out how inexperienced the ALP front bench is…”)

  32. Boll @ 36,

    Neil Brown is doing some drugs if he seriously believes what he writes –

    “But its best course is clear: stick with Howard and promote the proud record of achievement that cannot, on present evidence of what is on offer, be rivalled by Rudd and the Labor Party.”

    I wouldn’t call David Hicks, Work Choices, lying through his teeth about interest rates (could go on but will stop there) evidence of achievement. I also think people are smart enough to realize that by default the government in power will have more experience than that out of power.

    Neil needs to book himself into the same clinic Ben Cousins used.

  33. On the other hand, Glen must have decided that the scare campaign on the Hawke/Keating years isn’t biting so he has to fall back to what happened 35 years ago.

    Perhaps you should remind us again what happened in the Scullion[sic] years, I’m sure the ALP hasn’t changed at all.

  34. Re comment 11 – Coota Bulldog, if you go here there is a neat little calculator that will give you the sampling error for any given poll for which you know the details.

    In this Westpoll case, plug in sample size of 410, a figure of 1237349 for the ‘population’ being sampled (this is WA close of rolls figure in 2004 – couldn’t quickly find a more recent one but a change of a few hundred thousand voters doesn’t affect the result) and percentage result of 51.6% (there is higher error in close polls when the population is fairly evenly divided than, say, a result of 70% to 30%). The answer is a confidence interval or error margin of 4.84% at 95% confidence. In other words, we can be 95% sure that if the entire 1.23 million voters had been asked the question, the result would be within 4.84% of the reported 51.6%.

    With this population size you need a smple of about 600 to get an error margin of 4%, 1063 to get down to 3%, and 2385 to get to a 2% error margin. It’s a game of diminishing returns for increased sample size given the logarithmic relationship, and you can see why the main national polls work with a sample of 1100 or 1200.

  35. Very insightful analysis Julie @ 38.

    More evidence of the decline of this forum.

    What about some analysis rather than boring, unintelligent rants.

    Gets mighty boring, day after day.

  36. Well, I live in Swan and vividly remember Don Randall…and the nailbiting count of 2004. I spent much of polling day feeding and watering the ALP booth workers here, and I still claim it was “the sandwiches wot won it”!

    I think Cowan and Swan are both set to remain in Labor hands, and Hasluck should swing comfortably back to Sharryn Jackson. Stirling is slightly different – it’s not quite as much a “interest rate squeeze” seat like Hasluck, and it may just come down to Peter Tinley being a solid candidate against mouse that squeaked Keenan.

    Canning is a rather different seat now to the days when it was held by George Gear – the creation of Hasluck pushed most of it right out into the Shire of Murray, removing the Labor-skewing Gosnells area. Although Armadale is still in Canning, so are significant rural areas and the McMansion land of suburban Canning Vale. So even though Don Randall’s margin was grossly inflated in 2004, I can’t actually see the seat turning red unless a huge swing is on in WA.

  37. “It’s a game of diminishing returns for increased sample size”

    Indeed it is, and in fact the size of the target population doesn’t much effect the MOE, either. So a sample of 400 in a population of 100 million has much the same MOE in a population of 1 million. Which makes polling hard for a newspaper with a small revenue base – they have to spend proportionally more to get poll results with a credible MOE.

    Hard to take these Wespolls seriously, except, as Adam points out, in terms of the longer term trends.

  38. I’ve been thinking a bit about potential gains for Labor in SA over the past few days. As a few other SA posters have noted, the water issue is currently the main concern of people down south. The tiser, in it’s usual wisdom, has become obsessed with it – water restrictions/the Murray is the headline story at least twice a week. Just today there is another unpleasant picture of river bed on the font page – it is already dry, and we’ve only just finished winter (and our apparent ‘wet’ season.) these sort of headlines will probably occur even more frequently now the Crows have been knocked out ( 🙁 )

    People are pissed off, and rightly so, but mainly at the state Labor government who has showed absolutely no vision on the issue. It also helps that the state opposition is finally gaining some credibility. I would suggest that a proper water policy announcement by either federal party could swing quite a lot of votes – although Howard will obviously have the harder sell. This is one of the reasons I wanted Costello to take over, because I think people would listen to him, but sadly this doesn’t appear likely.

    For Rudd, there could be a fine line to walk between offering a ‘vision’, and giving people a reason to vent their anger and punish you for something your state-based party has done. From what I’ve sensed, very few people are actually blaming Howard for the water crisis, I think it’s pretty clear the federal government has tried pretty hard to gain control of the Murray to do something about it. The media decided (and reported regularly) that Victoria was the source of that problem. So while the issue currently remains a state one, it could turn federal if the right things were said at the right time. It will be interesting to see if Rudd indirectly (or directly) criticises state labor’s management of this debacle. You can be certain Howard will, and for once his state-bashing might actually work.

    So we have council mergers as a wedge in Queensland, and water management problems in SA. And there’s that $17 billion surplus.Where exactly does Rudd need to win his seats again? Yes I think Rudd will win in SA, and nationally. But believe me, a lot of people are pissed over the water issue, and the number is growing by the day. Beware the angry mob.

  39. With this poll, Stirling and Hasluck are low hanging fruit for Labor. Kalgoorlie is beyond reach thanks to the hostility to Labor’s IR policy by those in the mining sector and Howard’s disenfranchisement of huge swathes of Indigenous voters who will in remote areas in the electorate. Canning, on the other hand, and despite its seemingly impregnable margin, is well within reach. The Liberal margin in Canning is inflated thanks to shenanigans that preceeded the 2004 poll. It’s also worthy to note that Canning was Labor held before the 2001 election.

  40. ‘Thanks to the hostility to Labor’s IR policy’.

    Pseph, I don’t mean to be pedantic, and I know there are some who will thank / vote on that basis just because it is said a lot, but other than mining companies is there a lot of evidence for this?

    Hasse today in the West saying WA doesn’t deserve a share of gas royalties the Commonwealth pumps directly to Canberra. Rudd has already promised to quarantine a percentage and pump them into infrastructure.

    I can’t help but think this can play well for labors ‘interesting’ choice in candidate.

    When we chose our candidate I thought it was a sign we’d given up and had no chance. But with a good base swing, and a member being all anti-WA on us home team spirit may get the labor candidate over the line.

  41. Stirling is swinging heavily towards the ALP. When the Libs finally pull the Habit out of the Rat, the Labor candidate Peter Tinley will have a safe-ish seat for a couple more elections to come. Michael Keenan has started buying lots of front-page colour adverts in the local rags, but he has been virtually invisible for these last three years -except when he made evening news bulletins for some dumb comments about childcare workers and nappy-changing, which got an instant response from the LHMU. The Missos are now pouring resources into wiping his @&$%!

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