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. Crispy


    Your post was more informative than mine as well it looks like I have been getting in a few quick ones of the brown stuff.

    Simon@ #99

    I hope you are wrong. Possum deserves a bit of lettuce as a reward for such good work.

  2. I was reading some earlier threads and came here to comment on Gippsland and the McGaurans and then I saw Adam asking about O’Connor falling, so I thought I’d add my 2c:

    I’ve been told by friends from that area that Gardiner has had TV ads running for a few months already now, and he has the capacity to spend quite a bit on his campaign – when the WA Nats ran dead in 2004 I think they still got 10% or something. Wilson is old, erratic and apparently wants to be the oldest man to ever sit in the chamber; but despite what he says I’ve also heard that his stance on the wheat market isn’t really supported that enthusiastically about a lot of local growers (presumably they like AWB, I’m no expert there)

    As for McGauran, the key to Gippsland is the Latrobe Valley. The ALP candidate is totally unknown there, being from Bairnsdale, and apparently the ALP aren’t taking the candidate or the seat real serious; the eastern half of the electorate is sold Nat, and his role as Ag Minister no doubt goes down well, though his absence dealing with horse flu and further drought conditions mean he may not be campaigning that much there.

    But the voting trends in the Latrobe Valley are interesting, Traralgon in particular has become much more affluent over the last decade, and Labor haven’t won a booth in Traralgon since the 1999 state election. Even in 2006 the Morwell vote was down.

    So it’s a very interesting seat.

  3. I don’t know whether anyone has commented on this, but I noticed in the breakdowns of the latest Newspoll that Labor is actually polling better on primary votes in regional areas (51%) than in metros.
    However, I note that the Greens vote is stronger in metros (no surprise there), so, after preferences, the Labor swing is probably consistent across the country.

    Labor’s new-found regional strenght is really quite astounding, given the coalition’s dominance of regional Australian seats. It adds weight to suggestions that the swing is strongest in coalition seats, and makes we wonder what we’re going to see on election night.

    Why is the regional swing so strong? I would guess there are a few factors…

    1. The higher rate of low wage earners and casuals in regional areas makes WorkChoices more potent.

    2. There is general discontent about the drought and water shortages. This is not really the Commonwealth’s fault, but someone has to cop the flak from the voters. I think farmers will still vote for the coalition – they’re getting $26million a WEEK in exceptional circumstances drought relief payments! That’s the equivalant of a Mersey Hospital takeover every six weeks.

    3. High petrol prices – and the world price is getting back to record levels as we speak.

    4. While mortgages and rents in regional areas are generally lower in the cities, some regional areas now have exceptionally high housing costs – that’s if you can find a house at all. This could be a big factor in some of the Queensland coastal and mining seats, like Flynn, Hinkler and Dawson, Page and Cowper in NSW, and Kalgoorlie. I’ve felt for a long while that Labor is a show in Kalgoorlie, because if you’re NOT a miner, all your money goes in housing and petrol.

    5. While much is made of the big money made by miners on AWAs, a lot of them actually live in cities and fly in and out for work. There are probably as many miner votes in Perth seats as in Kalgoorlie.

    5. The skills shortage is biting severly. In many regional areas, you name it, you can’t get it – dentists, doctors, plumbers, mechanics, teachers etc.

    What do others think? What does a 51 per cent Labor primary vote in regional areas mean in terms of seats lost and won?

  4. And as Jasmine mentioned some time earlier, Labor’s promise to give some of the resources royalties back to WA will go down a treat in seats like Kalgoorlie, firstly because they’re parochial, secondly because they desperately need better infrastructure, and thirdly, because it’s a very sensible way of spending royalties, instead of regurgutating them as tax cuts.

  5. Adam, the Nats will never knockoff Tuckey.
    Every ALP candidate has only ever been a name on the ballot paper while in a couple of elections the Nats have run good candidates with well resourced campaigns.
    But they have never outpolled the ALP on primarys and if you compare the state and federal voting figures, it appears that a fair chunck of National voters vote for the Libs at the federal level.

  6. Did anyone see Barry O’Farrell on the ABC news tonight? He was droning on about some issue (I missed the start of it) and said something to the order of:

    “Federal Labor is putting off a decision on this until after Kevin Rudd’s election.” To which they then showed a picture of O’Farrell leaving the press conference, head down, looking sheepish, while the reporter pointed out the clanger by saying “What he means is the election Kevin Rudd will be contesting.”

    Classic gaffe. I hope it gets wide airplay.

  7. Were WA to have a 7% swing, I’d think it highly unlikely to be anything like uniform. The loss of incumbency would probably mean Cowan wouldn’t swing as much, while O’Connor’s only likely to swing from the Libs to the Nats if it does anything. To balance those, I reckon the swing would be larger in Canning and Forrest; the former because it just swung too much at the last election, and the latter as I feel it’s becoming less and less rural and more and more provincial with growth in the regional centers in the South West.

    I don’t really think Labor would stand a chance of picking up any of the other metro seats; I know people have mentioned Moore a couple of times, but I just can’t see it (though I can’t really see Forrest either except if the Libs suffer a Kevtastrophe). Forrest on the other hand might be primed to be taken by an Independent, and there’s a number of seats I could see being troublesome for the Libs with a theoretical good Independent candidate – particularly blue-ribbon Curtin

  8. Is WA not the strongest of the States for Howard? I wonder how the AWA scare campaign has been playing out there and whether the Rudd ‘soft IR’ response will contain the angst in the West?

  9. Is WA not the strongest of the States for Howard?

    At this stage, ‘least catastrophic’ looks more accurate than ‘strongest’.

  10. On Antonio’s comments re the rural areas (108). I think we are going to see a very different pattern emerge on election than some are expecting. Especially the way some commentators still keep seeing it as a contest over Howard’s mythical ‘battlers’ in the outer-suburban areas, which is too much seeing it in terms of the past. I suspect this will be less a case of Labor regaining its heartland than the coalition losing theirs. In the rural areas the rise and fall of One Nation has softened the coalition’s hold on rural seats which others are starting to pick up, especially with younger voters, and we are already seeing in some state results. I would see it more as a result of the old conservative agenda having less relevance and people more just focussing on service provision, which Vic and Qu Labor has played well. This election is truly going to change the ground rules.

  11. And to put that in context…

    In 2004 election in WA it was:
    ALP: 34.75%
    Coal: 48.76%
    others: 16.49%

    So the swings since 2004 are:
    9% to ALP
    5% away from Coal
    4% away from others

  12. Re 22 by Possum Comitatus: “Why is Canning more winnable than it’s margin suggests?”

    Having once upon a time been a local to the area, large chunks are urban, semi and light industrial. This is the heartland of the semi- and un-skilled labour that would be most fearful of WorkChoices.

  13. RE SA water
    But if you look at the composition of R. Murray Advisory boards, in SA and elsewhere including at Federal level, and the ilk, and the composition of R.Murray Local Government Councils you will note that Nationalist/Liberal aligned irrigators are the dominant force.
    This is a local speaking [well typing I suppose].
    Water policy along the Murray is dominated by and directed at serving the needers of irrigators with token platitudes for the environment and other users.
    Its the single reason why nothing has been done and will not be done even under a Federal system.
    Until we recognise that more water has to be put into the River [note the ramifications for farm dams, bores and land usage along the catchment] and less taken out [and irrigation exceeds all other uses by several times] then the problems will continue until even the irrigators will suffer.
    [Sort of like over-fishing fisheries until the fishers have no fish.]
    Desalination, recycled water, stormwater collection, domestic tanks, urban restrictions are all cute measures but in themselves do not solve the essential problem, sort of they will save the equivalent of ‘a piss in the ocean’.
    We use too much water for irrigation.
    That has to change.

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