Galaxy Senate poll

GetUp! has published a poll of Senate voting intention it commissioned from Galaxy. The survey of 1004 voters was conducted from September 7-9, and shows the Labor vote up from 35 per cent to 39 per cent from the 2004 election, the Coalition down from 45 per cent to 35 per cent, the Greens up from 8 per cent to 10 per cent, the Democrats steady on 2 per cent and Family First up from 2 per cent to 3 per cent. This seems a more plausible set of figures than those produced by Morgan, which invariably inflate the Democrats. A similar GetUp!/Galaxy Senate poll was published in June.

NOTE: This has been hived off the previous post because someone asked for a thread dedicated to the Senate, so please keep it on topic.

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.

94 comments on “Galaxy Senate poll”

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  1. That looks about right to me… the first Senate poll that has. However, I think by the day the Coalition will get up to at least 39.

  2. From the media release:

    ..the launch of a GetUp radio ad in Senate states..

    All states are senate states ?

    They would get a better bang for their buck from Tasmania and should concentrate their efforts there.

    Coalition 35% ? No way.

  3. 35 for the coalition does strike me as wishful thinking.

    To go from winning 4 senate seats in one state in 2004 to winning only 2 senate seats in one (or more) states in 2007 would be huge. That’s equal to a 28% swing against the coalition (using the 14% quota as a discrete unit of voting).

  4. People are beginning to realise that the Senate is as important as the House of Reps.
    John Howard would not have been able to push through his IR laws without complete control of both Houses.
    It also would not be at all healthy to have Labor controlling both Houses.
    There’s no point in having a Senate if it is controlled by the government.
    Hardly any amendment have been passed to legislation in the past three years.
    In New South Wales the Legislative Council was a mere rubber stamp for years until the Democrats,Greens and independents gained the balance of power.
    Hundreds of acceptable amendments were passed then. Some legislation, not much, was blocked altogether.
    If the Greens hold the balance in the Senate then we will at last get some real action on global warming, protection of ancient forests and other progressive reforms.
    Kevin Rudd is naturally conservative and will be obliged to be more progressive if he doesn’t control the Senate.
    No doubt the minor parties campaigning will include “don’t allow them to have total power – look what happened last time”.

  5. Note that if The Greens take the second ACT senate seat off the Libs the Coalition will lose their majority in that house immediately as territory senators serve from election to election.

  6. This poll looks a fair bit more believable than the poll conducted a few months ago. I would actually argue that the coallition figure is probably about right, given that they will have to place a larger amount of resources as a whole campagining to protect Liberal held seats (including some “safe” seats like Wentworth and Bennalong) compared to the last election. This will reduce the amount of resources availiable to campaigning nation wide.

    All in all, I’d say these figures look consistent with the general swing against the coallition. But then again, senate voting is difficult to predict, and people are notoriously fickle when it comes down to election day.

  7. I agree with Richard @ 4: Though I believe we can trust Rudd and Co with both houses [remember Howard is the only PM that has abused the power of having both houses – other PMs in the past have treated such power with respect] – it is useful to have a minor party there to keep them honest – if the minor party happens to be fair and reasonable. I hate to think if control of the Senate was dependant on the One Nation party.

  8. How have they managed to translate voting intentions into senate results? Would using the party tickets from last time give an accurate estimation of how the quotas would build this time ’round?

  9. Andrew A, only if the preferences were dealt in the exact same way as last time. I’m not sure which order the major parties will deal their preferences to the minor parties.

    I think we can safely guess the Democrats and Greens will preference ALP above Coalition, CDP will preference Coalition above ALP.

    I don’t think the Family First vote will be as significant as some people might guess. However, I think they’re likely to deal their preferences to the ALP in exchange for an assurance that no major social policy change will be undertaken in this term. I don’t think FF have been particularly happy with the Coalition this term, and they probably realise they’re useless and powerless if the Coalition retain their majority.

  10. I don’t trust either of the two major parties to hold both the Reps and the Senate so the fact that neither of them can win the Senate outright is good news to me and I suspect to a lot of other Australians. Let them work hard to get their legislation passed. It won’t hurt the Pollies or the country if legislation has to be carefully negotiated and debated to be passed.

  11. i believe the coalition at 35 , at the last election in s.a. 20% of the people voted for an independent in the senate,
    i can see the lib’s getting thumped in the senate this election

  12. That’s really interesting Albert Ross. The best result for this country would be the Greens to get the ACT. That would instantly halt Howard’s radical agenda, and also probably guarantee a balanced senate for six years!

    Ahhh, every election holds so much potential!

  13. I’m not even going to read this thread. Senate polls are bunkum Whatever they say now, 90% of voters will follow their party’s HTV and will vote the same way for both houses. I am sticking by my prediction that the Sebate will split 3/3 in every state except Tasmania, where Brown will be re-elected. Bye.

  14. Thanks CTEP, that confirms what I expected 🙂 Does this mean that the poll is only really useful as a general indicator, as strange party tickets and shady backroom senate deals lead to unexpected results?

    Adam, I’ve got to admit that when faced with a tablecloth ballot paper and a blunt pencil and my wife tapping her foot I tend to put a big “1” somewhere on the white paper. If I can’t be bothered to number all the little boxes I’d suggest it’s closer to 99% that follow the HTV in regard to the senate.

    It always annoys me that it’s a pain in the freckle to find out where my preferences are going, though.

  15. The coagulated Newspolls for three months allow us to play around with Senate possibilities. I realise that some people vote differently for the two Houses and that we do not have the Senate preference deals on the table yet. However, we can sketch the broad possibilities.

    The quota for the Senate is c14.3 per cent. Two quotas need 28.6 per cent; three, 42.9 per cent; four, 57.2 per cent; five, 71.5 per cent; six, 85.8 per cent. In the following exercise, I am playing with the numbers, not making predictions.

    In NSW, Newspoll shows ALP 49 (3 quotas and a 6.1 surplus), LNP 37 (2 quotas and an 8.4 surplus), Greens 5, Others 9. Any CDP preferences from the Others would probably push up the LNP; FF, the LNP or the ALP; the Democrats would spread, perhaps favouring the Greens. The LNP would remain till the last count, and the result for the final seat would depend on how much the Others helped the LNP and whether or not the Greens or the ALP went out first.

    In Victoria, Newspoll shows ALP 51 (3 quotas and an 8.1 surplus), LNP 36 (2 quotas and a 7.4 surplus), Greens 5, Others 8. DLP preferences from the Others would probably push up FF to 4-6 per cent. FF (and DLP) preferences from the Others would probably then push up the ALP or the LNP; the Democrats would spread, perhaps favouring the Greens. The ALP would remain till the last count, and the result for the final seat would depend on how much the Others helped the LNP or the ALP.

    In Queensland, Newspoll shows ALP 46 (3 quotas and a 2.1 surplus), LNP 43 (3 quotas and a 0.1 surplus), Greens 3, Others 8.

    In South Australia, Newspoll shows ALP 49 (3 quotas and a 6.1surplus), LNP 40 (2 quotas and an 11.4 surplus), Greens 3, Others 8. FF preferences from the Others would probably then push up the ALP or the LNP, and certainly both before the Greens; the Democrats would spread, perhaps favouring the Greens, or even collect preferences from the Greens. The final seat would be between the ALP and the LNP.

    In Western Australia, Newspoll shows ALP 40 (2 quotas and an 11.4 surplus), LNP 44 (3 quotas and a 1.1 surplus), Greens 4, Others 12. The final seat would be between the ALP and whichever party was favoured by the preferences from the Others.

    There are no Newspoll figures for Tasmania. The result will probably be ALP 3, LNP 2, Greens 1. There are no territory figures either and while there is always speculation abut the second ACT seat going non-major, I think that unlikely and expect the ACT and the NT to be ALP 1 each and LNP 1 each.

    In summary, the Newspoll figures and reasonable assumptions about the Senate contests not included suggest ALP 19, LNP 16, Greens 1, difficult to predict 4. Added to the existing long-term senators of ALP 14, LNP 19, Greens 2, FF 1, we would have a Senate of ALP 33, LNP 35, Greens 3, FF 1, difficult to predict 4.

    On the figures above, the ALP could pick up a third seat in WA and a fourth seat in each of NSW, Victoria and SA, but I would not put even one cent on it. The LNP could pick up a third seat in each of NSW, Victoria and SA. The Greens could pick up a seat in each of NSW and WA, though they would require a very favourable preference flow in either case. There is not enough information to determine if FF or anyone else can break away from the Others to win anywhere.

    The figures make it impossible for the ALP to win control of the Senate or for the ALP with FF to win control of the Senate. As I am not making predictions in this post, I will go no further.

    PS. I wrote this before the Galaxy Senate Poll thread appeared, but the Galaxy samples are too small for most states and very small for Victoria and NSW and I accept Adam’s advice that Senate polls are not reliable, so I will still post it

  16. The Galaxy poll has not distributed the don’t knows in proportion with the do knows but simply lumped them with the others. There is no “don’t know” on the ballot paper!

  17. Hi Richard, your wikipedia page mentions you left(?) the Democrats in 1996 but doesn’t go into details. I’m a bit of a minor party history buff – can you fill in the details?

  18. As far as I know the ALP are preferencing the Greens above FFP only in NSW, which for me gives the Greens one definite hold (TAS), one likely hold (NSW) and an average to below average possibility of winning either VIC or WA. I expect them to win 2, maybe 3 senate seats and hand Labor another 2.

  19. what is the highest number of seats the Greens have a chance of winning?

    providing things go well for them is there a reality as we see it now of them holding 5?

  20. nic it all depends if the ALP want more Family First Senators and a marriage of right wing anti worker parties or a left leaning worker supporting Senate. In other words it depends on who the ALP do a preference deal with. The Greens prefs in the lower house will decide who wins government lets hope they remember that

  21. #
    Phil Says:
    September 21st, 2007 at 5:21 pm

    As far as I know the ALP are preferencing the Greens above FFP only in NSW, which for me gives the Greens one definite hold (TAS), one likely hold (NSW) and an average to below average possibility of winning either VIC or WA. I expect them to win 2, maybe 3 senate seats and hand Labor another 2.

    Phil are you saying the ALP has done a deal with FF in every state except NSW?

  22. Paul K, 10.
    Well said.

    Chris Curtis, 21.
    The NT will almost certainly re-elect a senator from each side. While it is looking increasingly likely that both Reps seats will go to Labor, for the first time I believe.

  23. Yes, the Greens preferences will decide who wins Government, but they will be Labor preferences no matter what Green HTV cards say, or at least 70% so. Insert spiel about the un-directability of Green primary votes. So the ALP can do all the deals with Family First they like, but the Green votes will still come home to them.

    Really, Bill, the way you people carry on sometimes, I wonder. You criticise them and say they’re not X enough or they’re too Y, and then act as if you have some automatic right to their preferences in the Senate. You don’t. The ALP’s job is to elect ALP lower house members, and ALP senators, and you’re not part of the team.

  24. Bill, the ALP has not yet finalised a deal with FFP, but the Greens aren’t expecting senate preferences above them in any state other than NSW, where a direct Greens-ALP deal has been done.

    I can see the Greens winning up to 4 seats and as little as 1, but like I said, most likely 2-3. I doubt that QLD could be won and SA would be very tough. WA, VIC, NSW and even ACT are all chances, TAS very likely.

  25. For thirty years the large parties have benefited from the constructive approach taken by the Democrats with whoever is in Government – this is, in fact, a reason for the loss of Democrats support, as the party copped the blame for the GST when the Democrats made the fairly elected Howard-Costello Government GST much fairer.

    Is there a good reason why the Coalition or the ALP would preference another small party ahead of the Democrats in the Senate if the large parties want a Senate that will work with them to strengthen social, economic and environmental legislation.

    Small parties should also preference the Democrats because they give the concept of small parties holding the ‘balance of power’ a good name.

  26. edward o Says: The ALP’s job is to elect ALP lower house members, and ALP senators, and you’re not part of the team.

    Thank god i am not part of the ALP team as the people that hear me speak know i believe in what i say and it comes from the heart, very much lacking in politics today

  27. How do you know people in the ALP don’t speak from their heart? Really, you’re just being superior now. I’m not saying that hey, you should dump the Greens and join the ALP. I’m just suggesting you should face the reality that as a minor party almost exclusively made up of people who want the ALP in power (though want more action on environmental issues) you should accept your lot, which is being screwed in preference details, because come the choice of picking up a few HoR seats and having a Greens Senator in SA, I know what I’d prefer.

    Anyway, I largely agree with Adam’s analysis of the numbers, it’s the most likely scenario with what’s known.

  28. When people say the Greens will only win one seat they are just saying what they want to believe. Greens have been a part of the ‘your rights at work campaign’ since before the ALP and are doing more for workers than the ALP, Climate Change is big now and “clean Coal” won’t hack it and ALP and Libs. are pathetic and will kill us all, Pulp Mill supported by ALP + Libs., Krudd is an economic and Social conservative taking the ALP to the Right. Why would’t a significant proportion of ‘thinking’ people abandon the major parties. MUCH More than 5% of people are concerned about these issues. The Greens will win 3 or 4.

  29. The Greens will take a Senate seat in Tas at best. The final seat in other states will likely come to a contest between Lib, Green and FFP.

    This means the Greens can’t win, and unless the Libs come 3rd this means that the result will be a 3-3 split.

    Its in ALP interest to ensure that they boost the FFP vote above the Lib residue, as this is the only way that they can avoid a hostile Senate.

  30. Molotov,

    I would like the Coalition to lose control of the Senate, but the figures say that may be too much to hope for. I’d like the Coalition to lose its blocking majority too, but the figures say that is unlikely. I’d like to see the repeal of WorknotcalledChoicesanymore and can see some advantages in Labor getting Green support to do that rather than Family First support to do that because, while the Greens and FF both oppose WorknotcalledChoicesanymore, the Greens are stronger in their opposition to it.

    However, while I’d like to see the Senate balance of power gained by a party that will help Labor bring some fairness back to IR, I do not believe that the Greens will win anything like three or four seats. The reasons have already been explained more than once, so I will go into them only briefly here. The Newspoll figures that I discussed above show how difficult it would be for the Greens to win a seat in any state outside Tasmania because Labor is polling so well and is therefore unlikely to have a surplus that can go the Greens. The only possibility is in WA where the composition and therefore the preferences of the Others are unknown. There is also the possibility that Labor will preference FF in the Senate in return for FF preferences in the House, which is what Labor has to win to be in government.

    The Galaxy figures are totally misleading because they put Unknown and Others together. If you distribute the likely Unknown vote among the parties, as all other polls do, you will end up with something like ALP 43 (3 quotas on average), LNP 38 (2 quotas and a 9.4 surplus on average), Greens 11 (3.3 short of a quota on average), FF 3, Democrats 2 and Others 1. (Note that Galaxy’s original total is 101, not 100.)

    The individual state breakdowns will differ, but I see no reason for taking more notice of Galaxy’s small samples (285 in NSW and 264 in Victoria) than of Newspoll’s much large samples.

    The most likely result is that the Greens win one seat (Tasmania). The second most likely is that they win two (Tasmania and WA). For them to win three (Tasmania, WA and NSW) would be extraordinary. No one who has suggested big Greens wins or even a single Democrats victory has presented any sets of figures to show how.

  31. Ray,

    It is in the interests of Family First that it preference Labor above the LNP in NSW, even though Labor is apparently preferencing the Greens. The Newspoll figures make it possible that by the timet the count is for the last seat, FF preferences for the LNP will leave the ALP behind the Greens and then ALP preferences will elect the Greens. If FF preferences the ALP, it may put the ALP ahead of the Greens and then Green preferences will elect the ALP. Remember, from FF’s point of view, the more ALP seats, the closer FF comes to sharing the balance of power, and it would be ironic if the FF’s preferencing strategy actually helped the Greens. This is, of course, is separate from the argument that no party that calls itself Family First could possibly want the Liberals back in.

  32. CC, no real data to back up my argument apart from the reported ‘soft ALP’ vote which will partly go to the Greens. I believe many who would usually consider themselves ‘Labor left’ would be Green when they sit down and compaire party policies and they won’t actually do that till the campaign proper. It just seems to me that at the last election when Greens got 7.6% in the senate there was not nearly as much debate concerning global Warming and other issues that ‘help’ them. So many environmental TV shows, etc., so with all this why would there vote lower? Shorely it must increase to 9.5% or so? Having said this, I suppose that doesn’t automatically result in an increase in seats if the ALP vote increases by a greater margin and micro parties are unfavourable. I particulary hope they win in NSW, Nettle is the best Australian politician since Jo Vallentine!

  33. Molotov, in my opinion Nettle is easily the worst Greens senator. I’ve voted for them up until this election but have been a bit dissilutioned of late.

  34. Molotov,

    I think the Greens will do better than the 5 per cent in the Newspolls, but even 10 per cent won’t win it for them. Let me explain. Imagine a result of ALP 43, LNP 40, Greens 10, FF 3, Dems 2, Others 2. The ALP has 3 quotas. FF will go to the LNP ahead of the Greens, giving it 43, 3 quotas. The Greens’ 10 per cent just isn’t enough. This is not a prediction, just an illustration.

    I quite like Bob Brown, but I do not share your view of Kerry Nettle.

  35. Wither Family First or Greens in South Australia and Victoria get the sixth senate seat, depends on if Labor or Coalition cannot get 3 senate quotas in their own right. The Greens will win Senate seats in WA and Tasmania. Giving them at least four senators, they could have as many as 7 senators.

  36. Chris,

    When trying to apply lower house polls to the Senate, I’d be very careful about using Newspoll. Newspoll has consistently put the Greens around the 4-6 point range while the other three all put the Greens a couple of points higher. I’m not sure where the Greens are really sitting, and reckon it’s less reliable than it is for the big parties because of the small size of our vote, and the margins of error become much more significant when you’re talking about a 14.3% quota than a 50% quota.

    Every single state poll in Newspoll you listed puts the Greens on an average of 3, 4 or 5%. I don’t believe the Greens could poll as low as 3% in any state, and Newspoll is the only poll that has us that far down.

  37. I must admit I quite like Rachel Siewert, but I don’t think Nettle or Brown have any significant parliamentary achivements to show for their time as Senators.

  38. Tristan Jones,

    It is more complicated than you suggest, as has been explained often on this site; e.g., the Coalition can fail to get three quotas in its own right and then pick up a third one on preferences.


    I agree that Newspoll understates the Greens vote, in comparison with other polls, but it’s the only one I’ve seen to give large sample state-by-state breakdowns.

  39. Chris,

    I understand your comment giving reasons for FFP to deliver preferences to Labor in NSW, despite the Greans-ALP deal there. The fact of the matter is that NSW is probably FFP’s weakest state. It takes time for a new party to get all necessary organisational elements in place on a national scale. So I doubt that it will have sufficient electoral support to be of much value to anyone.

    On the other side of the coin, NSW has an even greater capacity to deliver a surprise result than did Vic in 2004. You will notice that the CDP and liberals for forrests came awfully close on infinitesimally small primary votes.

    Lets assume that ALP get their 3 quotas and have insufficient residue to push Kerrie Nettle to a quota. Now assuming that FFP gather sufficient plankton from the plethora of conservative micros, then we could well be left with the Greens, Libs, CDP+FFP in the race for the final seat. If CDP+FFP exceed the Liberal residue, this could see one of them in the Senate. Let’s hope its FFP and not Fred Nile!

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