Bennelong shock: McKew leads Howard

The worst-kept secret of recent polling history, the Sunday Telegraph’s Galaxy poll from Bennelong, has now been officially unveiled. As foreshadowed on Lateline, it has Maxine McKew leading John Howard 48 per cent to 47 per cent on the primary vote. McKew’s lead on two-party preferred is 52-48. The following, at least, is news:

Overall, 81 per cent of those within Bennelong who voted for Mr Howard at the last election say they will vote for him again. But his support has been eroded by the 17 per cent of Liberal voters at the last election who now say they are leaning more to Labor. In contrast, Maxine McKew’s vote remains solid – 92 per cent of those who voted for Labor in 2004 are sticking with her, along with 73 per cent of the former Green voters … A key change since August – and one that bodes ill for Mr Howard – is that more Bennelong voters now claim to have locked in their vote. Overall, 77 per cent claim to have made up their mind which candidate they will vote for at the election later this month, up from 69 per cent in August.

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 “Bennelong shock: McKew leads Howard”

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  1. I have signed up to Sportingbet (I don’t normally gamble) and placed my free $100 bet on McKew. The $30 I opened my account with went on the ALP candidate in Ryan at 3.05.

  2. I wish the journos would push him harder to admit that he will resign from his seat of Bennelong if the Libs lose the election but he wins his seat. Barry had a go on Insiders this morning, but Howard continues to squirm out of admitting it. It’s quite deceitful… will the Labor party be running advertising along these lines in Bennelong?

  3. For those curious about the positioning of the Galaxy Bennelong poll and the accompanying Glen Milne article in the Sunday Terrorgraph, it is situated on pages 5 and 6 under the big, bold banner “HUMILIATION LOOM AS HOWARD’S END: Facing defeat in own seat”. It’s hard to miss.

    A nearby article states: “Boost for Coalition”, briefly detailing Family First’s preference deal with the Libs: pitching to the “it’s not my tockley” brigade, no doubt.

    Now excuse me whilst I self-administer punishment for purchasing a Murdoch rag. Please forgive me.

  4. BTW Fagin, love the “HUMILIATION LOOM AS HOWARD’S END” headline.

    Oh, to see a headline like that in the Australian!

    We might just yet, but maybe not until Nov 26 (Monday) and they will change it to:


  5. Fagin,

    You didn’t add the rest of the story ….. (it gets worse folks) ….. Cover of the DT, all about the Melbourne Cup. From that alone, you would be excused from thinking there wasn’t an election. Nothing of any import on page 2. Page 3 a half page spread about Kerry’s Friday night out. On pages 4 and 5 are the Howard stories. Page 4 as Fagin described. But the kicker is on page 5. A picture of Howard’s daughter, Melanie, and his grandchild. What the hell? ….. Is that playing the sympathy vote or what? The unspoken message – “Don’t vote out the grandpa of this cute little baby” ……

    Sorry Melanie, that is a total and complete sellout ……………….

    [ I didn’t buy it, btw, I just peeked at the service station while my 6 & 9yo children were picking out an icecream]

  6. I don’t think the grandpa thing will win him any votes… I suspect people will think it’s probably time grandpa spent some time with his grandchild, so voting him out is actually a nice thing to do!

  7. Why was there no mention of the Galaxy Bennelong poll on Insiders? Especially strange considering they were interviewing Howard. A major omission I would have thought.

  8. Alan H I’d like to take up your suggestion of the Sportingbet project. However, I never have placed a bet in my life (how un-Australian is that!). would you be able tell me plse how to go about it?

  9. SJP, very simple. Just go to and sign up by clicking on “join now” near the top of the screen. Once you have signed up (you will need a credit card) click on “my account” and then “deposit” and deposit $30. Sportingbet will automatically credit you with $100.

    You don’t need to go through any special sign-up page or anything. It will just happen automatically.

    You should note that if you win your free $100 bet, you will only get the winnings back, not the $100 stake. So if you bet your free $100 bet on Maxine McKew at 2.60 and you win, you would get to keep $160 (not $260, which includes the original stake). On the other hand, if you lose the bet you haven’t lost any of your own money.

  10. I still suspect he will just get over the line on the day. But if he goes McKew should win it easily at the by-election.

  11. Either Howard loses Bennelong, or the Libs lose the election and Howard is in opposition (until he resigns).

    Both are going to be very enjoyable outcomes.

  12. Ashley & Alan H. Thanks I’ve done it!! $30 on Labor & $100 on Maxine. It only took me an hour and 3 phone calls to the help desk!! Anyway, regardless of whether I win or not, I feel good in my very very small role in the downfall of the rodent. Now its time to confess to the Mrs.

  13. Some people are remarking at the drop in the green vote from 16% in 2004 down to about 4% this time. In 2004 the Greens ran a high profile campaign in Bennelong with Andrew Wilkie as their candidate. Their vote spiked considerably. If the Greens were running a high profile candidate this year they might have pillaged more of the liberal vote and probably passed it to maxine via their how-to-vote. But most of the green vote has remained anti-howard and is now parked with Maxine, a much higher profile candidate than the green candidate (who few people could even name). I expect their 2007 vote in bennelong to be a bit lower than the state average because the battle between howard and mckew has captured people’s attention.

  14. Interesting discussion on the betting factor. There are other reasons why people may be putting money on. There are some existing ALP seats where the ALP is still paying $1.10-$1.14. Short of the mythical bus I would put the house to a brick, so clearly someones mum has backed the libs. For a totally unscientific approach, if someone is prepared to chuck $100 or more on Maxine and then see how much she shifted it would give an idea of the pool.

  15. I live in the next electorate to Bennelong and go to the Epping shops (Parramatta side of the line) regularly. Every Saturday there are supporters for Howard and most times for Maxine as ell. The Howard supporters are these uncomprehending (usually) young people. I agree that they must be bussed in. I tell them that Howard is finished and they just look blankly at me. I don’t think they know who he is.

  16. Arbie J re

    It truly will be a massive culture shock for the Howards if he does lose Bennelong, back (partly at least) in the real world after 11 years living in la la land.

    He deserves a little “re-education” and “counselling” Nicolae Ceausescu style:

    In the same way he refused to hold a dialogue with the people, [only one debate, otherwise lying rants] now he also refuses to speak with us. [since we rejected him utterly] He always claimed to act and speak on behalf of the people, [but not the “wogs” “darkies” “poofs” “teh evil unionists” etc] to be a beloved son of the [LNP] people, but he only tyrannized the people all the time.[serfchoices, fear/wedge campaigns] and You are faced with charges that you held really sumptuous celebrations on all holidays at your [Kirribilli] house. The details are known. [including the wine bill] These two defendants procured the most luxurious foodstuffs and clothes from abroad.

    …At that moment Elena [Hyacinth] says to Nicolae: Forget about them. You see, there is no use in talking to these people.

    Right on Hyacinth.

  17. {I agree that they must be bussed in. I tell them that Howard is finished and they just look blankly at me. I don’t think they know who he is.}

    I would strongly suspect that they are EB.

  18. Thanks Pete

    Interesting read, parties at the palaces (Kirribilli), destruction of state institutions (health) and housing and denial of deeds committed by others (AWB). Some erie parrallel reading there.

    Shows a couple of things give someone absolute power and they will abuse it and the extreme right is as bad as the extreme left.

  19. Milne is a fool to gives any support to Howard.

    If he thinks his friend Costello is going to be leader of the Opposition or be there at the next election he is mistaken and, if he thinks Costello will take over from Howard as PM he is certainly deluding himself.

    Howard will NEVER let Costello take the PM’s job and, the plans are for someone like Turnbull to take over and present at the next election. Many of the Cabinet also don’t like Costello.

    Milne lost his chance when Costello didn’t challenge all those times. Howard has done a royal shafting of Costell for 10 years and finished his carreer. Milne is only supporting the guy who has ruined Costello if he supports Howard during this campaign.

    If Milne wanted to do Costello a favour he would be sticking the knife into Howard at every turn – and certainly Costello will have the material to feed him.

  20. There can be no doubt that Maxine will win this seat. Once Howard looks down and out in his own seat and nationaly many more in Bennelong will jump ship thinking they may as well change anyway.

    Looking over all those Newspoll quarterly summaries it is difficult to see that the current national state of affairs is not 55.5/44.5 The last victoria figures look too low and the Qld a little high.

    Since Rudd came in Howard has really only increased his primary vote by 1%. Howard lost most of his primary vote long before Rudd came along thus people have stopped voting LNP not because of Rudd but because of reasons that hit them during 2006. There has been a whole mindset shift on Howard.

    The Garrett ad wont do any good at all and if anything will tend to give credibility to Garrett as a serious player rather than a light-weight.

  21. A momentum shift may well come if there is another Bennelong poll before the election which shows Maxine at 52-48 or better.

    People just don’t seem to believe that it’s possible, even though the 4 polls since May say otherwise.

  22. Okay, I’ve bunged my freebie $100 on Maxine too, also at $2.60. Possibly the first gambling I’ve done in my life, beyond the odd scratchie. It felt weird registering, like I was subscribing to a pron site. See what you people have made me do?

    *exits to take a shower and scrub hands obsessively*

  23. Just placed my free $100 on Maxine as well, still at $2.60 – seems too good to be true, specially if like me you were going to put $20-30 on the Melbourne Cup anyway.

    Yes it was a little weird, particularly with the free money they’re throwing around.

  24. Reading about Howard’s $10b road plan. How dodgy can you get. Firstly most of it has been budgeted fro under Auslink, and second, “None of the money will be spent before 2009.”

    Promises for roads are generally the first discarded – if they weren’t, Sydney to Brisbane would be the safest road in the world by now.

  25. I planted my free $100 on Maxine about a week ago when it was $2.85 – no risk, why not? I also have $15 on Mike Bailey at 7:1, hedged against $35 on Labor to win overall (at $1.40). At the absolute worst (if Maxine and Mike lose but Labor win), I’ll be down a full dollar. This, I feel, is a reasonable level of risk-taking. 😉

  26. This line by Howard, is not a gaffe, but it reveals the truth…:

    “This country needs infrastructure and, for the last couple of years, the business community and journalists and editorial writers have been saying we need more money spent on infrastructure.”

    For the last couple of years?????????????

    So he’s admitting they’ve done bugger all for two years, and now three weeks out they decide to do something but not to begin until 2009?

    And they wonder why the polls are stuck on 55-455…

  27. Try again.


    I have a number of the missing threads, most in full I think, two of which are partial only, which I have pasted into word documents.

    Any good to you?

    It happened that I had left them open, which my brain (?) had not registered till now.


  28. another first-timer puts $100 freebie on Maxine. I was thinking of putting the $30 on the coalition at $3-something, but it felt dirty. Other $30 on Labor @ $1.32.

    Odds still $2.60 at 6:30pm. Amazing value, really.

  29. I understand that Maxine’s strategy was to put pressure on Howard during this election, with the aim of winning Bennalong when Howard’s resigns/retires (which will be most likely late January or early February 2008, to avoid the humiliation of sitting in Parliament again).

    Her worst case scenario now would be that the Libs getting back in with a waffer thin majority, in which case Howard will have no choice but to resign within six months, the by-election called and Maxine will sail in as the new member for Bennalong.

    I guess the question uppermost in the minds of many electors in Bennalong is do they go through th charade of bring back Howard only for him to shoot through in a couple of months, or do they move on to the next generation of politicians (and by the way, most likely have someone influencial in the new Government as their MP).

  30. I got on for $200 when Maxine was $4.75, just after she was announced. The best price she was ever paying was $4.80 i believe. I’m still happy to let it ride at the moment, I reckon the true odds are close to evens atm. I also have a fair chunk of money on Labor to win overall, at an average price of $1.55

    I believe (and hope) that Kina is right, @ 79. The ‘once it looks like Labor will win’ factor was one of the main reasons I thought I was getting solid ‘overs’ when I placed the bet. Howard has all but confirmed he will retire if he wins but Coalition loses (‘no shit’ is an appropriate response). So who wants to vote for a by-election? Not many swinging voters I’d say.

    As to peoples’ bets not affecting the price, the Bennelong market is pretty thick, judging by Betfair. Last I checked, which was a while back, Betfair had matched:

    National market (i.e. who forms govt): $600,000
    Bennelong market: ~$60,000
    Most other individual seats: less than $1000

  31. How funny! It looks like the Socialist Alternative have taken hold of this blog??? If not Socialist Alternative, perhaps it’s Michael Butterworth, McKew’s Campaign Manager? It will be interesting to see whether he’d get offered a position on Maxine’s staff if she was elected or whether she’d stack her office with some of the ABC cronies that she’s been employing on her campaign team? I guess time will tell…….

    However, getting back to the campaign in Bennelong, it’s been very apparent for quite some time that Howard’s team has been hammering Maxine on the ground. Whether that be with Street Stalls, Railway Stations, poster sites, literature or knick nacks, Howard is clearly well ahead of the ALP. Howard’s local campaign team has swung strongly into action, which has seen them man up to six street stalls on any given Saturday morning. Howard also has a hand picked team of Young Liberals who are out on the ground on Saturdays and during the week. By contrast, Maxine’s purple shirt wearers turn up at Ermington or Epping for an hour and leave. That’s hardly professional campaigning – in fact, it simply proves a lack of resources and manpower, a point well highlighted in a July edition of the local Northern District Times. It will be interesting to see if McKew even bothers to run more than three street stalls this weekend?

    McKew for all her supposed charm, continues to struggle for name recognition with the crucial Chinese and Korean community. Despite the best efforts of a few in her Chinese supporters group who salaciously throw up the old Howard/Hanson xenophobic chestnut, most in this community see through this lie and are reluctant to throw away access to their local MP who also happens to be the Prime Minister of Australia, similar in vein to the access that they have to John Watkins, the NSW Deputy Premier in the overlapping State electorate of Ryde.

    Sure, the result of this seat will be close and the best thing McKew has going for her is demographic change, however, the odds must surely be right and in favour of a Howard win in this seat? Any talk about odds being corrupted is just another foolhardy, socialist conspiracist theory. It’s about as believable as the arrival of the next socialist revolution or a comeback from Che Guevara?

    Let’s see what happens in the next few weeks….

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