X marks the spot

There is many a psephologist who will tell you that polls of Senate voting intention are not to be taken seriously. However, a partial exception might be made for a poll of 542 Adelaide respondents, conducted by the Adelaide University politics department and published on the ABC site, in that it gives a unique gauge of support for Nick Xenophon’s Senate bid. The results are remarkable: support for Xenophon is at 24.2 per cent, even higher than his precedent-shattering 20.5 per cent at last February’s state election. While this would probably have been a little lower if the survey had also covered country areas, the poll provides evidence that Xenophon has his own seat in the bag, probably with enough of a surplus to deliver a seat to the Greens on preferences. The distant prospect of a seat for Xenophon’s running mate Roger Bryson has most likely been scotched by Labor’s decision to directly preference the Greens, although it’s still possible to construct scenarios in which the Greens’ seat goes to Bryson instead. The ABC report seems to suggest that Xenophon supporters will be forced to go below the line, which is not the case. Lower house voting intention is also covered, pointing to a swing to Labor of about 8 per cent.

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 “X marks the spot”

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  1. How much of a fraction of the population of SA is in Adelaide?

    Lets suppose X gets close to 20%. What happens to Labor primaries at this point?

    Last I heard it was going to go 3 2 1 lab lib X
    If a green popped would that be at the expense of one of the labor seats?

  2. Madcow—-About 80% of SA pop lives in and around Adelaide.
    Talking to my dear old mum last night, in her mid eighties and would still prefer if that Menzies fellow was in charge of the country or maybe that nice young Fraser boy (you get the drift of our conversations from that). Anyhow, somehow Mr. X has come up on her very narrow radar screen and he’s got the thumbs up. Evidently very popular across the board, young and old and as mum emphasised, “he’s a Baptist Minister too dear”. As I see it, he has it all and must be an absolute Monty to win his place. Can’t get better inside oil than mum.

    BTW, Solomon (NT) will change hands. The incumbant is a buffoon who is unable to do anything more for us Federally than ensure we have video cameras put up to stop crime. I thought the Council elections were held mid year. From all the yak around town——– He’s gawn !!!!!
    Good luck you mob, only 14 sleeps to go.

  3. You know, there’s a small chance now of an upset in which 3 SA seats go non-major.

    That could mean something unprecedented in Australian history – a STATE with the balance of power in the Senate.

    Now that would be something to behold!

  4. SA could write its own cheques. Think what that would mean for the Murray-Darling basin, the defence contract wars and things like the car industry subsidies.

    I say GO FOR IT SA! (And I’m a Victorian)

  5. What bothers me is that its not unlikely that X will hold the balance of power in the senate and that he may be a bit conservative. I’m thinking particularly of gay issues. Tell me if I’m wrong here.

  6. Dear MC. I think if you have a look at his antics in State politics over the past few years I am sure you’ll find he’s not conservative at all. If anything, you could say he’s been a bit “out” there occassionally.

  7. I didn’t say that. I think he is currently a non practicing guy. Also dug this up 4 u as well
    …Those people who are labelling Nick Xenophon as a moral or religious crusader obviously do not know much about him. He is nothing of the sort. He is enormously popular in this state, as he has taken on issues and stuck to his guns. He has made quite an impact in SA, and it will be interesting to see how he goes in the federal arena. It is interesting to note that Nick Minchin has already spoken up and urged people not to vote for him, which is an indication that the coalition take him seriously.

  8. IMHO Nick X is partly a produict of the weird gambling policy situation in SA. Because both of the major parties have a ‘free vote’ on gambling policy, no-one seems to take responsibility for it – they both want the money, but no-one articulates policy per se. So Nick has filled a vacuum, and because of his very engaging and media friendly approach, managed to convince lots of the punters that he is the only one who wants to take responsibility for an issue that is undoubtedly an embarrassment to the parties. He’s very good at stunts and he works pretty hard.

  9. AND ……

    “Apparently he spends an inordinate amount of his own time answering queries and fighting battles for members of the electorate, who are unable to get satisfaction anywhere else – personally I have not heard anyone say anything nasty about him, apart from those on the Labor and Liberal benches, who dislike him heartily. And when he walks through the city, people surround him to shake his hand and pat him on the back. When he was dangerously ill a couple of years ago, with pericarditis, many people were extraordinarily upset, and waited anxiously for any news.

    Hope that helps. I’m no spruiker for him, it’s just that mum knew lots about him. Go figure.

  10. BTW ….Omen Trifecta for Lib’s in the first at Flemington today



  11. Spiros Xenophon is popular because he got into State politics on a “No Pokies” ticket. Various prominent South Australian business people and celebs publicly and loudly supported his bid, because the pokies were (and still are) very unpopular in that state. While in the Legislative Council he was respected for his independence from major party politics. That’s pretty much all there is to it.

  12. Hes extremely popular but many of the 79% (+-) that don’t vote for him ask what has he actually done for SA? Its all well and good to jump on populist items but actually fix things? doesn’t seem to happen. It would be great though if both Sarah and him got in and FF didn’t. He would be better than a cult worshiper (ff) anytime but his views on IR are more conservative than the ALP so its an interesting time seeing some YR@W members are promoting him. That is the other interesting thing. the YR@W is going to continue well into this term no matter who wins government as they know they workers will still be shafted

  13. Where do Xenophon’s come from? Has anyone done an analysis of whether more of his votes come from Liberal or Labor? Or do we just halve it and take 12% away from each side?

  14. X’s vote comes largely from the libs and FF. Labour is down only about 1%, libs are savaged down to 27%.
    See the link in Williams blog

  15. Xenophon is a shameless self-promoter, more interested in getting his own face on the telly than anything else. He gets away with it because he is very, very clever and because the media in SA is so bored with politics they can’t wait for his next stunt. They are always amusing and thought-provoking, although at the end of the day usually achieve nothing except to raise his own profile further (which is arguably the very idea).

    A case in point regarding this self-promotion was on last week’s Stateline, when he was listing his achievements in his time in parliament. He mentioned the legislation to cap the number of poker machines (fair enough, that was his baby), but he also mentioned the total smoking ban in clubs and pubs that took effect last week. It was actually Health Minister Lea Stevens who did that – it was her baby and something she had been spruiking since her time as Shadow Minister – and it was outrageous of him to claim credit for it. Other than that, he didn’t really offer anything else, which was tantamount to admitting that he’d achieved very little in the 9 years he’d been in the parliament.

    This is probably because most of his work has been done in the public arena on current affairs shows and in media interviews, either raising or commenting on issues of individuals who have been disadvantaged or discriminated against. In fact, he does very little of the legwork himself in individual constituent cases – he either leaves it to his staff or to the media themselves. All he does is get himself SEEN talking about the issues.

    Also, he still operates his private law practice (how can he possibly have the time unless he is only a part-time politician?) and, contrary to his public pronouncements when he was challenged on this, actually does very little pro-bono work.

    All in all, I’ve been very disappointed by his time in the SA Parliament – he could have used that time, his influence and the benefit of his legal experience to introduce some far-reaching and important legislation. Instead he has just been a show pony.

    Added to that is the disappointment people feel that he has decided to put his own ambition before the interests of SA by jumping ship within 18 months of his new term, especially since his overwhelming endorsement at the last election also resulted in the accidental election of the disastrous Ann Bressington and the yet-to-be-seen John Darley, former Valuer-General. This election, I wonder whether that will be in the back of people’s minds as well: do we risk accidentally voting in this other person we’ve never heard of before (who may well become another Ann Bressington) or should be play it safe and vote Labor or Liberal, and rely on others to ensure that Xenophon gets over the line?

    I think there is no doubt, however, that the Senate election in SA will be very interesting indeed.

  16. Shit. I was expecting him to hit around 13%, but this is astonishing.

    It also adds credibility to the 2-2-1-1 idea – Xenophon’s preferences will go to the minor parties before the big ones.

    If FF do well, they could even pinch a seat. If the Libs do appallingly in the Senate, and FF get above them, then they will absorb all the preferences. If this is enough to get above the Greens…

    Will be an interesting night!

  17. With all due respect Bill, the idea that no legislation can pass without bipartisan or Greens support doesn’t exactly fill me with a lot of faith either. The Greens haven’t exactly got a good track record in negotiating legislation through the Senate. Then again, one supposes they haven’t really been needed yet, so the next three years will be the big test.

  18. My understanding is that as Mr X is not a party, he cannot go above the line. As 95% of SA voters vote above the line, this would be a huge problem for him. Am I incorrect? Sorry if this has already been answered but I could not find it above

  19. Bill Weller, you have shown yourself to be a bigot and extremely offensive. I’d like you to stop the tirades. I can’t imagine why religious vilification is tolerated on this site whilst racism and sexism is (rightly) abhorred.

    William, your view?

  20. I like Nick, and voted for him in the State election, as did everyone I know, but this is the bit which bothers me at this time. It is causing me to consider the Greens, in fact I have been leaf letting for them. I heard on ABC last night that the Greens have a very strong chance in SA. A Green win and a Nick win would be great for SA, and the Greens would temper any missteps by Nick on this issue, I think. Do you?

    Does anyone have more information on this issue, media stuff?

    Excerpt, Nick’s Website:

    ‘What about WorkChoices – is it delivering a fair deal to Australian workers?

    The WorkChoices legislation went too far. There definitely needs to be some revisiting of it – you need to consult with small businesses that are nervous. There’s scope to have a good look at it away from the heat of the federal election campaign and scope to improve it. A big issue for me in Canberra would be industrial health and safety. In terms of the guarantee of minimum conditions, if someone doesn’t want a certain shift or expanded shifts there should be some safeguards’.

  21. Nick Xenophon is NOT running as a party he DOES have a running mate.

    He is above the line as ‘Group S’.

    My guess is he will have enough supporters on polling day to tell people as such, with at least 150,000 people supporting him, I’m sure he can get a few hundred together to man the booths.

  22. Diogenes 29

    ‘My understanding is that as Mr X is not a party, he cannot go above the line. As 95% of SA voters vote above the line, this would be a huge problem for him. Am I incorrect? ‘

    Further excerpt, Nick’s Website:

    ‘Download How to Vote card here!

    Nick has drawn box ‘S’ in the draw for the Senate ballot paper. Box ‘S’ is the last box above the line on the right hand of the ballot paper.

    The draw takes place with a blind-folded Australian Electoral Commission official drawing numbered balls out of a wire barrel which has been rotated.

    Nick said:

    “Ironically the process is a bit like bingo – once cheeky journalist offered me $20 if I called out ‘BINGO!’ when my number came up, but I’m not that hard up for cash (not yet anyway!)

    I’m happy with the outcome – having the final box – ‘S’ – above the line makes it easier for supporters to find me.

    To vote for me, all they have to do it put a 1 in box ‘S’ above the line.”

  23. Generic Oracle. Green bashing and communist name calling is tolerated on here so my being against religious extremism is not a loner. REMEMBER i was a member of this extreme church so i know what their intension’s are. And think on this in both the state and this election my corflutes have been removed and replaced with FF ones now i could think that was just a coincidence but……

  24. Xenephon is a lawyer. His running mate, Roger Bryson, is a Baptist minister and manager of the Adelaide Central Market – a strange combination. Both are mates of the Reverend Tim Costello, brother of the federal treasurer.

  25. No hellas about that, chris.

    In the land of ancient Greece, called Hellas, the people waged power struggles for control of the many valuable islands. The combatants faced each other over land and across the seas. In these battles with sail and sword, the combatants venture forth to discover new islands to fight over. To aid them in their battles, the combatants often seek the favor of the Gods.

  26. General Oracle, keep your whinging to a minimum please. it’s not a pretty look.

    FF are a religious extremist party and 100% of the population know it.

    The 98% who wouldn’t vote for them in a fit know it.

    And the 2% who do vote for them know it.

  27. If the choice is between a lib controlled senate and one where no one has a majority… I would certainly pick the 2nd
    Is it looking like the libs will lose their senate majority?
    from what I ‘ve seen of polls for SA & Tas senate the libs appear to only have 2 in each state
    any inside knowledge about ACT?

  28. Thanks, mick. No knowledge ACT myself. Might be worth scouring the site, this and last month, as there are threads regarding the Senate.

    But what of Nick’s Workchoice statement?

  29. As Phil Robins points out in post 40, it is Xenophon’s running mate who is the baptist minister, NOT Xenophon himself. There seems to be some confusion regarding this in some of the earlier posts on this thread.

    Xenophon has shown himself to be middle-of-the-road liberal, so I would be surprised if he wasn’t in favour of gay rights. Although the Bressington woman who was elected with him in 2006 is quite feral.

  30. I’m afraid I have not been following this SA’n upper house candidate.

    What are X’s views on social issues, including gay issues, mad cow?

  31. mad cow at 2. Interested in the answer, too. I have taken the liberty of sending your question to the ALP, SA. Will let you know in due course, should I get a response.

    ‘This question was asked by a poster to the political website, Pollbludger. Wonder if you could help with the answer, please.

    ‘Lets suppose (Nick X)X gets close to 20%. What happens to Labor primaries at this point?

    Last I heard it was going to go 3 2 1 lab lib X
    If a green popped would that be at the expense of one of the labor seats’?

  32. I think its quite clear that as the Xenophon vote exceeds what is required for a quota, the green’s candidate has her chances increased. This is pretty much what the Adelaide Uni poll is saying.

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