D-day minus 5

Dennis Shanahan and Matthew Franklin in The Australian:

ALP polling in Victoria last week suggested Labor would be lucky to win a seat in the state, meaning that the bulk of the 16 seats the party needs for victory will have to come from NSW and Queensland … Senior Labor officials last night maintained there was a continuing swing to the ALP, as evidenced by the published polls, but said it remained a tight contest in marginal seats across the country. “There is no question we will win seats in NSW and Queensland, the question is how many,” a senior Labor source said … Victorian Liberals and Labor sources suggest extrapolations of up to six seats being won in Victoria are unlikely. Last week, Labor polled the five most marginal seats of La Trobe, Deakin, Corangamite, McEwen and McMillan with a sample of 350 voters in each seat. Labor sources stressed the ALP was not in front in any of the Victorian marginals held by the Coalition. Liberal sources said Labor was finding it difficult to get above the “high water mark” of Labor support in Victoria but they believed three or four seats were still very close … Playing down expectations in NSW, some Labor officials are suggesting a net gain of four or five seats would be a good result. The published polling in Queensland also suggests the high expectations based on Labor’s overwhelming two-party-preferred lead of 10 points for most of the past year have been tempered with the latest estimates of only three or four seats … In the Northern Territory, the Country Liberal Party’s Dave Tollner is expected to benefit from the Coalition’s intervention in the Northern Territory and hold his seat, despite it being one of the most marginal in the country.

Gerard McManus in the Herald-Sun:

Depending on the tightness of the result next Saturday this could still mean that WA, which is three hours behind the east, may determine the final outcome very late on Saturday night. But Labor insiders remain quietly confident the result will be known well before that, with New South Wales, South Australia and Queensland likely to deliver sufficient seats for it to take government. Optimists inside Labor believe the party can take up to three to five seats in South Australia, up to eight in Queensland, and six to eight in New South Wales. And some super-optimists say Labor could take 11 or 12 seats in NSW, including the mortgage-strapped seats of Greenway (11 per cent) and Macarthur (11.1 per cent) … But based on the earlier, more conservative prediction Labor would achieve a comfortable majority of about six seats based on winning its required 16 seats in Queensland, SA and NSW, and also picking up the two Tasmanian seats, one or two in either Victoria or WA, and the Northern Territory seat of Solomon, which both sides expect to go to Labor. Interestingly, Labor is not banking on winning any seats in Victoria because it already holds a majority of the seats in the state, but will not be surprised to see up to three fall “if the swing is on” … An analysis of the critical 30 marginal seats suggests that Labor can still be certain of a definite gain of only a dozen seats and that even the best pundits have no idea of the result in some seats. For example, predicting the outcome in the Prime Minister’s seat of Bennelong, often quoted as a possible or even likely Labor gain after a redistribution cut the PM’s margin to just 4 per cent, has been hampered by the reluctance of Chinese and Korean voters to talk to pollsters. “We have no idea who they will vote for because they simply refuse to co-operate – they are suspicious of polls and questionnaires,” one NSW Labor worker told the Herald Sun this week. Many expect Mr Rudd’s fluency in Mandarin to have impressed Chinese nationals and ABCs (Australian-born Chinese), but others say Chinese typically respect elderly and incumbent leaders. Similarly, Malcolm Turnbull’s affluent Sydney seat of Wentworth has been buffeted by several controversies, including the legitimacy of Labor candidate George Newhouse. Labor insiders say they will be surprised if Mr Turnbull is not returned.

Jennifer Hewett in The Australian:

The strong anti-union message from the Government was resonating into the idea of whether it was worth taking the risk on economic management. Even interest rate hikes were making people just a little nervous about the prospect of making a change. NSW seats such as Eden-Monaro and Page, which Labor must win next Saturday, suddenly looked much tighter. The surge to Labor in South Australia abated. Braddon in Tasmania was no longer looking so much like a near certainty for the ALP. Queensland could only really guarantee four seats rather than six. Victoria was not looking likely to produce any wins at all … in Queensland the estimate from both sides is a probable loss of four government seats (Bonner, Moreton, Blair, Herbert) to six seats (Leichhardt, Forde or just maybe the new seat of Flynn despite the anger there over council amalgamations). In NSW, the estimate is about five seats to Labor but with great nervousness about Eden-Monaro and a little nervousness about Page. Labor is not including Wentworth or Bennelong on its likely list. In Victoria, Labor is not confident of winning any seats, where effective government MPs will be trying to hold out against the tide. In South Australia, both Liberals and Labor expect a loss of three Coalition seats but no more. In Tasmania, Bass looks as if it is gone from the Liberals, but there are different views about whether the Liberals will hold Braddon. In the Northern Territory, the Liberal Country Party’s David Tollner will be trying to hold out against Labor in a typically tough-knuckled fight. And then, of course, there’s WA, where the likeliest outcome, as of this weekend, is a possible loss of Cowan – where the popular Labor MP is also retiring – balanced by a Labor pick-up in Hasluck. But absolutely no guarantees of anything.

• Andrew Burrell wrote in Friday’s Financial Review that Liberal polling showed them narrowly ahead in Stirling, whereas Labor’s had the two parties “virtually deadlocked”. Labor sources are said to be “extremely confident” of winning back Hasluck.

• Google has now added polling booth locations to its magnificent Google Maps election feature.

• Complete results from the weekend’s EMRS poll of the five Tasmanian seats available here.

Simon Jackman has laid his predictive cards on the table.

Andrew Fraser of The Australian gives an overview of the Sunday papers’ record on editorial endorsements, but the good bit is not included in the online article. Here it is:

Sunday Telegraph (News Limited, Sydney): 1998 Howard, 2001 Beazley, 2004 Howard, 2007 Rudd. “The Sunday Telegraph accepts readers believe it is finally time to give Labor a go. But Mr Rudd needs to guarantee our nation several things. He must stare down a Labor cabinet inhabited by many with union and factional allegiances … Mr Rudd must surround himself with a loyal team that will help him deliver on his promises“.

Sunday Herald Sun (News Limited, Melbourne): 1998 Howard, 2001 Howard, 2004 Howard, 2007 Howard. “It is time. Not to change governments, but to resist temptation. It is time to acknowledge that the Coalition is the safe bet in a political contest in which the new, despite its superficial allure, offers less than the familiar”.

The Sunday Age (Fairfax, Melbourne): 1998 N/A; 2001 None; 2004 None; 2007 No call. “On the contenders’ ‘exposed form’, The Sunday Age does not see enough differences between the Coalition and Labor to urge readers to vote for one over the other”.

The Sun-Herald (Fairfax, Sydney): 1998 N/A; 2001 Howard; 2004 Howard; 2007 Rudd. “The Sun-Herald says voters face a tough choice but our endorsement is for the Labor Party. Team Rudd gets our final tick on the strength of its fresh vision for education”.

Sunday Mail (News Limited, Adelaide): 1998 Howard; 2001 Howard; 2004 Howard; 2007 Howard. “Now is not the time to move into untested waters, particularly as the world economy comes under strain next year. The Sunday Mail believes the Coalition is best placed to govern Australia for the next three years”.

Sunday Times (News Limited, Perth): 1998 Howard; 2001 Howard; 2004 Howard; 2007 Howard. “The Sunday Times believes change for change sake is simply not an adequate trigger to throw out a Coalition Government which, while far from perfect, has overseen record prosperity in WA and the nation”.

Sunday Mail (News Limited, Brisbane): 1998 N/A; 2001 None; 2004 Howard; 2007 Rudd. “There is undoubtedly a mood for national renewal and there is a need for national renewal. Mr Rudd has demonstrated he has the potential to undertake that task effectively”.

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.

367 comments on “D-day minus 5”

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  1. [Depending on the tightness of the result next Saturday this could still mean that WA, which is three hours behind the east, may determine the final outcome very late on Saturday night.]

    doesn’t Gerard McManus realise WA is on Daylight savings and are 2 hours the rest of the country ?

  2. Hi guys, asked my family last night, who live up in the seat of Mallee (I’m in Melbourne). I’m guessing all of them voted Liberal last time by the way they spoke. This time here is what they’re doing:

    Mother: Labor – Due to the water issue and environment.
    Father: Labor – Same as mother, plus likes Rudd & Gillard
    Elder Sister: Labor – Due to the 6 interest rate hikes.
    Younger Sister: Labor – For their higher education policy.

    My family doesn’t take much notice of politics and are the true definition of a swing voter family.

    Thought you’d be interested. I was surprised when I found out their intentions.

    The Duke.

  3. Strange analyses there. Looks like the newspaper commentariat is having a bet every which way, saying the Labor win could be small, big or not at all.

    Gee that’s insightful! And they pay these people??

    All too gutless to make a definitive prediction one way or the other. I’m sure they’ll all do Gerrad Hendersons on Sunday and declare they knew it would turn out the way it did… It’s amazing how right you can be if you don’t make public predictions!

  4. Who was it saying about a week ago that the smh had not endorsed Labor in an editorial since 1961? Is this correct? And if so, what of this shift?

  5. Why are the people Labor hates most those who have left the fold?

    eg Andrew Bolt, Glen Milne, Mark Latham

    Is it because they are no longer beholden to the party and the rest of them hate that?

  6. Been having a think about all these marginal polls. The ALP has held a consistent killer lead in the overall 2pp yet there is a steady flow of marginal polls showing the ALP might struggle to win key seats..

    I wonder if there is a bias if you start looking at too many marginal polls in isolation. Bear with me ‘cause I’m going to go all first year stats here.

    Lets say there are 20 marginal that we know the real vote is 51/49 to party XYZ. If we polled 400 voters in each of the seat (MOE 5%), due to sampling error, we would expect to find a result showing XYZ behind about 1/3 of the time.

    Is this part of the reason the marginal polling never seems quite as good as the aggregate polling?

    (My apologies to the stats experts on this site if I am merely stating the bleeding obvious)

  7. Reading and plotting the estimates..and sure, ALP insiders are bound to accurately brief the GG reporters.

    State – Worst – Best
    Vic 0-4
    NSW 5- 8
    QLD 4 -8
    NT 0- 1
    TAS 1- 2
    WA 0- 1
    SA 3 -5

    Total – 13 – 29

    I think 22 minimum. Dream on, losers.

  8. David Williamson in Crikey:

    Any journalist who can turn a man his own party dubbed a “lying rodent”, into the Saint who saved Australia, has, like their idol, a superb grasp of slippery rhetoric which has hopefully earned them enough money to retire. These same scribes have falsely divided Australia into “Howard hating elites”, and “ordinary Australians,” without ever asking the question as to why many with the remnants of a conscience, including “ordinary Australians”, find it hard to stomach him.

    The shameless exploitation of fear and hysteria over four hundred genuine and dehydrating refugees on Tampa might be a start. The ludicrous and hugely expensive “Pacific solution” might be another. The moral sleaze of the Saddam kickbacks, the lies of children overboard, the blatant and immoral pork barrelling of Coalition electorates, the attempt to deliver a cowed and cheap workforce to employers without a mandate, the constant and unrelenting grovelling to George Bush, the deathbed conversion to climate change and reconciliation lite – the list could go on.

  9. 84 seats ALP

    Tasmania: Bass, Braddon
    SA: Makin, Wakefield, Kingston, 1 of Sturt/Boothby
    WA: Hasluck, Stirling
    NSW: Bennelong, Lindsay, Dobell, Parramatta, Page, Eden-Monaro
    Qld: Blair, Bonner, Moreton, Herbert, Longman, Ryan, 2 of Leichardt/Dawson/Bowman/Hinkler
    VIC: La Trobe, Corangamite

  10. I’m just not buying those Labor leaks to Shanahan and Hewitt. Looks very much like the tried and true Labor tactic of talking down expectations.

  11. If Newspoll was good for the Tories it would have been released on Monday morning. The holding over till tomorrow tells me it will be news Howard does not want to hear.

  12. I actually think Bolt has shown himself to be a realist. He has written off the Liberal’s chances in this election although he wants them to win. I have no problems with Bolt. I don’t agree with him on a lot of things but as I said I think he is a realist, unlike Akerman.

  13. There have however been times when the newspoll has been released on time or later but has been more worrying than other ones. Apart from any last week arrowing, there has been no reason why the libs should have gained ground

  14. Will there even be a Newspoll tomorrow? The marginal seat Newspoll from the weekend had a massive sample (3000+). They might just wait and do a final one during the week and release Friday or Saturday.

  15. 19 Charlie – spot on Charlie, they are the last people you would leak factual info to, especially if it is good news for Labor. The last thing Labor needs is the expectation of a big win.

  16. Gary Bruce I would have been under the impression Labor would want to leak factual info, especially if it is good news for Labor such that maximum pressure is applied on to the PM and Coalition

  17. “20
    steve Says:
    November 19th, 2007 at 5:42 pm
    If Newspoll was good for the Tories it would have been released on Monday morning. The holding over till tomorrow tells me it will be news Howard does not want to hear.”

    If it were ‘their’ intention to aid Howard then yes a positive Newspoll for the LNP would be leaked as soon as possible to give Howard something to work off. I would imagine.

  18. Reading all William’s lead-ins, it sounds more like a narrowing of poll interpretations, rather than any narrowing of polls. We still don’t even have all the poll results in for those done immediately after the Labor launch, which even most conservative pundits had to admit was more reasoned and responsible than Howards’. Still a clear trend towards Labor victory.

    Of those professionals actually making predictions, they seem to fall into two camps: those predicting Labor victory, and those sitting on the fence. No professional observer seems to be predicting Coalition victory. Some are saying a Coalition victory is possible; clearly some are hoping for one. But none are staking their reputation on predicting it. In other words, none really believe it will happen. Labor will win. Game over.

  19. The coalition are firming. Sportingbet 4.25 to 4.15. Centrebet 4.00 to 3.90.

    The odds are:

    Betfair ALP 1.27 / LIB 4.50
    Sportingbet ALP 1.22 / LIB 4.15
    IAS ALP 1.25 / LIB 4.10
    Centrebet ALP 1.26 / LIB 3.90

  20. I still find it hard to believe that Labor isn’t confidant of picking up at least 1 seat in Victoria, given the strength of Labor in the betting markets in La Trobe (which is continually improving).

    I’m also surprised about the Libs still being given a chance to win Cowan, when every betting agency has Labor as short-priced favourites in that seat.

    But from the above analyses, I see no reason to change my prediction of Labor winning with 81 seats.

    P.S. The SMH has always endorsed against the ALP except for 1961 and the Hawke elections (83, 84, 87 and 90). In state elections, it’s even worse – the only time they’ve endorsed the ALP was in 2003.

  21. 29 John of Melbourne – you know as well as I do that parties want to be seen as the underdog. There are plenty of people out there who don’t want to see a landlide although they do want a change of government. Why else do you suppose parties vie for underdog status?

  22. Edward,

    There is nothing more pathetic than ex Liberal leaders. Menzies died in poverty apparently a committed DLP supporter, Malcolm Fraser after starting out as a right wing troglodyte is now a vilifed left wing troglodyte, John Hewson shafted and shunned, John Gorton ended up running as an Indepedent in the Senate. As for Billy Mcmahon, he is regarded as the biggest joke of a PM mainly by his own side. Andrew Peacock rose to fame without a trace. Billie Snedden died doing what he could never do to Australia.

    What are they gonna do to Howard after Saturday.

    I suspect that there will not be too much “lerve” .

  23. John of Melbourne Says:
    Gary Bruce I would have been under the impression Labor would want to leak factual info, especially if it is good news for Labor such that maximum pressure is applied on to the PM and Coalition

    No one is going to leak internal polling of anything to anybody. Internal polling is closely guarded and too valuable to squander. Polling results are kept to to the campaign team leadership only.

  24. With Newspoll, isn’t the formula:

    Leaked by 5pm: Libs coming back

    Leaked by 8pm: Same old, Same old

    Leaked on Agenda/Lateline: Apocalyptic…..

  25. Centre @ 33,

    The movement on Sportingbet is odd, as the Libs have come in 10c, but Labor’s price has not moved. Are they repricing their overound?

  26. There will definitely be a Newspoll tomorrow, and another one on Saturday; that will be the final Newspoll, based on a sample of 2500.

    Labor does want to play down expectations a bit to not be seen as completely over the line, and to make their campaign workers go right until polling day.

  27. The last newpoll was 59-41 in Victoria wasn’t it?

    Hasn’t it been there all year, except for a couple of polls?

    How aren’t they going to win seats in Victoria? Weren’t talking of Goldstein and Kooyong going at one stage?

  28. Gary I agree that parties do vie for underdog status. I just think that they would use all means at their disposal to put maximum pressure on the PM.

  29. 41, I think the Oz has struck an agreement during the campaign to only leak Newspoll to Sky News’ “The Gallery” program at around 9:30pm. That’s when the wk 3 & 4 Newspolls were leaked. The wk 2 Newspoll was leaked at 9:30pm on Tas Lateline. The wk 5 one was released Mon to allow Dennis & co to cover the Lib campaign launch in detail the next day.

  30. JofM,

    You can work out what the internal polls are saying by following where the leaders are going (not what they say and not what any ‘leaks’ say).

    For example, this weekend Howard was campaigning in Greenway, whilst Rudd was campaigning in McEwen.

    Today, Rudd was in Deakin and La Trobe, whilst Howard is in Cowan.

    Note that seats like Lindsay, Bonner, Moreton and Parramatta (all front-line marginals) have not received any attention at all during this election campaign from the party leaders. Both sides are focussed on seats much further up the pendulum.

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