EMRS: Labor 40, Liberal 35 in Tasmania

Tasmanian polling firm EMRS has published its latest survey of 1000 respondents on state voting intention, as it does every two or three months. It gives Labor one of its better state polling results of recent times: they have held steady on 40 per cent while the Liberals have dropped three points to 35 per cent, with the Greens up four to a formidable 23 per cent (remembering that the Tasmanian Greens often over-perform in polls). Like all EMRS polling of the current term, this points to Labor losing its majority and the Greens holding the balance of power. Preferred premier ratings are 37 per cent for David Bartlett (down three), 29 per cent for Opposition Leader Will Hodgman (down four) and 15 per cent for Greens leader Nick McKim (up three).

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.

22 comments on “EMRS: Labor 40, Liberal 35 in Tasmania”

  1. If there’s any state of territory that desperately needs the Greens with BOP its the rotten borough of Tasmania.

    That, and Gunn control.

    Bring on the election. This one’s personal!

  2. Bearing that in mind, and past history (reducing the size of the lower house), it’s also the most likely place to end up with a Labor/Liberal grand coalition if that happens. Next election will be very interesting. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. Speaking of grand coalitions, has there ever been one in Australia?

    I can’t remember an instance in recent memory, but I’m sure someone can inform me whether this is true for all Australian (federal and state) governments…

  4. Nick McKim’s leadership of the Tasmanian Greens would be a key factor in their improving poll position. I am not surprised at the poll result at all. The issues of forestry, a CERTAIN company and the way things are done in the state of Tasmania are causing the electorate to very much question the old parties. I hope Labor would join with the Liberals. What a bonus ‘THAT’ would be!

  5. Grand coalitions?

    Working backwards …

    since the first fusions of the non-Labor parties (1910 federally, a little earlier in most States) there has never been a coalition government of Labor with a major non-Labor party, although both Victoria and Tasmania have had experience of minority Labor governments dependent on some support from non-Labor members;

    before that, both Queensland and South Australia had experience of coalition governments linking Labor with one of multiple main non-Labor parties, while both New South Wales and Victoria (and other States? not sure) had some experience of minority non-Labor governments dependent on some support from Labor members;

    and before that, before Labor even came on the scene, both Victoria and Queensland had experience of two major non-Labor parties, formerly opposed to each other, combining in a coalition government, with only splinter groups left to provide an opposition.

  6. As of both the 2006 and 2002 elections…

    Bass: 2-2-1
    Braddon: 3-2-0
    Denison: 3-1-1
    Franklin: 3-1-1
    Lyons: 3-1-1

    Total: 14-7-4

    The Libs won’t get a majority next time… they need to pick up 6 seats, and that’ll never happen. However, Labor only need to lose two seats to lose their majority. If they lose a seat in Franklin to the Libs (they got kinda robbed there last time), one to the Greens in either Denison or Braddon (both won’t, but one might), and maybe another to the Libs in Lyons, then that’ll be 11-9-5 for the state… minority government time.

    A Labor/Liberal (Laboral?) government could make sense in Tassie, but by christ it’d be explosive for the federal parties. Can you imagine Eric Abetz’s face if that happened? Meanwhile, the Greens would automatically become the opposition, and therefore get their faces on telly a lot more – a Laboral (sorry… ๐Ÿ˜› ) govt could actually play into the Greens’ hands quite a bit.

  7. A couple more entries: the first Labor government in the world was a minority affair, and lasted a week in 1899 in QLD. The Liberals sold Anderson Dawson out, after saying they’d support them against the Conservatives.

    And of course, there was Bjelke-Petersen’s desperate attempt to recruit the ALP to keeping him in power when his own party dumped him. But that went nowhere

  8. As usual it is extremely difficult to read anything useful into this poll as the “undecided” response is ludicrously high and we don’t know whether they break evenly or are mainly soft Labor voters as they were in 2006, so the 40-35-23 is probably nowhere near accurate. If the “undecideds” are still soft Labor voters then Labor remains in potentially election-winning territory, but we haven’t really seen the global economic situation have much impact in Tasmanian politics yet.

    As for the Greens’ claimed improvement, firstly the two points they are up in raw figures isn’t statistically significant, and secondly they were also on 18 points in raw figures in two earlier polls this year, albeit with slightly lower undecided rates. I don’t doubt that Nick McKim is a far better leader for them for this political environment at least than Peg Putt, but the poll itself proves nothing except that he isn’t struggling.

  9. What bizarre statements being made in here… since when has the non-Labor left won lower house seats from 1910 onward? Almost never?

    It only happens in multimember voting systems, Tasmania and the ACT. The Greens in Tas have supported both parties (and didn’t last very long with the Libs), and supported Labor in the ACT.

    The Lib vote needs to be nearing 50% if they want to form government in their own right.

  10. As Kevin B points out, EMRS report a ridiculously high undecided response. We don’t know how undecided people will vote, but on recent past experience over 50% are soft Labor voters, largely I think because most voted Labor previously, are relatively disengaged from day-to-day political news, and because they are susceptible to a scare campaign on minority government so are more easily influenced to vote for the incumbent.

    I think my treatment of them to distribute by a formula is a reasonable approach to making some sense of the polls. See the analysis and graphs here: http://tasmanianpolitics.blogspot.com/2008/11/emrs-poll.html

  11. Opss.. there goes the 2PP Club.
    Thanks Tasmania for ridding us of the stuffy old LIB/LAB Party.
    What dionasors are now going to regergitate spin like
    “only a protest vote”
    “a one issue party”

  12. If there was an old party coalition then if it came apart then there might be a short lived Green government until the House of Assembly next met.

  13. bob1234 @ 9

    What bizarre statements being made in hereโ€ฆ since when has the non-Labor left won lower house seats from 1910 onward? Almost never?

    Fred Paterson elected as a Communist for Bowen at the Queensland State elections of 1944 and 1947; Michael Organ elected as a Green for Cunningham at the Federal by-election of 2002.

    There have also been several members elected as ‘Independent Labor’ or for various Labor splinter parties, but they are not so unambiguously ‘non-Labor’.

  14. I agree. It was ‘merely corroborative detail, intended to give artistic verisimilitude to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative’.

    Or something like that.

  15. Post 11 looks exactly like so many others that were being written in the leadup to the 2006 election when virtually everyone was certain a hung parliament would occur; it didn’t.

    While it is a likely result, jumping to the conclusion that it will definitely happen in 2010 is again premature. I think much will depend on the condition of the Tasmanian economy at that time.

  16. Tassie doesn’t need a Laboral government (there already is one in major policy terms), or a hung parliament. It needs a Green government. Not because of the Greens themselves being able to govern, but because it is the only way the ALP and Liberal parties will clean out their house – and to get a full inquiry into the last 30 years of governance. If criminal action results from that inquiry, so be it.
    And a Green government wouldn’t be able to do anything particularly radical, with the traditionally conservative Legislative Council able to block anything and not face the people.

    As for EMRS, they have got better in recent years – but that’s a bit like Tassie’s economy; improved off an embarrassingly low position.

  17. Local government is not the same as a Parliament, but the Brisbane City Council had something roughly approaching a Grand Coalition between Labor and Liberal between 2004 and 2008. Both parties had spots in the Civic Cabinet, with the Mayor being a Liberal and the Deputy Mayor being Labor. There were no independent or third party Councillors to form an opposition, although a Liberal Councillor held the title of opposition leader. This only happened because the Mayopr is elected separately and voters chose a Liberal Mayor but an overall Council with a Labor majority. It couldn’t happen in a Parliamentary situation. It was all a bit messy in any case and didn’t work out well for Labor at all, as they got thumped at the subsequent poll.

    In any case, I think party politics in Australia is far too rigid for there to be much chance of it happening in state or federal parliaments – even in Tasmania. Given Tasmania’s unique system, I guess it’s remotely possible that one major party might agree to support the other in a minority governent if they both decided it was unacceptable to work with the Greens. I don’t see why they would though – they have both run minority govenrments with Green support in the past (even though neither episode turned out very happily) and the Greens in Tasmania aren’t showing any signs of being overly intransigent.

  18. I’m actually not sure EMRS’s state polls have got better in recent years. For one thing they still have ridiculously high levels of undecided vote that very few other polls in the country have. They’ve had years to find out why this is the case and fix it but they haven’t done it.

    Secondly they seem to be stressing the Preferred Premier score rather than polling and releasing leader approval ratings which are generally considered more relevant. Not that the media can tell the difference with PP scores frequently being reported as approval ratings or compared with past approval ratings.

    Thirdly their polling was far more useless predictively in the leadup to the 2006 election than it was in the leadup to the 2002 one. Their only poll that was anywhere near the mark was the one just before the election and even it overestimated the Green vote.

    The one thing I will give EMRS credit for is that they have stopped releasing 200-vote electorate breakdowns, which were extremely unreliable because of their high MOE on top of the undecided-voter problem, and which were leading to all kinds of inaccurate projections being released.

    I dearly wish Morgan would start polling in Tasmania again but they have not done so for ages.

    I think the Greens do have better chances of making the balance of power work if they get it this time around as Nick McKim appears to be their most pragmatic leader so far. That said, the obstacles to it working for them are considerable; I discussed some of those a few years back at http://tasmaniantimes.com/index.php?/weblog/article/why-minority-government-matters/. Rereading that in light of the departure of old forest-war warriors Lennon and Putt (who I don’t think could have ever worked together), I still think there is a challenge for the Greens – how to deliver stable partnerships and still get enough continuing progress on their agenda to keep their own voters happy.

  19. The pulp mill has never looked like being built to me at any stage. Tassie could do with downstream processing but Gunns lack the smarts for a project of the scale of the current proposal. Bartlett would do well to have it quietly put out of its misery or better still get the feds to do it.

    I have an article up about the EMRS poll on Tasmanian Times now (first cab off the rank at http://tasmaniantimes.com/index.php?/weblog/C64/). (For the benefit of interstate readers, the gentleman pictured is our new Premier and not me!)

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