Newspoll: 54-46 to Labor in SA

Mike Rann’s South Australian government has joined in on the end-of-year Newspoll fun, bouncing back in the latest quarterly survey to the 54-46 lead it enjoyed in April-June before slumping to 50-50 in July-September. However, it owes the recovery to preferences from the Greens, who have soared five points to 13 per cent directly at the expense of the Liberals, who have slumped to 35 per cent (UPDATE: Hair-splitters in comments resent the implication that Liberal votes have gone to the Greens. This is obviously not so). Labor’s primary vote is up one to 39 per cent. Rann’s approval rating is up three points to 44 per cent, while his disapproval is down six to 39 per cent. Liberal leader Martin Hamilton-Smith’s ratings are 43 per cent (steady) and 26 per cent (down five), but he is down four points as preferred premier to 26 per cent, with Rann up two to 50 per cent.

UPDATE: The following charts track Labor’s two-party vote and the various leaders’ approval ratings since the federal election. Western Australia has been excluded partly due to incomplete data, but mostly because of the complication of the change of government.

As I’ve noted previously, federal Labor’s vote has very closely tracked Kevin Rudd’s approval rating except since Malcolm Turnbull became Liberal leader, since which time it has increased less sharply (the most recent poll notwithstanding). This can be chalked up as a win of sorts for Turnbull. The other thing the data strongly suggests is that the end-of-year boom in the federal government’s popularity has pulled up the various state governments, whose improved performances bear no relation to their leaders’ approval ratings. I would infer from this that the governments in question shouldn’t get too comfortable.

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.

53 comments on “Newspoll: 54-46 to Labor in SA”

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  1. “However, it owes the recovery to preferences from the Greens, who have soared five points to 13 per cent directly at the expense of the Liberals”

    What a total furphy. This gives the impression that Liberal votes went to the Greens. This is incredibly untrue. Some Liberal votes went back to Labor, whilst some Labor votes purged to the Greens.

  2. bob1234

    I agree. There is no way that Lib voters are deserting to the Greens in SA. They’re going to Labor, and a reasonable number of Labor voters are going to the Greens, presumably over Water. The difference is important in that Labor will get those votes back on TPP, whereas than the Libs getting their votes back from the Greens.

    I think Foley’s budget going into debt will hurt Labor, despite the excuse of the GFC. For a lot of voters, the best thing Labor has done is to be fiscally responsible (esp after Bannon). They could lose their trump card.

  3. Bush uses the bank bailout money for auto, which seems more deserving of the money than the banks. Ford says “no thanks” so they must be doing OK. And Al Franken is ahead (by 2 votes) and predicted to win. 😀

    [The White House announced a $17.4 billion rescue package for the troubled Detroit auto makers that allows them to avoid bankruptcy and leaves many of the big decisions for the incoming Obama administration.]

  4. [I think Foley’s budget going into debt will hurt Labor]
    Dio, I note Buswell has said that the WA buget will go into deficit next year. Will that hurt that government?

  5. Gary

    Not nearly as much as it will hurt Rann. Rann is being criticised for squandering the “good times” from the mining boom and leaving nothing in the tank for the “bad times”. Foley is endlessly crapping on about our AAA credit rating (I think all those toxic home loans got the same from the very generous ratings agencies!) and is always on about the budget and keeping it in the black. He has invested a lot of political capital in it and now he’s selling off the farm (including the building he works in) and making 1600 public servants redundant (voluntarily) to prop up the credit rating. Rann has created about 22,000 new jobs in the public service (most of them are in his office monitoring the media and spinning it 😉 ) and he’s open to attack that he’s been irresponsible.

  6. Will going into deficit hurt Rudd Dio?
    I’m not convinced that people will hold government’s responsible for going into deficit because they know about the GFC. It has been all over their TV screens. It seems by this poll Rann has in fact been helped by thr crisis inspite of the criticisms you mention. We’ll see I suppose.

  7. Gary

    The budget deficit only came out 2 days ago so it won’t show up in the Newspoll.

    90% of people will realise that if Rudd goes into deficit that it is because of the GFC and he’s done what he could. Most of the other 10% would be Lib voters anyway so I doubt it will hurt him too much.

    I heard a few elderly ladies yesterday talking about what they were going to do with the $1400 they got from “Uncle Kevin” (one was putting it towards a car and the other was spending 1/2 for Xmas and saving the rest). They said that they loved anyone who gave then $1400 and were going to send “Uncle Kevin” a Xmas card! And they looked like Liberal voters to me!

  8. Can Liberals heal rifts? Stateline 24/03/2006

    IAN HENSCHKE: All right. How will you take on Labor?

    IAIN EVANS: …If the federal economy turns and the GST revenues contract, that will put enormous pressure on their budget…

    Look, Evans seems like a prophet for the first time in his life! Pity it happened after he got dumped by the party.

  9. And Diogenes, I don’t think the Greens vote has purely come from water/the environment. I voted Labor in 2006, but i’ll be voting Green in 2010, pretty much because of the fact that the current Labor government is the biggest bunch of social conservatives SA Labor has ever seen, on a range of social issues.

  10. Bob

    Same with me. I can’t bring myself to vote for Rann or MHS. I like Parnell of the Greens. He seems sensible and genuine.

    Foley’s “Rack ’em and stack ’em” comments, Rann’s obsession with the bikies and absolutely everything about Atkinson appall me.

  11. Rann has his problems but when you compare his lot to Hamilton Smith’s mob it’s no contest, theres been rumblings of division in M.H.S’s lot as well, dunno when and if they’ll surface but my informant tells me theyre getting a little loud.

  12. Diogenes – yep, and not to forget that SA went from front of the pack to back of the pack in terms of LGBT reforms under Rann, thanks to the religious right in the party.

    Judith – why are there Liberal rumblings? In polling he’s miles ahead of his predecessor Iain Evans. There’s not much at all left to choose from in the current cricket team that is the lower house MPs of the SA Liberal Party. Who is the alternative for the rumblings to begin?

  13. I think it is interesting to see the certainty with which it is assumed that the Greens have not picked up Liberal votes. How do you know?

    In fact, the Greens pick up a sizable proportion (but less than a majority of new votes) from Liberal voters. They also pick up a large chunk from people who have never voted before.

    The unstated assumption in the posts appears to be that the Greens are to the left of Labor and therefore no Liberal (ie right wing) voter would go to them ahead of Labor. This is a popular but simplistic paradigm, and it is not the way most Greens voters see it.

    Political thought is too complex to be divided into binary opposites, and finding your position on a two dimensional left-right line is too restrictive. The “left-right” dichotomy is a 19th century paradigm and no longer works to describe political difference, which is multi-dimensional.

    For example, where does the environment fit on this left right spectrum? The answer is, nowhere.

    In the UK the Conservatives have a stronger climate change policy than Labour, and in the US the Governator is doing some of the most innovative things in the world on climate change.

    Labor in Australia is all talk and no action on climate change, despite this being a major differentiation point at the 07 election. And a lot of people who have voted Liberal in the past are dismayed at the continued shilly shallying by their own party.

    Of course, not all the change in the SA poll will be Liberals shifting their preferences to the Greens, but it’s fair to assume that some of it is.

  14. There’s approximately as much chance that MHS will get rolled in the preceding twelve months to the election as there is of Gillard challenging Rudd for the federal labor leadership before 2010.

    Not going to happen, not least because there’s nobody else ready to take charge.

    Interesting poll. Slightly unrealistic to think there’s been an eight point shift in such a short time span (wherein the government didn’t receive much positive publicity) but then it was equally unrealistic that such a shift eventuated last poll in the opposite direction. My guess is the true 2PP for Labor lies around the 52-53 mark. It’ll be interesting to see how Rann deals with the GF crisis + inevitably electoral gravity next election. Plus he’s still introduce his plan to abolish the upper house (an election promise I believe?) – which really does give the Libs some decent ammo, provided they use it correctly.

    That being said, as it stands Rann clearly has MHS’s measure. Whether that remains the case in an election year when the latter can start showing a few more policy cards and the former somewhat restricted to to obvious budgetary constraints remains to be seen.

  15. sorry Bob i was called away, the main rumbles seem to be coming from divisions in the party itself, one faction against the other, a few backbenchers are also fairly unhappy with MHS’s autocratic style, apparently he tries running the party like an army camp, dunno how deep they’ll go, thats all i’ve been told, i’m not going to pry too much in case i lose the trickle i get, it comes from a reliable source.

  16. Brian Walters – 75% give or take goes back to Labor over the Liberals in preferences. The Greens are economically, socially, and morally/traditionally left, when you don’t consider the environment. They are natural enemies with Liberal supporters and policies. They have more common ground with Labor supporters and policies.

    I’ll be honest, the environment comes low on my list of issues of importance when it comes to politics, but I vote Green. People don’t go to the Greens, or any other party, over a single issue.

    The majority of Green votes come from Labor over Liberal. To think otherwise is foolish.

  17. Didn’t something like 40% of Green votes in WA preference Liberal over Labor?

    I don’t think it’s as simple as “Greens are left-wing so only left-wing people for them and they will preference Labor”.

    That’s certainly the case so far but there are also some Liberal votes who can’t fatham voting Labor even though The Greens are more left.

  18. Oz – 35%.

    What does that leave?

    65% going to Labor. The lowest in any election for Labor.

    WA was very unique, a very conservative state gave the Greens 11-12% of the primary vote because they despised both parties, both had/have far more issues than their SA counterparts.

  19. Dear Bob1234,
    You haven’t made a convincing case. If 75% goes back to Labor – that’s when preferences are directed to Labor by the way – that is scarcely an overwhelming statistic, and in any event not to the point. My observation was in relation to where Greens voters come from, and a sizable minority come from the Liberal Party.

    There are in fact many issues which are difficult to place on the left-right spectrum. To give another major example, take human rights. The divide on this issue goes down the middle of the larger parties in Australia. The ALP’s Martin Ferguson, as shadow minister for immigration, fully supported the pacific solution and the locking up of asylum seekers (which was an ALP initiative in the first place). Despite the terrible policies of the Howard government, it was Petro Georgiou, not Labor, that put pressure on it to soften those policies.

    I see the left right spectrum, as traditionally understood, as dealing with a dialectic between labour and capital. It’s a bit limiting for most issues I’m afraid.

  20. 75% back to Labor over the Liberals is an overwhelming statistic. Find me a minor party whose preference flows to one major party over the other has been stronger?

    The historical DLP could be the only plausible candidate for that.

    Petro was the exception, not the rule, most Liberals hate him, most Laborites either can stand him or like him.

    Your case does not convince me.

    The bottom line is, you said “I think it is interesting to see the certainty with which it is assumed that the Greens have not picked up Liberal votes. How do you know?”

    The majority of that 5% swing to the Greens would have been Labor. I didn’t say none of it would have been from the Liberal vote. I simply took issue with “who have soared five points to 13 per cent directly at the expense of the Liberals”, as it makes it sound like the 5% Green pickup came directly from the Liberals. Which is untrue.

  21. [Find me a minor party whose preference flows to one major party over the other has been stronger?]

    Nats to the libs, but greens relationship to labor is not like nats to the libs, the greens are their own party whilst the nats are more the poor demented inbred cousin forever tied to the libs.

    Greens will attract votes the more Turnbull flops around torn in all directions by the opposing views in his party, and the prefernces may not necessarily go back to the libs, whereas labor voters may go green/ labor to voice their displeasure.

    Announcement by Rudd and Rann will also help labor, seeing as how it is also a 4 cylinder car.

  22. As I’ve noted previously, federal Labor’s vote has very closely tracked Kevin Rudd’s approval rating except since Malcolm Turnbull became Liberal leader, since which time it has increased less sharply (the most recent poll notwithstanding). This can be chalked up as a win of sorts for Turnbull.

    Or you could infer the complete opposite. A moderate up-turn in Labor’s vote has turned into an even sharper up-tick for Rudd’s personal standing based on who he is up against. Whatever way, the reversal of Labor’s slide coincided almost exactly with the arrival of Turnbull.

    Or am I just being unfair?

  23. The international financial crisis? Always a plus for governments. Worked a treat for Whitlam. Whether a financial crisis benefits a government surely depends on whether it is seen as the one to have in an economic crisis and I though the economy was supposed to be this government’s weak point. What helped was a totally incoherent opposition response led by Turnbull.

    I’m not surprised Turnbull gets good approval ratings. He is personable, ebullient and witty. Unfortunately, politically he is inept and Labor had his number from day one. (Actually I was wrong. Labor’s vote hasn’t improved moderately, it is back up near the government’s best, so there is no real disparity.)

  24. I wonder if South Australians have any confidence in either Rann or Foley? The latest budget announcement is lacking in real economic and financial analysis. Every government in the world is spending money to stimulate some confidence. The Rann Government alone is cutting back on projects but still extending their god forsaken tram. Eventually the good people of this state will realise this is a project aimed at keeping the Foley electorate happy.
    In the context of world announcements this has been a low light. I think South Australians will see this as crap and see MHS as just crumbs.
    The real problem is that there is no alternative government available.
    Rann despite his ratings continues to show himself as incompetent and Foley is a bully. Hamilton-Smith offers no credible alternative so what else do people say when a pollster asks?

  25. Let’s continue on the good Mike Rann.

    At the last election a report was released recommending a number of measures aimed at decreasing CO2 emissions. There were recommendations for decreases in costs for environmental friendly cars. Rann stopped these because they discriminated against his Parade mates in 4WDs and already tax deductible commercial vehicles.
    Rann the friend of the environment? I dont think so!

  26. I said competent, not inspiring. And whilst I agree with you, we’re not exactly in the 1970s anymore where social progressiveness is desperately needed. But it would be good.

  27. Brian Walters, if you see left-right as about labour versus capital then yes the Greens don’t fit. But I’m not sure that’s really what it has ever been about. After all the terms evolved around the time of the French Revolution, well before Marx.

    I’d say Left represents people who think that power (including wealth) is too unevenly distributed and action needs to be taken to even up the balance. Right means people who think either that the inequalities of power are actually desirable, or more often that they’re not but that the unintended negative consequences of actions generally outweigh the benefits.

    Of course on this basis very few people are always Left or Right, most vary by the issue, but I’d say if you do use that definition then the Greens sit pretty clearly on the Left. Which explains why the bulk of the voters the Greens collect are either past Labor voters, or people who would have voted Labor if the Greens did not exist when they first voted.

    Bringing this back to the thread topic, if the Green vote has jumped 5%, some of that will be people who would have backed the Liberals in the last poll, but I’d be very surprised if it was outside the range that usually happens – ie 15-35%.

  28. Robert Sykes–just what has Chris Sumner got to do with it????? Bob i agree with you, when you compare the Rann government to the previous government it’s no contest, i’ve had dealings with and friends in both sides of politics and i know which one i prefer to deal with, sigh, i used to be a swinging voter once upon a time.

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