Newspoll: 56-44 to Labor in Victoria

The latest bi-monthly Victorian Newspoll shows the state Labor government losing some of the support it attracted in the wake of the February bushfires, while still retaining a commanding lead. The two-party figure May-June is 56-44, down from an unsustainable 60-40 in January-February (evidently there was no poll in the interim). John Brumby’s approval rating is down four points to 48 per cent while his disapproval is up six to 37 per cent, but Ted Baillieu is also down four to 33 per cent and up three to 42 per cent. Brumby retains a lead over Baillieu of 54 per cent to 21 per cent as preferred premier.

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.

146 comments on “Newspoll: 56-44 to Labor in Victoria”

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  1. Well the little red book we all just received from the Liberal party telling us what is wrong with Victoria obviously went down like a lead balloon.

  2. I find it remarkable that the Victorian Government is just so strong and, it would seem, positively endorsed (though not necessarily popular) given the rather sorry state of the Liberal Party. Such circumstances typically lead to hubris and poor governance – neither seems to be evident in the current Victorian Government.

    Victoria has undoubtedly benefited from strong and successful Coalition and ALP Governments over the last 15 years. It’s a true pity that the Victorian Liberal Party are a shadow of their former selves. Victorians deserve to have a real choice.

  3. [Victorians deserve to have a real choice.]

    Not only is the coalition hopeless, but it seems voters approve of the Labor government too, with a net positive +11% satisfaction rating for Brumby, with a Preferred Premier rating of 54%.

  4. [Well interestingly Labor is polling than in 2006, but The Green vote has risen significantly and making the 2pp look good.]

    But we know that most of the Green vote will flow back to Labor in preferences.

  5. And interestingly, Oz, it would appear that the majority of the Green vote comes from disaffected Libs rather than Labor.

    (But should be noted that, when, comparing 2006 and now, the figures are well within the MOE so probably any perceived fall pretty meaningless).

    Personally, despite my extreme personal ties with Vic ALP, I’m surprised we’re travelling so well, given the personal popularity of Bracks in 2006 and the length of time we’ve been in government.

  6. [And interestingly, Oz, it would appear that the majority of the Green vote comes from disaffected Libs rather than Labor.]

    What evidence do you have for this?

    The 2pp vote is calculated by converting non-Labor/coalition primary votes in to preferences based on the previous election.

  7. The pathetic thing is that the Federal Coalition are polling better than their state counterparts who have been out of power for a decade.

    These imbeciles should change leaders or throw in the towel. Are the content with another 4 years of opposition or something?

  8. Patrick,

    They have already thrown in the towel. As for changing Leaders, this was what they did just before the last two elections. It did not work out well for them.

  9. Patrick,

    Totally gratuitous advice it might be. However, they need a clean out and to develop alternative policies that connect with the electorate.

  10. I looked at the newspoll figures since the last election. There’s a bit of movement each way, but the trend seems to be that, if there’s a 3% shift (for example) from the majors on primaries to the Greens, it tends to be from Liberal rather than Labor.

    There is a similar pattern in the Federal figures as well.

    That said, when we’re dealing with such small shifts, it is all speculation, which is why I haven’t pointed it out before (although I’ve been keeping an eye on it).

  11. Patrick
    it took the State Libs 10 years to ‘achieve’ these figures.

    Give the Feds time, they’ll catch up.

    Given the speed they’re imploding, I expect it will come quicker than it has in Victoria.

  12. Sigh zoomster, I see we’re still thinking in gross swings rather than net swings.

    If the Liberals drop 3%, Labor doesn’t swing, and the Greens pick up 3%, do you really think 3% moved from the Liberals to the Greens?


    It’s likely that 2.5% of Liberals went to Labor, 0.5% went to the Greens, and 2.% of Labor voters went to the Greens.

  13. GG,

    The NSW Libs don’t have any policies. Neither did Rudd. I don’t think “lack of policy” is an issue.

    Media exposure plays a role, I believe. I can’t recall the last time I’ve seen Ballieu or any of his shadow cabinet in the press or on TV. It’s like they don’t even exist. If no one sees them or knows about them then no one can vote for them.

  14. GG,

    The NSW Libs don’t have any policies. Neither did Rudd. I don’t think “lack of policy” is an issue.

    Media exposure plays a role, I believe. I can’t recall the last time I’ve seen Ballieu or any of his shadow cabinet in the press or on TV. It’s like they don’t even exist. If no one sees them or knows about them then no one can vote for them.

  15. zoomster,

    The figures for the Nats look a bit light. Peter Ryan is a good operator and they picked up two seats at the last election (one from Labor and one from an Independant). I don’t perceive there to be any negatives that would manifest as a drop in their vote. Maybe some of their vote is incorporated in to the Libs figures (which would be disastrous for the Libs).

    For Labor’s figures to be holding up this well is very encouraging. A number of tough decisons with regard to Bay dredging and Water have been made early in the term. The response to the Bushfires has been universally lauded. Of course, there are likely to be finger pointing emerge from the Royal Commission. The alleged corruption at Brimbank has been a distraction, but will be sorted once pre-selections are finalised.
    Public Transport has been a difficult area with extraordinary growth in useage causing overcrowding and system failures. The Government has invested heavily in the system in recent years and I expect significant improvements in the next year.

    The Opposition have said they intend to run an anti corruption campaign up to the next election. So no policies can be expected from them.

    Of course our Greens hacks are salivating at the potential pick up of seats. I don’t think their vote will hold up under electoral scrutiny. So it will be more lemon sucking defeat for them.

    Winning elections is always difficult, but I think Labor is travelling well at the minute.

  16. 15
    as I said, bob, speculation – just as yours is.

    Having policies – which give you valid grounds to attack the other side on – gives you credibility, which leads to media exposure.

    What do you think generates media exposure? Are Ballieu et al invisible because of some vast media conspiracy? Or are they invisible because they’ve got nothing to say?

  17. Possum you’re the best authority on here for polling. Can you please tell zoomster this is correct:

    [If the Liberals drop 3%, Labor doesn’t swing, and the Greens pick up 3%, do you really think 3% moved from the Liberals to the Greens? No – it’s likely that 2.5% of Liberals went to Labor, 0.5% went to the Greens, and 2.% of Labor voters went to the Greens.]

  18. bob – we can’t numerically tell how the composition changed.

    But it’s a fair bet that the 3% ex-Lib voters didnt move across to the Greens as a single, stand alone chunk.

    All we can tell is the net result – but the composition is pretty much anyone’s guess.

  19. 21 – Pat you failed to mention an extensive IR policy, so don’t come the raw prawn. Fed Labor had well publicised policies going into the last election and you know it.

  20. [But it’s a fair bet that the 3% ex-Lib voters didnt move across to the Greens as a single, stand alone chunk.

    All we can tell is the net result – but the composition is pretty much anyone’s guess.]

    Exactly. The 2.5% and 0.5% was just an example based upon 2006 pref flows, but the point i’m making which you’ve backed up is that if the Libs go down 3% and Greens up 3% and Labor 0%, there’s no way the Labor vote didn’t change, regardless of a 0% net swing.

  21. Can’t see an obvious way forward for the Vic Libs. They face a centrist, fairly competent government that has renewed itself at the top. They will never convince the electorate that they can run the schools and hospitals better than Labor.

    The corruption in Brimbank looks like the only bus leaving the station, so expect to hear plenty about it, but I think it’s too low level to change many votes.

    I think their best possible outcome is to pick up several seats in the regions via anger over the pipeline, plus a couple in Melbourne just through the government’s longevity. At this stage it’s hard to imagine a scenario that has them winning or even coming close.

    On transport (which this ALP supporter thinks has been handled very poorly) I think that rising unemployment and underemployment has noticeably reduced the peak hour crush, and lowered the heat that they were facing on that issue. But hardly the ideal way to fix congestion!

  22. I also think that the comment above that the opposition need to get into the media more is wrong – when they do it is simply to whinge and nag, and I think that reduces their popularity rather than increasing it. For politicians it’s not true that no publicity is bad publicity – just ask Malcolm!

    I think that the best way forward for the libs might be to accept that deficit is OK in a recession, find some big ticket infrastructure projects that are both needed and popular and get behind them. Somewhat of a high risk approach (I think it brought the WA libs undone earlier in the decade because they might have picked the wrong project) but at least they would be offering an alternative.

  23. geez, bob, get a grip.

    I said it was speculation, I said that the figures were too small to tell us anything, I said they were pretty meaningless and you carry on as if I transgressed holy writ or something.

    I’ve had over a decade of analysing booth results across an electorate, looking at where they’ve changed and why, looking at State v. Federal results, looking at local issues which might have impacted on the vote, etc etc.

    Previous to the last Federal election, it was clear in this electorate that votes often went from Liberal to the Greens.

    In fact, in one election where there was over a 7% swing to Labor on 2PP, it was clear that most (if not all) of it was a crossover from Liberals to Green (who also picked up 7%), picked up by Labor as a 2PP.

    Similarly, this pattern was reflected in many little booths. At one, an 18% swing to Labor from Libs was in fact a 16% swing to the Greens coming to Labor as a second preference.

    Anecdotally, I know a lot of former Libs who will never put Labor first but vote Green (not necessarily preferencing Labor).

    I KNOW treating votes as chunks isn’t valid but it does tell you something.

    The argument is about what that something is.

  24. The Victorian government are doing very badly on water and transport. The Greens are doing better in the polls now than they were before the 2006 election and so I would expect them to do better. The highest poll before the 2006 election was 13% and they have polled 15% at points since the election so I would expect them to get at least 12% (barring then messing up badly (unlikely)).

  25. [What? Ending global warming by signing Kyoto? An education “revolution”? Get a grip, mate.]

    Ah how quickly we forget. GETTING RID OF WORKCHOICES was the only policy Rudd needed. The rest was tinsel on the tree.

  26. Tom the first…

    Water will mainly impact on rural/regional electorates, and mostly in ones Labor doesn’t hold anyway. The only electorate which may suffer as a result of the NS pipeline is Seymour.

    Any votes the Greens pick up on water are thus likely to be in seats that don’t matter electorally anyway.

    I’m quite happy for you to have a vote of, gee, 15%, with 5% coming from safe Liberal seats.

  27. No one above has noted that the rise in the Green vote and fall in the ALPs from the last election of approx 5% would see the ALP lose Melbourne, Richmond and Brunswick – Northcote would be close, and the Greens may be able to snatch either Prahran or Albert Park.

    The ALP are travelling much better than they ought to be considering the mess they have made of transport (the bushfires saved Lynne Kosky’s political life as all the attention was quite rightly turned elsewhere), water – the north south pipeline will go down as one of the colossal white elephants of Australian history, and now planning with decisions being taken little consultation. On health (hospital waiting lists excepted) and education they have kept things very much under control since 1999.

    The ALP are milking the pork barrel effect of having the federal and state election almost on top of each other in 2010. I had a love letter from Mike Symon yesterday telling me all about the Springvale Road underpass – not necessary according to the ALP before the 2006 election!

    The ALP are helped by:

    1. A well developed spin machine – ministers named are never mentioned in the press except when its good news, otherwise it is the “Transport Ministers spokesman” etc.
    2. An invisible Ted Baillieu (Ted Who?)
    3. A culture – rarely questioned in the media except for Ken Davidson in the financial section of The Age – of not accepting responsibility and shifting blame – i.e. to the train company, etc.

  28. I suspect all the state Labor governments are being bouyed up (to varying degrees) by the phenominal popularity of Kevin Rudd, and also by the multiple photo ops state members are getting from federal spending on infrastructure and particularly on schools, which are very important to most communities. In my local paper the state and federal Labor local members always appear togther with Gillard or Albanese when things are being opened or launched.

  29. Blackburn,

    I think you might be onto something. Invisible Ted is definately an issue.

    Having lived overseas for some time and by paying regular attention to international media I’ve noticed that Victoria has a very compliant, docile media. They almost seem averse to putting the state government under any degree of scrutiny – but whine when things such as transport or health aren’t being run competently.

  30. Blackburn

    If we’re to take this poll on face value, then Labor’s vote has only dropped 1% on primaries and has risen 2% 2PP, so I don’t see where your 5% is coming from.

    As pointed out endlessly, a 5% swing in a particular seat is not a small shift. Moreover, the Greens’ 4% rise (on this poll) from the State election is most likely based on bigger swings in rural/regional electorates, most of which are Coalition safe seats.

    Dream on, but this poll says nothing about seats such as Melbourne – and neither does the rest of the newspoll series.

  31. 35

    Why would most of the increase in the Green vote come in rural and regional areas and not areas where the Greens do well now? Melbourne comprises 70-75% of Victoria`s population so if this swing is in the Rural areas then it would be an average increase of 13-16% in the Green vote in rural and regional Victoria. This is just not going to happen. Most of the increase in Green vote will be in the Melbourne area. The Green vote is likely to increase in the inner suburbs and increase the threat to the ALP.

  32. [Moreover, the Greens’ 4% rise (on this poll) from the State election is most likely based on bigger swings in rural/regional electorates, most of which are Coalition safe seats.]

    How on earth do you come to this conclusion…?

  33. The Greens will probably increase most in the inner city. Melbourne will probably fall. If Cleary runs (and preferences the Greens) then Brunswick will fall and might anyway if he doesn`t. Richmond is a chance at falling. If the swing is big then Northcote will fall as might Prahran.

  34. Prahran? Richmond? Northcote? You’re starting to sound like Bob!

    The Greens are in with a decent shot at Melbourne. Brunswick could conceivably be a long shot if Cleary does better than I expect he will. Richmond, Northcote and Prahran haven’t a hope in hell of falling at this election.

  35. [The Greens will probably increase most in the inner city.]

    Well, that’s one theory. Another theory is that the Greens’ vote has peaked in the inner city, and that the increase in the Green vote seen in polls is the result of other regions catching up. One theory is as good as the other without credible local polling.

  36. I agree on Melbourne, Brunswick and possibly Richmond falling to the Greens at the next state election. But Northcote is probably another election away. And Prahran is a redistribution away. Of course all of these change with a high profile independent standing. Has anyone noticed the number of left independents starting to make a move to stand. This was the problem for Kennett, indepedents in rural areas which ended up being a death by a thousand cuts. Only three won, but the votes garnered by others as well as having a plethora of voices harping about how bad they were was enough to dent the Liberal vote enough.

  37. Adam, The one thing that will start hurting the Greens may be the newer developments in Southbank, docklands etc, this may boost the Liberal vote enough to starve the Greens of coming second. having said that, this election this might be a bonus for the Greens. Remember the Liberal vote has to be large enough for the Greens to win. It might be that the balance is right for the Greens to get over the Libs and ride preferences. Democgraphic change in Northcote will be very interesting to watch as a lot of people from the inner city move out there to get away from high rents.

    I think Richmond might also be in the hunt if the Liberal vote (through gentrification) doesn’t push the Greens to third. There is a large Green mood in the inner city.

    If the Libs actually start campaigning on Brumby arrogance which they are starting to do with ads… I think Labor may have to fight on two fronts, and with a few more fronts opening up via independents.

  38. [I think Labor may have to fight on two fronts]

    And Labor is quite capable of doing so. When people start to realise that the Liberals will be doing all they can to help the Greens win seats, and ask what the Liberals have been promised in return (and these questions *will* be raised, probably on a large billboard somewhere near you 🙂 ), then the top will fly off the sauce bottle.

  39. I agree that Northcote is probably a 2014 prospect (I did say “if the swing is big”). The next redistribution will probably move safe Liberal booths like Toorak and Toorak Central from Prahran to Malvern so as to accommodate St Kilda booths moved from massively over quota Albert Park and these are good areas for the Greens and this will hurt the Green vote in Albert Park.

  40. The Liberals preference the Greens because they want Labor to have the fewest seats possible. If the Liberals did preference Labor in these four seats and the Labor majority was the same as the number of seats the Liberal preferences saved from falling to the Greens then Liberals would be very annoyed with themselves. The Liberals preferenced Labor in all seats in the the Legislative Council in 2006 and such decisions could give Labor a majority in the Legislative Council and the Liberals don`t want that.

  41. Hi Adam, anyone with a half brain wont fall for that one again. Also people who fell for that last time are pretty annoyed that they did. i know a few of them.

    Tom, when is the next distribution due? If this happens Prahran will definitely be a Green gain. toorak is the biggest problem for the Greens in Prahran. Take Toorak out and the Lib vote falls by a fair margin. Add the st Kilda booths from Albert Park and it is a tailor made Green seat. We’ll wait and see for the distribution. I thought it was happening after the state election not before.

  42. Have you gentlemen never heard of not counting your chickens before they’re hatched? Greens over-hype their prospects before every election, and thus make quite good results seem not-as-good-as-expected. You should have watched Rudd the other night, “Oh we’ll take a hit in the polls,” he said, thus making the next day’s polls seem all the better. Tom, on the other hand, would’ve said “I’ll get an 80% popularity rating in tomorrow’s poll, no worries”, thus making 65% look like a disappointment.

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