Saulwick: 58-42 to Labor in Victoria

Bit of a blast from the past here: The Sunday Age has commissioned “Irving Saulwick and Denis Muller” to conduct a 1000-sample survey on Victorian state voting intention. Saulwick was a feature of the Australian polling landscape in the 1980s, but as Antony Green recently noted on this site, the ALP succeeded in damaging its reputation in the early 1990s and Saulwick himself moved on to new endeavours. Labor has nothing to complain about on this occasion: consistent with Newspoll, the poll shows the Coalition headed for a third successive drubbing. Labor leads 50 per cent to 36 per cent (Liberal 32 per cent, Nationals 4 per cent) on the primary vote and 58-42 on two-party preferred, while John Brumby leads Ted Baillieu 56 per cent to 25 per cent as preferred premier. Lots of further detail in the accompanying report.

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.

58 comments on “Saulwick: 58-42 to Labor in Victoria”

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  1. There is a very real danger here that the ALP will get the balance of power in the upper house.
    This could be poison for Brumby as he could become like Howard after the same thing happened 2 elections ago, out of control and losing touch.
    Having said that, devastating news for the COALlusion, they can’t even find candidates on many seats, similar to 2002.
    Green vote, 15% Newspoll 10 % here, I think most pundits would split the difference and accept 12% as a rough number.

  2. The last time Labor controlled the Upper House they responsibly (IMHO) changed the voting system so that we have the minor parties with the balance of power. If they achieve control at the next election, and I’m not sure they will, they will deserve it and hopefully use it wisely as they did in the past.

  3. As with the Newspoll, I’ve no doubt Labor is doing quite well, but 58-42 (a bigger landslide than even 2002) does stretch credibility a little….

  4. MDM,

    The polls interesting but until you have another, it’s hard to line up. The most confusing part is that despite the Government allegedly failing on a number of key public policy issues they will be returned with an increased majority.

  5. “The most confusing part is that despite the Government allegedly failing on a number of key public policy issues they will be returned with an increased majority.”

    It’s not confusing if you believe the margin is closer than that, which I do. I admit I’ve got no evidence for this other than the feeling that the Liberals couldn’t possibly do worse than 2002 (which is what 58-42 would mean). The Vic polls have bounced around from 60-40 to almost neck and neck in the past year, so it’s not easy to get a handle on the mood out there.

    The comparison I would make for Vic 2010 would probably be with NSW 2007 or Queensland 2004/2006: a victory to the Government, but with a 2-4% swing against them and the loss of 4-8 seats.

  6. Equally, it would not be confusing if you believed the figures and discounted the issues.

    I’m not sure if you are in Victoria. However, apart from the unofficial Opposition from the Age and the ABC, there is very little talk about the Government’s failings. Brumby and co have successfully smothered a lot of the criticisms regarding tough issues like water, hospitals and public transport.

    Next year I’d expect the Government to be running a very positive campaign about its achievements and plans for the future. The Libs have said they are going to run on corruption etc. I know which will be the winner. Consequently, it is easy to see the Government increasing its majority in the lower house and achieving parity in the Upper House.

    But, I’ll allow you to discount my views for my Party allegiances.

  7. To all those coalition supporters who think it will only take one term and election loss for the federal opposition to get their act together, I present you with exhibit (a)- the Victorian liberals.

    Also memo to Howard: the Libs here tried the “do-nothing” tag on Bracks heading into his reelection and he won in a landslide

  8. #7

    All I’d say is that this was pretty much the situation going into 2006, and the Liberals still got a swing to them and picked up a couple of seats.

    I’m not suggesting the Liberals can/will win, barring some major stuff-up by Brumby. But it’s hard to see an 11 year old government having more friends and less enemies than a 7 year old one.

  9. We have seen the start of the Liberal campaign, it’s going yo be Law and Order…Yarn….

    Brumby is a builder:

    He deepened our port so that port is viable into the future. Blue wedge and the age made sure every body knew about it.

    He has secured Melbourne’s water supply ( that is where the voters are) with a pipeline. The age and a vocal group from the bush made sure the Melbourne voters knew about that.

    He has built a few freeways. A trip up the western highway can now be had without going through the back streets of the western suburbs. Every voter who drives the trip is left with the feeling Brumby is a good bloke.

    Bolte was a builder and we kept voting him back, I have no doubt we will keep voting Brumby back in. The party really doesn’t matter that much.

  10. “A trip up the western highway can now be had without going through the back streets of the western suburbs. Every voter who drives the trip is left with the feeling Brumby is a good bloke”

    Wasn’t the Deer Park Bypass a federally funded project?

  11. [MDMConnell
    Posted Sunday, November 22, 2009 at 9:16 am | Permalink


    Wasn’t the Deer Park Bypass a federally funded project?]

    Is the federal government or the state government responsible for roads? I don’t think the average punter cares that much when it comes to the tax relationship between state and federal government.

  12. Where are Antony’s earlier comments about how Labor discredited Saulwick’s polls in the early 1990s? I an’t see them at that link.

  13. Would snagging Tiger Woods for the golf tournament have boosted Brumby’s ratings?
    Seriously, he seems a very competent Premier(from this distance), and Bailieu is a tool of the first order, so a poll result like this one doesn’t surprise me!

  14. [Brumby and co have successfully smothered a lot of the criticisms regarding tough issues like water, hospitals and public transport.]

    Only on pollbludger can this be said and intended to be a good thing!

  15. Basically in Victoria we have a Governemnt that is strong, sure there are some poliy issues but every Government has them and it is how you deal with them that matter.

    The only real critism of the Government comes from the Age but in all seriousness the Age Newspaper normally plays the role of anti-Government expect they don’t have the power that they once had.

    The Government is moving on with its building plans and the role out of school building and public transport chances are starving the Liberals of any issues.

    I think the next poll could look like the 1996 poll and has someone wrote Victorians have a habit of re-electing builders.

  16. Itep! The Liberals only have themselves to blame, 12 months ago they had the Governemnt on the ropes on several policy fronts but and this may suprise some but it took the Greens to move a inquiry into Public Transport whilst the Liberals were just flopping around.

    The Liberals have a soft front bench, you can go weeks without hearing from them.

  17. While 58-42 is too high and the 4 for others is way too low, things seem to be following the trajectory I set out in my posts on Victoria on the previous thread:

    I find it particularly interesting that Labor is doing so well on education, with 33 per cent rating it positive and only 14 per cent negative and only 10 per cent rating it as the most important challenge facing Victoria, placing it sixth in the list. This shows that the massive and educationally needed rebuilding of the last ten years has also been politically worthwhile. Parents, teachers and students see it with their own eyes.

    Only 16 per cent rate public transport positive, and 43 per cent rate it negative, but improving it is last in the improvement list, with only 7 per cent, allowing me to repeat what I said on the previous thread: “I also think that the mess in public transport has little electoral impact because almost nobody uses it.” I do concede that “almost nobody” is hyperbole.

    On cue, the Liberals still don’t get it: “Another Liberal MP said people were not yet engaged by state politics and that, while people had been disposed to forgive Steve Bracks as premier because they liked him, they would turn much harder and faster against Mr Brumby when things started to go wrong.”

    People did not need to “forgive” Steve Bracks. They liked the job he did as well as him. In fact, the Liberal MP admits this in a way when he says “they would turn much harder and faster against Mr Brumby when things started to go wrong”. Note the “when”. Things have not gone wrong, and they are unlikely to.

    I expect the government to lose seats in 2010, but 2014 will be the real decider for the state. Imagine how the Liberals will feel then, looking back on 25 years of Labor government and only 7 of Liberal since John Cain led Labor out of the wilderness in 1982 and made Victoria the jewel in the Labor crown (or is that “republican laurel wreath?). Victoria may end up the last state Labor government standing.

  18. deer Park Bypass was a State Governemnt project funded by the Federal Government but out there in voterland no one cares as long as the work is done.

  19. Chris i did with you that Public Transport users have minimal political impact for i suspect since many Tram users for example live in the inner city we are talking about people who depending on where they live are basically rusted on.

    For example most users of the Sandringham Train Line would be Liberal Voters and most people using the Upfield Train Line would be ALP voters.

    One reason why the ALP are rated so highly on Education is mosr Schools are building sites and Education is only an issue with people using it just the same as Public Transport is only an issue with people using it.

    As earlier said people like Governments that build things and this Governemnt is doing that, and very soon Public Transport users will be using Myki which will be interesting.

  20. mexicanbeemer,

    There have been studies done that show public transport is in fact a subsidy to the “rich” because most of it is in the inner urban areas where the wealthy live, but I better not get started on my disdain for urban planners/squashers and my preference for life in the wonderful Green Wedge Shire of Nillumbik.

    People overall have more involvement in education than public transport. It gets more coverage and is the source of endless books and articles by Kevin Donnelly and others who think things were better in the past. Poor old public transport just doesn’t have the same exposure.

    Myki will be fun.

  21. The Libs will have to do a lot better in the election year. Are they pacing themselves for a big finish? Anyway, Alan Carpenter and Paul Henderson can testify to the problems of maintaining a large majority as an unelected leader. Is Bligh just the exceptional to prove the cliche? My thoughts at: Brumby the Born Again Leader

  22. Chris

    Outside of peak hour most public transport users seem to be international students.

    True more people are involved in Education either as students or parents. and generally speaking the Government appears to have done a good job with Education.

  23. We live on the Sandringham line in true blue territory. My public transport experiences of the last 18 months are very positive. Even had a seat to and from the AFL grand final. Not sure I could say the same for the Frankston or Dandenong lines.

    Our local Sandringham MLA, son of a former Premier, seems to be undetectable on the political radar or even the local papers. I defy most Vics to remember either of their names. The Libs will condemn themselves to opposition as long as they accept duds in their safest seats. He must have written his own Wikipedia entry or else there are two of them: “A strong workhorse, Thompson is known to be accessible, highly competent, intelligent and creative in his electoral work.” He’s a toned down version of Ted Baillieu, if that’s possible.

  24. [Only 16 per cent rate public transport positive, and 43 per cent rate it negative, but improving it is last in the improvement list, with only 7 per cent, allowing me to repeat what I said on the previous thread: “I also think that the mess in public transport has little electoral impact because almost nobody uses it.” I do concede that “almost nobody” is hyperbole.]

    What is correct is that almost no SWINGING VOTERS use PT (they all drive). PT users are either inner city cosmos or poor people in the outer suburbs who have no choice. These are mostly rusted on Labor voters, and most of them still blame Kennett.

  25. 10

    Under Bolte (55-72) the Liberals only got results under 30% of the primary vote and where beaten on the primary vote by the ALP 4 out of the 6 elections. While in the 80s (when they won no elections) they got above 40% in 2 of the 3 elections and Under Hamer (72-81) they always got over 40% and beat the ALP on primaries 2 elections out of the three. The DLP are what got and kept Bolte in.

  26. 27

    Myki will be a negative for the government because it will overcharge people who are not used to it and who are not super attentive to it and will slow down many bus and tram trips (both because of the new need to swipe off). It will give the government bad press because of this.

  27. 31

    There are swinging voters who use the PT system. In the seats in the inner-South-East such as Prahran, Oakleigh and Bentleigh as well as those on the Lilydale and Belgrave lines east of Box Hill. Melbourne, Richmond and Brunswick have high PT use as well (just the sort of issue the Greens are good on). The trains have become more crowded under the current government and read my post at 33 for why the current government is going to get into trouble for Myki.

    There are also a large number of rusted on Liberal voters in the inner-suburbs who take PT.

    Your views on PT are outdated and hardly helped by you moving to PT unfriendly Roundaboutsville.

  28. The government has taken over v line which is now vastly improved I hear. This will consolidate country support. They have sacked Connex which can also be the scapegoat for the failings of the past 10 years. The new company only have to do a little better in order to sell this story. I agree with Tom about Myki, but overall it should work out ok.
    If this poll has any credibility then it will only get better for the government from here on. Water will flow from the NS pipeline, new school infrustructure will continue to appear, and the budget will have a few sweetners. Brumby might well pick up an extra seat or 2 overall.

  29. 35

    I don`t think that the government have been able to issue the regulation for taking the water from the dry side to the wet side of the Great Dividing Range without the Legislative Council blocking it yet.

  30. Public Transport isd like every thing if the Government is seen as doing an okay job then the voters will be fine, if the Governemtn was on the skids like what happened in the earliy 1990s then Public Transport’s problems become a bigger vote changer.

    The Government is at least attemtping to fix the system which in all honest has been long negalted, basically apart from the Hamer Government the Public Transport system has beebn poorly run for the best part of the last 100 years.

    Very true a number of country towns have been reconnected to the Rail network and that is always a popular thing to do in the bush. the system tends to be more a vote winner than a vote loser in Victorian political history.

  31. 38

    Building the City Loop was the major happening under the Hamer as well as the start of bus subsidies, a significant number of new trams and handful of tram extentions. There were arguably many more important things to build than the City Loop. Railways to Rowville and East Doncaster which would have extended the reach of the rail network to new and growing areas. The introduction of bus subsidies should instead have been a government takeover and re-planning of the bus system in a more systematic way that had an increased train-feeder role.

    Under the Cain Government multi-modal ticketing was introduced and most of the trains were replaced (a long overdue replacement).

    The Great Depression in the 1930s was the cause of much lasting public transport trouble around Australia and Melbourne is no different.

  32. [Chris Curtis
    Posted Sunday, November 22, 2009 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

    You can see an illustration of how out of touch Liberal supporters are by going to:

    It’s just amazing stuff. Labor has the majority so the solution is to drag the liberals to the extreme right; what in the hope that moderate voters can follow? How can you be so stupid.

  33. It should also be noted for those outside Victoria that the Brumby government has recently been conducting an absolutely shameless advertising blitz targetting education – shiny new schools but nothing like Summer Heights High!! which if my local state high school is anything to go by is nearer the truth!!, targetting public transport – as a regular PT user in a marginal seat I can only say that the the spinmeisters had a cynical chuckle over that one, and several ads tonight during the Australian Idol final on new Cancer Hospital facilities.

    When there is no effective opposition, little critical media, and an advertising and spin juggernaut it is hardly surprising that the polls show 58-42.

  34. fredn,

    It is tempting to hope that the Liberals take that advice, but then I do believe in a credible Opposition that can land blows on the government so I hope they do not.


    Your local school may not look like the ones on the TV, but in time it should because the government is serious about its pledge to rebuild or refurbish every school in the state. It has spent $3 billion so far. Something under another $2 billion should finish the job. 2016 is the target date.

    I wish all this taxpayer funded spin would stop, but there is no hope of that from either side. But I blame the average citizen who will not get involved in politics.

  35. The government is preparing the ground for their atrocious public transport ticketing system, so all of the outrage will be spent by November next year.

  36. I have heard that ALP polling suggests possible weaknesses in the ‘east’ and the ‘north’, not sure what this means but perhaps Labor has little prospect in Morwell (CPRS could be an issue here but this area has trending away from Labor for some time), if the north means Bendigo there is Bendigo East but didn’t the Bendigo seats swing above the state average last time?

  37. #46

    I’d have thought Seymour over the pipeline issue would be in danger. Although the bushfires and the reaction to them is a bit of an X-factor.

  38. I would suggest that there may well be big swings in country seats, most of which are already held by the Liberals. Disappointing for those of us who want better representation for rural Victoria, but not the stuff to threaten government.
    Apparently the polling shows a 50% primary for the Coalition in country seats. However, given this is part of the overall percentage figures for Victoria, this suggests the primary in surburban seats is huge for Labor.

  39. The only marginals that Labor may pick up are Fentree gully, kilsyth and haystings…any idea how the liberal Mp’s are doing. There are a whole bunch on the list for Labor – Mt.waverley but Maxine morand has increased her visble profile somewhat so might be helped, Forest Hill will be very hard to hold for Kirsty Marshall, Gembrook and Mitcham are also going to be hard

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