Advertiser: Kris Hanna trailing in Mitchell

The Advertiser has made the rather odd decision to target the independent-versus-Labor contest of Mitchell for one of its precious electorate-level opinion polls. The poll’s headline figure is a 54-46 two-party lead to Labor, but that’s not the real issue here. What matters is who finishes second out of Liberal candidate Peta McCance and independent member Kris Hanna, and it points to the former: on the primary vote after distribution of the 8 per cent undecided, Labor is on 36 per cent, Liberal 29 per cent and Kris Hanna 26 per cent. Family First are on 5 per cent and the Greens are on 3 per cent, which in each case is where they were in 2006 if rounding is taken into account (5.4 per cent and 3.4 per cent).

The minor party preferences in 2006 broke 40.7 per cent to Hanna, 32.1 per cent to Labor and 27.1 per cent to the Liberals, which if applied to these poll figures would only see Hanna make up a small amount of ground on the Liberals and thus be excluded at the second last count. That being so, Kris Hanna’s preferences would be distributed between the Labor and Liberal candidates. The Advertiser went to the trouble of asking his supporters who they would support, which ultimately found Labor set to take the seat with a 4 per cent margin. However, the usually more reliable method of using the results from the previous election makes it 7.4 per cent. The Electoral Commission found the Labor-versus-Liberal margin in 2006 was 14.4 per cent, so the anti-Labor swing in this poll is either 10.4 per cent or 7 per cent depending on which figure you use.

However, in considering minor party preferences, consideration must be given to the different make-up of the field this time, with only Hanna, Labor, Liberal, the Greens and Family First contesting. Last time there was also Travis Gilbert, who ran as a “true Green” and polled 0.9 per cent; independent Michele Colmer, who polled a donkey vote-boosted 2.2 per cent; and the Australian Democrats, who polled 1.7 per cent. Family First and the Greens are both doing as they did last time, directing preferences to Liberal and Labor respectively. The consequential point is that most of the preferences of the former will go to Liberal over Hanna, and most of the latter will do the opposite. Hanna might take solace in the fact that 3 per cent seems an unrealistically low figure for the Greens, who are now spared competition from the Democrats and Gilbert.

The sample from the poll is The Advertiser’s biggest yet: 714 respondents, for a margin of error of around 3.5 per cent.

UPDATE: At 1.30pm South Australian time, Crikey will be hosting a CoverIt Live chat room featuring me, Possum, Charles Richardson, Greg Barns, Hendrick Gout, Peter Tucker Michael Jacobs “and more”. You will be either to access it on this site, or here.

UPDATE 2: Better late than never, here’s a Legislative Council election guide.

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.

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