Essential Research: 54-46

Apologies for the slow service recently. Normality has now been restored. For the want of anything else to hang a post off, here’s yesterday’s Essential Research report, released on a Tuesday rather than a Monday for obvious reasons. As well as having Labor’s two-party lead at 54-46, it shows 65 per cent of respondents believing the government is “too soft on asylum seekers”, which is interesting if for no other reason than it goes against what is sometimes asserted about Essential Research survey participants. Also included are party best to handle asylum seekers (Liberal), what’s to blame for rising house prices (lack of supply), whether it would be better if they went up, down or sideways (evenly split), staffing levels at respondents’ workplaces (trending down), relative importance of different economic indicators (unemployment at the top) and whether the Opposition Leader should spend less time in tight-fitting sporting apparel (no, but with quite a big yes contingent).

Also on the poll front, Newspoll has published its quarterly geographic and demographic breakdowns, which are prettied up by Possum here. This neatly covers the recent period of relative Labor weakness, though in light of the most recent fornightly result, the jury is currently out on whether this is ongoing. For me, two interesting things emerge: the Labor decline was driven in very large part by older voters, and it was especially concentrated in Western Australia.

As well as that, mention should be given to yesterday’s announcement by Malcolm Turnbull that he will bow out of politics at the next election, leaving his seat of Wentworth wide open. The last two contested Liberal preselections in this seat were humdingers, for reasons I lack the energy to go into at this point. A helpful “Liberal Party insider” has offered a form guide in today’s Crikey, which you can read here if you’re a subscriber. If not, the names are Arthur Sinodinos, former chief-of-staff to John Howard and “likely front-runner”; Anthony Orkin, a former Turnbull staffer rated for his links with Turnbull and Jewish background; state party deputy director Richard Shields, who is “likely to lack support due to his oversight of the Alex Hawke/Nick Campbell campaign against the David Clarke grouping, ensuring neither the Left nor the Right will back him”; former Turnbull staffer and PR consultant Mary Lou Jarvis, who has “very little chance of winning as she lacks a support base”; Julian Leeser, Menzies Research Centre head and unsuccessful Bradfield aspirant, who has helpful Jewish links, but there is “doubt he will throw his hat in the ring”; Gabrielle Upton, deputy chancellor of the University of New South Wales, counsel for the Australian Institute of Company Directors and aspirant for the corresponding state seat of Vaucluse; restaurateur Peter Doyle, another Vaucluse hopeful who according to the Crikey correspondent “will struggle”; 28-year-old Woollahra councillor and Right faction member Anthony Boskovitz; former Woollahra mayor Keri Huxley, who has “not much chance of winning”; Credit Suisse Investment Bank chairman of credit John O’Sullivan, who is president of the party’s Wentworth federal electorate council; Sydney councillor Shayne Mallard, who would “have support amongst the left, and would rate as a good chance if he nominates”; and Jason Falinski, a “dedicated foe of party conservatives” and “dark horse”.

Not only that, Turnbull’s departure also makes the seat winnable for Labor. UPDATE: This originally said “highly winnable”, but Psephos and Antony Green have persuaded me this was going too far. I should also have mentioned my colour-coded demographic maps of the electorate remain available for your enjoyment here, notwithstanding that the boundaries will be slightly different this time. Graham Wedderburn, former chief-of-staff to Nathan Rees who was recently stiffed for a promised Senate seat, has “been approached by senior Labor operatives”, according to the Daily Telegraph. Mentioned earlier were Paddington veterinarian Barry Nielsen, Darlinghurst barrister Phillip Boulten, “anti-high rise activist and member of the Jewish Board of Deputies” (so described by the Wentworth Courier) Stephen Lewis and former Australian Medical Association president Kerryn Phelps – although one might have thought the latter would have been more widely discussed if she were a serious prospect, given her high profile.

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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