Westpoll: 54.5-45.5 to federal Coalition in WA

The West Australian has published another small-sample Patterson Market Research-Westpoll survey (401 respondents) to follow on the poll of June 12, which had the federal Coalition with a gaping two-party lead in WA of 62-38. The newer poll paints a much rosier picture for Labor, who are up 8 per cent on the primary vote to 36 per cent and have narrowed the two-party deficit to 54.5-45.5. This would mean a 1.2 per cent swing to the Coalition, which would only threaten Labor in Hasluck and leave them well clear in their other three seats. In contrast to every other poll since the leadership change, this one shows Labor’s gains coming at the expense of the Coalition, who are down seven points on the primary vote to 49 per cent. The Greens are steady on 9 per cent, but the result in the earlier poll did not square with last week’s Newspoll quarterly geographic breakdown which had it at 16 per cent. The Nielsen survey of late last week included a sub-sample of 100 Western Australian voters, which had the Coalition on 50 per cent, Labor on 42 per cent and the Greens on 5 per cent.

UPDATE: Roy Morgan throws a curve ball: a phone poll of 600 respondents conducted between Friday and Monday which has the Coalition leading 51.5-48.5 on two-party, and 45.5 per cent to 38.5 per cent on the primary vote (with the Greens on 9 per cent). It should be stressed that this is a phone poll as distinct from the weekend face-to-face surveys Morgan usually publishes on Fridays, which are the most Labor-leaning in the business. The results of this poll and the one from Friday should thus not be compared, though the Morgan press release does just that. The last Morgan phone poll was conducted May 26-67, and had Labor at 37.5 per cent on primary, the Coalition on 43 per cent and the Greens on 11.5 per cent, with two-party on 50-50. The margin of error on the poll is about 4 per cent. For those confused by this apparently aberrant result, Possum offers the clarification that “exogenous shocks have a large random component to the resultant impulse response function”.

UPDATE 2: Julia Gillard’s atheism having emerged as an issue, I thought I’d crunch some Australian Election Study survey data on church attendance and voting behaviour, as there have been suggestions Labor will suffer the loss of Christian voters attracted by Kevin Rudd. Defining church attenders as those who go at least once a year and everyone else as non-attenders, 2007 was unusual out of elections going back to 1993 for the narrow gap between the Coalition church attender vote and the total Coalition vote – 2.6 per cent, whereas in other years it had ranged from 5.5 per cent to 7.5 per cent. However, the Labor vote was unexceptional: 1.0 per cent lower for church-attenders than the Labor vote overall, in keeping with an overall range from 3.9 per cent lower to 0.3 per cent higher.

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.

2,742 comments on “Westpoll: 54.5-45.5 to federal Coalition in WA”

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  1. The West’s Westpoll story.

    Julia Gillard’s elevation to Prime Minister has dramatically improved the Government’s chances of protecting key WA seats from the clutches of the coalition.

    A Westpoll conducted since Ms Gillard toppled Kevin Rudd shows primary support for Labor has surged eight percentage points to 36 per cent – close to where it was at the 2007 Federal election.

    The poll found Ms Gillard commands a big lead over Tony Abbott as preferred prime minister, 55 per cent to the Opposition Leader’s 26 per cent. Support for Ms Gillard was especially strong among women, who are three times more likely to prefer her in the top job than Mr Abbott.

    Labor was at rock bottom in WA just two weeks ago, with Westpoll predicting it could lose up to three of its four Federal seats, languishing on a primary vote of just 28 per cent compared with the coalition’s 56 per cent and 62-38 per cent on two-party preferred .

    Ms Gillard’s toppling of Mr Rudd and her promise to negotiate a new resources tax with miners has seen the ALP rebound to 36 per cent in primary support, with the coalition down seven points to 49 per cent.

    On a two-party preferred vote this translates to 54.5 per cent for the coalition and 45.5 per cent for the ALP. At the 2007 election, the coalition won WA with 53.3 per cent to the ALP’s 46.7 per cent.

    If Westpoll’s figures were replicated at the next election, Labor would come close to holding Hasluck – its most marginal seat in WA – with a margin of one per cent. Government insiders are tipping an August 21 or August 28 election, meaning the minimum 33-day election campaign could begin in as little as three weeks


  2. And there is this additional story.

    And Westpoll heralds Ms Gillard beginning the Federal election with a whopping lead over Tony Abbott on preferred PM stakes in WA – the coalition’s strongest State – with 55 per cent favouring Ms Gillard over Mr Abbott on 26 per cent.

    Dig further into Westpoll’s findings and you see where Mr Abbott’s problem primarily lies – women.

    Among male respondents Ms Gillard is ahead of Mr Abbott as preferred PM, 49 per cent to 34 per cent. But 61 per cent of women questioned favoured Ms Gillard and just 19 per cent preferred Mr Abbott.

    The way Mr Abbott brought down Mr Rudd was almost flawless, helped of course by the former PM’s own shortcomings.

    But Westpoll’s finding that 81 per cent think men and women are equally suited to being PM is a warning.

    If Mr Abbott is to keep the coalition within shouting distance of a “famous victory”, he must find a new way to counter a different opponent.
    And he’d better do it fast.


  3. Frank

    Don’t you ever go to sleep!

    More pathetic platitudes for the complete lack of direction and initiative from Roxon on mental health. Evidently it’s the states fault that she has thrown the mentally ill under the bus. It’s great to see that the buck-passing has stopped.

    [She says there is a lot more the Government needs to do but progress is hampered by the lack of agreement between the states.

    “If we don’t get some of the foundations right, I do not believe we can tackle some of these really difficult issues in a way that confidently means we’ll get care that we all want into the future,” she said.

    “A plea for some patience doesn’t ever go down well with people who committed their lives to a worthy cause, but nevertheless I think we have to do it step at a time.”]


  4. Here is a bit of evidence from Roxon’s dismal performance with Red Kerry.

    [Dr Leslie Russell, the policy advisor to Julia Gillard when she was Shadow Health Minister, has estimated – and she’s got 20 years experience in health policy. She calculates that the Rudd Government has cut $354 million from mental health programs in its first three budgets so far. Is she wrong too?]

    with the now familiar response after some extreme verbiage

    [What I’m saying is: when you are undertaking very significant reform, you have to do it step at a time, carefully and sensibly, so you can build on the foundational changes, and that’s what we’re doing.]

    Presumably the steps she is taking so carefully are in the direction of completely stripping the mental health system bare and at some time doing something only if there is a vote in it.


  5. One advantage of reading some absolute rubbish first thing in the morning is that the day is bound to get better 🙂
    [Julia Gillard doesn’t want to move into the Lodge until she gets a democratic tick of approval. Or so she says. Maybe the real reason she is stalling is to test the waters about public reaction to moving her first bloke in there with her.]

  6. [Hate, by the way, was the right description. From lowly backbenchers to cabinet ministers, I have never come across such loathing towards a leader before, let alone a leader who achieved the biggest swing to Labor since World War II at the 2007 election.]

    Machiavelli says of a leader that he can be loved or feared, but he cannot be hated as this would be his undoing.

  7. Richo

    [I have never come across such loathing towards a leader before, let alone a leader who achieved the biggest swing to Labor since World War II at the 2007 election]

    That means the nong Latham was liked by the caucus and Labor ministers, better than Rudd, but in the end hated by voters.

    Richo has a hand in this. Appearances on Sixty minutes, Q & A, Channel 9 and now writing for The Australian, all bagging Rudd and trying to justify what he did. Haven’t heard from him in years, just the occasional story about some sort of tax fraud thingy, until the last couple of months.

    It leaves a bad taste, writing for OO which has spent the last couple of months bagging the government. I suppose he wanted to stick the knife in.

    p.s Good West poll, Gillard should go soon and I hope she doesn’t give in too much to the miners.

  8. Dio

    Thanks for the quote on Roxon and mental health funding – extremely dissappointing! No wonder our Australian of the Year resigned. Looks like the only reform going on in mental health was fiscal reform – cutting funds out of the system. Maybe we should focus the system on treating megalomania.

    As for the WA poll, it is a small sample but the shift still seems more than just MOE. However, the obvius question is, was the previous poll juts a rogue?

  9. rosa 19

    A brilliant piece by Verrender. The miners smell blood. After the G20’s announcement of slashing budget deficits by half they’ll be even more vociferous against the tax, fearing that other countries will adopt it.

  10. Greetz all. Wonder what would happen if I called someone in Fiji, specifically if they have good internet and gov?

  11. I haven’t been reading PB for a few days. I hope I haven’t missed too much of the fun bludgers must have been having smacking bob1234 around the ears over the Greens’ polling figures falling off a cliff. 🙂

  12. @ Socrates
    [No wonder our Australian of the Year resigned.]

    He didn’t resign — the head of a dept resigned — a head that was a darling of the Howard govt.

  13. Now we are seeing better numbers in WA! Maybe, once, she Julia has got the mining tax business sorted, or at least completely calm, WA may enjoy having a few more Labor MPs sticking up for them, rather than some billionaires based overseas.

    Although right now this is just getting the ALP base back together in WA (one which was completely collapsed)

  14. Interesting thing in WA is that the votes coming back are from the coalition not the greens — they satyed steady. But a sample of 400 isn’t really enough to be significant, I would think.

  15. [More pathetic platitudes for the complete lack of direction and initiative from Roxon on mental health.]

    [Here is a bit of evidence from Roxon’s dismal performance with Red Kerry.]

    Ministers are limited by budgets. There’s not enough money in health. I’m sure Roxon would love to have more to spend on mental health. In the absence of that she is obviously going to put her work as minister in the best light she can in interviews.

  16. And in other news from our political friends across the other side of the Pacific: Senator Robert Byrd, the nine term Democratic Senator from West Virginia, has died at 92.


    He has served as a legislator on the federal level since 1953, under 12 presidents.

    While in his younger days, he was quite conservative, especially on the issue of civil rights, but as he got older he mellowed, and became a champion of racial equality culminating in his endorsement of Barack Obama in the Democratic primaries.

    Condolences to his family.

  17. Interesting thing in WA is that the votes coming back are from the coalition not the greens

    I’d say because of the mining tax scare, in WA (unlike the other states) we were bleeding our base to the Coalition, rather than the Greens (the Greens, in principle, supported the tax too)

  18. The Westpoll results are a fairly dramatic turnaround, with an 8% jump in primaries for the ALP at the expense of the Liberals, but the truly astonishing result is the female Preferred PM metric, admittedly off a small sample of only 200 women – 61% to 19% in favour of Julia Gillard, more than 40% differential, and in WA!

    The disconnnect between the Preferred PM overall figure at 55% to 26% to Gillard over Abbott, also suggests that the current 9% gap on TPP can be narrowed in the course of the campaign, especially if the RSPT impasse is resolved, even partially.

    The expect losses to the ALP in WA may now have been staunched on these data, so exactly where is the Coaliton going to pick up the extra seats it needs to win Government, if not starting in WA?

    Bring on some new, post Gillard marginal seat polling in Qld and NSW, because the ALP is almost certainly now looking at picking up some low hanging Coalition fruit in Victoria and SA.

  19. [I hope I haven’t missed too much of the fun bludgers must have been having smacking bob1234 around the ears over the Greens’ polling figures falling off a cliff.]

    How does one do the kissing face smiley?

  20. [The expect losses to the ALP in WA may now have been staunched on these data, so exactly where is the Coaliton going to pick up the extra seats it needs to win Government, if not starting in WA?]

    They were only ever going to win an extra 2 or 3 in WA at most anyway. WA won’t be where the election is decided, it’ll be NSW and Qld.

  21. I could live with just Hasluck as a loss. I’d be very annoyed if they’d lost Stephen Smith though, and it doesn’t look like Alannah will be going to Canberra anytime soon.

    I suppose these polls are proof that the RSPT issue, and in particular Rudd’s refusal to back down, was a huge issue in WA. Change the leader, and adopt a more conciliatory tone, and almost overnight things have improved in WA.

  22. [Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has reaffirmed his plan to cut government spending by $47 billion if he wins the next federal election.
    The cuts would include abandoning the federal government’s computers in schools program, privatising Medibank Private, and cancelling the National Broadband Network.]

    Does privatising Medibank Private and cancelling the NBN win many votes?

  23. The front page of the AFR:
    [Settle tax soon or campaign will restart, warn miners]
    I wonder whether the Big Dirt lobby is trying one last push, but is running a significant risk of going overboard. Gillard will presumably offer a “compromise” of some sort, that has probably been in the works for a while. And if the miners reject it? MSM commentary turning (eg Verrender today; Gittins yesterday), new PM’s popularity, rejection of a “compromise”…I wonder if Gillard might actually welcome an election battle on her “reasonable” tax proposal. And if Labor wins (with Greens holding BoP in the Senate), heaven help the miners with this, ETS etc

    Actually, the AFR is full of headlines of “threats that hold no terror”
    [Obama talks tough on yuan]
    ..but that is a different topic

  24. confessions
    [He has quit as factional unrest re-emerges over the next round of pre-selections for safe Liberal seats.

    The pre-selection for the state seat of Baulkham Hills was planned for this Saturday but it has been indefinitely postponed because of a clash between two right-wing sub-factions]

    Wasnt this the seat where the cops had to be called to a Liberal party meeting?

    Where is GP…I am quite certain he could give us a blow-by-blow, first hand account of those events 😀

  25. Well it had to happen. I’m just surprised it came from Bettina Arndt.

    [It’s fine for Gillard – a 48-year-old woman – to live with her bloke. Yet as a popular role model for women, her lifestyle choice may influence other women into making big mistakes about their lives.

    Cohabitation produces two groups of losers among women and children. Most women want to have children – Gillard is an exception – and some miss out after wasting their primary reproductive years in a succession of live-in relationships which look hopeful but go nowhere, leaving them childless and partnerless as they hit 40.]



  26. [Does privatising Medibank Private and cancelling the NBN win many votes?]

    Abbott seems to think that ‘austerity’, like that being exercised in Europe, is a good look. He doesn’t seem to understand that we’ve avoided the worst of the GFC.

    Maybe, as an example, he should sell his house and get rid of his $700,000 debt. For some reason personal debt doesn’t seem to worry him.

  27. [Ms Gillard explained she was raised in the Baptist tradition – even winning prizes for remembering Bible verses – but as an adult she had formed different views.
    “I’m not going to pretend a faith I don’t feel,” she said. “For people of faith I think the greatest compliment I could pay to them is to respect their genuinely held beliefs and not to engage in some pretence about mine.”

    Ms Gillard said she never thought it was the right thing for her to go through religious rituals for the sake of appearance.
    “I am what I am, and people will judge that.”]

    A welcome change.

  28. On another note, I watched Lateline last night as Tony Burke was being interviews on population policy by Leigh Sales. He did not have much to say. But one thing he said again and again, and which I think is a grave problem, is this. Almost every sentence he uttered was prefaced by noting “Julia Gillard thinks….” or “Julia Gillard understands…” or “Julia Gillard wants….”.

    I for one am appalled by this. The Minister represents the Government, not merely the Prime Minister of the day. If there is one lasting lesson to learn from Rudd’s rule, it is that Government is not just about the PM. It is a robust collegiate system that relies on shared responsibility. It is true that Labor has removed a petite president from power, but this will not count for much unless they also start to think, speak and act like a proper cabinet-based Government.

  29. itep @ 34

    [They were only ever going to win an extra 2 or 3 in WA at most anyway. WA won’t be where the election is decided, it’ll be NSW and Qld.]

    I was not suggesting that WA would decide the upcoming election, only that, if the Liberals can’t pick up seats in Coalition-friendly WA, then where will they do so in sufficient numbers to make a difference to the election outcome?

    If these improved polling results carry forward across Qld and NSW where the situation was not as dire as WA, then the potential losses in Qld and NSW (and every election throws up some anomalous, out of national synch local swings) will be offset by potential gains in Victoria and SA, so, again, where do the Coalition expect to find the extra seats they need to win Government?

    On these, and all other published figures since last Thursday, it is not going to happen.

  30. That we are on the verge of electing and atheist woman living in a defacto relationship with a hairdresser, is freakin fantastic, as a situation am not sure it is possible to get more removed from the JWH days.

  31. [Government is not just about the PM]

    Maybe it shouldn’t be, but in the electorate it’s mostly about the PM. That’s why the coalition is on a loser with their line that it’s the same government with the same policies. Everyone knows that Rudd was running the show and making most of the decisions and now Gillard will do it her more inclusive way. The Liberals won’t get any traction with that argument.

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