The Advertiser today brings something we haven’t seen for a while: Labor in a competitive position in an opinion poll, presumably driven by Jay Weatherill replacing Mike Rann as Premier on October 21. The Advertiser’s polling has had Labor’s primary vote go from 25 per cent in June to 32 per cent in August, just after Rann set his retirement date, to 38 per cent now. The Liberals have gone from 49 per cent to 44 per cent to 43 per cent on the primary vote, and from 60 per cent to 54 per cent to 51 per cent on two-party preferred. Jay Weatherill’s debut entry on preferred premier has him leading Opposition Leader Isobel Redmond 43 per cent to 32 per cent. The poll was conducted by phone from a sample of 488; since these polls are conducted in-house, there might be cause to doubt the quality of their methodology.
There will be no such issues with the next test of popularity facing the government: the by-elections to replace Mike Rann in Ramsay and former Deputy Premier Kevin Foley in Port Adelaide, which are expected to be held in February. Labor preselections a fortnight ago respectively chose Zoe Bettison, former Hawker Britton director, and Susan Close, Department for Environment and Natural Resources executive and Left faction convenor. The Liberals are yet to decide whether they will field candidates, but Labor will face a substantial opponent in Port Adelaide in the shape of Port Adelaide-Enfield mayor Gary Johanson. An Advertiser poll of the electorate in September had support for Johanson at a modest 14 per cent, with Labor on 37 per cent, Liberal on 31 per cent and the Greens on 11 per cent.
There has been further renewal for Labor with the retirement of former minister Paul Holloway, whose upper house vacancy was filled in September by Gerry Kandelaars, staffer to Torrens MP Robyn Geraghty and former official with the Right faction Communications Electrial and Plumbing Union.
UPDATE: A scan of The Advertiser’s poll table here, courtesy of renowned local observer Sykesie.