Newspoll: 52-48 to Liberal in South Australia

GhostWhoVotes relates that Newspoll has published its quarterly South Australian state results, which presumably portends something for Western Australia shortly. It shows South Australia continuing to look a different political planet from New South Wales and Queensland, with Premier Jay Weatherill enjoying honeymoon personal ratings and voting intention figures that would be the envy of his counterparts across the land. Not that Labor is actually ahead: they trail 52-48 on two-party preferred and their primary vote is an unimpressive 34 per cent, compared with 40 per cent for the Liberals (all unchanged on the previous poll, with the Greens up two to 11 per cent). The former result is nonetheless what Labor was able to win an election with in 2010, albeit that the redistribution commissioners will shortly be charged with the task (which I don’t envy them) of redrawing the map in such a way as to level Labor’s advantage.

Some of the shine has come off Weatherill since his debut survey, with his disapproval rating up nine points, but this is off a very low base (14 per cent) and mostly at the expense of the large “don’t know” rating. His approval rating, though down four, is still at a robust 47 per cent. Correspondingly, the poll makes grim reading for Isobel Redmond. As well as not delivering the Liberals voting intention figures of they kind they’ve been growing accustomed to across the country, her once formidable personal ratings have taken a big knock: approval down six points to 43 per cent and disapproval up four to 34 per cent. She has also lost further ground to Weatherill as preferred premier, now trailing 46-23 compared with 45-27 last time.

The poll was conducted throughout January to March from a sample of 870, with a margin of error somewhere between 3 and 3.5 per cent.

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.

18 comments on “Newspoll: 52-48 to Liberal in South Australia”

  1. I’ve known Jay for a long time. He’s a fantastic human being and has the smarts and charisma to carry the State for another Labor term. If I was back in my home state, SA, I’d happilly vote vote for him in both houses, instead of the Labor/Green split I currently favour.

  2. This poll shows one thing in a big way and that is “Invisobel” Redmond has been a complete flop as Liberal leader. The problem with the Liberals is that the other leadership aspirants have more fur on them than a post hibernation bear.

    Previous leader and former SAS Major, Martin Hamilton-Hyphen-Smith, generally ran the party better than others, but his naivety on the dodgy documents affair and his megalomaniac approach to the leadership turned off half of the Liberal MPs, and I can assure readers that there is no public clamouring for his return like a Kevin Rudd.

    However, Major General Hamilton-Hyphen along with another former leader, Iain (son of the Viking) Evans and newcomer Stephen Marshall are generally regarded as the Liberals’ best Lower House performers, whilst veteran (now in his 30th year) Rob Lucas, is arguably the Liberals’ best attack dog but wallows in the Upper House.

    There are probably as many leadership aspirants in the Liberals as they have Lower House MPs but most commentators would agree that all have problems, at least for the time being. Like Evans, Vickie Chapman’s father was also a long term MP, but perpetuates the SA Liberals own version of the Hatfields and the McCoys, with the long term personal and (to a lesser degree) philosophical differences between most Liberals in SA. Marshall is a star but many within the party are wary of his sometimes public displays of temper. Dan van Horst Pellekaan is another set for brighter things but is stuck in a seat hundreds of miles from Adelaide and his name is almost unspellable.

    I could go on but you get the point. Isobel Redmond is trying. Last week she called herself ‘Can Do Redmond’ for a day before general hilarity ensued and that was dumped.

    This takes us to the possibility that the Liberals do a Newman and draft in a non-Parliamentary personality. Here the problem is there are few alternatives and Adelaide media have canvassed a few and most have ruled themselves out (some off the record saying “You’ve got to be joking” or WTTE) or are just laughable.

    Adelaide has few prominent Mayors in its mostly non-party political landscape, Lord Mayor of Adelaide Stephen Yarwood has ruled himself out (and there is conjecture how popular he is anyway), and then amongst the Liberal Mayors there is Unley’s Lachlan Clyne who is facing fraud proceedings, (SNIP: Play nice, please – The Management), Campbelltown’s Simon Brewer is virtually unknown and Playford’s Glenn Docherty runs a Council with huge debts and the largest rate increases of any Council – not a good look especially in a safe Labor area.

    The one alternative the Liberals have rejected is former member and prominent Mayor Gary Johanson of Port Adelaide who narrowly lost the state seat of that name in the recent by-election running as an Independent. The SA Libs feel he has done his dash with them which highlights one of their other issues – happy to cut off their noses to spite their face.

    The result? The Liberals need a change, or for the ALP to implode. The latter is unlikely, so a change it will be as the Liberals go through yet another catharsis for a new leader. If it works even moderately well, they will fall into government the next election due to the boundary changes which experts believe making it almost impossible for Labor to win unless they get a swing to them.

    Interesting times ahead at the state level here – do not expect any landslides.

  3. On the otherhand I voted Liberal in a SA election for the first time ever because of Redmond.I like what she has to say,a modern unencumbered woman.No Redmond,I’m off. It must be hard to keep coming up with stuff for four years in opposition.I’d like Ken Rolland to get a chance to reply to the above commentator…..

  4. SA Labor will lose the next election in a landslide, the NSW ALP model of renewal no longer works, and most smart human being can see it.

    As for how bad isobelle is, compared with almost every other Liberal premiers and opposition leader, she is bad

    But Julia Gillard would sell out a Kevin Rudd for those numbers

  5. Dovif – a brave call two years out! Yes, on 52/48, better for the Liberals than Labor. But the situation for Labor in SA is nothing like that of NSW or Qld, and the political landscape will shift over the next 2 years. But the way things are going for Labor across the board at the moment, I can’t see Weatherill holding on, but nor do I see a landslide looming. Post Rann/Foley, a lot of the hostility towards the Government has evaporated, and the Liberal leadership issue will continue to hold them back. And Premier Redmond is hardly a galvanising prospect!!

  6. There is an interesting paradox with Isobel Redmond. She’s the leader who probably has the best chance to win in 2014, yet at the same time has the loosest of grips on the job. It’s actually laughable that many in the party are thinking of going back to MHS, a man that could barely break past 45 on the 2PP. Redmond is the reason the party almost won in 2010 and have a decent shot in 2014. If they dump her, they will lose the election.

    Fortunately for South Australians, both parties probably have put their best candidates as leader, which will result in a close election. Just like Rann v Redmond would’ve seen a Liberal landslide, Weatherill v Hamilton-Smith would lead to a Labor landslide.

    As for the poll, it certainly is better news for the Liberals but nothing to celebrate. It’s midterm with a bit of stress caused by building infrastructure which will be completed by 2014, not to mention SA Labor’s ability to be strong and focused campaigners come the election.

    And no, despite certain copy+pasting by a certain Coalition hack on here, there is nothing to suggest anything close to a NSW/QLD level landslide.

  7. I will also add that with Tony Abbott as PM, Labor may get an advantage in a close contest, especially with the perceived need to have some resistance against Canberra.

    Not definite but possible.

  8. Never been told off before on here – not sure to be honoured or embarrassed, or both.

    Mind you, I have seen worse things written about especially Coalition MPs in this blog but I accept the edit.

    Okay, I will amend that: [Holdfast Bay Mayor Ken Rollond (at least I get the spelling right), is clearly not a starter for the Liberal leadership, being well into his 70s.]

    I will also add Onkaparinga Mayor, Lorraine Rosenberg, who was a Liberal one term State MP, is also a non-starter being in her late 60s and having her hands full with one of Adelaide’s largest and most divided Councils.

    There are no even vague possible choices in regional local government in SA – arguably the most talented Liberal Mayor, Steve Perryman, of Mt Gambier, in 2010 couldn’t win the state seat of the same name against a neighbouring Council’s lesser known Independent Mayor.

    To top off the Liberals’ worries, they have Finniss MP, Michael Pengilly, already under fire last year for referring to Julia Gillard as a “real dog”; referring to Labor Party women being involved in a “cat fight” and saying the former Mayor (and Liberal Party member) of his home region was a “dead dog walking” and last week in Parliament calling out that SA Transport Services Minister, Chloe Fox, “ought be put down, fair dinkum”.

    I allege that Mr Pengilly has a problem with using animal metaphors. Most Liberal Party sources in SA says his goose is cooked for preselection.

    The Liberals in SA do have some great talent – but they are earning too much money and leading interesting lives outside Parliament to want to enter it where they feel restricted and under 24 hour scrutiny for a cause they feel happier to support with their cash than their blood, sweat and tears.

    Only in South Australian politics perhaps.

  9. [ SA Labor will lose the next election in a landslide, the NSW ALP model of renewal no longer works, and most smart human being can see it. ]

    NSW disease, eh? There was a hell of a lot wrong with NSW Labor, and that cancer has migrated to federal politics a bit, but I’m not so sure about the other states. It’ll be the NSW model if they suddenly dump Weatherill without letting him go to an election. Every other state, even Tassie who are onto their fourth Labor premier in a row, have let each new premier have one election. Some won, some lost by a little bit, some lost by heaps.

    WA is the next state with an election, and the Liberal govt will have been in for almost five years by then. (The extra half a year was thanks to Carpenter’s great idea of going so very early. Yeah, that worked.) As long as WA Labor have a leader who openly repudiates Brian Burke (most important) and doesn’t have the charisma of a brick, we might see the first one-term govt in 40 years. Even if it’s a narrow loss (if really narrow, McGowan might have to change his mind about not working with the Nationals), it’ll still derail the ‘Liberal landslide’ idea for other states.

    As for landslides, I can definitely see another one coming for Labor, on the day of the SA election. Just like the last two landslides, it’ll happen to the Labor govt which is the oldest in Australia (at the time, a decade and a half old) and will see Labor lose half their vote while the Greens vote stays flat. Yep, I’m talking about Tassie. It’s complicated because the Greens are part of govt there, but you could wake up up on Sunday morning in 2014 and see Labor in govt in SA while being a third party in Tas, and trying to figure out which one is weirder.

  10. Independently Thinking: I think you’ll find Simon Brewer is a Laborite.

    I’ve known him for years and his politics are definitely left of centre.

  11. Got a question about this bit too.

    [ albeit that the redistribution commissioners will shortly be charged with the task (which I don’t envy them) of redrawing the map in such a way as to level Labor’s advantage. ]

    How do they deal with Frome? Part of Labor’s ‘unfair’ advantage comes from the fact that they ‘won’ Frome at the 2010 election. Sure, they came a distant third, but as a 2-party margin, they just managed to beat the Libs (by a much smaller margin than Geoff Brock did in the real world). Trying to balance an 18.5% primary vote and 50.2% 2pp vote must mess with them a bit.

  12. DL@12 I was told this by a Liberal staffer so I checked with a Labor staffer to find out you’re right. Sorry. Why a local Liberal would claim him is beyond me…

    BoP@13 Absolutely. Described as the stupidest bit of non-corrupt electoral law in the world by a local politics prof. Both Labor and Liberal supported it.

  13. [BoP@13 Absolutely. Described as the stupidest bit of non-corrupt electoral law in the world by a local politics prof. Both Labor and Liberal supported it.]

    It was a reaction to the malaise of the government winning the election in 1990, while losing the 2PP popular vote. It was meant to be “more democratic” but it’s really systemic gerrymandering that punishes marginal MPs for excelling at the polls.

    If they were serious about making parliament truly reflective, they would institute some form of PR but that idea suits neither major party in our “winner take all” lower house 2 party system!

  14. I’m surprised no one has mentioned Rob Chapman (soon to be former CEO St George bank) as a potential “Campbell Newman” style ring-in from the outside. He could potentially be the game-changer for the Liberals. As it stands at the moment, we could see a repeat of the 2002 state election where one side slides into government by a bee’s donger.

    As William says, it will be interesting to see how they re-draw the boundaries, I would say its virtually impossible to make it a completely even playing-field mainly because of Adelaide’s geography (hemmed in by the sea on the west is the main problem). Take Colton (my own electorate), for example. The only way you can really weaken Labor’s margin is by going south into Glenelg, but then you would screw up the margin of Morphett, for example, which was marginal after 2006. Elder is the most likely one they can change without blowing big holes in Liberal surrounds. I would say that the seat of Adelaide, for example, would be a realistic taget for Labor at the next election, if Labor can find a good candidate. Peter Malinauskaus would be a formidable opponent for Rachel Sanderson, who is underwhelming as the local member.

    One thing you can be sure of, barring no major Labor stuff-ups, the 2014 election will be a very close one.

  15. I see Steven Marshall as a potential Lib leader. Perhaps in 2018, if the Libs don’t win next election. He’s a decent performer, an inner Adelaide non-reactionary Lib and a fresh face. Sure, he represents a marginal district but the (cosmopolitan and traditionally more sympathetic to the left) constituents of the seat of Norwood seem to like him and want him to stay around.

    Just remember: South Australians like their Lib leaders to be sensible and moderate small-Ls and small-Cs. That’s one of the major reasons why leaders like Redmond and Brown did well, yet others like Hamilton-Smith, Evans and Olsen got nowhere with the public.

  16. It is obvious that the Liberals are still completely divided. Michelle Lensink has the numbers to be Deputy Leader of the Liberals in the L.C., but she doesn’t have the numbers to get a shadow ministry! So she is a weird front / back bencher.

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