Newspoll: 59.5-40.5 to Liberal-Nationals in WA

Newspoll’s final result for the Western Australian campaign suggests Labor faces an even grimmer night tomorrow than anticipated.

Newspoll’s pre-election result for the Western Australian state election has come in well above expectations for the government, with the Liberals on 48% of the primary vote (up three on the start of the campaign) and the Nationals on 6% (steady) with Labor down three to 32% and the Greens steady at 8%. That translates to a thumping 59.5-40.5 lead for the Liberal-Nationals, and a swing of about 7.5%.

A regional breakdown tells us the numbers are 50% Liberal, 35% Labor and 8% Greens in Perth, which compares with a 2008 election result of 38.8% Liberal, 38.4% Labor and 13.2% Greens. In the rest of the state, the figures are 44% Liberal, 22% Nationals, 24% Labor and 7% Greens, comparing with 37.2%, 19.3%, 28.4% and 8.0%.

After a big slump in the previous poll, Colin Barnett is up four on approval to 51% and down six on disapproval to 36%, while Mark McGowan is down two to 49% and up three to 29%. After the lead was reduced to just four points in the previous poll, Barnett’s lead as preferred premier has blown out from 44-40 to 52-31.

The poll was conducted from Monday to Thursday from a bumper sample of 1744, with an unusually low margin of error of 2.4%. Full tables here, courtesy of GhostWhoVotes.

UPDATE: The West Australian reports Labor strategists conceding they will not win with Liberals quoted sounding correspondingly confident, although the prognostications offered don’t quite match the scale of the wipeout indicated by Newspoll. Senior Liberals are “confident the party would hold Morley and win Albany, Forrestfield and Balcatta from Labor”, and are also “optimistic” about Collie-Preston. Labor tracking polling is said to have variously had them on course for between 20 and 26 seats, with the final outcome looking at the low end of the range. The West’s Gareth Parker tips 23 seats for Labor; I think I’ll stick with my implied pick of 21 from Crikey today, even though it involves betting against a final Newspoll, which I don’t generally recommend.

Now for an introductory form guide ahead of tomorrow night’s action. The basic arithmetic is that Labor goes into the election with 26 seats and needs to win four; the Liberals go in with 24 and hope to win six to get a majority in their own right; and the Nationals go in with five and hoping to make further gains, both for its own sake and to retain the balance of power. Two independent seats look sure to bolster the Liberals’ total, and a third will most likely be won by the Nationals.

Firstly, Labor’s offensive plays. A net gain of four seats is required, of which the following look most likely/least unlikely:

Fremantle (Labor 12.0%): Adele Carles’s win for the Greens at an April 2009 by-election marked Labor’s first defeat in the seat since 1924. Then followed her affair with Treasurer Troy Buswell and subsequent resignation from the party, and the ongoing saga of her on-again off-again relationship with Buswell, the latest phase of which is his current defamation action against her. Carles is running again as an independent but has fairly open in acknowledging the futility of her endeavour. By far the likeliest result is that it will revert to old ways in delivering a clear win for the Labor candidates, UnionsWA secretary Simone McGurk, but I’ll be waiting on actual numbers before I entirely rule out the possibility of a Greens boilover.

Wanneroo (Liberal 1.0%): I personally would be surprised if this classic outer suburban swinging seat didn’t swing to the Liberals, but Labor appear to have kept it on their wish list as a potential thirtieth seat in the event should things unexpectedly improve for them.

Swan Hills (Liberal 3.5%): It is lucky for Liberal member Frank Alban that the redistribution has moved 80% of the outer urban centre of Ellenbrook to neighbouring West Swan, as the government has appeared determined to lose support there. Far from coming good on the progress it promised towards the proposed rail spur in its first term, the government instead knocked the project on the head early in the campaign. Then came this week’s revelation from Colin Barnett that the rapid bus transit project that had been floated as its replacement would also not proceed. Labor has ended its campaign making hay in the area thus. Labor has done well in selecting as its candidate Ian Radisich, whose sister Jaye Radisich held the seat from 2001 to 2008 and succumbed to cancer at the age of 35 in 2010, and who by all accounts is a highly presentable candidate in his own right. The rail line effect will be worth keeping an eye on, but the market view is that the mountain is too high for Labor to climb. See also West Swan further below.

Mount Lawley (Liberal 1.7%): Labor is more hopeful here than it might be otherwise it appeared to suffer a protest vote when it dumped sitting member Bob Kucera in 2008, and has re-enlisted him in the hopes of winning it back again. The seat is a complex mix of affluent left-leaning suburbs (Mount Lawley and Inglewood), affluent right-leaning suburbs (Coolbinia and Menora) and less affluent marginal suburbs (Dianella and Yokine), and is home to nearly a third of the state’s Jewish population.

Morley (Labor 0.8%): There are two reasons to expect this seat to buck the trend and move to the Labor column: redistribution has turned a Liberal margin of 0.9% into a notional Labor margin of 0.8%, and the Liberals were substantially assisted in 2008 by the preference recommendation of John D’Orazio, the Labor-turned-independent sitting member. However, there’s no guarantee that will prove enough to hold off against a general swing. Their candidate for the second election running is Reece Whitby, a former Channel Seven state political reporter who has done a lot of work locally since his unexpected defeat in 2008 to dispel the notion he’s a western suburbs blow-in.

Then there’s Labor’s metropolitan firing line, in pendulum order:

Forrestfield (Labor 0.2%): A swing of any substance is likely to take out this eastern suburbs seat, which Labor’s Andrew Waddell won by a margin of 98 votes in 2008. Both parties are going to the effort to extend their airport rail plans to terminate at a station within the electorate.

Balcatta (Labor 2.2%): Labor hasn’t lost this seat before, but their position has been weakened by substantial Liberal-leaning urban infill in Osborne Park and Stirling, and they now confront the retirement of a veteran sitting member in John Kobelke.

Joondalup (Labor 3.3%): The orthodox view that the elections were decided in the northern suburbs broke down with the 2008 result, one aspect of which was a gentle 0.8% swing against Labor in the tough marginal seat of Joondalup. There’s a strong chance the Liberals will make up for it after waging a more determined campaign this time around.

West Swan (Labor 4.1%): All the issues observed in relation to Ellenbrook in the Swan Hills entry apply in multiple degree here. So it might be thought surprising that the Liberals have been heavily targeting the electorate, and that Labor has responded in kind. It should be remembered that this is an electorate of two distinct halves, with a slight majority of its voters located around Ballajura, far from the concerns of Ellenbrook.

Gosnells (Labor 4.8%): The margin of 4.8% is fairly solid, but Labor member Chris Tallentire was nervous enough about his prospects to have run his own advertisements on 6PR earlier in the week.

Belmont (Labor 6.7%): In common with Balcatta, Belmont is a traditional Labor stronghold where proximity to the city is driving up rents and house prices, and where a long-standing Labor sitting member is retiring. In this case it’s former party leader Eric Ripper, who has represented the area since 1988.

Girrawheen (Labor 6.7%): Redistribution has slashed the Labor from 11.5% to 6.7% by adding the newer Liberal-leaning suburbs of Madeley and Darch to the more established Labor-voting core of Marangaroo and Girrawheen. Troublingly for Labor, the population of the former nearly doubled between the 2006 and 2011 censuses, while the latter remained static.

In the regions, all four of Labor’s seats are at risk – two most likely from the Nationals, and the other two from the Liberals.

Kimberley (Labor 6.8%): Every one of Labor’s four regional seats is at risk: the two in the state’s north from the Nationals, the two in the south from the Liberals. The Labor margin is 6.8%, but the retirement of sitting member Carol Martin has changed everything in a seat which in many ways resembles a regional Northern Territory electorate: the electorate is 40% indigenous, and only 9861 formal votes were cast at the 2008 election. The electorate also includes Broome, where the James Price Point controversy may be an unpredictable factor. Most rate Nationals candidate Michele Pucci, but the Liberals are also campaigning vigorously.

Pilbara (Labor 7.2%): In a seat engorged by the mining boom with money (incomes competitive with the western suburbs or better, according to the 2011 census) and men (62% of the population is the male), Pilbara joins Kimberley as a northern seat Labor is expected to lose due to the retirement of a sitting member and the insurgency of the Nationals. The latter is particularly important, as Brendon Grylls has taken it upon himself to further expand the party’s regional empire beyond its Wheatbelt heartland by contesting the seat himself. I’ve variously heard it said that internal polling has Grylls on 38%, 40% and 46%, any of which should allow him to win handsomely.

Albany (Labor 0.2%): Many have been reluctant to back against Peter Watson after his win against the odds in 2008, when he picked up a 2.5% swing to survive by 89 votes after redistribution made the seat notionally Liberal. However, Labor would have benefited in 2008 from local support for Alan Carpenter, who was locally born and raised.

Collie-Preston (Labor 3.8%): A difficult seat to read, with Collie being as safe as it gets for Labor and the remainder being conservative dairy and beef farming territory. It’s now also absorbing new Bunbury suburbia around Eaton. Labor’s Mick Murray has an impressive track record electorally, retaining his seat in 2008 after redistribution sent him head-to-head with a sitting Liberal who had served nearly half the redrawn seat.


Kalgoorlie (Independent 3.6% versus Nationals): Labor lost the seat against the trend of the 2001 election, and it appears this marked a watershed moment in the party’s long-term decline here. Matt Birney, who had a troubled tenure as Liberal leader after the 2005 election, held the seat for two terms before pulling the plug on his political career in 2008. It was then won by Labor-turned-independent member John Bowler, who had a big presence in the Goldfields as member for the abolished neighbouring seat of Murchison-Eyre. Bowler became very close to the Nationals and has helpfully endorsed their candidate, upper house MP Wendy Duncan.

Warren-Blackwood (Nationals 10.2% versus Liberal): Nationals member Terry Redman pushed through genetically engineered crop trials as Agriculture Minister, and then had the misfortune of the redistribution adding the Greens hotbed of Margaret River to his electorate. The Liberals are hoping the weak presence of the Nationals in the latter area, together with favourable preferencing from Labor and the Greens, will help deliver them the seat.

Eyre (Liberal 3.4% versus Nationals): Labor’s decision to direct preferences to Liberal incumbent Graham Jacobs ahead of the Nationals candidate will blunt the latter’s challenge somewhat, but the Nationals are still making optimistic noises.

Moore (Nationals 3.1% versus Liberal): When the one-vote one-value redistribution merged Moore with much of Greenough at the 2008 election, a contest of sitting Nationals and Liberal members was won by the candidate of the former, Grant Woodhams, who is now retiring. Despite being an open contest this time, I haven’t heard any serious suggestion the Liberals are going to recover the seat.


Churchlands (Independent 22.5% versus Labor): A conservative area served since 1991 by retiring independent Liz Constable, this is a lay-down misere for Liberal candidate Sean L’Estrange.

Alfred Cove (Independent 0.2% versus Liberal): Independent incumbent Janet Woollard has enjoyed three successive narrow victories in this naturally conservative seat. She came particularly close to defeat at the hands of the Liberals in 2008, and it universally anticipated that her time is up. She has grappled this term with her son Luke’s involvement in a 2008 boating accident that occurred while he was driving under the influence of alcohol, resulting in severe injury to a female passenger. Woollard complained in a letter to constituents of “a campaign to vilify our family and force us to pay additional money”.

Kwinana (Labor 16.4%): Local mayor Carol Adams came very close to winning the normally safe Labor seat in 2008, which would have blocked Roger Cook’s simultaneous entry to parliament and the deputy Labor leadership. Now she is trying again.

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.

73 comments on “Newspoll: 59.5-40.5 to Liberal-Nationals in WA”

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  1. WOW.

    Just, WOW.

    For those hanging out for the Mod Lib predictions, it will be ready for the results tomorrow night. Doesn’t look like we will be up too late 🙂

  2. Putting 59.5 into Antony Green’s calculator gives:

    Lib 34
    Nat 6
    ALP 15

    40 to 19 (given 4 indies).

    If you assign the indies as Antony expects: 43 to 16

    It looks increasingly like WA will follow NSW, Qld, and the NT: ALP baseball.

  3. saw William and Ian Radisich on WA7.30 tonight. It is remarkable Frank Alban got elected to local government – it is outrageous the libs seem set to see him into two terms as an MP. He entered into the WA parliament with no ability and only his integrity. Then Colin told him they weren’t gonna do the Ellenbrook Rail and he sacrificed that.

  4. Tomorrow is a glorious day when the heroic forces of mainstream media and endless rhetoric win out against the insidious evil of good policy and past experience.

  5. My prediction:

    LNP 60% to ALP 40%

    Lib gains (+13 to 36):
    Kimberley, Girraween, Belmont, Gosnells, W Swan, C-Preston, Joondalup, Morley, Balcutta, Forrestfield, Albany,

    ….plus Alfred Cove and Churchlands

    Nat gains (+2 to 7):
    Pilbara and Kalgoorlie

    ALP gain Fremantle only.

    Final result of 43 seats to 16.

  6. No poll in The West. It does however report Labor strategists conceding they will not win with Liberals quoted sounding correspondingly confident, although the prognostications offered don’t quite match the scale of the wipeout indicated by Newspoll. Senior Liberals are “confident the party would hold Morley and win Albany, Forrestfield and Balcatta from Labor”, and are also “optimistic” about Collie-Preston. Labor tracking polling is said to have variously had them on course for between 20 and 26 seats, with the final outcome looking at the low end of the range. The West’s Gareth Parker tips 23 seats for Labor; I think I’ll stick with my implied pick of 21 from Crikey today, even though it involves betting against a final Newspoll, which I don’t generally recommend.

  7. William:

    Do you have TPP estimates in Perth vs. Regions for that Newspoll please?

    (to plug into Antony Green’s calculator)

  8. Jaysus that’s ugly for the ALP given how arrogant and out of touch the Liberals are, apparently.

    Did I mention Bob’s Back!

  9. No probs, William. That is what I did and got about 16 seats for the ALP.

    I see from the full tables that Newspoll has kindly provided a list of ALP seats which has them on 20 with another 4 categorized at “high risk of loss”, and 2 more at “low risk”.

  10. Anyone in Freo (and that includes you, William): vote for Jan ter Horst. It can’t be any more crazy than it already is, and he might actually do a good job.

  11. Standby for the usual drivel. Abbott won’t be able to keep his mouth shut about how it’s a referendum for the entire country blah blah blah….

  12. William, you write (at Mount Lawley), re Royal Perth Hospital, that “the Liberals had capitalised with a promise to maintain it as a small bed trauma facility.” Does this mean
    (a) a facility for people suffering from small bed trauma?
    (b) a small facility for people suffering from bed trauma?
    (c) a trauma facility with small beds?
    (d) a facility for small beds suffering from trauma?

  13. Gecko:

    Has anyone seen him in the same room as Dick Morris or Carl Rove?

    They said the same thing- about Romney going to romp it home right up to the time that Romney was slaughtered, absolutely slaughtered, at the actual election…..just about exactly as the polling had said he would be (+- 1% or so).

    Funny that, aint it?

  14. Wewantpaul

    You must have had a different experience in West Swan. Mine was very positive with ALP booth workers very positive. There are however a flood of Lib poll workers covering the booth.

  15. An electoral officer (unsure whether he is current or former) gets a letter published in the local paper:

    [Election day is drawing near and our preferential system of voting is often criticised.

    During nearly 30 years as an electoral officer on polling days for elections I have been asked by voters if they much follow a ‘how to vote’ card in order to register a formal vote.

    The answer is no and it usually explains on the ballot paper that you should number the candidates in order of your preference.

    Full preferential voting is really very simple and mathematically foolproof. It’s fair and probably the most efficient of any compulsory voting system. Unfortunately it is not completely understood by a big percentage of voters.

    Politicians exploit this fact by trying to trick you into following their ‘how to vote’ information. Having been involved in vote counting and the distribution of preferences many times I am well satisfied that all preference votes from an eliminated candidate are distributed as per the consecutive numbering on the ballot paper.

    It is the ‘how to vote’ card that is the problem, not the preferential system.

    Please, on Election Day, vote according to your preference and not that of a political party.]

  16. I’m interested in how many reputable opinion polls there have been in recent months. An ABC reporter claimed this morning that there have been “lots” of them. National coverage of this election has been abysmal.

  17. Hopefully it will improve this evening, when I’ll be on the ABC Radio panel along with Gary Gray and David Johnston. This will be on ABC Local Radio throughout WA and News Radio everywhere else.

  18. WWP

    [Shows how little those debates count.

    Shows how little the whole campaign counts.]

    Actually I’ve seen a few studies that say exactly that. The final vote is usually very similar to the polls when the campaign starts. Almost no one wins or loses purely as a result of the campaign, although Labor gave it a good shake in 2010.

  19. Campaigns are generally thought to affect mobilisation, which is important in voluntary voting systems but not so much here, and in pushing potential waverers back to their natural party of class identification. I guess you could argue there would have been a bit more of that if Labor had campaigned more smartly in 2010. Campaigns can also define the issue agenda in ways that are advantageous to a party if the issue happens to be one that it “owns” (asylum seekers in John Howard’s case, for instance). That was why I thought Labor had very done well indeed in making this campaign about public transport. But if they really are going to go down as badly as this poll suggests, the lesson might be that the last few days are the only part of a state election campaign that matters, so the only thing you’re going to achieve by seizing the agenda early is a poll bounce that will wash out before polling day.

  20. [Actually I’ve seen a few studies that say exactly that. The final vote is usually very similar to the polls when the campaign starts. Almost no one wins or loses purely as a result of the campaign, although Labor gave it a good shake in 2010.]

    Interesting point about 2010, I’m not sure if Carps did his major self destruct in calling the election or during the suicidally bad campaign, but yeah we aren’t good.

  21. Diogenes

    The obvious answer is even if there aren’t the liberal cheer squad (and the Rudd fanboys) on here will claim there are.

  22. Diogenes,

    I don’t think there will be any Federal implications. If it was very close to the Federal election then there might be the “Blood in the water” factor; however, I think enough time will have passed so that will not come into play.

    WA is going to get stuck into Gillard regardless of what happens today.

  23. [WWP

    Actually I was referring to Fed Labors 2010 effort. My knowledge of WA politics would fit on a postage stamp.]

    I understood that (although i appreciate I wasn’t clear) just two recent bad campaigns, that may have reduced votes

  24. I’m afraid not, Psephos. I’ve never had the impression terribly many people were reading my live blogging anyway. There will of course be an open thread where you can call the race yourselves.

  25. Well, I love your work William, but it is easier to see how things are transpiring and the seat by seat implications on Antony Green’s site which has the total votes and seats changing hands, rather than reading through streams of text. I keep Pollbludger open as well of course!

    …and I will be listening to your words of wisdom in a few hours, so I hope you will be on your best behaviour! 🙂

  26. William, I follow your live blogging religiously. You are the James Dibble of the modern era. (And that is a high compliment.) As for an open thread, it will be full of the usual prating fools no doubt. I’ll see if I can stream you from somewhere, or I’ll follow the WAEC website.

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