BludgerTrack: 52.5-47.5 to Coalition

Some musings on Senate prospects for micro-parties, plus a few recent updates to the seat-by-seat election guide.

I’m running the above headline essentially because I have no new poll to trumpet for the following assortment of bits-and-pieces. The latest addition is yesterday’s large-sample ReachTEL poll, which was a relatively good result for Labor taking into account the past lean to the Coalition in this series. Its inclusion caused a 0.6% shift in Labor’s favour without affecting the seat projection, mostly because the improvement was concentrated in Victoria where there are few marginal seats. This isn’t the first time recently that the addition of a ReachTEL result has caused BludgerTrack to move in Labor’s favour, which raises the possibility that the series is not as pro-Coalition as it used to be. If so, the addition of the result with out-of-date bias adjustments attached might be causing the present BludgerTrack numbers to flatter Labor slightly. There has apparently been, for the second evening running, a poll conducted overnight by ReachTEL which will have been unveiled on Seven Sunrise by the time most of you are reading this.

(UPDATE: A less good result today for Labor, and another good one for the Palmer United Party. Labor’s primary vote is down to 32.7% and the Coalition’s up to 43.6%, with the Greens on 10.0% and Palmer on 6.1%. Two-party preferred is 53-47 to the Coalition. ReachTEL also has a very ugly result for Labor from the Tasmanian seat of Bass, courtesy of the Launceston Examiner, with Liberal candidate Andrew Nikolic on 51.8% and Labor member Geoff Lyons on 26.6%.)

Now to those bits and pieces. First, I address what looks to be one of the election’s most significant imponderables: the share of the vote that will go to micro-parties in the Senate. Much hinges on the answer, given the tightness of the preference arrangements between micro-parties and the extremely limited value of polling as a guide to the smaller details of Senate voting patterns. Tim Colebatch of Fairfax has run reports over the past week based based on what Antony Green’s Senate election calcalators come up with when seemingly plausible vote share scenarios are plugged into them, which have been partly inspired by simulations conducted by Poll Bludger commenter Truth Seeker (who details them on his own blog).

One particularly headline-grabbing observation was that Pauline Hanson might succeed in her bid for a New South Wales Senate seat at the expense of Arthur Sinodinos, who has the number three position on the Coalition ticket in New South Wales. Since Labor, the Coalition and the Greens all have Hanson last on their preference order, this can only happen if she and the various parties feeding her preferences collectively amount to more than a quota (14.3%). Colebatch argues that this is highly plausible: “In 2010, 29 micro-parties won 14 per cent of the vote between them. This time there will be 41 of them, and disillusioned Labor supporters could swell their collective vote to 20 per cent – easily enough for a Senate quota.”

This appears to assume that collective vote share of micro-parties will continue to expand as more of them enter the field. Evidence from the last three elections, which provide a common footing in that the Democrats and One Nation had faded from minor to micro-party status, provides some support for this. Excluding the unusual circumstance of South Australia in 2007, when Nick Xenophon polled a full quota in his own right, there are 17 state-level observations for modelling the relationship between the number of Senate groups and the vote share for micro-parties (which I take to mean everyone other than Labor, the Coalition and the Greens). The model I have derived is 0.243+(0.283*A)+(0.681*B), where A is the number of Senate groups and B is the “others” vote in the House of Representatives from the state in question. This has an R-squared of 0.517 and a p-value of 0.006, which is to say that the model explains 51.7% of the variation in these 17 results and has a 99.4% chance of being better than no model at all.

With unprecedented numbers of Senate groups at this election ranging from 23 in Tasmania to 44 in New South Wales, this suggests “others” votes ranging from 12.9% to 20.5% (going off the BludgerTrack projections for the lower house “others” vote), which is well in line with Colebatch’s expectations. However, there’s a considerable theoretical problem with the model in that it presumes the relationship to be perfectly linear. If this were so, the major party vote would disappear altogether if only enough micro-parties took the field. In reality, the rate of increase has to taper off, and the meagre sample of observations available offers no insight as to point at which it does so. My own guess though is that it kicks in fairly sharply before we reach the stage where we can start talking of an aggregate micro-party vote approaching 20%.

To offer some historic guidance as to the sorts of numbers you should be punching into the Senate calcalators, the table below displays the vote for micro-parties of various kinds in each state. “Religious” includes the Democratic Labour Party, although they no doubt occupy something of a grey area. The “right” category is exclusive of the “religious” one. “Left” is defined broadly to incorporate the Democrats and all environmentalist concerns, even ostensibly conservative ones. There were also parties and independents that were deemed not to fall into any of these categories, so the “total” column is not simply an aggregate of the other three.

2010		Relig.	Right	Left	Total
NSW		3.63	5.55	3.37	13.82
Victoria	5.35	3.83	3.28	13.2
Queensland	4.31	7.59	3.61	16.43
WA		3.71	2.66	2.81	9.92
SA		5	2.65	2.55	11.11
Tasmania	1.69	2.24	0.66	5.36
TOTAL		4.16	4.81	3.18	13.13

NSW		3.83	3.35	2.44	10.17
Victoria	3.77	1.24	3.16	8.72
Queensland	2.76	6.73	3.04	13.08
WA		3.57	1.1	1.84	7.04
SA		3.97	1.68	1.68	22.25
Tasmania	2.67	0.19	0.78	4.38
TOTAL		3.48	2.97	2.57	10.71

NSW		3.17	3.73	3.88	12.17
Victoria	4.16	1.55	4.18	10.98
Queensland	3.37	9.34	4.09	18.05
WA		2.73	2.82	3.05	9.22
SA		3.98	1.53	3.95	10.02
Tasmania	3.03	0.16	0.82	7.04
TOTAL		3.42	2.93	3.84	12.22

Now to some scattered bits of news for around the traps that I have recently used to supplement the seat-by-seat election guide:

Indi (Liberal 9.0%):Liberals have been telling journalists of serious concerns for Sophie Mirabella’s hold on Indi, where she faces a well-organised challenge from independent Cathy McGowan. The Guardian reports on widespread opinion polling being conducted in the electorate; the Weekly Times reports that Labor are campaigning strongly to boost McGowan; and The Australian reports some in the Liberal Party have been urging Tony Abbott to visit the electorate. The contest is another source of friction between the coalition parties, with former state Nationals MP Ken Jasper among those who are throwing their weight behind McGowan.

Melbourne (Greens 6.0% versus Labor): The Greens have been spruiking a poll of 400 respondents conducted for them by Galaxy showing Adam Bandt’s primary vote up 4% since the 2010 election, with “as many as four in 10” Liberal voters in the seat planning to ignore the direction of their party’s how-to-vote card that voters should favour Labor ahead of the Greens in their preference allocation. This is actually in line with the 35% rate of leakage in inner Melbourne when the Liberals likewise directed preferences against the Greens at the 2010 state election, which nonetheless wasn’t high enough to win them any of the seats they were anticipating. But taken together with the purported primary vote swing, it suggests a very close result.

McMahon (Labor 7.8%): The Liberal candidate for Chris Bowen’s western Sydney seat, Liverpool area police superintendent Ray King, has been defended by a series of police figures and corruption investigators after Labor claimed he had a “close friend” in Roger Rogerson, the notorious detective who was imprisoned in 1990 for perverting the course of justice. The claim has been denied by Rogerson as well as King, with retired assistant commissioner Geoff Schuberg complaining of a “grubby, baseless smear campaign”.

Forde (Liberal National 1.6%):The Australian reports that Forde MP Bert van Manen, who is fighting off a challenge from Peter Beattie, was the half-owner and recently resigned director of a financial planning firm which owed creditors more than $1.5 million when it collapsed last year. The report says administrators KPMG had told creditors of “unreasonable director-related transactions” behind the collapse. A Liberal spokesperson was quoted saying van Manen had personally settled with the main credtior, Westpac, but no comment was offered on $325,000 owed to three further creditors.

Greenway (Labor 0.9%): The Sydney Morning Herald observes a “systemic” silence among Liberal candidates in Sydney, “with multiple examples emerging of candidates pulling out of events or interviews”. The low profile assumed by Greenway MP Jaymes Diaz has been particularly widely noted, after he failed to show for a candidates forum in Blacktown last week.

Herbert (Liberal National 2.2%) and Dawson (Liberal National 2.4%): Sid Maher of The Australian identifies marginal seats on the central Queensland coast as the main targets for the Coalition’s promised curtailing of marine protected areas, a pitch at commercial and recreational fishers. A similar promise before the 2010 election was “credited with delivering the seat of Dawson”, by persons unidentified.

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.

2,149 comments on “BludgerTrack: 52.5-47.5 to Coalition”

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  1. Well Greensborough Growler, if you took offence, apologies.
    But I stand by what I said..

    Thomas Paine- what speaks volumes? In the words of that poor Hanson bitch, “please explainnnnnn” ?

  2. Warrior

    What the ALP needs now is more lame arse nobodies pissing in the wind like you.
    Well done buddy.
    You were a big help.

    You’re a useless bore.
    Enjoy the dozen years in opposition you and your pissweak politically illiterate ilk have wished upon the rest of us.

    Loyalty indeed.
    Did you ever offer any constructive real critique of how fuked the ALPs strategy has been?
    No, I didn’t think so.
    The ALP needs fewer weak turds like you and more passionate true believers like me you pathetic sanctimonious gutless puerile motherfuker.

  3. [ By losing the minority PMship in 2010, the Libs, or more correctly Abbott have given the Libs 6-12 years in govt.]

    Or 3 years Mick. Abbott’s going to be a stinker of a PM: that much is clear. The question is whether then LNP can manage a transiton of leader and yet hang on, as the ALP did.

  4. W****r of the day: Bob Carr imitating Rudd with a “look at me, I’m important act”, and maybe giving away state secrets as well just to try and keep up the fake act of those idiots Rudd & Carr being important on the world stage.
    [AUSTRALIA will stand alongside the United States on military strikes on Syria with Australian spies now confirming the Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons on civilians.]

  5. The internet fliter debacle is the midnight stroke of luck the ALP really needed.

    A very strong vein of doubt to mine tomorrow for Rudd, Bowen, Wong and the rest.

    This has late swing back written all over it.

    Nite all.

  6. 2098

    Palmer may well take seats of the LNP with preferences.

    Palmer out polling Katter also increases the likelihood of ALP ATL preferences ending up with the Greens.

  7. Imagine idiot Abbott representing Australia at the G20 or another big overseas forum.
    Knowing our Tone, he will probably politicise the occasion or make some dumb remark, which will be seized upon by News Ltd as proof of his uncanny ability to relate to “ordinary Australians”.

  8. lefty
    As I posted before – you’ve all been predicting the imminent demise of Abbott for nearly 4 years and it looks like you’re gonna keep it up for the next 3, and the next 3. I think you may have to get used to PM Tony Abbott for a long time, absent any really major stuff up, and even then …?

  9. [ Rosemour or Less
    Posted Friday, September 6, 2013 at 12:06 am | Permalink

    Enjoy the dozen years in opposition you and your pissweak politically illiterate ilk have wished upon the rest of us. ]

    You were the gutless whining prink who surrendered the night the election was called.

    You are the gutless tasmanian prick who kicks his own party in the guts here 40 t o 50 times a day for 4 weeks.

    Cry me a river numpty.

    Even a dog shows loyalty – far more than you.

    You are craven in that you cannot/ won’t admit it – by you know it as we all here know it.

    Totally utterly despicable.

    The lowest of the low.

  10. Mick77: Abbott will last as long as Rupert finds him useful, BUT if the NBN is not dismantled……watch Murdoch desert his boy like a ton of bricks.

    Abbott makes John Howard look charismatic in comparison.
    Oh well, Tone can always pimp out the cute daughters when his popularity ratings start to sag.

  11. Evan Parsons

    Abbott will wing it initially at world forums, with Peta choreographing. But he’ll have his Les Paterson moment soon enough…

  12. Tony Abbott meets Barack Obama – Abbott would probably make some inappropriate remark about the colour of the President’s skin.

  13. Somehow a crushing defeat under Julia would have felt far more honorable than a marginally less crushing defeat under Rudd. The former at least offers the prospect of genuine renewal under new leadership. The latter, endless long sentences from Rudd.

  14. Evan
    The Murdoch conspiracy meme is childish nonsense which ALP rusted-ons can’t let go of since it’s their last hope in denial of the failure of ALP. The people decide and Abbott will last as long as he’s elected or re-elected and so far he’s proven every doubter wrong. He is an amazing politician and quite out of the ordinary mould, seemingly nothing going for him but he’ll probably build on the lack of expectations as Howard did – for 12 years remember!

  15. That Galaxy looks more like 52-48 to me. Of the Greens 9, I give 8 to Labor. Of the Others 11, I give 5 to Labor. Maybe I’m being optimistic, maybe not.

    Couple of other factors that help Labor:

    It’s undeniable that the Liberal “brand” polls better than the Labor brand right now. And that’s the question these polls ask. But will people actually vote out their local MP who has a name and a face when push comes to shove? Probably enough will, but a surprising number may hang on.

    Natural drift back to the incumbent/impact of costings to flow through

    Finally, I’ve been helping call voters tonight from one of the state HQs. My observation is that there are still many undecided/apolitical voters out there. Also there are many people who can’t speak English very well. They are not answering polls either.

    So hope is not lost yet in my opinion, maybe a 20% chance of a Labor upset/hung parliament if everything goes right. Here is a fantasy scenario:

    – 3 seat gain in Qld/NT (very possible – lets say Brisbane, Flynn, Solomon with Forde, Herbert, Longman all chances)
    – no change in WA/SA (very possible)
    – net minus two in NSW. Maybe loss of Lindsay, Robertson and either Banks/Reid (Rudd’s visits show Labor not giving up and the rest are all still hold-able, maybe even Robertson is) offset by a pickup in Macquarie/Gilmore (OK this is optimistic)
    – another 3 losses in Vic/Tas (again optimistic although Labor has to be some chance of holding Deakin and LaTrobe with sophomore surge).
    – Libs to lose Indi and Fairfax (very possible).

    The much more likely scenario is that Labor loses net 5 or 6 in NSW and net 4 or 5 in Victoria. Still not a huge win for Abbott.

  16. Richard
    [ But will people actually vote out their local MP who has a name and a face}
    Yes, since most don’t know their local MP’s name and face but they sure know Rudd/Gillard’s names and two-faces.

  17. Since we’re only a day or two away, time to re-confirm my predictions for “told you so” bragging feast afterwards: 94/55/1 seats; 55/45 2PP.

  18. I think its very likely Abbott will either lose the next election or be kicked out by his party before it. I’d bet money on it. He’s promised everything to win this election, and the bullshit will catch up to him once he has to deliver on his fantasies.

    And if Murdoch did decide a change of leadership would be best for the country, there are four years worth of glossed over gaffes, offensive statements and blatant, endless lying (plus all that dodgy stuff when he wss younger) the media can suddenly decide is in the public’s interest to cover.

    He’s fucked. And on some level he must know that. But he’ll still have been the 28th Prime Minister, he’ll get his pension, have his painting up with the others and a bust on Prime Ministers Avenue, get to live out his days as a respected elder statesman, and that may be what makes it all worthwhile for him.

  19. Asha Leu @ 2133
    It takes some effort to be so quickly among the most ridiculous posters on PB but you’ll have many years to laugh at the rubbish you’ve written about the incoming PM.

  20. Greensborough Growler- charming response!
    Feeling a bit desperate are we with your pending loss?
    Your just an aggressive leftie how slings insults when things aren’t going your way!

  21. @Wesley Rickard/2137

    Typical symptoms of cocky young supporters of winning party, talk down your opponents as if they are nothing.

  22. Zoidlord – I’m not being cock bastard as you put it, stating the obvious!
    I’m not going to cop abuse from someone for no reason & not fire back!!!
    Hardly treating him as nothing!

  23. Zoidlord – sorry for being a realist!
    I’m sorry if I appear cocky, but can’t pretend that I’m not pleased with how this is transpiring ie the likely result.

  24. I will remind everyone that the last time there was a one term government was in 1931 and then only because of the Great Depression. The Lib-Nats will have at least two terms – six years.

  25. @The Whig Party/2143

    Since Coalition Party are not guaranteeing surplus in their first term, think they will last 1 term.

    They are at risk of furthering into debt, then removing debt.

    I will say one term.

    Not to mention their promise of FTTN by 2016.

  26. Mick77

    Yes Tone has done the job of LOTO well but the job of bring the PM is a different matter.

    Some grow into the role whilst others are overwhelmed and the fact that Tone has a serious question mark over his world-view and promises.

    It seems of the three main elements, at least one wont happen.

    We know there will be deeper cuts than what has been announced unless Tone has given up on a budget surplus in his first three years.

    At this stage i think he is the wrong person to be leading the Liberal Party, that view might change and i will be the first to congratulate him.

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