Essential Research: 53-47 to Coalition

The new government has its first poll, sort of. Also featured: an overview of in-doubt seats from the real election, of which I count four (two House, two Senate).

The new government’s first opinion poll is testament either to a striking weakness in its honeymoon effect, the fact that it’s only partly a post-election poll, or the observed tendency towards constancy in results from the pollster in question. That pollster is Essential Research, and its poll is its routine fortnightly average of federal voting intention conducted online from samples of about 1000 respondents each week. The latest result was thus half-conducted over the period of the election itself, such that one might dispute its provenance as a post-election poll (which you can pile on top of general doubts about the value of any polling conducted immediately after a change of government). For what it’s worth, the poll has the Coalition on 44% of the primary vote (45.7% at the election on current figures), Labor on 36% (33.5%) and the Greens on 9% (8.4%). The published 53-47 two-party preferred (the current election result being 53.4-46.6) is weaker for Labor than the primary vote shifts suggest it should be, which may be because they are still using preference allocations from the 2010 election.

Further questions, which unlike voting intention were derived from this week’s sample only, have 38% rating the election of micro-parties to the Senate as “good for democracy” against 25% for bad, although I’d like to see more specific questions in relation to this topic. Forty-four per cent believe the lack of a Coalition Senate majority will make for better government against 30% for worse. Respondents were asked about various aspects they might expect to get better or worse under the new government, including the surprising finding that cost of living and interest rates are expected to be worse. A finding on the state of the economy is an instructive insight into the influence of partisan considerations on such polling. Overall, 40% describe the state of the economy as good and 25% as poor, compared with 36% and 30% when the question was last asked in mid-July. Tellingly, the good rating among Coalition voters is up 14 points to 32% while poor is down ten points to 35%, while Labor voters are down nine points on good to 50% and up four points on poor to 18%.

As to proper election results, this site continues to follow close counts in dedicated posts as linked to on the sidebar. As far as I’m concerned, there are four seats which are still in serious doubt – two in the House, and two in the Senate. The 1550 votes in Indi are too few to reverse Sophie Mirabella’s 405-vote deficit against Cathy McGowan, while the 849-vote lead of Labor’s Julie Owens in Parramatta is enough to withstand anything the outstanding 3258 votes might conceivably throw at it. That leaves:

Fairfax. Continuing an ongoing trend, Clive Palmer’s lead shrank yesterday from 502 to 362. This resulted from a heavy flow of postals against him (758-465) being greater than an advantage on absents (722-569 in his favour on yesterday’s batch), both of which reflect the earlier trend of postal and absent counting. The number of outstanding absents and postals has diminished to around 1000 each, which leaves the ball in the court of about 2500 outstanding pre-polls, which have so far gone nearly 57-43 against Palmer. If all existing trends continue over the remainder of the count, Palmer will land a few dozen votes short. He will then perhaps take the matter to the Court of Disputed Returns, his current Federal Court injunction to have counting stopped presumably being doomed to failure. Palmer has been invoking an anomaly in the count, much remarked upon on this site, in which the Coolum Beach pre-poll voting centre result had a more-than-plausible number of votes for LNP candidate Ted O’Brien and a mismatch with the number of votes recorded for House and Senate. However, much as Palmer might wish to invoke a ballot box-stuffing operation at once brilliantly efficient in execution and bone-headedly stupid in conception, the AEC’s explanation that the Coolum Beach and Nambour PPVC results had been entered the wrong way around is likely to stand up in court. It is a duly troubling prospect that Palmer’s Senate representatives may emerge as important players in the looming round of electoral reform.

McEwen. After late counting initially flowed heavily against him, Labor member Rob Mitchell has rallied with a strong performance on absents and late-arriving postals. He now leads by 192 votes, which will widen if the tide continues to flow his way. However, it remains to be seen what as many as 5000 pre-polls hold in store. The first batch favoured Mitchell 497-458, but the remainder might come from less favourable areas.

Western Australian Senate. The most excellent Senate modelling of PB regular Truth Seeker illustrates the delicate balance of the count here, and the stars that need to remain aligned if Wayne Dropulich of the Australian Sports Party is indeed to find his way to the Senate off 0.2% of the vote. Key to the outcome is Dropulich remaining ahead of the Rise Up Australia party after distribution of preferences from Australian Voice, after which his snowball builds all the way to a quota. This might yet be undone by a gentle trend towards RUA on late counting, together with the unknown quantity of below-the-line votes. Should Dropulich fall short, not only will his own seat instead go to Zhenya Wong of the Palmer United Party, but the complexion of the race for the final seat between Scott Ludlam of the Greens and Labor’s Louise Pratt will change. This is because the comfortable win presently projected for Ludlam is achieved off Palmer preferences, which won’t be available to him if the votes are used to elect Wong. Truth Seeker’s projection is that Pratt will “almost certainly” defeat Ludlam on a scenario in which Wong is elected.

Tasmanian Senate. The issue here can be neatly observed on the ABC results calculator, the crucible of the outcome being the second last count (Count 24). Here the calculator, which treats all votes as below-the-line, has the Liberal Democrats leading Palmer United Party candidate Jacqui Lambie by 29,705 votes to 28,608. Since Palmer preferences favour the Liberals over the Liberal Democrats, their candidate’s exclusion then delivers victory to the third Liberal, Sally Chandler. However, if that gap of 1097 should close, the Liberal Democrats will be excluded instead, and most of the votes then distributed will flow to Lambie and secure election for another PUP Senator. The size of the gap might make that appear unlikely, but Tasmania has an unusually high rate of below-the-line voting, and one might surmise that it will favour the greatly more visible PUP over the Liberal Democrats. UPDATE: Looks like I wasn’t taking the Sex Party challenge with due seriousness – they win the last seat that might otherwise go to Liberal or the Palmer United Party if they stay ahead of Labor at Count 21, as they get Palmer preferences ahead of the Liberals. The current count has them doing this by the grand total of 14,275 to 14,274.

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.

1,075 comments on “Essential Research: 53-47 to Coalition”

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  1. I agree with William’s suggestion that the apparent likelihood of 3 (perhaps even 4) PUP senators voting on Senate reform (and a whole lot of other things) is “troubling”: especially for those of us who witnessed his clownish performance on Q&A last night.

    Tony Jones handles him well: unlike many people, he recognizes that Clive’s statements are usually exaggerations of what Clive really thinks, made half in jest. But the other panel members were struggling with his responses: especially the intelligent but rather humorless Nick X. Clive is very “ethically Austrslian” in an old-fashioned sort of way: the sort of bloke who’d greet his best friend by yelling “f— off you bloody c–t!” at him in the street. Many modern urban Australians don’t get these sorts of blokes, but they are commonplace in rural and mining communities.

    Personally, I’d far rather have listen to what Clive has to say on these shows than, say, Nick Minchin, whose climate change denialism is always treated very respectfully by the likes of Tony Jones, but which – in my book – is just as absurd and nutty as anything Clive has to say.

  2. [3
    Posted Tuesday, September 17, 2013 at 6:08 am | PERMALINK
    Why the “wow” rummel, surely US business as usual.]

    Because I have a over optimistic view that the yanks will fix the issue.

  3. Section 2 . . .

    MUST SEE!!! Alan Moir – what can one say about this one?
    SNAP! David Rowe with a beauty. (Looka at Mesma and Bronnie!)
    Cathy Wilcox delivers Abbott a good kick in the groin.
    David Pope also has a dig. (Look at Abbott’s formal attire and what’s above the fireplace).
    Ron Tandberg’s had enough already.

  4. Science just ain’t that important, folks.
    [The country’s peak science bodies have expressed concern over Tony Abbott’s new ministry, which has omitted a dedicated science minister for the first time in more than 50 years.
    Not since 1931 has an Australian government been without a science minister.

    Under the incoming Abbott government, the minister for industry, Ian MacFarlane, will be responsible for some areas of science, including The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation.]

    Read more:

  5. No excuses!

    If a major national newspaper cannot tell that a photo is of Jason Clare (an ALP Minister) rather than the incoming Lib Minister, there is something seriously wrong with the editing process. I suspect it is because they have no idea and most of us on PB could do a better job!!!! 🙂

  6. Whenever someone includes “with respect” in a sentence, I know what they’re saying is patronising or insulting.

    [Eric Abetz, the Coalition’s leader in the Senate, defended the selection of a male-dominated Cabinet.

    Senator Abetz says having more women in the Labor ministry did not necessarily lead to good representation in Parliament.

    “You have to make very tough judgment calls as a prime minister as to who is in and who is out of Cabinet, and at the end of the day we, as a Coalition, have always said that these positions should be based on merit rather than on quota,” he said.

    “And if I might say with respect, have a look at the Labor Party and you can see what quotas do.”]

  7. Morning all. If I am going to be impartial, both Labor and Liberal deserve a kick over failing to reform the Senate voting system before now. Antony Green has been warning about these outcomes for over a decade, yet nothing was done. The election of Fielding and Madigan was not enough to spur either into action. I suspect both sides thought this was a game they could manipulate to their own advantage and were “clever” not to end it. Neither side are clever, just less stupid than the alternatives.

  8. Morning all.

    Thanks BK for the link to Moir – says it all!

    And for the on-the-ground report from Indi as well. I know it’s schadenfreude, but I love the thought that the Member for Indi with her massive sense of entitlement was turfed by constituents on the verge of becoming a Cabinet Minister. So close, yet so far!

  9. Gun crime crazy Ivan style.

    [Russian man shot in quarrel over Kant’s philosophy

    The dispute occurred when two men waiting for a beer became involved in an increasingly fractious argument over the work of Kant – the author of canonical philosophical text Critique of Pure Reason – according to a police spokeswoman in Rostov-on-Don, the town where the argument broke out.

    The row ended with one of the men producing an air gun and firing several rubber bullets at his opponent]

  10. lizzie

    I didnt watch qanda, but am curious to know if Clive was going to make good his threat to take the fairfax electorate result to Court?

  11. lizzie@20. When I really want to put the knife in, I say “with all due respect” or “with the greatest possible respect” (ie, none whatsoever).

  12. poroti@26. Yes, but isn’t it wonderful how ordinary Russians one encounters can take a huge interest in the works of Plato, Kant or Hegel, or have read the complete works of Dostoevsky, Tolstoy and Shakespeare.

    How many members of our current Federal Parliament do you reckon would have even heard of Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason?

  13. meher baba

    Exactly. In meetings I usually find it’s been said to me by a male who doesn’t think women can possibly be right about anything. It is very patronising and not funny.

  14. Lizzie

    You are correct about “with respect”.

    Another favourite is “you are not seeing the big picture” which simply means “you do not agree with me, and I think your view is silly.”

  15. poroti
    [Lynton Crosby still hard at work in the UK. ]

    I’m surprised that Cameron persists with Crosby. He keeps getting bad press that must rub off on Cameron. Cameron must think he is a hell of an adviser.

  16. Lizzie
    a few less MPS 😀

    but seriously it is scary I had another follower in US who was doing a doco on guns in US he has been silenced doesn’t tweet anymore

  17. Tony Abbott is backpeddling from his promise to end car industry assistance. Add $500 million to the Liberal budget blow out.

    While both sides have bad policy in this area, note the politics. The Liberals realised that there were more votes to be won promising to end car industry assistance than to keep it. Labor is unable to admit this, so kept wasting money doing something that cost votes.

  18. I like how Liberal dimwits like Tisme reckon there’s no quotas in the coalition – yeah, except for the deputy PM! Lol! and 3 other portfolios for the NATs – irrespective of any merit.

  19. “With the greatest respect” Soc, I can’t see how the ALP’s policy would have cost them votes. Certainly I don’t think the Opposition’s would have won them any.

    As for the politics, I think the change is more likely due to the fact that Mirabella no longer being Industry spokesperson for the Opposition means Abbott can back away from a position he wasn’t really comfortable with.

  20. Lizzie@34: as far as I can recall, I have never directed the phrase towards a woman. Mostly one feels like using it towards a man droning on about a subject about which he knows nothing (a common occurrence in my experience).

    Another phrase I cannot abide is Peter Reith’s favourite “to be frank”. I always find it strange that someone wants to suggest that, most of the time, what they are saying is not what they truly think.

    It’s just as well that I’m not a host on The Drum. Reith says it so often that sooner or later I wouldn’t be able to resist saying at some point “I thought you were Peter?”

  21. Clive was Clive. He talked big on how badly the AEC had run the election, on the susceptibility of our system to fraud (pencils! they can be erased! No ID! No computers!), along with the usual highly suggested conspiracy theories (most AEC booth managers are ex-military! I don’t want the military controlling elections, just look at Egypt!)

    (On the electoral system mechanics stuff – I have yet to be convinced that electronic voting is the way to go, so I don’t have much time for most of Clive’s complaints/suggestions, but the one area he is definitely correct is that the rolls the AEC booth workers work off of should be electronic and updated in real time to reflect who has voted – these big books that get manually crossed off is just silly).

    Exactly how serious he was about contesting the process and the result I guess we’ll see.

    It’s funny that Clive gets credit for speaking frankly when most of what he says is made-up bullshit with ’embellishments’ out the wazoo. And yet I understand the appeal, even as someone who finds his views on CC and the need to develop coalfields so Clive can get even richer obnoxious.

    And yes, his presence totally dominated the panel. Only Latham was able to get any real airtime (Waters was “sabotaged” by having an attention-seeking, bored, Clive Palmer sitting next to her). Latham had a good night and said some sensible things. Oddly Tony Jones let Latham ramble a couple of times – maybe to try to make up for the Clive effect on the evening.

  22. meher baba

    [Mostly one feels like using it towards a man droning on about a subject about which he knows nothing (a common occurrence in my experience).]

    Yes, “to be frank” usually means the opposite from Reith, whom I regard as a consistent purveyor of untruths.

  23. Palmer on Q&A last night made a number of comments impugning the integrity of the AEC. I was actually quite shocked. Australia has many blessings of which the integrity and professionalism of the AEC, and it’s logistical capabilities ate elections, is one. We have a relatively complex voting system, paper based, spanning our enormous geographical spread. Do any of the PBs with long memories recall any major issues with the integrity of the AEC?

    In this election, 2 instances have arisen where votes “went missing” – the Indi pile (which I’m sure was scrutineered to death at the time) and then the miss allocation of Senate votes between different booths in Fairfax. Both were administrative errors, and both were quickly identified and rectified. One the Court innQueensland hears the AEC explanation, in court, Palmer’s action to stop the counting in Fairfax will be quickly disposed of.

    He may, however, have a legitimate issue with the ballot paper shortage in one booth. Apparently photocopied additional,papers were produced at short notice, and there are allegations of mishandling the initialing of those papers by the issuing AEC booth workers. If it can be proved that happened, I suspect there is a legitimate basis for disputing the outcome (by any candidate) because proof of those allegations would constitute a major breach of AEC procedures, which I think is unheard of. So the bottom line is that the Fairfax result could well be overturned (subject to the big “if” of proving the irregularity) and a fresh election held in due course. Which I think Big Clive would have a good chance of winning easily.

    Zoomster, as you are around and with your extensive experience as a candidate, what do you think?

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