Newspoll: 50-50 in Western Australia

Only the second state opinion poll for Western Australia since the election echoes the recent Senate result in finding both parties sagging heavily in the face of a Greens and Palmer United surge.

The Australian has published a quarterly result of state voting intention in Western Australia, and it reflects recent federal polling from the state in showing a strong move at the expense of the major parties in favour of the Greens and, presumably, Palmer United. With the Greens soaring to 17% and everybody else on 16% (and the absence of a dedicated figure for Palmer United seeming ever more perverse), the weakness of the collective major party vote is such that Labor achieves parity from a seemingly disastrous primary vote of 27%. The combined result for the Liberals and Nationals is 40%, their worst result in Newspoll since Troy Buswell was Opposition Leader. Colin Barnett’s personal ratings have not recovered from the collapse that showed up late last year, his approval steady at 34% and disapproval up two to 56%. Mark McGowan holds a 43-36 as preferred premier, and has an approval rating of 49% with disapproval at 31%. With both of the state’s main newspapers out of the polling game, and Newspoll reporting only sporadically, this is only the second state poll for WA since the March 2013 election. The other one was the Newspoll result for October-December, which had the Liberals and Nationals leading 51-49 and recording 44% on the primary vote, with Labor on 33% and the Greens on 13%. McGowan’s current ratings, strong as they are, are down from what was probably an unsustainable result last time of 51% approval and 22% disapproval.

UPDATE: GhostWhoVotes relates that the Coalition’s 40% consists of 34% for the Liberals and 6% for the Nationals. It’s also worth pointing out that the Greens’ 17% is the highest they have ever recorded in Newspoll.

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: 50-50 in Western Australia”

  1. LNP still win with an ALP 26 vs LNP 33 result with 50-50 from my back of the napkin estimation on 50:50….

    (Belmont, Forrestfield, Joondalup, Morley and Perth falling)

  2. Ooops….add Swan Hills (+- Balcatta which would be on a knife edge).

    Those two would make it 28 ALP to 31 LNP.

  3. 27% for the ALP is dire – I hope they’re not taking any solace from the headline 2PP tie and look to fixing what is clearly a train wreck, even if the L/NP are also weak.

    And how can Newspoll justify not breaking out PUP support separately? I trust this isn’t just Murdoch influence trying to pretend Palmer has no support?

  4. That’s one helluva difference between Labor’s 2pp and primary vote – 23% from Greens and others, compared to 27% for Labor. If that happened, Labor would be very lucky not to lose seats to the Greens or independents. Fremantle’s the obvious one, and a few others could end up as ALP/Grn marginals (Maylands, Willagee, maybe even Kimberley). Carol Adams might go for third time lucky in Kwinana. Meanwhile, the Greens could do well in seats like Nedlands, Alfred Cove and Kalamunda, like Libs for Forests did in 2001. If John Day retires (he’s been in since 1993), Kalamunda could be a scary outlier loss for the Libs.

    The swing’s gonna be all over the place, for a few different reasons. There’d have to be some kind of correction for the outer suburban seats which had huge sophomore swings to the Libs last year, eg: Jandakot, Southern River, Ocean Reef. Also for the formerly safe Labor seats where they just took their eye off the ball: Perth, Midland, Belmont. Meanwhile, outside Perth, it’s all about how the Nats do now that Brendon Grylls has resigned as leader. North West and Pilbara could go back to Labor.

    PUP might not even exist in 2017, and I don’t know where they could win a lower house seat, but I’d laugh if it was Kalgoorlie. That seat’s been held by three different parties and an independent in the last 15 years… why not continue the crazy trajectory?

  5. Barnett beats his own record for the worst Newspoll netsat recorded by a WA Premier. At least he’s now beating Newman, -22 to -24.

  6. I’m also curious as to what our Western Australian contingent make of this.

    I imagine Bullock and Ludlam have both contributed to the weak ALP/strong Greens figures.

    But there have been stories out of WA of factional power plays (basically the MUA appears to be trying to take over the joint), and my impression is this has led to some ugly warfare that has spilled out in public at times. I may have missed the point but the publicized call for Martin Ferguson to be expelled from the party I thought was part of this. And whatever one’s opinion of Martin Ferguson it seemed like an extraordinary thing to go public with.

    Given McGowan seems to be doing fairly well personally it does seem a case of the party itself being held in very low regard in WA.

  7. The whole Bullock incident was just such a fiasco of biblical proportions that I’d imagine that’s most of it. It’s a pretty rare election that your lead senate candidate trashes mainstream party policies, says he doesn’t necessarily vote for the party, causes a popular senator to lose her seat, thus causing her to publicly trash the preselection, and for the union that did the Bullock deal to call for him to resign. I’m a pretty obsessive student of history and I can’t really recall a stuffup of quite that proportion. That, matched with Ludlam’s campaign, which was possibly the best campaign the Greens have ever run, and you’ve got a trashed Labor brand, a Greens brand still riding high, and someone whose popularity is almost rivalling Bob Brown as the Greens’ key figure in the state.

    I don’t think people care about the factional power plays apart from the bit that emerged in the Bullock fiasco. It’s pretty obvious from what’s coming out that there’s a lot of infighting going on, but it so far hasn’t affected anyone else anyone outside of the Labor Party has ever heard of, so I think that’s firmly in the realm of “who cares?” I also didn’t think the Martin Ferguson thing did much except play to the faithful – no one hates Martin Ferguson more than most of the Labor people I know.

    I think Labor’s biggest problem in coming back is their wholly uninspiring caucus. Labor *desperately* needs some quality new blood. Roger Cook is good, Ben Wyatt would be a decent minister, Simone McGurk is an obvious prospect, Janine Freeman could do with being given something to do, and Tony Buti would be a good A-G but hardly inspires passion. When you get beyond that – Bill Johnston, Dave Kelly, and Fran Logan are relics (and the first entered parliament at the last two elections), Michelle Roberts nearly lost a safe seat despite her prominence, and I couldn’t tell you a thing about Margaret Quirk or David Templeman even though they’ve both been in for thirteen years. John Quigley is a great human-rightsy troublemaker but also probably past his prime. The rest of the caucus are either rural backbenchers who always have to fight for their seats, or neither here nor there.

    I think even Queensland might have more talent under retirement age in their Labor caucus than WA.

  8. Kevin, without having looked at the numbers carefully myself, I’m wondering if you’re factoring in Nationals leakage to Labor, which in WA is considerable. Newspoll failed to account for it in their poll before the election last year, causing them to wrongly project to 59-41 from an accurate seat of primary vote numbers, when it should have been more like 57-43.

  9. William Bowe@11

    Kevin, without having looked at the numbers carefully myself, I’m wondering if you’re factoring in Nationals leakage to Labor, which in WA is considerable.

    That would explain it. At federal level it’s only worth a fraction of a point because of the relative scarcity of three-cornered contests.

  10. its probably a whole host of percieved broken promises in WA. The coalition sold their great financial management credentials and magic puddingly no increased charges or taxes. They just lost a AAA credit rating. And didn’t manage financial wizrdry. Attempting to gyp small investors in solar panels, looked really bad. the carbon tax has not poisoned everyones lives as promised or destroyed WA. The Greens don’t look suspect anymore and seem like they can in fact be a Green member and supporter, all I hear from ALP rank and file, is that they’ve had enough and are just going through the motions, from tired affiliation. I’m not sure why. Conservative friends seem impressed with Scott Ludlam’s passion. palmer’s been in the news, a lot. Barnett seems grumpy rather than artculate, these days, he just winges. Tony in the Lodge probably doesn’t help.

  11. Swamprat at 7:

    [ Why do the Greens have a high following in the West and the ALP such a low PV? ]

    Well, the Greens have been around for a lot longer here than the mainland eastern states. There’s been Green MLC’s continuously since 1993, and senators since the late 80’s. (Jo Vallentine was elected in 1984 for the Nuclear Disarmament Party, which eventually mutated into the WA Greens.) Theey’re well past the development stage the SA and Qld parties are in, and there’s enough Freo hippies or anti-logging protesters from down south that they don’t have to deal with “latte-sipping inner city” stereotypes the Sydney and Melbourne branches have to put up with.

    Then again, they didn’t have a great election in 2013. They lost two MLC’s, including Giz Watson. She tried to run in South West instead of North Metro (which she’d held since 1996); the party won neither. (The North Metro result was thanks to the Libs getting 4 seats out of 6, which won’t be repeated.)

  12. Who is the Greens spokesperson for WA matters? Who gets the media attention? Does the media still go to Scott Ludlam for comment, or the WA state Greens leader ( whoever that is…a quick search didn’t turn up a result for me ).

    What Green figurehead is drawing attention to the party and building up its support? If it is Ludlam, perhaps he should make an early exit from the senate and run for a lower house seat for the Greens, and head up the party from the outside?

  13. Apart from the seats they’ve lost to the Nats, Labor have another problem with two of their three remaining non-Perth seats.

    Albany was won in 2001 by Peter Watson, who is so popular down there he managed to get a swing to him in 2008 despite a redistribution which turned his seat Liberal, and then another swing in 2013 which makes Albany now safer than some seats which were supposed to be safe Labor. If this is his last term (he’s 67 now), Albany will be very hard for Labor to hang on to.

    Collie-Preston was knife-edge in 2013 – it combined literally the half-dozen safest Labor booths anywhere in WA with farming towns and Bunbury suburbs they lost 60-40. Those suburbs are growing enough that Bunbury could almost make up two electorates these days, so the next redistribution will get the problem they have every time in the south-west: figuring out what collection of towns Collie gets lumped in with after coastal areas get dealt with. Whatever happens, there’ll be new and less-Labor friendly boundaries to deal with. Mick Murray is another MP Labor would rather not retire in 2017.

  14. @ Coast 15

    Exactly. That’s the obstacle at the moment between the Greens and potentially getting 20% or more of the WA vote.

    None of their state MLCs make any news headlines – if you see a Green in the news here, it’ll be a Federal MP and 90% or more of the time it’ll be Ludlam.

    Unfortunately, WA needs Ludlam in the Senate. His abilities would be wasted on state politics.

  15. Thank you for all responses to my 7 question.

    I think, like all old organisations, the ALP has too far replaced its original passion for justice with to much cynical pragmatism.

    Instead of the institutional structures serving the original goals they become too often mechanisms for personal careers.

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