Essential Research: 52-48 to Labor in Victoria

With less than two months to go until the state election, another indication of Labor having a slight edge in Victoria.

The Age today carried a poll on state voting intention in Victoria from Essential Research, which provided no surprises in having Labor slightly ahead. The poll, which was conducted over the past month, shows both major parties on 39% of the primary vote with the Greens on 11%, translating into 52-48 in Labor’s favour on two-party preferred. As The Age report relates, it also found the government viewed very poorly so far as job creation and public transport were concerned, but rather better for police and public safety.

UPDATE (October 1): Roy Morgan has SMS polls of state voting intention for each state, the Victorian component of which captured 1706 respondents and had Labor leading 54-46, from primary votes of 37.5% for the Coalition, 34% for Labor, 18% for the Greens and 3% for Palmer United. Denis Napthine leads 51-49 as preferred premier.

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.

69 comments on “Essential Research: 52-48 to Labor in Victoria”

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  1. Thank-you again for this thread.

    It is bad that the government has signed the contracts for the east-West Link but it is not likely to win them the election. Most of the public see straight through it or their vote is not effected by it.

    The public have obviously forgotten the whole Sir Ken/Overland/Tristan Weston mess that started the bad polling for the government in 2011.

  2. Essential often seriously undervalues the Green vote (At least compared to other polls). I presume this applies at the state level too?

  3. If those votes carry over to the upper house the GRNs will be the big winners and win balance of power.

    If ALP+GRN get 50% of upper house primaries, its means minor party preferences wont matter, the 5th seat will go to one of them, most likely GRN.

  4. I imagine that, in a couple of weeks when caretaker period begins, we’ll get a bit more substantial polling.

    I still think a comfortable win for Labor is on the cards. And it will become more apparent when campaigning begins and Victorians are thinking about this stuff.

    Although probably not the blowout we were looking at a year ago.

  5. All that government money on all those advertisements (nice adverts, loved the imaginary trains and imaginary freeways) and the polls didn’t move.

  6. I still think a comfortable win for Labor is on the cards. And it will become more apparent when campaigning begins and Victorians are thinking about this stuff.

    I’d tend to agree. I think Andrews will largely benefit from increased media attention. He comes across better in long form interviews – (i.e. more that 5 seconds – which is pretty much all his exposure has been so far).

    Napthine, on the other hand, is a not so bright and uninspiring man, but can work the 5 second slot.

  7. If ALP+GRN get 50% of upper house primaries, its means minor party preferences wont matter, the 5th seat will go to one of them, most likely GRN.

    Would it be fair to speculate that the greens have a much better change of gaining the balance of power in the upper rather than the lower house?

  8. bug

    [If ALP+GRN get 50% of upper house primaries, its means minor party preferences wont matter, the 5th seat will go to one of them, most likely GRN.]

    Er, what? What ‘fifth seat’?

    Victoria’s Upper House consists of five separate geographic areas. In each of these, five members are elected.

    IF the polls held true for each of these electorates, you might have a point. But it doesn’t work like that. Some of the Upper House electorates are strongly conservative, and elect three Coalition, two Labor; others work the other way.

    If this was a federal election, and you were trying to predict the outcome for the Victorian Senate, then yes, applying the general polling to predict the outcome might work. It doesn’t in this case.

  9. WTR @7

    I’m sure Labor’s win in the lower house will be substantial enough that if the Greens gain any seat, Labor already has the majority.

  10. 3

    That is a statewide poll. Support for political parties is not spread evenly across the state. The Coalition only just gained second seats in both Western Metro and Northern Metro at the last election but easily retained third seats in Eastern Metro and Eastern Victoria.

    The the seats up most likely up for possible change (mostly reversing changes at the last election) are the second Liberals in Western and Northern Metro being replaced by third ALP (had the ALP gone into the election promising to build the East-West Link due to signed contracts, a second Green would have been in with a chance in Northern Metro) and the third Coalition seat in Southern Metro and Western Victoria to the second ALP and first Green respectively (the Greens did not actually win Western Victoria in 2006 because of the ALP preferencing the DLP ahead of the Greens).

    The next most likely change would be the third Liberal in Eastern Metro because the redistribution moved relatively marginal ALP held Ivanhoe from Northern Metro (where it was the only seat that the Liberals could win and has been replaced by safe ALP held Pascoe Vale) to Eastern Metro, making both regions better for the ALP. This change means that the Liberals have to get a swing to them to retain their Northern Metro Second seat and they have Buckley`s chance of that happening on that side of the Yarra (the psephological Yarra running on the other side of Eltham and Ivanhoe to the actual Yarra) after the current government has visibly been less responsive to that side (focussing on the side of the Yarra that gives them seats in the lower house and ignoring who gave them the upper house). Had there been a redistribution before the last election (one would have been due except for a quirk in the Bracks constitutional reforms of 2003 meaning the 2002 was ruled no longer to be a general election by the Electoral Boundaries Commission and not challenged in court) the Coalition may have had only 20 out of 40 seats and had a harder time with legislation and regulations.

  11. Raaraa @ 9

    In that context, are the greens a little too focused on lower house seats.

    Or does the lower house focus map well onto those upper house 5th seats that can hope to garner?

  12. 7

    Yes. Almost certain in the Council compared to possible in the Assembly.

    The Greens are very likely to get the balance of power in the Legislative Council as the Liberals need a swing to them in Northern Metro (redistribution) to keep their second seat there and there is Buckley`s of that happening and so that is an ALP+Green blocking majority in the Council. I do not think that the Liberals will retain their second seat in western Metro either because of the favouritism for the other side of the Yarra and that means a majority for ALP+Greens.

    The Greens may get the balance of power if the election narrows and they get enough seats but it is not anywhere near a certain outcome.

  13. 13

    The prospect of Green gains is largely dependent on ALP 2PP gains versus the Liberals in regions the Greens currently have no seats and retaining Western Metro as the Greens have to fight there.

    The lower House seats the Greens are targeting are in Northern Metro, except for Prahran in Southern Metro. The Greens have an MLC in both these regions.

  14. WTR @13

    While I think the Greens will focus on a few lower house seats, e.g. Brunswick, Melbourne, Richmond and Prahran, surely they too would focus on the remaining metropolitan upper house seats other than the ones they currently hold i.e. West, North and South.

    There is also a slight chance of possibly getting some gains in the West Victorian region due to some progressive booths. The Green % in West Vic is 10% in 2010, is just 2% short of that of West Metropolitan where they retained an MLC with 12% of the vote. There’s the off chance of a second seat in the North Metropolitan, but this is very highly unlikely.

  15. 17

    Since the thirst ALP MLC in Southeastern Metro was elected on Green preferences in 2010 and the ALP are likely to get more votes and that will increase the number of votes the Greens need to overtake the ALP and win there.

    The Greens chances in Eastern Metro depend on the Liberals and their preferencers dropping bellow 50%+1 or the Greens out polling the second ALP. The redistribution makes the former more likely and the latter less likely.

    Western Victoria is the greens best chance at a gain.

    A second Green in Northern Metro is indeed highly unlikely with the ALP now running against the East-West Link. If they were for it, it would be a different story.

  16. Tom @18

    The only way is for the Libs to drastically lose votes in the North Metro, but ALP is more likely to snap that extra seat.

    Speaking of which where do we potentially see the Coalition lose seats in the upper house?

  17. Raaraa @ 17

    Doing a bit on what-if

    It’s interesting, in the event the election is not a run away ALP landslide, how close the upper house result will be and how that may be influencing events.

    If we start with the assumption that the three non-metro regions will return a 3/2 conservative/ALP split, then it’s the eastern region (east-west link) and southern region (Pakenham line grade separation and Domain tunnel thing) that will be the keys to an upper house majority.

    Even if we assume that the ALP wins a seat from the Libs in the east and south region they will still be short of a majority in the upper house.

    Looks to me that a non-landslide (i.e majority in metro only) ALP victory is very likely to result in the greens having the balance of power in the lower house

  18. 52-48 is too close for comfort. Most polls seems to overstate the progressive vote and I expect the polls will tighten – Andrews hasn’t done enough/been given enough air and I think Napthine will be seen as a moderate and ‘safe pair of hands’. Couple that with the herald sun going all out for the LNP and the union royal commission bringing down something damaging to state labor the days before the election, and I think LNP is looking reasonably safe.the federal libs will behave themselves before the election and the ‘muzza muzza’ scare campaign and crashing economy will mean many will not vote for change. I predict labor will get a narrow TPP majority but will not win enough seats to form government. More minority government to come. It’ll be interesting to see whether the Greens win an inner city lower house seat – probably not as the libs will make show of ‘putting them after labor’ again.

  19. I believe the Age is mistaken in saying the Essential figures for March were 53:47, unless that was a rolled average over multiple months. 53:47 was the figure for May. Monthly Essential figures for Labor from November to May were 48, 52, 50, 55, 50, 51, 53.


    Essential often seriously undervalues the Green vote (At least compared to other polls). I presume this applies at the state level too?

    Probably not a bad thing if so. Every pollster at the last federal election had the Greens vote too high in their final poll. Not sure how consistently they do this at state level (certainly in my state, Tas, they were all way over earlier this year.)

  20. I predict labor will get a narrow TPP majority but will not win enough seats to form government

    You might want to play around with the ABC calculator. The ALP gets a parliamentary majority even with a TPP 50.4% to the LNP, so they’d have to very non-uniform swings. And that doesn’t take into account the labor members defending nominal liberal seats.

  21. 24

    There are 8 regions. 5 Melbourne regions (Northern, Western, Southern Eastern and Southeastern Metro) and 3 (largely) non-Melbourne regions (Western, Northern and Eastern Victoria).

  22. I’ve been advised that the Essential 53:47 in March covered a different time period to the March sample on their site, hence the discrepancy. It is actually half the February sample and half the March sample, which makes sense given they were 55 and 50.

  23. Youve got to remember that the VIC LNP has no margin whatsoever to play with, and changed Premiers midstream.

    Plus theyve been very unpopular on TAFE defunding, full of hot air and endless wasted taxpayer dollars on public transport, and (at least in the Bailieu era) were monstrously arrogant,and (during Napthine) had the Geoff Shaw disaster for several critical months, and their major election policy is simply not that popular (E-W link). They’re currently refusing to release data on public hosspitals and emergency service performance.

    Nup – the Napthine government is going down.

  24. Are there any equivalents for a TPP swing to shift a seat from the conservatives side to the progressive side in the upper house?

    My rough estimate would be that the southern region would be the closest.

  25. 19

    The regions they gained them last time (Western Victoria, Western Metro, Northern Metro and Southern Metro) are the likely places. The movement of Ivanhoe from Northern Metro to Eastern Metro also makes Eastern Metro a possible loss for the Coalition and drastically increases the chances of a Coalition loss in Northern Metro by requiring them to get a swing to them.

  26. 20

    That is a misreading of the regions.

    Western Victoria was a Coalition gain at the last election (from the DLP but the Greens would have won it if there had not been a swing away from the ALP because the ALP were preferencing the Greens ahead of the DLP this time). But the redistribution has made it slightly safer for the Coalition.

    The Coalition nearly lost a seat in Northern Victoria to the Country Alliance, who preference harvested. There may be another preference harvest but 3/2 is probable.

    South Eastern Metro is likely to remain 3/2 in the ALP`s favour because that is what they have got at the last 2 elections and this election looks like having a result in between those 2 results.

    Eastern Victoria has been fairly safely 3/2 in favour of the Coalition but is not slightly weaker for them after the redistribution.

    It is Northern Metro, which the Liberals require a swing to them to retain their second seat that the greatest chance of change is.

    Western Metro and Southern Metro (I note you subsequent comment at 30) and next on the list.

  27. Looking at Antony Green’s summary of the redistribution, based on last election’s result on the redistributed boundary of the Upper house, you get 20 Coalition, 17 ALP and 3 Greens, which means a deadlock. We just have to account for the swings away from the Coalition now.

  28. Courtesy of BK from the other thread.

    Melbourne’s EastWest tunnel project has another problem.
    If it gets going that is!

    The building of the tunnel required preliminary work of building a power switching station which requires about a year and a half.

    The company was about to walk about from the contract based on uncertainty, so Napthine signed the contract with a few guarantees in there.

  29. Sorry, my bad – how kind of Tom to assume it was a typo…just carelessness, I’m afraid.

    Point still holds true; you can’t take these figures and use them to predict Upper House results with any confidence. You’d need them broken down by region to do that.

    Still, even a slight swing to Labor should see gains in the Upper House – and they only need one extra seat there to have a majority.

    Indeed, Napthine could get exactly the vote the Coalition got last election and see that happen, because it will come down to preferences.

    The idea that it wouldn’t, if Lab/Lib/Nats/Greens get high enough votes, shows a lack of understanding of how these seats are allocated.

  30. Talking of Krugman, this is promising —

    [Not long ago, it would have been unusual for a Democratic senatorial candidate in Iowa to run a powerful abortion-rights television ad like the one recently broadcast by Representative Bruce Braley.]

    […Ms. Ernst’s personhood ideas, shared by at least five other Republican candidates for United States Senate this year, have been radical for years. What’s new is that Democrats are increasingly willing to say so. For years they were cowed by the religious right into changing the subject when abortion or birth control or same-sex marriage came up. But now, increasingly assured that public opinion supports their positions, Democrats have become more aggressive in challenging Republicans about their beliefs.]

    [..For a younger generation of voters, the old right-wing nostrums about the “sanctity of life” and the “sanctity of marriage” have lost their power, revealed as intrusions on human freedom. Democrats “did win the culture war,” ]

    Seems the experiment is being tried in Australia just as it becomes obvious it’s failed elsewhere…

  31. On the eve of the 2010 Victorian poll I had a sudden transformative vision that the coalition was about to win despite what the bookies’ odds were saying (about $3 to win I think).

    Possibly triggered by talking with a relative who had voted for the “winning” side in Victoria at nine (now ten) consecutive elections from 1982 onwards. I must ask them what they intend to do this time! I am becoming less convinced by the day that this will be a one term government. Australian voters are notorious for giving unpopular governements one “last chance” and I think it will happen again here.

  32. 42

    Did this relative start voting in 1982 or have they previously voted for a defeated party?

    Victorian voters have not given an unpopular government one last chance since 1988. They refused to give unpopular governments last chances in 2010 and 1999.

  33. Tom – I would think they voted Labor in 79 but have since been on the “winning” side every time. And yet I would be surprised if they had ever voted against Labor Federally, and also they have been in safe (one way or the other) lower house seats thorughout so they are not “targetted” voters!

    I will contact them and see.

  34. I picked a freebie copy of the Weekly Times at the Royal Melb Show the other day. They are obviously running an election series and this issue dealt with Ripon – now notionally Liberal with a 1.6% margin and a retiring Labor MP. Obviously a seat to watch. The most interesting aspect of the article was asking voters in Ararat their voting intention. Almost all were very keen on Nat candidate in Ripon – a former footballer (Richmond I think). Could be doubly interesting to follow to see if the Nats come through there – they almost brought off Bendigo West (the safe ALP Bendigo seat) last time so the Nats could be the surprise packet in that part of the world.

  35. [I am becoming less convinced by the day that this will be a one term government]

    I have never been convinced that a Labor win is a lay down misaire. There is surprisingly little heat in Victorian state politics and except for public sector pay issues there have been no significant issues in health or education in this term or the last for that matter. I am also not convinced that the East West link is an issue anywhere outside the inner city and the Age newsroom.

  36. [Still, even a slight swing to Labor should see gains in the Upper House – and they only need one extra seat there to have a majority.]

    A majority with the Greens. Should Labor win and the Greens have the balance of power in the Upper House – how Bolshie will the Greens be?

  37. 22

    Except for in Tasmania pollsters don’t seem to overestimate the Greens particularly. The final Newspoll before the last 10 state elections has missed high by more than 0.5% 3 times and missed low by more than 0.5% 4 times. Essential’s habit of seeing the Greens with less support, over the long run, than every other pollster looks to me as much of a flaw as EMRS constantly overestimating them in Tasmania.

  38. 47

    Last election the Coalition said they would be a government for PT but instead their main transport policy is an $18 billion motorway, with significant opposition from effected local residents. The massive cost really puts people off, especially if they do not think they will benefit from the road. This is shaping up to be a PT versus roads election and if the ALP win then big road projects could become a political third rail.

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