New South Wales election minus ten days

Polling continues to point to a much-reduced but still solid majority for the Baird government after the March 28 election, regardless of which way preferences are sliced.

Keen-eyed observers will have noted that a state election poll tracker appeared in the sidebar yesterday. It has since been updated with the results of Morgan’s latest SMS poll, on which more below. The chief innovation is separate two-party and seat projections based on both previous election and respondent-allocated preferences, the Queensland experience having cast serious doubt over the utility of the former method under optional preferential voting when a big swing is on. Respondent-allocated data is available in two polls from Ipsos and one from ReachTEL, and my method is to crudely split the difference between the two (or rather an average of the two, in the case of Ipsos). However, it had hitherto escaped by notice that ReachTEL provided detailed results from its preference breakdown, and now that I know this I’ll use it to sharpen things up a little when the next poll comes out.

Notable news nuggets:

• The aforementioned Roy Morgan poll was conducted from Friday to Sunday by SMS from a sample of 1287 respondents, and it has the Coalition well clear of Labor with 46.5% of the primary vote to 33.5%, and the Greens on 11.5%. The published two-party result is 55.5-44.5 in favour of the Coalition. However, the size of the lead hasn’t made much difference to the poll tracker, as this series has been reasonably consistent in landing above trend for the Coalition, and has been bias-adjusted accordingly.

• Labor has reached a deal with the Greens in which the latter will recommend their voters preference Labor in 23 seats, including most of the ones that matter. Furthermore, it would seem the party is further set to direct preferences to Labor in many seats not directly subject to the deal. It would appear that this is more consequential than it would be under compulsory preferential voting, with Kevin Bonham calculating a 1.7% gain to Labor for every 10% of the vote recorded by the Greens, based on an Antony Green study of results from the 2007 election. The Daily Telegraph has made the deal the subject of one of its trademark front page hatchet jobs in today’s edition of the paper.

Kirsty Needham of the Sun-Herald reports focus group research from market research firm Visibility, which specifically targeted voters in western Sydney who changed their vote to Liberal in 2011, has found the government isn’t having much luck in its endeavour to link electricity privatisation to the roads and transport measures that will be funded from its proceeds. By contrast, “the participants showed a spontaneous recall of ‘facts’ from Labor and union attack ads”. Labor’s claim that privatisation will lead to higher prices is widely accepted by voters, as reflected by Luke Foley’s invocation of the voting public as the “ultimate independent experts” in countering the argument that prices are to be set in any case by an independent regulator. On the other hand, the research confirmed the popularity of Mike Baird, found “little mood among voters for change”, and reported a perception that the government had not been beset by scandal, despite the best efforts of ICAC.

Andrew Clennell of the Daily Telegraph reports that “privately, Labor people virtually admit they are done in terms of winning but that their real aim is to win as many seats as possible to get the party back in contention for 2019”. Clennell further quotes a Labor source saying the party has a corruption attack ad “ready to go” should the Liberals strike first with one invoking the spectre of Eddie Obeid and Ian Macdonald, but so far it’s been a case of “mutually assured destruction”. On the Liberal side, there have reportedly “been calls for some Obeid advertising to be run and frustration that this has not occurred”.

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.

72 comments on “New South Wales election minus ten days”

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  1. Libs eager to get it over and done with…

    I can hear them preparing their speeches already, declaring Labor has been broken and is now in turmoil, that this (NSW) election is an endorsement of Tony Abbott’s good government.

    In other news NSW Labor will almost double their MP’s.

  2. ALP continue to have a poor week – just as the Coalition did last week.
    Still a large cohort of undecided, but they have been, at least this week, breaking for Baird. I don’t think (on my current projections) the ALP go close to doubling their record low tally of 20/93 seats, my present view is a split of 55/34/4.

  3. William,

    The NSW tracker lists 3 seats as “Other”. Sydney and Lake Macquarie are independent-held, Balmain is Green held and Newtown is notionally Green. Which of those 4 seats do you see being won by one of the major parties?

  4. This paragraph just added to my piece is some cold water for anyone who might be tempted to now take further points off the Coalition’s respondent-allocated preferences, compared to where they were thought to stand before the announcement:

    “What we definitely shouldn’t assume is that Green preferences going to Labor ahead of the Coalition in 83 seats will suddenly give Labor, say, 1.5 points extra statewide to what we should have expected before this announcement. It may well be 1.5 points extra compared to if the Greens had run an exhausting HTV in every single seat, but that would certainly have had a chilling effect on preference flows compared to what respondent-allocated polling is suggesting. That is, after all, the standard way in which respondent-allocated preferences have got it wrong in the past. Whether the Greens’ decision could even cause Labor to outperform what respondent preferences suggest at all is in my view rather dubious. Similar decisions haven’t done so before.”

  5. Results of a commissioned ReachTEL of Tamworth here:

    Unfortunately no voting intention figures and insufficient data to derive them since the party breakdowns only list Coalition, Labor and Draper results and not others. Does look like Draper is probably doing alright though.

  6. Good to see you’ve popped out from the bunker pal. No doubt still trying to out together a preferential algorithm that sees the ALP home on 28 March.
    However, back in the real world, its looking increasingly like a margin that guarantees the Coalition 2 terms. The UBS story is already off the SMH site, but I love your clutching at straws, its fun to feel the level of your desperation!!

  7. Shellbell, I haven’t really done my homework yet on the Legislative Council. At some point in the next week or so I’ll knock together a guide for it, and then I’ll be able to tell you what my feeling is.

    Edward, I guess my attitude is that I want a non-major party sitting member defending a seat before I’m willing to exclude it from the two-party model. Either that or for there to be some polling.

    Jembai, I don’t really have one. Prospects for an independent depend entirely on whether a strong candidate emerges. I see a David Mailler is running, but I know nothing about him.

  8. Thanks William. There has been quite a bit of chatter in regional NSW media about the Country Party being reformed on the premise that the Nats have failed the regions by putting coalition interests ahead of the interests of constituents. The independent candidate for Northern Tablelands is aligned to that prospective Country Party. Apparently local polling has the independent rating fairly strongly and to add to that he is number 2 on the ticket putting him ahead of Marshall the incumbent Nats candidate. At the previous NSW election Northern Tablelands was won by an independent (Torbay)and the Marshall got in at a subsequent by-election after Torbay resigned his seat. The seat covers much of the same area as held by the Federal independent Tony Windsor over a long period. It is interesting because if the Country Party aligned independent wins then it puts more pressure on Barnaby Joyce at the next federal election. I hear the Nats are on the nose in Northern NSW over their perceived support for CSG and turning farmland into coal mines. So a bit going on there, although of course its all very unlikely to change who ends up being premier.

  9. …and reported a perception that the government had not been beset by scandal…

    When that Government has had 10 MPs step aside or resign, including a few frontbenchers, and even lost a Premier after a disastrous ICAC appearance, you know that NSW voters must set a pretty high bar for “beset by scandal”.

  10. There must be the potential for an almighty attack on privatisation in Leg Council voting. You can vote for a Baird government but if you don’t want power privatisation – vote for someone else with strong anti privatisation views in the Upper House.

  11. I find it bizarre that after Queensland there are still party operatives who need to talk about winning enough seats to get back into contention. They start with twice as many as Labor in Queensland had, and Labor in Queensland won in one go. It’s a ludicrous cliche.

    Unnamed Labor sources in Queensland made similar claims before their election too, including that they only expected to recover 20 seats.

  12. Does anyone here know whether or not a Poles and Wires sale can be stopped in the Upper House?

    Does the lease require legislation, or is it just a straightforward ministerial decision?

  13. Rates Analyst@24

    Does anyone here know whether or not a Poles and Wires sale can be stopped in the Upper House?

    Does the lease require legislation, or is it just a straightforward ministerial decision?

    There was an article saying that if the Libs win the upper house with the CDP as the BOP, they might have the numbers to pass the legislation. With just the S&Fs, they would not as these people oppose the privatisation of poles and wires.

  14. Thanks RaaRaa…

    I saw that article. It seems to assume the CDP are far more on side with the sale than the CDP policy website seems to suggest. (You may remember I was asking about CDP policy a few days ago…)

    But I also came across this article from 2011–act-of-parliament-to-protect.html

    In it Keneally annoucnes they are passing a law to prevent the sale of water assets without an Act of Paliament. Seems to suggest that before 2011 you could sell water assets without parliamentary approval….

  15. That’s an oddly-timed rant, Dr B (at 21)! As a generalisation, yes, nobody should fall ever again for the cliche that it will always take 2 elections to recover from a disastrous loss. If a government gets swept in with a “thonk” and it turns out to be as dreadful as Campbell’s they can get swept out with a “thunk”, indeed. But you’re reminding us of that just when the polls seem to be making it pretty clear that Labor is not going to bounce back into power in NSW this time. Why? Just like making abstract points, or do you think we’re in for another Queensland-type “surprise”? (Which didn’t surprise me, but a Labor victory in NSW will.)

  16. No, I don’t think that Labor will win. But just based on polling it is not the write-off that it might seem. If there is a modest tightening of the primary vote gap, and a stronger preference flow, and a lucky distribution of swings by seat, then they could still get over the line. In minority most likely if so.

    Perhaps the point is that given the lack of correlation between vote shares from election to election, if the Libs do end up winning this 53:47 or 54:46 then that shouldn’t be considered any triumph for NSW Labor, especially not given the Abbott factor. If Labor loses with a 10-point swing back but still decisively they won’t lose because they lost so heavily last time; rather, they will lose because voters thought good things about the Coalition and its leader, bad things about the Opposition, or both.

    And if Labor then wins in 2019 it will have very little to do with how much they lost by this time around.

  17. John Tingle doing the radio adds for hunters and fishers.

    The theme is “We are not gun toting loons or animal murderers” so vote for us.

  18. Interesting poster appeared on telephone poles in Canterbury today. Photos of Abbott and Obeid with the caption “teach them both a lesson”. I suspect it was from the Socialist Alliance but its effectiveness is greatly reduced because Obeid truly was a faceless man largely unrecognisable by the politically uninterested.

  19. Sort of caught a “Laurie Ferguson and [other Laborites]support electricity privatisation ” pro coalition add earlier tonight on ch 10. Have not seen since – WTF was that?

  20. The best posters in town, bar none , are the ‘Abott hopeless ‘ ones. Prominent and multiplying. I am thinking of buying one , and placing it prominently near my booth on the 28th. It will resonate!

  21. I am in the electoral district Seven Hills which should be safe-ish Liberal. So far this week we have been robo-called by that nice Mr Baird twice and door-knocked on behalf of the Liberals. By contrast the ALP and their candidate, Susai Benjamin, have not called or dropped by. In fact the ALP seem very low key although we were the recipients of a gift of a very nice re-usable shopping bag from Susai at the Seven Hills Plaza a few weeks ago.

    Is the sudden burst of Lib activity and Labor’s laid back approach indicative of what private party polling is saying?

  22. Shellbell

    Yes, it seems likely that the Coalition + CDP is a majority.

    The question is, for the Asset Lease, which way does Fred go? I think a large part of that will be done to how the Coaltion LH victory feels.

    If it’s a squeaker (and on seats it might be) then Fred may well decide that leases aren’t that popular.

    Fred has already said that he would demand 5Y of no price rises, 5Y of job protection and 0% foreigin ownership. Those seem high hurdles to clear.

  23. AR
    Labor is only standing a candidate in Seven Hills for 2 reasons:
    1. To get the workers out to hand out HTVs for the LC
    2. To claim the public campaign allowance – I might be wrong but I think it is $4 for every vote, provided the candidate gets more than 4%

    When we did not have LC elections and public funding a significant number of seats were uncontested at each election. I used to live in Kurri Kurri and we did not vote between 1953 and 1968.

    Any campaigning in the electorate will be at the expense of the local branches and particularly the candidate who, to get any sort of presence, will need to spend $50,000 of their own money.

    Is it possible your phone number could lie in Prospect? – I am sure the campaign is much hotter there and Baird will be ringing those electors on a regular basis.

  24. With a 10% swing you would think Seven Hills is right in the band of seats Labor would be working hard. Would be astounded if they don’t see that as a potential gain. Could be that their targeting is more at booth level and Albert’s booth is seen as not having enough swinging voters to target hard.

  25. alternatively Labor’s polling is showing the swing in Western Sydney is more than big enough to take Seven Hills and they are putting resources in elsewhere whilst the Libs are trying to sandbag

  26. well no insider info here – who knows what party polling is saying? is everyone happy with foley? labor campaign? this is quiet election. last night here someone spoke of fall of abbott after loss of NSW? am i missing something?

  27. The buzz in the street is so quiet that it is hard to imagine that the government is under any threat at all

    Seven Hills strikes me as a difficult one for Labor. Nathan Rees certainly wanted another, safer seat and resigned when he could not get one. The current candidate has also drawn some adverse attention from the press. I think Labor has abandoned it.

  28. [Is it possible your phone number could lie in Prospect?]

    That’s not a bad point. It is in group of numbers recorded as the “Pendle Hill” exchange and large parts of Pendle Hill, mostly commercial and industrial, south of Wentworth Avenue are in Prospect.

    Seven Hills is an oddly shaped district without much of a community of interest because of its diverse socio-economic makeup ie. from comfortable middle class in Winnie Hills to hard core povvo in parts of Toonga Bay. Its shape could be seen as reminiscent of a Gerrymander in flight though that is just a coincidence.

  29. OC then where what and how is the swing …. there is SO LITTLE info about this election – guestimates even. i personally labor has misplayed publicity (once again) people was reassurance after all turmoil in canberra (yes queensland was counterintuitive to that and all sorts of things)

    mr nice baird really worries ….. the personal charm seems to bandaid all kinds of policy direction that replicate feds

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