ReachTEL: 50-50

Malcolm Turnbull’s first opinion poll as Prime Minister records a strong bounce in the Coalition’s favour, without going all the way.

The first opinion poll of the Malcolm Turnbull era is a ReachTEL survey of 3278 respondents conducted for the Seven Network last night, and it has the two parties tied on two-party preferred, which is at the milder end of what I would have expected from the Turnbull bounce. It compares with leads to Labor of 53-47 in the last two polls under Tony Abbott. The primary votes are Coalition 43.3% (up 3.0%), Labor 35.9% (down 1.6%) and Greens 11.9% (down 1.5%). However, Malcolm Turnbull records a clear 61.9-38.1 lead over Bill Shorten as preferred prime minister, whereas Shorten had consistently strong leads over Tony Abbott in this particular series – of 57.9-42.1 at the most recent poll on August 28. Shorten’s rating on the five-point satisfaction scale has also taken a hit, with his combined good plus very good rating down 4.6% to 18.9%, satisfactory steady on 32.5%, and poor plus very poor up 4.6% to 48.7%. Respondents were asked to rate “the performance of Tony Abbott as Prime Minister” rather than Malcolm Turnbull, and it found little change in his ratings at 27.8% for very good or good, 18.8% for satisfactory, and 53.4% for poor or very poor.

Also today, Roy Morgan unloaded its final tranche of polling conducted over the weekend, departing from its normal routine of accumulating two weekends of polling before publishing a combined a result. This poll also does not feature the usual SMS component, consisting purely of face-to-face polling, for a sample of 826 compared with its usual 3000-plus. Labor’s primary vote was up a point on the previous Morgan poll to 36.5%, with the Coalition down 1.5% to 35%, and the Greens down half-a-point to a still-imposing 16%. Labor’s two-party lead on respondent-allocated preferences blew out from 55-45 to 57-43, and rose from 55.5-44.5 to 56.5-43.5 on previous election preferences.

The BludgerTrack poll aggregate on the sidebar has been updated with the latest Essential and Morgan results to produce a concluding result for Tony Abbott’s prime ministership. This records a 0.2% shift to Labor on two-party preferred compared with last week, and credits Labor with single gains on the seat projection in New South Wales and Western Australia. There were, however, no new results on the leadership ratings.

Also of note: the Australian Electoral Commission published draft boundaries on Friday for a redistribution of the Australian Capital Territory’s two seats. This is chiefly notable for proposing that the electorate of Fraser, held for Labor by Andrew Leigh, be renamed Fenner, in honour of virologist Professor Frank Fenner. The rationale is that the name Fraser should be freed up for use in the next redistribution in Victoria, in honour of the late Malcolm Fraser. More substantively, the redistribution proposes the transfer of the city centre and the southern parts of Turner and Braddon immediately to the north, together with Reid and Campbell to the east. This involves the transfer of around 10,000 voters from Fraser to Canberra (which is held for Labor by Gai Brodtmann), leaving Labor’s two-party margin in Fraser unchanged at 12.6%, while increasing the Canberra margin from 7.0% to 7.4%.

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.

1,089 comments on “ReachTEL: 50-50”

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  1. From the quote by Pegasus at 1034

    [The normalisation of political coups and short-lived Prime Ministerships are symptomatic of a country struggling to embrace the big-picture challenges of the 21st century, too timid to upset a faltering status quo.]

    But, as Bill Shorten has pointed out ad nauseam, Labor has taken steps to ensure security of tenure and direction with the new leadership rules. And pretty much all of the political journalist classes have ignored that fact. It’s ironic that one of Rudd’s most positive legacies to the Labor Party has been regarded as of almost no consequence even though it has provided unheard of stability to the Labor Opposition.

    The problem has been not in some obscure failure of the nation to take control of its destiny, but in the misfortune of having gone through a difficult period where political party choices have been mistaken or poorly handled with long term consequences. And even this is not new. The Liberal Party in the late 60s and early 70s went through a similar mess.

    The other thing in bemoaning this instability has been the actual stability of the political party system. For the first 55 years or so of Federation there was a plethora of parties on the right and then on the left and right. In the sixty years since 1955, the major party system has been stable with the Parliament dominated by two blocs: the Labor Party and the Liberal-National (formerly Country party) coalition.

    While individuals, like Don Chipp or Clive Palmer, have peeled off the major parties to go their own way with new parties, there has been no serious division in a major party since the DLP split off from the ALP in 1955. That is actually very stable, even though we don’t think it.

    There is no reason why we cannot return to a period of stability if we choose the right leaders for both parties. For all our dissing of people like Turnbull, they are capable of maintaining a civil discourse and an actual degree of bipartisanship for things that matter. As does Shorten. Or, rather, no abandonment of bipartisanship for the political benefit where there is a clear disadvantage to the country. The ChAFTA will be the test of that. If the coalition dig their heels in on the enabling legislation and refuse to negotiate it is clear there is some way to go.

    Beyond this, I think that Shorten will have a powerful weapon at the next election to entice voters tired of constant (even if welcome) changes to leadership. The Rudd rules pretty much underwrite any guarantee that a Labor leader can give that they will remain in place until the following election if they win. Of course, the Rudd rules can be changed – but they cannot be changed anywhere as easily as toppling a leader. If people start to move to change the rules it will be be a powerful shock to the party and one that would be almost as difficult to pull off as simply moving to change the leader themselves.

    Posted Thursday, September 17, 2015 at 8:14 pm | PERMALINK
    Where does this idea come that Malcolm Turnbull is all that intelligent? I’ve seen no great signs. Yes, he’s made a lot of money. But that isn’t hard if you’re a great suck-arse (Kerry Packer, Neville Wran et al) and have heaps of front (which is not in doubt).

    —love it. he seems like a private school guy who likes too much to be seen as intelligent and bright – he does not speak or act as deeply intelligent to me, like sounds of own opinions too much and showing off limited knowledge … he is easy target but shorten not up to it

  3. [Now Campbell Newman is blaming social media & MSM for his demise. The lack of insight with Libs is astounding #AusPol]

    WHo cares what that deadbeat loser has to say.

  4. Geoffrey @ 1052

    Turnbull is a lot of things, but average intelligence is not one of them. He might have gone to a private school (Sydney Grammar), but it was a partial scholarship that got him there and a lot of sacrifice by his single parent father.

    And while making a lot of money is not a sign of great intelligence (indeed, most of his fortune was down to luck – as most fortunes are) he does have a pretty remarkable career. He may be guilty of overestimating himself (and that may be his biggest risk going forward) but don’t underestimate him. He will never be the village idiot like his most unlamented predecessor.

  5. TPOF

    all true true – however i dont tend to trust those who assert their own intelligence or rhetorically pretend to display it … understated MT does not appear to be, not quite the panache of whitlam. ‘mansplaining’??? was that the phrase?

  6. Attacking Turnbull’s private school background wont work whilst Shorten is ALP leader after all Shorten went to one of Melbourne’s best private schools

    Anyway the ALP don’t need to play the man, the loony right are doing that for the ALP which means the ALP can focus on its policy differences

  7. Puff @ 1054

    I certainly don’t sell Shorten short, but the not-always truism that oppositions don’t win elections, governments lose them, will apply to the next election. Abbott did a thorough job of defeating himself. Indeed, the extent to which his colleagues did not undermine him is extraordinary, given the outcome on Monday. The big challenge to Shorten was to refuse to rise to any of Abbott’s provocations. And Abbott, being unfit for office and having only the skill of belligerence, could not cope.

    If Shorten is to beat Turnbull, he will need Turnbull’s colleagues to create some opportunities. At the moment, they are keen to do so. I have a lot of faith that Shorten and his team have the skill to capitalise on any mistakes by Turnbull or undermining by his team, but if Turnbull can play an extraordinary game to keep faith with the expectations of voters in the centre while keeping his own side together behind him, then he will win the next election. And there is nobody on the Labor side at the moment capable of beating him in that case. Personally, I don’t think that will happen. From next week on there will be career losers in his own party. And these losers will also see themselves potentially as policy losers. An interesting time lies ahead.

  8. [Since his ousting as Liberal Party leader and prime minister, Mr Abbott has gone to ground, only surfacing to deliver his concession speech on Tuesday afternoon.
    And while he confirmed to first that he intends to stay on in Parliament, there has been speculation all week about what he is doing at the moment.
    He has been notably absent from Parliament and there has been no sign of him at Kirribili House, the official residence of Australia’s PM this week.]

  9. geoffrey at 1056

    The word is ‘mansplaining’, but given that Malcolm makes no distinction between genders, the new term is Malsplaining.

    And this is not a sign of average intelligence but, rather, an assumption that nobody else is as smart as him and needs to have things spelt out in a condescending way. Turnbull is very smart, but there is no certainty that he is the smartest guy in the House – which is what he thinks. Arguably, the smartest guy who has ever been in Parliament while I was around was Barry Jones. And he was one of the most hopeless Ministers because none of his smarts were useful in a political context.

  10. dtt@1021:

    It is from an article I read some years ago now. I would have to go searching to find out if it is really true; but the gist of the paper was that when the SO2/acid_rain problem started to grow some bright spark in the Australian govt. (in Keating’s time?) suggested placing a price on SO2 through a cap& trade mechanism, with limited credits that were gradually reduced year by year. It was discussed at the intenational level and adopted by the US. It has been in place all these years and worked very effectively to push technology for reducing SO2. There are still some credits traded even now I believe.

    I will try and track it doewn over the next few days, because it was one of the first examples of such a solution.

  11. Personally I don’t care if Abbott comes out of hiding or not. We are stuck with paying him for life regardless of where he is. Personally I think he should resign and give his constituents a chance to elect a new representative.

  12. mb @ 1058

    totally agree. Now is the opportunity for Labor to move to policy and to get stuff out there. Interesting that Shorten is going on QandA next Monday. I wonder how long that has been planned. Note that a lot of Labor’s questions, even if focussed on Turnbull’s inconsistencies, have been about policy position inconsistencies, not just personal stuff.

    The more Turnbull is locked initially into the policy positions he has inherited, the greater the opportunity for Shorten to introduce reasonable and popular Labor positions in contrast. Turnbull will either have to double down on policies he doesn’t believe in or move towards Labor, looking as though Labor is driving big concessions from the Government. Might sound tricky, but it is still policy focussed. Abbott, of course, would have predictably doubled down. Turnbull will be hard to predict but still beatable.

  13. [Personally I think he should resign and give his constituents a chance to elect a new representative.]

    I wouldn’t be surprised if his replacement is elected with a swing towards them.

  14. Final score Shorten v Abbott was 53.9-46.1 TPP on bludgertrack. A national swing of 7.4% in TPP with a Labor majority in every state. PPM of +5.5%. That was a thrashing and Bill is entitled to purr just a little bit.

    Bill may be publicly a bit wooden and boring at times, but by doG he was effective against Abbott. I think he can beat Turnbull.

  15. [973

    I’ve been very busy at work this week so have not been able to take part in the Campaign though will be on duty on Saturday.

    My only observation is they had a chance to win it on Tuesday. Had they changed their messaging, they could have benefited from the dumping of Abbott. However, they have persisted with messages that have been superseded by events. As a result, the swing will fall a long way short.

    I think Canning will be recorded as a win for Turnbott.

  16. davidwh @ 1065: I suspect Mr Abbott’s plan is to become the focal point within the Liberal and coalition party rooms for opposition to attempts which Mr Turnbull might be inclined to make to move away from the basic policy positions of the Abbott government.

    And if he does this, there is every chance that he will cause Mr Turnbull a world of pain. I’ve seen nothing which suggests that the party rooms have turned away from the broad policy intentions of the Abbott government: they simply saw that Mr Abbott had lost any ability he might once have had to sell them. Mr Turnbull’s undoubted persuasiveness might well work very effectively on the electorate (which is broadly centrist and doesn’t need much persuading); but his colleagues may be much harder to shift.

    We can forget about Cory Bernardi for the moment, he’s a lightweight. But a ginger group in the party room of a former PM and former senior ministers (eg Andrews, Abetz) is a threat to day-to-day stability and effectiveness of a different order. And someone else, not Mr Abbott, will no doubt be deputed to leak the details of proceedings.

  17. Re: short-lived primer ministers

    Could it be inevitable when there is such a large divide between what the population wants the government to do (e.g. tax miners, take action on climate change, tax multinationals etc) vs what powerful political donors and lobby groups want the government to do (reduce worker rights, pump up population growth, sell off the country)?

    Serve the population and powerful interests will engineer a coup (e.g. the ousting of Kevin Rudd Mark I through sustained News Ltd and big miners attack).

    Serve powerful interests against the population and have the population force the coup (e.g. the ousting of Abbott from extremely poor opinion polling).

    How can a prime minister successfully satisfy both masters when their needs are so diametrically opposed?

    If we lived in a country where more than half of the population could trace its ancestry to the place and where the business landscape were dominated by Australian businesses with Australian born and bred CEO’s we might live in a place where the business community and the population did see more eye to eye.

    But we live in a sold out land where nobody cared enough to value what we had and what we could build ourselves over selling out for a quick buck.

    A fractured society inevitably leads to short-term look after number one thinking and that explains both how we got here and why its going to be so hard to get out.

  18. Leyonhjelm:

    “There are only two kinds of Australians: people who live in New South Wales, and people with a chip on their shoulder.”

    He joked he wanted a plebiscite to see if Ford or Holden should manufacture the engines and mocked fellow Senators, like Nick Xenophon and Jacqui Lambie, for calling for their states to benefit from some of the submarine building work.

    “Let’s face it, vocational options for people in some of the states they represent are limited to working for a senator, or picking up road kill,” he said.

  19. Further to comments above about the Drum, I only just saw it and would love to splice the footage of the comment “Abbott would make a great ambassador…” with the clip of the “lapping at the doors” moment, just for pure comic effect

  20. briefly @ 1070

    Thanks for that. My first reaction when I heard the challenge was on was that this would turn Canning around and make it a Liberal win. I suspect it won’t be a disaster for Keogh and he will have laid some good groundwork if he is selected for Burt. But Hastie seems utterly ghastly – just a pretty version of Nikolic. He’ll add nothing constructive to Parliament.

  21. Galaxy Poll – Simon benson talks it up. Benchmark poll was in may, a long time since the last Galaxy branded poll.
    [Malcolm Turnbull: Leadership coup propels Coalition ahead of Labor
    September 17, 2015 11:35pm

    THE political assassination of Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull’s return to the Liberal leadership six years after he was dumped has lifted the Coalition ahead of Labor for the first time in 16 months.

    The first comprehensive poll taken since Monday night’s bloody coup has recorded a three-point bounce in the Coalition’s primary vote since May.]

  22. From the Benson article quoted by Leroy:

    [Despite being in office only a matter of hours, 51 per cent of voters rated him as making a better prime minister compared to 20 per cent for Opposition Leader Mr Shorten.]

    A matter of hours. Let’s see what happens after a few months. The election is not this saturday.

  23. If there’s to be a conservative party splitting away from the Liberals, that will have to bring the question of Senate voting system reform back onto the agenda, at least for consideration.

  24. TPOF @1051:

    Well reasoned, and I partly agree – certainly, one of Rudd’s signal services to the ALP was to ensure stability after his departure, and certainly, the media have largely ignored it.

    However, I’d ascribe a different reason to the failure to retain leadership. I’d say that it has more to do with one simple reality: Both parties are increasingly out of touch with the body politic as a whole. They both accept, by and large, neoliberal economics as their starting point – Labor was neck-deep in CHAFTA until they went into Opposition. They don’t argue about the “need” for cuts to social services/spending, they argue over the *size* of such cuts, even as they both uncritically shovel money at the multinationals.

    And they both promise sunshine, ponies and unicorns should they win the election. They both promise far more than the government can deliver, in terms of outcomes (Liberal more than Labor – Tony Abbott’s budgetary promises were mathematically impossible, after all), then they wonder why people turn upon them when they fail to deliver. They both openly kowtow to corporate figures on demand, then wonder why they’re regarded as less trustworthy than used-car salesmen!

    30 years of neoliberal!Labor has largely soured the Left on politics, as they’ve watched so many achievements they fought for get thrown out with the dishwater – free higher education, universal health insurance, the safety net, and so on. Likewise, 30 years of increasingly radical!Liberal has soured traditional conservatives from engagement in Australian government, leaving it to the radical reactionaries in the Libs.

    And frankly, the degree of disengagement with politics is scary. One Nation appealed to far too many people – because they were at least SINCERE in their stupidity. And people like Tony Abbott can increasingly present themselves as mainstream because too many people just don’t care enough to check out their beliefs and what they mean.

    Perhaps I’m rambling (I tend to do that when drunk), but I do wish that the major political parties remembered what they stood for…I’d take staid government over the cray-cray nutjobs currently occupying the Treasury benches.

  25. Galaxy Poll mentioned by Leroy Lynch @ #1077:

    Going by the primary votes from the Galaxy poll, the TPP is 50.5-49.5 to the L-NP; the first time the L-NP is in front on the TPP in any poll since April 2014.

    (I think.)

  26. @GhostWhoVotes

    #Galaxy Poll Federal 2 Party Preferred: L/NP 51 (+3) ALP 49 (-3) #auspol

    #Galaxy Poll Federal Primary Votes: L/NP 44 (+3) ALP 36 (-3) GRN 11 (0) PUP 2 (0) #auspol

    #Galaxy Poll Preferred PM: Turnbull 51 Shorten 20 #auspol

  27. Just to compare, the last Galaxy poll conducted in the Abbott Era had a TPP (constructed using Galaxy’s primaries) of 53.8-46.2 to Labor.

    In relation to the new Galaxy poll of 50.5-49.5 to the L-NP, that seems to suggest a bounce of 4.3 points due to the Leadership change of Tony Abbott to Malcolm Turnbull. To put that data into context; the leadership changes of Hawke to Keating recorded a bounce of 5.0 points, the change of Rudd to Gillard recorded a bonuce of 1.1 points, and the change of Gillard to Rudd recorded a bounce of 6.1 points.

    Great thanks to Leroy Lynch and Kevin Bonham for supplying this data.

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