BludgerTrack: 50-50

Essential Research corroborates Newspoll in recording Labor retaining its 51-49 lead, but there’s nothing in it so far as the BludgerTrack poll aggregate is concerned.

The addition of Newspoll and yesterday’s Essential Research result to BludgerTrack leave nothing between the two parties to the first decimal place. Observers of BludgerTrack’s form will know that actually translates into a small Coalition majority on the seat projection, which has the Coalition up one on the seat projection in New South Wales and down one in Queensland. I haven’t updated it with Newspoll’s leadership ratings yet, but will get around to doing so tomorrow. I haven’t yet covered the Essential Research result, which was once again unchanged in having Labor leading 51-49 on two-party preferred. On the primary vote, both parties were down a point – the Coalition to 41%, Labor to 37% – while the Greens and Nick Xenophon Team steady on 9% and 3%.


The Australian has also been treating us to a series of supplementary results from the weekend Newspoll over the past few days that echo the further questions posed by Essential Research this week, to wit:

• The latest in Essential’s occasional series on leadership attributes finds Malcolm Turnbull deteriorating between five and seven points over the past three weeks on “out of touch”, “arrogant” and “understands the problems facing Australia”, without suffering much change with respect to capacities such as “intelligent” and “good in a crisis” (although “hard-working” is down five). Bill Shorten’s numbers are little changed, leaving him rated lower than Turnbull on most attributes, with the singular exception of being out of touch with ordinary people, which is the largest point of difference between the two. Similarly, The Australian today has Turnbull ahead on a series of measures, but with Shorten leading on “cares for people” and “in touch with voters”, while Turnbull has lost all but two points of a ten-point lead on “understands the major issues” from February.

• There has been a whole bunch of “best party to handle” results in the past few days. Amid an overall predictable set of results, Essential Research finds Labor increasing leads from 4% to 11% on health, 6% to 13% on protecting local jobs and industries, and 4% to 10% on housing affordability, the latter of which has only recently emerged as an area of Labor advantage. The Seven Network last night had further results from Friday’s ReachTEL poll showing the Coalition favoured 55-45 on economic management, Labor favoured 61-39 on health. Newspoll framed the questions in terms of the leaders rather than the parties, and had Malcolm Turnbull favoured 55-29 over Bill Shorten on the economy, 48-25 on asylum seekers and 43-38 on the cost of living, 46-33 on tax reform, 50-27 on interest rates and 42-38 on unemployment, while Shorten led 47-40 on health, 47-41 on education and 41-36 on climate change.

• When it asked if respondents expected Labor to keep or change the government’s asylum seeker policies, Essential Research found 28% opting for keep, 38% for change, and 34% for don’t know.

• As recorded in the chart below, the three betting agencies have been consistent in offering odds on the Coalition to form government that imply a probability of between 70% and 80%, although the one most immediately responsive to the actions of punters, Betfair, seems to have recorded a bit of a dip over the past few days.


• In further horse race news, Phillip Coorey of the Financial Review reports Labor is having trouble landing the swing where it needs it, with Labor margins that were cut fine in western Sydney over the past two elections set to blow out again. Coorey had earlier reported one Liberal strategist saying the election was “genuinely close, but at this stage, the retention of the government is more likely”, while a Labor counterpart concedes they were behind, but concluded: “We haven’t put our cue in the rack.”

Local matters:

• Labor is scrambling for a new Senate candidate in the Northern Territory after Nova Peris today confirmed she would not be seeking re-election, with widespread reports she is to take up the position of senior adviser for indigenous and multicultural affairs with the Australian Football League. Trish Crossin, whom Julia Gillard forced out of the seat to make way for Peris at the 2013 election, told ABC Radio yesterday that Peris had presented Labor with a “selfish distraction”, and called on Gillard to admit she made a mistake. There are as yet no indications as to who Labor might preselect to replace her.

• Both major parties have now lost their first choice candidates for the seat of Fremantle, after Sherry Sufi resigned as Liberal candidate, after local newspaper the Fremantle Herald reported he had been recorded in 2013 doing an unflattering and profanity-laden impersonation of his then boss, state Mount Lawley MP Michael Sutherland. There had been news reports in the preceding days about articles Sufi had written in opposition to same-sex marriage and an apology to the stolen generations, which had actually been in the public domain for some time, and rather technical allegations he had provided an inaccurate account of his employment record on his candidate nomination form. The Liberals have rushed to endorse previously unsuccessful preselection candidate Pierette Kelly, an electorate officer to Senator Chris Back.

• Pauline Hanson’s prospects for a Senate seat is the topic of the hour, having been canvassed by me in Crikey last week, Jamie Walker in The Australian on Saturday and a Courier-Mail front page yesterday. Antony Green told ABC Radio’s World Today program yesterday had “some realistic chance”. Kevin Bonham is a little more skeptical, but doesn’t rule it out.

Phillip Hudson of The Australian reported on Monday that Labor is seeking to exploit talk of a preference deal between the Liberals and the Greens in Victoria to shore up working class support in two low-income regional seats: Bass in northern Tasmania, and Dawson in northern Queensland.

Matthew Denholm of The Australian reports that Jacqui Lambie is advocating that her voters give their second preference to the Nick Xenophon Team, and put Labor ahead of the Liberals.

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.

1,123 comments on “BludgerTrack: 50-50”

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  1. Well, I think everyone has totally missed the point about Feeney leaving the Briefing Notes in the Sky TV Ante Room before Morrison happened upon them.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a deliberate move by the campaign team to enable a neat little two step that gave the Labor team the opportunity to counter the ‘Unfunded Spend! Spend! Spend!’ meme, and Labor got to square away a couple of untidy issues that they carried on about at the time (The School Kids Bonus and the Pension Assets Test) for product differentiation and political purposes.

    As that is the hardest thing to do in politics, to take something away that has been given to someone, I wouldn’t be surprised if Labor thought it better to let sleeping dogs lie after the Coalition had done the heavy lifting in these areas.

    Plus it now gives Labor even more $ to play with, or shrink their ‘Black Hole’ with, and it no longer has to be included in their Costings.

    And they didn’t even have to come out and make a campaign announcement about it, which would have had much more negative blowback for them than the Scott Morrison ‘Gotcha!’.


  2. I’ll say this for Price and Bolt on 2GB and 3AW – they mightn’t be fans of Labor, but they dislike Turnball more. I suspect Bolt in particular wouldn’t be too outraged if Shorten won, because it’d mean his hero Abbott would be resurrected.
    As for David Feeney – I suspect he’ll be buried for the rest of the campaign, and kept away from all media, and told to dig in and concentrate on holding Batman. Most punters would have no idea who he is anyway.
    A strong performance from Shorten on Sunday night would help Labor morale a lot, going into the next couple of weeks.

  3. Feeney is a dickhead, I doubt he adds much at all to the shadow front bench. And I imagine resources that could be going into winning Liberal marginal seats in Victoria are headed to Batman instead, particularly union ones.
    Hopefully he keeps his head down for the next 5 weeks.

  4. Reachtel may jolt Kate Ellis in the seat of Adelaide. The state government is not travelling well and the Xenophon factor has the capacity to surprise. The Libs had a postal vote mailout soon after the election was announced. Labor has not responded weeks later.
    An earlier Reachtel poll had Steve Georganas struggling in Hindmarsh.
    The Libs do seem concerned about Boothby, where they have a new candidate. It’s a pity Labor isn’t showing a bit of initiative there.

  5. It’s the vibe. Gut feeling is the Libs clawed back some ground this last few days. Not terminal, but a worry. Feeney was a shocker, but we wont see any more of him.
    Bills spendometet comment was ruthlessly and smartly appropriated by the Libs

    Still feels a bot Cold WRish. Lots of skirmishes but no frontal assaults yet. just flesh wounds on both sides so far. Times on Shortens side though methinks.

  6. Rossmore

    For mine Feeney and Spendometer was all beltway stuff. I have my own control group that I ask for feedback as to the political state of play. Neither of these two things have registered whatsoever.

  7. I should add for my politically unengaged control group. This week the matters that resonated.

    Dairy farmers going broke cos of drop in milk prices
    NBN (internet) being a clusterf@@k

  8. Emperor God Goughlam
    36m36 minutes ago
    Emperor God Goughlam ‏@leftocentre
    All of a sudden Clive is crystal clear and concise.

    Those who dismiss him for a fool do so at their peril.



    Catching up
    23m23 minutes ago
    Catching up ‏@fehowarth
    @Lateline @CliveFPalmer He is correct. This is one of the most secret govt this country has ever seen. Will use AFP to enforce it. #auspol


  9. whatever was turnbull thinking when he called this DD long election – whatever was GG thinking when he granted it – for no good reason
    public should get rid of turnbull and GG for ineptitude is running a campaign let alone an election and for generally be very boring fellows

  10. oppps there’s absolutely noone at PB i am talking to myself (as often happens here anyway at best times of day

  11. Geoffrey, it’s convention that the Governor-General dissolve Parliament and issue writs upon request. While a completely farcical request (e.g.: Abbott after losing the leadership but before resigning as PM) can be turned down, an opportunistic one really can’t.
    Labor’s done this too, back in the day – the 1987 election was ostensibly held to force passage of the Australia Card Act of 1986, but in reality to capitalize upon the “Joh for Canberra” disorder in the Opposition. Incidentally, the Australia Card was never taken up after Hawke was returned to a third term.
    The Liberals have done it, too – the 1983 election was called as a DD simply because Fraser saw the tension within Labor (they were getting ready to roll Hayden) and got greedy. He figured that instead of the normal House/half-Senate election that was due, he could get all the marbles and do away with an increasingly truculent (see: Australian Democrats) Senate.
    In both cases, the Governor-General (the same Governor-General, incidentally – Sir Ninian Stephen was the only G-G to serve more than one 5-year term as well as the only G-G to approve more than one double dissolution) granted the request.
    One convention of any Westminster political system – ours, Canada’s, New Zealand’s, until recently Britain’s – is that the sitting Prime Minister has the authority to call an election at a time (and on the issues) of his own choosing.
    Now, was Turnbull SMART to call this long an election? Well, not really – but he had little real choice. A half-Senate election wouldn’t have solved his problems even if he was returned as PM – many of his problems have come from the 2013 Senators, and a half-Senate election would probably just lead to -more- crossbenchers afterward. And 11 May was the latest date possible for both Houses to be dissolved. See Antony Green’s excellent post on the logistics:

  12. SA Labor are obviously keeping with the great state tradition of being a bit behind the rest of the country, but they should really think about starting to campaign.

  13. Rebecca @ 3.14

    Yet again Greens bashing Labor instead of the Coalition and then pretending that they are not obsessed with targetting Labor rather than the party that is really, really against everything the Greens stand for.

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