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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    An overwhelming majority of Australians support tighter restrictions on farm sales to foreigners, the ABC’s Vote Compass data has revealed.

    That view is shared across the country but is strongest in rural communities — perhaps providing insight into why the Turnbull Government effectively knocked back the sale of Australia’s largest cattle empire to a foreign-led consortium.


    Week two of the eight-week election campaign has energised Australia’s female population, according to Facebook, with women aged 35-44 dominating online discussion.

    Data released to The Huffington Post Australia by Facebook showed social issues to be the hot topics during the second week of the campaign, easily outstripping the economy, the budget, foreign policy and welfare. Social issues — the category Facebook lumps Aboriginal issues, immigration, abortion, same sex marriage, drugs, LGBTI issues, feminism and equal pay — saw a massive spike compared to week one, after Immigration Minister Peter Dutton’s controversial comments about the literacy of refugees.

  3. adrian @ #45 Wednesday, May 25, 2016 at 9:20 am

    Ross Gittins isn’t always right and in this case he is wrong. Very wrong.


    horsey didn’t mention these bits from gittens —

    Bill Shorten may not have Turnbull’s good looks, but I suspect his long experience in the union movement makes him better at political tactics.

    Turnbull’s vulnerability is that he’s easily portrayed as a rich man – Mr Harbourside Mansion – who’s out of touch with ordinary Australians, and is in politics to deliver for the Libs’ big business backers.

    There’s a spate of stories about the banks mistreating their customers, so Labor promises a royal commission into banking. Turnbull says that would be quite unnecessary, especially since we already have that ferocious attack dog the Australian Securities and Investments Commission on the job.

    What’s more, though he’s been cutting the commission’s funds until now, now he’ll increase them.

    Who do you think won that skirmish?

    At a time when young people are being priced out of home ownership, Labor promises to act against negative gearing. Turnbull thinks of doing something similar, but decides against it. He’s defending negative gearers, claiming Labor would cause house prices to collapse.

    Who do you think won that skirmish?

    There’s a spate of stories about big foreign companies paying next to no tax in Australia. Labor promises new taxes to catch them. Turnbull follows suit. What’s more, though he’s been cutting the Tax Office’s funds until now, now he’ll increase them.

    Because Labor is, as we’re always being told, the tax-and-spend party, it has proposed some big tax increases to be paid by smokers, foreign companies and rich superannuants.

    It proposes to use the proceeds mainly to restore the funding to health and education cut by the Coalition.

    Turnbull copies Labor’s three tax increases, but uses the proceeds to help pay for a tiny tax cut for the top quarter of income-earners and a 10-year phased cut in the rate of company tax which, he claims, will do wonders to generate “jobs and growth”.

    The public believes companies should be paying more tax, not less. Who you think jumped the right way on that one?

    Read more:

  4. C@Tmomma
    Tuesday, May 24, 2016 at 10:28 pm
    That means, as far as I can understand it, that they would be legally obligated to provide it. Which would entirely go against the grain for them. So it has therefor never been enacted.

    Now The Greens might want to force the issue, however I think religious freedom counts for something and works both ways, so that they respect my right to support abortion and I equally support their right to not want to carry them out.

    I respectfully completely disagree with you here C@t, and I’ll give an example. St John of God Healthcare won the contract to operate the Midland *Public* Hospital in Western Australia, and have refused to provide abortion services. The state government has had to provide a separate facility on the grounds, but SJOG have insisted that there be no direct access to the hospital from the facility providing the abortion.

    You can have all the religious freedom you like when you are spending your own money, providing services under your own direction. When you are operating a public hospital which is 100% Government funded you can provide services as directed by the State Government, or you can not tender. It’s an absolute disgrace that the State Government did not insist on SJOG providing abortion (and other reproductive health services such as vasectomy) as part of the contract. SJOG were 100% free not to tender. The reason they did tender was purely commercial.

  5. peg
    interesting report on ABC on that very issue – foreign owners have invested $30 million in Cubby station, nearby towns say they wouldn’t have survived if that hadn’t happened, local Mayor says she’s gone from a vocal opponent to a supporter (wtte of ‘I reacted emotionally, not rationally’) and there’s been no negatives reported.

    The trouble with the original emotional campaign is that it has taken on a life of its own, driven mainly by people who don’t understand agriculture, or foreign investment.

    The ability to sell a farm to foreignors increases its market value – which means that farmers, needing money to tide them over in the hard times, have more equity. And, of course, farmers wishing to sell (and someone in their seventies, with no children coming after them, don’t want to be trapped on the farm when they should be retired) are able to do so – a restricted market makes that harder.

  6. “Ulhmann along with Sales, in fact nearly all the ABC commentators is why I lost my lifelong love of the ABC and now rarely watch it.”

    Me too unfortunately. Still listen on the walk to work though.
    What really gets me is that as a public entity, they should be accountable to the public. Most of the current mob see themselves as celebrities, rather than journalists serving the public interest.

  7. victoria @ #49 Wednesday, May 25, 2016 at 9:25 am

    The audio of that interview with Kelly O’Dwyer was linked on previous thread yesterday. Could you imagine if it were a Labor assistant Treasurer who said that

    The reason it works for the Coalition is because they never acknowledge the truth of a journalist’s assertion, they just plow on regardless.

    They don’t see an interview as a chance to respond to a journalist’s probing questions but simply another opportunity to cannibalise airtime to get their message out to the electors who are listening at that point in time.

    It stinks, quite frankly.

  8. Yet again the greens showing their true colours –

    The South Australian senator Nick Xenophon strongly backed Conroy’s move to push resolution of the {AFP raids – Privilege } issue back to the Senate.

    A spokesman for the Greens leader, Richard Di Natale, said the party would not adopt a formal position on the issue before a party room discussion after the election.

  9. C@t

    It sure does. I am finding myself increasingly frustrated with the lack of shame this mob have in presenting their lies. The msm response apart from those such as Tingle, is meh

  10. Thank you for that story, Grimace. Maybe the Tender documents in the future should specify compliance with all State Health law?

    Btw, how did you go getting on to Campaign HQ in WA?

  11. victoria @ #65 Wednesday, May 25, 2016 at 9:47 am

    It sure does. I am finding myself increasingly frustrated with the lack of shame this mob have in presenting their lies. The msm response apart from those such as Tingle, is meh

    Even more than that, it’s ‘Can I make you a cup of tea, give you a tummy rub and allow you to use me as a doormat?’

  12. This is starting to look like the previous election unfortunately. Most of the MSM in lock-step behind the coalition and their lies, very little scrutiny, benefit of the doubt being given in spades to coalition, and ALP definitely NOT being given a fair go.

  13. I seldom watch 7:30. I did have a look for a few minutes last night. I am more and more turning to the TV off switch.
    I do not believe that swinging voters would be watching 7:30 anyway.
    Perhaps it could be replaced with Dad’s Army repeats.

  14. The current BludgerTrack seat projection of 77 for the coalition would give them a majority of three and the Speaker, one of those three being Tony Abbott. If it can just get down to 76 on election day the majority would be only one, with plenty of fun and games in store.

  15. The “fair go” for Labor in elections is in the eyes of the beholder in some respects. However, I think Lab(our) back in the day, always knew that a media controlled by conservatives/top-end-of-town people and the like, has always been a set of circumstances to be overcome. Years ago, Labor had a “If you can’t beat them, join them” approach and owned newspapers (the old “Argus” in Melbourne for instance) and associated commercial radio stations. The caravan has moved on.

    As far as the ABC is concerned, there are plenty of instances where the likes of Hawke and Keating did their fair share of ABC bashing when it suited them. There are as likely many programs on ABC which an LNP supporter might well take as a view from the left of politics.

    A real problem for the conservatives is not that the ABC and the Murdoch media is soft for them, but that the readership and viewing habits of the younger group has long since given up reading the newspapers and watching network TV of any kind. For this group, unless the “news” can be found on an app, it has not happened. In this respect, I suspect the LNP are now at somewhat of a disadvantage.

    Who was it who wrote a piece a year or two ago, and discussed here, which shows the demographics were actually moving against the LNP? The item pointed out that the staunch supporters of the LNP – those above 60 years of age – and older, were becoming a smaller cohort – for obvious reasons – and the younger brigade were not at all turned on by the LNP.

    Whether any of this makes a difference currently is anyone’s guess.

  16. Good Morning

    On the political segment on Mornings on 702 ABC Sydney this morning with Wendy Harmer, Lenore Taylor said that the spending by both majors is the same its the priorities that are different.

    She also referred to the Morrison overreach presser. Harmer was good at highlighting the change of figure from beginning of presser to end of presser.

  17. @Adrian – I think that’s the problem, the last election had little to do with the MSM getting behind the Coalition, it was a referendum on the ALP not behaving like adults and despite positive and popular reforms (Gonski/NDIS) but you didn’t need the media trumpeting to make it clear that were out of control.

    It also worries me that this is a reflex that we progressives go to when things are looking tight “xxx will make sure we lose!!!”. But I think it’s pretty clear, that Shorten is cutting through. We might not get how people are prepared to vote for the Coalition, but you’re fighting against a huge period of history, in the face of a physically split Labor Party etc etc. Winning this election is going to be TOUGH, the majority is sizable, you’ve not had a first-term Government lost re-election without extraordinary circumstances… Australians are, I believe, inherently ‘c’ conservative. Abbott was horrible and useless enough to warrant a loss, Turnbull has lost his shine but those of us wanting an ALP victory cannot start thinking “well, they’re awful, anything short of a win at this point is a horrible outcome”. At the moment, we’re looking a swing on par with the 1998 election, which was one of the biggest against a first-term Government and that’s without a GST-like bogeyman.

    I’m strongly of the view that we can this election, it will be incredibly tight and the swing will be very uneven… but it strikes me that the MSM is even less important in this election, because of how caught-off-guard they’ve been in their appraisal of Turnbull versus the clear response of the public.

  18. This is starting to look like the previous election unfortunately. Most of the MSM in lock-step behind the coalition and their lies, very little scrutiny, benefit of the doubt being given in spades to coalition, and ALP definitely NOT being given a fair go.

    Did anyone here seriously expect anything different?
    This is why I cautioned people here a while back. If this were a contest between policies, Labor should be well ahead. Instead the media is doing its best to maintain the myth that “they’re both the same as each other”. The media is doing its best to to treat it as a sideshow and a game without ever stepping into genuine analysis. But again, did you expect better? Its not the blatant bias of the likes of TellMeCrap, its the way the rest of the media expresses the personal bias (Liberals are natural party of government/should be given another go) of media players by avoiding telling it like it is.

  19. Talking about the press
    nicchristensen: ‘People like to pick on Fairfax’: News boss insists newsroom is on board with changes reports @stevepjones100

    Another indication of the changing times. The fact that Fairfax is going to online only with only print editions for its news content is very telling. Why waste all that money printing newspapers when people read your stuff online anyway.

    This puts Crikey New Matilda etc in the mainstream of the media now the non msm are now the print editions of any news outlet

  20. Tricot,

    Who was it who wrote a piece a year or two ago, and discussed here, which shows the demographics were actually moving against the LNP? The item pointed out that the staunch supporters of the LNP – those above 60 years of age – and older, were becoming a smaller cohort – for obvious reasons – and the younger brigade were not at all turned on by the LNP.

    Possum Comitatus wrote that piece, quite a few years ago now. Here is the last in the series of articles:
    It would be interesting to see an update. My gut feeling is that as some people get older/ climb the corporate ladder, their vote is moving to the right, so the demographic tsunami has been moderated.

    This is a question for William I guess,

  21. it was a referendum on the ALP not behaving like adults

    Leadershit aside, the previous Labor government DID behave like adults and the media manufactured much of the waste/incompetence myth. Something Labor now has to live with in terms of lots of voters still reluctant to switch even though they don’t like Turnbull’s failure to lead. Labor hasn’t tried to correct the record or do stuff like actually launch ads explaining to people that fibre broadband isn’t just a luxury, its inevitable and anything else is temporary and therefore a waste. Its these failures that will explain Labor’s election loss this time.

  22. We also see this online v print problem with mobile v landline for polling problems

    Its a new era and its why the NBN is such a sleeper issue that is still bubbling along under the National Media narrative.
    There are a lot of business people who are trying to do uploads and attend video conference meetings around the world that keep getting locked out due to slow upload speeds.

    This is biting in the marginals big time and press conferences about fixing mobile black spots that you promised last election and not delivered on is going to change this.

    If anything is destroying regional areas trust in the LNP from previously rusted ons this is it.

  23. A question for William. One thing I find weird is that the current poll series are a bit too stable – especially Newspoll. It isn’t just Essential that is unnatural low noise.

    What gives?

  24. “There are as likely many programs on ABC which an LNP supporter might well take as a view from the left of politics.”

    You see this stated often, but nobody gives any examples except for some obscure program that gets 5 or 6 listeners or viewers.

  25. adrian

    Abbott gave QandA as an example. That fell on its face when the Sky News debate was had and the questions were more left wing on economics with no real right wing balance questions. 🙂

  26. If anything is destroying regional areas trust in the LNP from previously rusted ons this is it.

    Agreed, but most people are still unaware of the real issue. What the Liberals are spending tens of billions on is temporary – and thus wasted. Why oh why doesn’t Labor go in big time on that? Without that the best we can hope for are stories about connection nightmares, dropouts and cost blowouts. At least that goes directly to the issue of Turnbull’s competence.

  27. Bemused #77 Wednesday, May 25, 2016 at 10:14 am
    My Point was that the Libs are only interested in coal, they are destroying the Great Barrier Reef polluting the water tables of farm land. All for the sake of a dying industry most counties around the world are moving toward renewable energy. Of course other minerals will have to be mined but with this government gutting the CSRIO and other leaders in the renewable energy industry in both research and development how can these new mines come about. It can only be interpenetrated as that the Libs hold coal mining to be sacrosanct. With which you seem to agree.

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