My seat-by-seat election guide is finally up, but I’m afraid at this stage that it’s a vanilla version without the embeddled tables and booth results mapping, which I will hopefully be able to add later. Meanwhile, the Fairfax papers have kept the polling mill turning with seven ReachTEL marginal seat polls. These are related in the following situation report, along with a further result for GetUp! which I don’t believe has been published anywhere else, and The Weekend Australian’s accounting of how party insiders are reading the breeze. While indications are patchy overall, by no reading is it easy to see where the Coalition might lose the 15 seats (or 13 going off post-redistribution accounting) – unless the Nick Xenophon Team achieves something extraordinary in South Australia, which certainly can’t be ruled out.
New South Wales
Fairfax’s ReachTEL polls record next to no swing in Lindsay, which the Liberals hold with a margin of 3.0%, or Dobell, a Liberal-held seat with a notional Labor margin of 0.2% after the redistribution. The respective results are 54-46 in favour of the Liberals and 51-49 in favour of Labor. The Weekend Australian reported yesterday that Labor was hopeful about Dobell, but doubtful about neighbouring Robertson. The report also related diminishing expectations for Labor in Sydney, to the extent that resources were being put into three seats it already holds: Parramatta (margin 1.7%), Greenway (2.8%) and even Werriwa (5.9%). Sources from both parties were cited saying the Liberals were expected to retain Reid, Lindsay and Banks, and Labor was even said to be “far from certain about taking the seat of Barton”, which has a notional 5.2% margin in Labor’s favour after the redistribution. Despite all that, Labor was said to remain hopeful about Macarthur on the city’s south-western fringe, where the post-redistribution Liberal margin is 3.3%, and Eden-Monaro, where it is 2.6%.
Fairfax’s ReachTEL polls find the Liberals leading 52-48 in Deakin, which they hold with a margin of 3.2%, and 51-49 in Corangamite, which compares unfavourably with a 54-46 result in ReachTEL’s poll for the Seven Network a fortnight ago. The Weekend Australian suggests Labor is more confident about Dunkley than other Victorian marginals, with Corangamite recognised as being extremely difficult. The Country Fire Authority issue is cited as problematic in McEwen, which Rob Mitchell narrowly retained for Labor in 2013, despite the travails of Liberal candidate Chris Jermyn. The Greens are “increasingly confident” about Batman.
ReachTEL finds the Liberals leading 56-44 in Bonner, which they hold with a margin of 3.7%, adding to the impression that voters in inner Brisbane are responding well to Malcolm Turnbull. The Australian went so far as to report yesterday that Griffith, where Terri Butler succeeded Griffith at a February 2014 by-election, was “said to be in play”. It appears to be a different story on the city’s northern fringe, with Labor said to be genuinely hopeful in Dickson, which they last held before Peter Dutton unseated Cheryl Kernot in 2001, and Longman, which they gained in 2007 then lost to Wyatt Roy in 2010.
A ReachTEL poll conducted for GetUp! on Tuesday showed Nationals member George Christensen under pressure in the northern Queensland seat of Dawson, which he holds on a margin of 7.6%. The survey of 631 respondents found Christensen tied with Labor candidate Frank Gilbert on two-party preferred, from primary votes of 43.7% for Christensen (46.2% in 2013), 34.7% for Gilbert (29.7% for the Labor candidate in 2013) and 9.1% for the Greens (5.0%). However, Christensen would hold a 53-47 lead if preference flows from 2013 were applied. Labor is also said by The Australian to be “increasingly confident” about the Townsville seat of Herbert. Conversely, Labor is said to be struggling in Capricornia, which it usually holds, contrary to the impression that Labor is performing better in the regions than the city. The report suggests that the regional economic downturn has not been of advantage to Labor in the mining-intensive seats of Dawson, Capricornia and Flynn, because many blue-collar workers have left the electorate with the end of the boom.
Wildly mixed signals continue to come through, as ReachTEL’s polling for the Fairfax papers finds a 50-50 result in the northern suburbs seat of Cowan, where the Liberal margin is 4.5%. While this is at odds with the state polling aggregation produced by BludgerTrack, it accords with an account in The Australian yesterday of the Coalition being “more confident of holding all its seats in Western Australia and taking the new seat of Burt”. A report from Fleur Anderson of the Financial Review on Thursday gave credence to both views, with Labor said to be expecting four gains in the House (presumably Cowan, Hasluck, Swan and Burt) on top of two in the Senate, while Liberal sources indicated they were by no means giving anything away.
ReachTEL provides a further indication that Rebekha Sharkie of the Nick Xenophon Team is likely to unseat Liberal member Jamie Briggs in Mayo. The poll has Briggs on 37.6% with Sharkie on 24.4%, a gap she would surely close with preferences from Labor (19.5%) and the Greens (10.4%). On Friday, the Financial Review cites unidentified Liberals, variously designated “worried” and “senior”, saying Jamie Briggs has abandoned hope of defending Mayo from Rebekha Sharkie of the Nick Xenophon Team. Briggs himself says this is “scurrilous gossip” and “completely untrue”.
Elsewhere, The Australian reports that Labor remains confident in the Darwin seat of Solomon, while Lyons “remains the Coalition’s most difficult seat” in Tasmania.
The other big campaign news of the past few days has been the closure of candidate nominations, revealing that 994 candidates have nominated for the 150 House of Representatives electorates, the second lowest number since 1998 (the first being 2010, when the somewhat early election announcement appeared to catch some unprepared). Despite Senate electoral reform, a record number of candidates have nominated, although ballot papers will tend to be slightly smaller as there will be many more ungrouped candidates this time, who do not have their own column on the ballot paper. This has been encouraged by the fact that below-the-line voting has now much easier than it was before, although ungrouped candidates will no doubt remain as marginal a factor as before. South Australia has substantially fewer groups on the ballot paper than last time (24 compared with 34), but Queensland is actually up slightly, from 36 to 40. The biggest winner out of the Senate ballot paper draw would appear to be Derryn Hinch, who has been given a tremendous boost in his bid for a Senate by drawing first out of 39 columns on the Victorian ballot paper.