Election minus three weeks

A flurry of individual electorate polls suggest a patchy swing, with Labor struggling in a number of key areas.

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.

Regional Queensland

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.

Western Australia

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.

South Australia

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.

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.

949 comments on “Election minus three weeks”

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  1. BK
    Sunday, June 12, 2016 at 9:00 am

    Pontificating Paul Kelly is at his most partisan worst on Agenda this morning!
    Amen – he changed the subject every time O’Connor smacked him down and ended the i/w after O’Connor reminded him that the Abbott is still the PM in reality – too funny.

  2. ScoMo in full spittle forming on foaming mouth mode with Bazza this morning.
    Bazza appears to have given up trying to rein him in.

  3. Yeah, saw Morrison on Insiders this morning and decided to do my chores early. Today it’s moving some grog around in different cabinets. Had to turn Insiders off for fear I might imbibe.

  4. I’m have a sick mind.

    I’m fascinated by Morrison doing his Eveready Bunny impersonation.

    Ask him a question on the public service and you get an answer about dams.

    The man’s a freak of nature.

  5. From my own observations team Labor are generally beaming a positive vibe. Everywhere Shorten goes togethet with TPlibersek, Wong et al, warm happy mood.
    Turnbull on the other hand, looks like he is about to go to a funeral, and who is his supporting team? He always seems to be a lone wolf. It is a very odd campaign by the coalition

  6. And whoever said that Turnbull was just winding down the clock until the election, is spot on. His brief is to get his team over the line. Win, lose or draw, he wont be PM for the long haul

  7. Morrison achieved his purposes, IMO. He did the attack dog routine, leaving Turnbull to be Mr Nice Guy. He avoided answerable gotchas with consummate ease. He repeated the main messaging at every opportunity. He was 100% unaccountable. He channelled the victory feeling. He kept the faith with the rusted-ons.
    O’Connor on Agenda was a bit of a dish rag in comparison.

  8. Boerwar

    O’Connor would have had an audience of how many? And usually the audience comprises those of the coalition persuasion.

    On the other hand, Morrison was on prime time. Supporters of all parties would have watched.

  9. meher baba @ #16 Sunday, June 12, 2016 at 7:55 am

    Nicholas: show some compassion. It looks like the greens-bashers won’t be able to blame them for the Libs winning. So let them cling to their shred of hope that, if Pauline wins a Senate seat, that will somehow all be the fault of the Greens!

    Looks like mb has put his Mean Girls underpants on this morning.

  10. How can one address the severe structural deficit without either looking beyond for years or introducing retrospective legislation?

  11. Morning all. Thanks BK for today’s dawn patrol. I have not seen Insiders yet, but if Morrison was on I think I’ll give it a miss.

  12. Bore us on [Morrison] had a schoolboy haircut to show off today -other than that nothing new- one the one hand spruiking a Greens -Labor govt scare campaign then confirming the Lib’s will pref Labor ahead of the Greens everywhere- huh?

  13. The amount of detail provided in The Age about the ReachTel marginal polls isn’t exactly substantial. No First Pref figures. Nothing at all about the size of the “other” vote, or even the Greens for almost all of the seats. No measure of the “undecided”. No comparison of last election prefs with current statement of preference, etc etc.

    Am I missing something? Are these figures provided somewhere else? It strikes me that with small number polls of single seats these things matter even more than usual.

  14. MARKJS – Morrison will get worse as the election gets closer. Bill has to keep calm and keep being Bill and he can pull this off.

  15. BW – talking about the Germany and Brexit, interesting front page of Der Spiegel and the comparision front page that Greece got –

    It appears the reality of the rising probability of Britain leaving the EU is dawning on the rest of Europe. So much so in fact that Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine unleashes an English-language front-page urging “Please Don’t Go! – Why Germany needs the British.

    ….the special edition with the English title will be sold in in the UK at a reduced price of 2 BP (2.90 euros).

    … once the Brexit happens, with the Euroscepticism nowadays, Germany fear that other member states might see themselves forced to hold similar Referenda.

    … SPIEGEL front page 14.5.2012 – Goodbye Acropolis! Why Greece has to abandon the Euro now

    SPIEGEL front page 11.6.2016 – PLEASE DON’T GO!


  16. I know I’m biased, but I caught another glimpse of Turnbull’s vid and found it very insulting. As the OH said: “It’s the only tragedy you’ve had in your life, mate”. He would have done much better to show himself dealing with OTHER people’s tragedies – not forcing his own “tragedy” down people’s throats. Buy, of course, it’s all about Malcolm.


    ..I don’t think Libs allowing Morrison to constantly dribble his anti-Labor rubbish is helping them to overcome the emerging intention of ‘others’ to go with Labor..

  18. BK
    #52 Sunday, June 12, 2016 at 9:18 am

    Morrison appears to be speaking in tongues again.
    He may as well be!

    My perception from afar of the ABC coverage so far is that it is Labor releasing policies and yet they continually get Libs to talk about them.
    Morrison just flies into hyperbole about Labor and when questioned about their own policies it’s “jobsngrowth”, “in the budget” or “I don’t accept the premise of your question”.

  19. More Cross Benchers in the Senate AFTER the election than BEFORE. Not quite how The Greens and the Coalition planned it, eh?

  20. Someone must be telling the Libs that the Morrison attack dog routine is working because he and Mal are virtually all we’re getting, apart from AM, where they’ll take any lib they can get.

  21. ADRIAN – Dunno? Would you put forward any other lib? And it seems to me that Morrison is just being Morrison.

  22. We’re constantly told why we shouldn’t vote for Labor ..but not why we should vote for the Coalition..

    ..not exactly inspiring for undecided voters, but..

  23. Morrison can afford to be so nasty because he is unlikely to endanger his seat. That was Pyne’s job under Abbott but he is now in danger of losing his so he has to go ‘quiet’.

    TBH I’d be afraid to alone in a dark alley with someone like him. He is such a nasty bully. He reminds me of those fire and brimstone evangelicals in the deep south of the US. Nasty, blood-sucking types.

  24. Markjs I think the two statements are bound together – you should vote for the Libs because you shouldn’t vote for Labor. The reverse holds as well.
    That thinking from both the major parties is likely why the minor parties support keeps growing.

  25. Morrison is just the male version of Penny Wong. Wouldn’t like to be on the bad side of either. They can melt you with their stare and tear you apart with their words.

  26. Davidwh..

    The point I was trying to make is that Coalition aren’t offering anything to inspire voters ..just negativity, negativity ..and more negativity..

    ALP on the other hand, is offering things that voters want ..on health/education/employment/NBN/action on AGW/marriage equality/fairness/holding the banks& financial sector to account, etc..

    Undecided voters will be attracted to those things ..not un-remitting negativity..

  27. MARKJS – Totally agree. This is also when, I hope, Shorten’s calm, business as usual demeanour will help seal the deal.

  28. markjs Sunday, June 12, 2016 at 10:20 am

    ALP on the other hand, is offering things that voters want ..on health/education/employment/NBN/action on AGW/marriage equality/fairness/holding the banks& financial sector to account, etc..

    Undecided voters will be attracted to those things ..not un-remitting negativity..

    Now if we could only get ALL forms of the media to report it …… we might have a real red hot go but ……..

  29. Davidwh..

    “Morrison is just the male version of Penny Wong. Wouldn’t like to be on the bad side of either. They can melt you with their stare and tear you apart with their words.”

    ..utter tripe ..chalk & cheese ..bully boy vs class act ..negativity vs reasoned argument. You couldn’t get two more different people in politics..

  30. I have only had a card in the post from Labor with information about delivering education benefits to Newcastle schools.
    I have only seen one ad from GO doctors and cannot recall any other ads on TV.
    I slept thru Insiders this morning and count that a plus.
    I know that the fear of furriners influences some. All parties know this and on the one hand embrace it and on the other hand have to go along or not be elected.
    If the LNP are reelected will we be getting, once again, the government we deserve? What have we done that is so horrible?

  31. Damn this election campaign is frustrating:

    Labor makes an announcement on increase in funding to Hospitals no reporting by the media, Coalition makes an announcement on simplifying Private Health Insurance huge amount of coverage…..the level of analysis by the media is pathetic. Bottom line in the future under the coalition Medicare will be attacked by stealth and the poor will not have access to health services. This is not being discussed.

    The good cop bad cop routine with Morrison and Turnball is working. Turnball has more than disappointed me he has actually disgusted me with his small target say nothing except for attack Labor ie I stand for nothing except for we should get back in cause it would be worse under Labor and actually say nothing else. Actually thought he would be stronger and better than that …more fool me

    We should be better than this, the level of discussion should be better than this.

    The feel on this forum is that the Coalition will get back in with a reduced majority…hate to say I agree with this but it disappoints me.

    It is getting to crunch time now where the real Policy direction should be discussed but it is all rubbish being reported.

    It struck me this morning that we are seeing a LOT of Morrison, Corman, Turnball, even Joyce hardly any of Plibersek, Burke, Bowen, Wong on any media outlet. Insiders / Sunrise etc continually has the Coalition but not Labor….sposed I should not be surprised.
    Coalition are going small target and just want the win nothing else, Greens just want seats and nothing else….Labor needs some cut through and maybe some more stupid mistakes from the Coalition although I doubt they will be reported ( Parakeelia, owning a brothel, money in off shore accounts….yep get no reporting at all)

    Fact we have more debt now under the Coalition than under Labor WITHOUT the investment in services such as Health (hospitals, NDIS etc), Education (Gonski) and no action on Climate Change ( no Carbon Pricing or reduction in emissions even a denial of it existing and the Greens happy to vote with the Coalition).

    Labor is prepared to make the hard choices on the budget BUT also invest in services. The Coalition does not do either just bangs on about Labor and says NOTHING.

  32. fess

    I can’t see how it would work either. There might be ‘millions’ of viewers but very few can get their questions answered. Malcolm Farr very keen on it. (Note: I am not on facebook, myself)

  33. Insiders was proof that the Media is fascinated by Turnbull, and the Liberals are fascinated by Shorten.

    Who is Shorten fascinated by?

  34. Davidwh:

    #86 Sunday, June 12, 2016 at 10:16 am

    Morrison is just the male version of Penny Wong. Wouldn’t like to be on the bad side of either. They can melt you with their stare and tear you apart with their words.}
    I disagree. Penny Wong is a highly intelligent and disciplined professional policy negotiator, with a coherent and clearly articulated philosophy which she prosecutes (sic) with appropriate passion. Morrison is an domineering, dominionist bully, with a string of head-kicking representational “wins” in the filthy process of transferring public money into his Corporate Master’s pockets (“Where the Bloody Hell are Ya?”), before being stuck on the pike of Treasury to rant, ‘coz the previous puppet blew it. PW is real, Morrison is a passing fart.

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