Newspoll and Essential Research: 50.5-49.5 to Coalition; ReachTEL: 51-49

Three late polls find the Coalition with a narrow two-party lead, and Labor hanging on in its seat of Chisholm in Melbourne.

First up, the final reading of BludgerTrack, which after the addition of final results from Newspoll, Galaxy, ReachTEL, Ipsos and Essential Research is almost exactly where it was on Wednesday, so far as national voting intention is concerned. However, the Coalition is down a seat in New South Wales and Tasmania, and up one in Queensland and Western Australia. As always, I must stress that this is a two-party model that doesn’t take into account the Nick Xenophon Team factor and strong independent challenges in New England and Cowper, which could potentially cut the projected Coalition majority to the bone. I’m afraid I haven’t found time to update the personal ratings.


With the non-major party vote up 3.6% off an already high base in 2013, a lot depends on the accuracy of the assumption that preferences will flow as they did in 2013. Labor did particularly well on Greens preferences at the last election, and seem unlikely to improve upon that performance this time, but the preferences of “others”, who are treated as a homogenous blob, are something of a wild card, given the effective disappearance of Palmer United – although Palmer United preferences behaved almost identically to the remainder of the “others” preferences (i.e. everyone but Palmer United and the Greens) in 2013. The alternative approach is to go off respondent-allocated preferences, as published by Ipsos, ReachTEL and Morgan (which regrettably stopped publishing national polling results during the campaign), although the previous election method has generally worked better except when there were very substantial changes in the make-up of the non-major party vote. The following chart shows how the Coalition’s share of respondent-allocated preferences has trended since the last election, with the yellow line indicating where it was in 2013:


In other words, Tony Abbott had a remarkably consistent downward trajectory, whereas under Malcolm Turnbull it has broadly reflected the government’s overall standing in the polls. It nonetheless ends the campaign 3.7% below the 2013 election figure, which under the circumstances would make a fairly substantial difference, bringing the Coalition’s two-party preferred down to 50.3% and making as much as four seats’ difference on the seat projection.

The next chart tracks the Coalition vote state-by-state since the dawn of the Turnbull era. The most interesting point to emerge is that the Coalition has recovered strongly in Western Australia after appearing in a dire position there at the start of the campaign, possibly because the campaign has focused minds on the federal sphere and away from their discontent with the Barnett government. There has also been an upward trajectory in South Australia, but the static there from the Nick Xenophon Team is such that this should be treated with great caution. Tasmania also seems to have gone its own way over recent weeks, in this case in favour of Labor, although the small sample sizes here are such that this should be treated with caution as well. Elsewhere, the situation seems to have been fairly stable through the course of the campaign.


Now to polls. For starters, I’ve assembled all of the seat polling from the campaign that I’m aware of on a spreadsheet which (I think) you can access here.

The final Newspoll of the campaign was conducted Tuesday to Friday from a bumper sample of 4135, and records the Coalition with a 50.5-49.5 lead on two-party preferred, from primary votes of Coalition 42% (down one on last week), Labor 35% (also down one) and Greens 10% (up one). Malcolm Turnbull is up three on approval to 40% and down four on disapproval to 47%, while Bill Shorten is up one on both measures to 36% and 51%. Turnbull’s lead as preferred prime minister is 48-31, up from 45-30.

ReachTEL’s final national poll for the campaign is unchanged on last week at 51-49 in favour of the Coalition on respondent-allocated preferences, although previous election preferences would produce the same result. The forced preference primary votes are Coalition 42.8% (up 0.4%), Labor 34.6% (up 0.8%), Greens 10.7% (up 0.2%). Despite this, and contrary to Newspoll, Shorten’s personal ratings have strengthened and Turnbull’s have weakened. Shorten records his best result yet against Malcolm Turnbull as preferred prime minister, with the latter now leading 52.9-47.1 compared with 57.9-42.1 last week. Turnbull’s combined good and very good rating is down 2.3% to 31.2%, and his combined poor and very poor is up 3.6% to 36.9%, whereas Shorten is respectively up 4.1% to 34.8% and up 0.8% to 38.6%. The survey of 2084 respondents was conducted last night for the Seven Network.

Essential Research has published a special pre-election poll conducted Monday to Thursday, compared with its usual field work period of Thursday to Sunday, which has the Coalition on 42.5%, Labor on 34.5% and Greens on 11.5%. The numbers have been published to the nearest 0.5% because, Essential advises, “nearly all the figures came out very close to the .5”. These are quite substantial shifts when compared with the fortnightly rolling average published on Tuesday, which were Coalition 39%, Labor 37% and Greens 10%, but less so going off the hitherto unpublished result from just last week’s sample, which was Coalition 40%, Labor 36% and Greens 10%. The result is also broken down into results for those who have and have not yet voted, with the former (Coalition 45%, Labor 33%, Greens 10%) more favourable to the Coalition than the latter (Coalition 41%, Labor 35%, Greens 12%). The two-party preferred results are 50.5-49.5 to the Coalition overall, 54-46 among those who have already voted, and 51-49 to Labor among those planning on voting tomorrow. Thirty-eight per cent say Malcolm Turnbull and the Liberals ran the better campaign compared with 29% for Bill Shorten and Labor, and 48% expect the Coalition to win compared with 21% for Labor. The poll also finds 14% saying Brexit will be good for the Australian economy, 26% bad and 34% makes no difference, and 15% saying it will make them more likely to vote Liberal, 11% more likely to vote Labor, and 64% makes no difference.

The weekly ReachTEL marginal seat poll is from the Labor-held Melbourne seat of Chisholm, where Labor has been weakened by the retirement of sitting member Anna Burke, and perhaps further by the Country Fire Authority issue. The poll finds Labor hanging on by a margin of 51-49, from primary votes of Liberal 41.5% (down 2.6% on the 2013 election), Labor 37.7% (up 1.8%) and Greens 15.1% (up 5.6%). The closeness of the two-party headline is down to a much stronger flow of preferences to the Liberals compared with 2013. If previous election preference flows are applied, the Labor lead is 54-46. The poll was conducted last night from a sample of 627.

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.

1,027 comments on “Newspoll and Essential Research: 50.5-49.5 to Coalition; ReachTEL: 51-49”

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  1. The pre-polls get counted tonight, along with ‘normal’ votes. As always, the postal votes will trickle in over the following 10 days.

  2. I think Wilkinsons comment is interesting.

    As the election meme was gone Labor not getting enough seats was MSM meme thats who the shock is for and the actual election results may prove Steel Blade right about the media influence on votes. I certainly hope so.

  3. If the pathetic press can’t find anything better to comment on other than the way Shorten eats a sausage, then why bother? I also saw the picture. Meanwhile, Deputy-Leader of the Liberal Party, good and law-abiding citizen that she is, was pictured driving while using her mobile. Now folks, if this had been Julia Gillard or Kevin Rudd, or dare I say it, Tony Abbott, the MSM would have put on its “Very Moral Hat” and screamed from the roof tops. So, will our Julie (remember she who intimated that what Gillard was purported to have done 20 years before was criminal?) get away with this or will a friendly magistrate kind of wave this by? Where is that fearless press outfit, the Murdoch press, when you need them?

  4. For the Senate, complete the ballot paper by numbering one to six above the line OR by numbering one to twelve below the line, in order of your choice. You can continue numbering as many additional boxes as you choose.

    Whoever wrote this fundamentally stupid instruction should be fired. Incredibly poor way of describing the process, as reflected by the AEC’s own people getting it wrong.

  5. If the SA swing is a 5.4% 2PP on last elections preference distribution then it is totally meaningless. If it is a 5.4% increase in ALP primary then it would be very significant, but I suspect it is the former and can be safely ignored.

  6. confessions

    I hope so much for a Labor win as I will get to see some of the year’s best comedy as all the CPG political mavens explain how their getting it so wRONg was not their fault.

  7. Exit polls have typically been biased to the ALP in the past, so I wouldn’t get too excited. However, being in “marginals”, the recorded swing to also might be blunted by the sophomore effect (outside of WA) and therefore not representative of the whole state. Apart from the strong result for Labor in SA, doesn’t really look too inconsistent with the regular polling.

  8. 4


    Sky News Australia
    9m9 minutes ago
    Sky News Australia ‏@SkyNewsAust
    Exclusive exit poll. Health & Medicare the number one issue. 60% of people think the Coalition will win (@ljayes)
    Embedded image

  9. You know what else I’d love… to have this Sophomore Surge thing discounted as a universal truth and just something that happens sometimes when someone is an active local member?

  10. With those state numbers in ABS caclculator;
    64-82-4 with ‘retiring and sophomore effect; ticked,
    70-76-4 without factoring it in.
    So the seats to watch might be the new MP’s

  11. Someone earlier countenanced about putting much reliance on exit polling. I think the point is that 1/5 of electors have pre-polled thereby balancing out the distribution . I think there was also a view that pre-polls tended to favour the government. However, I don’t think anything can be taken as a given in this election. The ABC have been talking up the fact the the LNP don’t expect to lose any seats in WA, which after the early promise is the polls, will be a huge disappointment. While I would have anticipated perhaps 2-3 gains the fact that Burt might be the only one is just hard take. If Labor can’t do better that 53-47 at this point with a State government on the nose and a dip in boom, then it is hard to know if Labor can ever do well here Federally. Cowan, Hasluck and Swan should have been up for grabs. After this would be icing on the cake.

  12. Had an interesting morning handing out how-to-votes for the Greens in the seat of Melbourne. Some passing thoughts from the experience:

    1. The Electoral Commission may be lagging behind in matching resources to a growing population. There were hour-long queues at North Melbourne Primary School all morning, and half-hour queues across the road at University High. Seemed longer than in previous elections, even with all the pre-voters.

    2. The Greens presumably are swamped with volunteers in Melbourne. At one stage we had 18 volunteers covering the two gates at the polling place, complete overkill. Assuming the party had allocated its resources well across its other target seats, it must simply have had huge surpluses of people to deploy on the day.

    3. Surprisingly, the single-issue and smaller parties were well represented amongst the HTV hander-outers. There were people from the Science, Sex, Sustainable, Equal Marriage and Animal Welfare parties, and a laconic guy handing out for Ricky Muir.

    4. The Greens are lucky in having lots of young volunteers who’ll get up crazily early to cover the approaches to polling places with their posters, and stay on guard to keep them in place. All approaches to the school were a sea of green.

    5. The Liberals are an eccentric afterthought in an electorate such as Melbourne. They’re lucky to have one crusty old bloke or a roped-in teenager handing out HTVs. It really is a battle between ALP and Greens here; not a good look for the Libs in a relatively prosperous and engaged area.

    6. Even the Rotary Club bends to the needs of the electorate. Its sausage sizzle offered a vegetarian burger as well.

    A final thought. Even though there were complaints about the lengths of the queue, voters were in good spirits and there was that oddly festive air you often find on Australian election days, once people have voted and moved on to the sausage sizzle and cake stalls.

    Made me think we’re lucky to have compulsory voting and elections on Saturdays. It’s a small thing to ask citizens to queue up to vote once every three years, and I think it does cement a small amount of civic goodwill when it happens.

    Now I’ll get back to being cynical. But just wanted to say that.

  13. Alan Jones – the Galaxy Exit Poll points to a hung parliament which throws everything up in the air. Cheers for that keen insight Alan.

  14. Feedback at Bradfield, a safe Liberal seat has been good.
    Looking for a swing, hopeful for some good results elsewhere.

  15. “Eg, what on earth are these Science Party and Arts Party candidates on about? Labor and the Greens both have really good policies on science and the arts”

    Well you can say the same for a lot of the conservative micro-parties on the senate ballot as well. For example, why vote for Country Minded when the Nationals supposedly represent the same interests? The answer I suppose is that people for one reason or another don’t agree with the way one party is representing it’s supposed interests. Or perhaps they identify with one aspect of a major parties policy platform and not another e.g. a person who works in the Arts may have a stronger interest in the Arts parties objectives than Labors. Also no matter how much a party leans towards one particular policy agenda, there is always someone who leans a little harder and voters who identify with them. And lastly you have at least 6 boxes to mark and someone has to get boxes three through six.

    What is the hot tip on election coverage tonight? Right now I’m watching the ABC, but I’m not sure if I should switch. Right now Xenophon and Di Natale are being interviewed and I think it’s the most air-time they’ve been given throughout the entire election campaign.

    I voted pre-poll a week ago, but I did check out the local polling station and chowed down on a democracy sausage. Saw my local ALP candidate, but just missed out on seeing Shorten who was also there according to the news coverage. The electorates I have particular interest in tonight are Macquarie and Lindsay. Funny that both of these seats have been written off as wins for the Coalition and yet Shorten deemed them worthy off showing up to today. I’m betting on an ALP victory in at least one of them.

    Tony Windsor defending his decision to ban press from his campaign headquarters.


    Interviewer: But we live in a free and open democracy.

    Tony Windsor: And we pay the rent on the premises.


  16. It sounds as if the Greens membership have done a great job for their party today at the polling booths. Whatever you might think about that party, they seem to have a lot of youthful energy about them.

    The Greens are a great party. They embody a decency without precedent or parallel in Australian politics.

  17. Whoever that young man is, standing next to Turnbull, he looks like he would rather be anywhere else.

    Turnbull is rerunning his memorised election speeches. He is rambling. Has he forgotten the voting is over?

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