ReachTEL: 52-48 to Labor in Western Australia

Labor retains its modest poll lead with less than two months to go, but there’s considerably more static in the picture now thanks to a double-digit debut for One Nation.

With less than two months to go until the March 11 state election, The West Australian today carries a ReachTEL poll showing no change since October on two-party preferred – but with very substantial change on the primary vote, thanks to the inclusion of One Nation as a response option for the first time. Support for One Nation is recorded at 10.8%, which is in the ballpark of the 9.6% the party recorded at the peak of its fortunes in 2001 – keeping in mind that this substantially over-performed what pre-election polls had said. All other players are down as a result – the Liberals by 2.9% to 33%, the Nationals by 0.6% to 5.5%, Labor by 4.7% to 32%, and the Greens by 0.8% to 6.1%. Mark McGowan’s lead over Colin Barnett as preferred premier is all but unchanged at 55.7-44.3 (55.6-44.4 last time), and Barnett is also found to trail his deputy, Liza Harvey, by 53.9-46.1. The automated phone poll was conducted Thursday night from a sample of 1525.

UPDATE: Kevin Bonham looks more carefully than I do and notices there’s an 8.5% undecided component to the results. With that removed, the primary votes are Liberal 36.1% (up 0.2%), Nationals 6% (down 0.1%), Labor 35% (down 1.7%), Greens 6.7% (down 0.2%), One Nation 10.8%, others 4.5%.

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.

23 comments on “ReachTEL: 52-48 to Labor in Western Australia”

  1. Voter fatigue always wins. Barnett has had his time in the sun. Like Howard not handing over to Costello, Barnett should have passed the torch to Harvey. He will be thrown out – not by hostility, but by impatience.

  2. While IMHO McGowan would make an excellent assistant to an advisor to a premier, the Labor team seem to be campaigning and campaigning hard and early. So long as they have a plan to keep going to the last minute they at least have a shot.
    I presume Colin was playing the tough guy against one nation for some empty political reason, which pretty much sums up his 8 year. He seems very proud of Lizzy’s little pond and ferry docking point …

  3. Well there you go…………West headline with Col in front 52-48 = “Barnett well placed to win comfortable victory in March”……………..
    West headline today with Labor 52-48 (albeit with both parties with lower PVs) = “Hanson Soars”.

  4. That Liza Harvey is leading Barnett so handsomely should be a bit of a worry for Col…which is rich when the LNP and others call McGowan’s leadership into question. The lead for Harvey I suspect has more to do with tiredness/boredom with Col rather than all else.
    The 10 seats for Labor is still a hill to climb and the ON ‘wild card’, as it is now being called, adds to the uncertainty of it all. I suspect the LNP have more to fear from Hanson than Labor, but as this poll shows, Labor is also leaking to ON.
    What a dog’s breakfast it could all become. Liberals lose 6 (say) to Labor, Nationals lose one or two to ON, Liberals and Nationals struggle to get a majority to govern, Labor a 3/4 seats short and ON with the balance of power in the Upper House.

  5. With that kind of vote, One Nation probably wouldn’t be much of a threat in lower house seats. I had a look at the 2001 results and they came vaguely close to overtaking the Libs for second in Geraldton, which might have made things interesting, and ran a solid second in now-abolished Greenough (Geraldton/Moore) and Merredin (Central Wheatbelt), and in Moore and Roe, but didn’t really come close to winning anything. What will be interesting to see is whether they complicate matters in Liberal-National contests. Obviously an 11%-ish vote would guarantee them a few upper house seats.

    Also worth noting that the Greens do genuinely seem to have gone backwards by quite a lot on recent polling (they were hovering around 11% there for a while). Not sure of the reasons there, but you’d have to think their remaining LegCo seats are in peril if they’re hovering around 6%.

  6. Hi Bludgers

    With the State pool looming it’s time to drop by again for the latest gossip, fact and opinion (expert and otherwise).

    For what it’s worth I reckon 10 seats is a couple too far for Labor.

    The ON circus will be the main interest, but not in a good way.

    The West Australian will campaign for the coalition and against Labor and ON but does it really matter any more? I suspect they hardly sell a paper in some of the outer metro seats which may decide the outcome.

    Seatbelt on, it will be an interesting ride.

  7. Yet again in a ReachTEL the undecided have not been redistributed. With undecided (8.5%) redistributed, Lib 36.1 Nat 6 ALP 35 Green 6.7 PHON 11.8 rest 4.5. 52-48 to Labor seems rather generous on that.

  8. Smith’s tilt at the leadership, at the time, was ill conceived, seemed to lack any political nous at all, and for someone like me, who had been a bit of a Smith fan, seemed out of keeping with his careful and thoughtful approach to politics. It is all history now and McGowan deserves his go. He has done the hack work in the thankless task of OL for a number of years now and while I think his hill is too high to climb, I would not sheet any failure for Labor to get up, home to him.

  9. Tricot,
    Yes he has a hill to climb. But I think he will. Generally, elections are about Government , not oppositions. Colin has been in the job long enough.

  10. The Worst Australian with its usual suspects is gunning for Labor as always while covering Barnett’s arse, still what do you expect in a company town where the major media is run by
    Are West Australian silly enough or actually stupid enough to buy the snake oil BS being peddled by Hanson the carpetbagging fool who makes her money standing for election in state and federal seats,I think in this state the answer is yes, PT Barnum would have been right at home in the suckers paradise,also including QLD.
    I only read one copy of the worst just to see which way the trained monkeys are going,Paul Murray continues his anti labor rants the rest of them tip toe about if you want to find out about the present problems at 7 West media don’t read the Stokes owned papers, TV or 6PR as the poison extends to them as well.
    Perth is a lovely place if you don’t want to think much, watch 7 and read the West,Kerry will guide you to the correct way to think,I hope Labor win but I wont bet on it,BTW is the WA liberal party still have the Labor Lies page on Facebook? I had a ball on that one couple of days ago but it seems to have vanished hope its still about.

  11. John @3.11 pm
    I am perhaps not as jaundiced as you about the WA media led by the West. I think the West tries to be balanced but it is a conservative paper serving a conservative boss. I think it has taken Barnett to task on plenty of occasions but with a kind of “Come on Col, you can do better than this” approach. Sadly, for the West, its circulation is falling along with other pulp media. I get it for $28 a month and it is mainly for the TV mag!!
    Now that the West has bought out Murdoch’s Sunday rag, not only do we get Murray but Bolt and Devine ……………and the humour is that in the l-to-the-editor, the West is praised for this threesome telling it as it “really is”. Forget 6PR. It barely scrapes up a listening audience of more than 10% any time in the day – most the demographics are 50 and over. If you really want to hear the ghoulies and ghosties come out on that station listen in after 12 midnight, when you can’t sleep, to catch some really interesting views.

  12. Hi Tricot,I buy 1 west on Saturday for the TV mag and the cartoons + Idle torque which are not bad, the rest is rubbish,one thing I did notice about both the West and Sundry Slimes was how the comments section vanished.
    It vanished in the West some time ago but the instant it changed hands no more comments allowed I quite honestly despise the Stokes Media in Perth and avoid it at all times you may be able to inform me if the ongoing scandal at 7 West has been mentioned yet in the West just curious,PR is just another arm of Stokes though owned by Fairfax

  13. JR…re the ‘scandal’, I think there was some reference to it, in an oblique way – ‘facts only ma’am’ stuff – maybe 2-3 weeks ago? It certainly came and went as quickly as it was decent as a newspaper with a wayward executive was able to manage it.

  14. Those of you who think Labor won’t win in WA really should check out the betting odds with Ladbrokes. You can get $3.50 on the Liberals.

  15. Darn, I hope the bookies and right and $3.50 are very good odds. In Labor’s favour is that the polls have been running for them for some months (but then, so they did for HRC) and Barnett’s is a tired,old and talent-depleat outfit. Against this are the 10 seats which Labor needs to form govern in its own right (I think that is still the case) while A. Green pointed out in a piece here a week or two ago, that two of the seats which were nominally Labor, because of the redistribution, are now nominally Liberal. The 10 seat scenario also takes on board that Labor cannot afford to lose any seats. I suspect one or two of the few country seats currently held by Labor could be just as vulnerable as one or two National seats to either ON or the Liberals. The advent of a resurgent ON and the degree of hostility to both major parties makes the bookies odds, on reflection a bit over the top. I also note that KB and William have acknowledged the “Other” preference distribution needed some consideration and in doing so, the Labor 52-48 does not look so good. While ReachTEL is but one poll, and we don’t know how those out the endless northern suburbs are hurting, there could be a number of scenarios still open – there is a mood for change and Barnett is swept away; Barnett is given another go and left to cobble together some kind of new deal with the Nationals or complete and utter dog’s breakfast with ON, Nationals and Libs all at one another’s throats and Labor with just not enough to form government.
    As well, the bookies to get it wrong…………..from time to time……..

  16. Looking at Antony’s pendulum, I don’t know that the ten seats is THAT big a hurdle. I mean, it’s substantial, but given the swings we’ve been seeing lately (Qld, NSW) looks quite doable. The Libs won 57-43 on 2PP last time so even if they have a comfortable win of say 52-48 that’s still a 5% swing. A lot of that will probably go to some of the Labor seats that are unnaturally marginal at the moment, but surely if Labor runs an even slightly passable campaign they can be assured of picking up everything below 5%. Of the notionally Liberal seats, West Swan is surely in the bag and while Collie-Preston is trending Liberal the swing should keep it Labor for now, so that’s two. Belmont, Forrestfield and Perth would all be sophomore seats (Forrestfield and Perth double), but they’re also below 3%, so that’s five. Swan Hills and Morley are NOT sophomore seats and are both below 5%, so that’s seven. Then Labor would need to find three more, and yes there is a big gap between Morley (4.7%) and the next seat, Balcatta (7.1%, a single sophomore seat), but there’s a big clump of seats sitting around 10% providing lots of possible targets (Mt Lawley, Bicton, Kalamunda, Southern River, Wanneroo, Burns Beach, Joondalup, even Pilbara). It’ll be tough, but it can be done, I think, especially if One Nation really does keep the Libs/Nats distracted elsewhere (and their preferences do their usual anti-incumbent thing).

  17. fwiw, I reckon we will see very muted moves in areas that line the Swan River or the coast, from Coogee in the South to Mindarie in the North.

    The swings will come in the areas that lie to the East of Marmion Avenue in the North and to the South of Canning Highway elsewhere. We should expect to see swings of 12-15% or more in some formerly Lib-Leaning booths in these swing-prone areas. We will likely see very big shifts in the regional seats of Bunbury, Kalgoorlie, Pilbara and even Geraldton.

    The Barnett Government is very unpopular, as is their commitment to sell Western Power and other State assets. The wish for a change of government is widespread and long-entrenched. The support for ON is also an expression of this sentiment.

    Labor are running a very tight campaign in the places where it will count on March 11.

    Personally, I have no doubt at all that Labor will win. As voters increasingly focus on the choices, they will likely deliver a very comfortable win to Labor even if the highly affluent Lib-core holds up.

  18. Frickeg and Briefly, I hope you are on the money…the bookies seem to think they are.
    My caveat has always been, in my more sober moments, the hope that the ‘swing is on’. If the electorate really does think it is time for change then nothing will save Barnett. The old adage is that governments lose elections rather than oppositions win them. The March election will be a good test of this old truism. I still think there are three possibilities – LNP scrape back and cobble some kind of uneasy alliance with who ever – the NP are the usual political harlots; Labor will have a win big enough to govern in its own right; a dog’s breakfast of Liberals/Nationals/Minor Parties slugging it out to form some kind of cohesive government. One also has to consider a LNP status quo. The WA electorate is really averse to change.

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