ReachTEL: 53-47 to Liberal in Bennelong

The latest Bennelong by-election poll suggests John Alexander is set to hold on in the face of a solid swing to Labor.

The Sydney Morning Herald today has results from a ReachTEL poll for the Bennelong by-election, which credits John Alexander with a lead of 53-47 on respondent-allocated preferences – a swing to Labor of nearly 7%. The primary votes, after allocating a forced response follow-up from the (unusually small) 2.4% who initially professed themselves undecided, are 41.3% for John Alexander (down 9.1% on the election), 36.3% for Kristina Keneally (up 7.8%), 7.5% for the Greens (down 1.6%) and 14.9% for the rest. The poll was conducted on Tuesday from a sample of 819. This is the second ReachTEL poll of the campaign, the first being conducted a month ago and showing Alexander leading 54-46. The other two published polls, a Galaxy poll at the start of the campaign and Newspoll this week, both had it at 50-50. Multiple reports suggest party polling has been nearer to ReachTEL’s findings.

For all the background you could want, my Bennelong by-election guide is now updated and much expanded.

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.

1,222 comments on “ReachTEL: 53-47 to Liberal in Bennelong”

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  1. Good morning all,

    Any speculation as to what findings and recommendations will come out of the RC report into institutional responses to sexual abuse?

    Is the report being handed down this week or next?

  2. Good morning Dawn Patrollers.

    Nick O’Malley looks at the innards of the latest Bennelong poll.
    As does Mark Kenny – and he points out some interesting views on tax cuts.
    John Warhurst distils 2017 into nine political issues.
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    Walkley winner Joanne McCarty tells us how Julia Gillard is preparing for the end of the royal commission she launched five years ago. Gillard said Australians would be “waiting and watching” for any sense of church or political delay after the release on Friday of the landmark final report
    Manny Waks, a survivor of sexual abuse who exposed crimes against children that occurred within the secretive Jewish Yeshivah community, describes the work of the child abuse royal commission as “life-saving” and “life-changing”.
    Andrew Leigh’s op-ed explains how we might halt the unfair use of tax havens.
    Sean Nicholls pulls apart Gladys’s umbers on the stadiums.
    Kathryn Wicks as a Bennelong voter, has had more than enough of the campaign!
    The SMH editorial weighs in on the harmful greed of franchisors. Quite a strongly framed article.
    The former Labor Senator Sam Dastyari is far from the only federal politician to peddle influence for cash and favours. But he’s one of countless who will never have to face the wrath of a federal anti-corruption watchdog. Ben Eltham wonders why.
    Tess Lawrence is sick of the lies coming from the body politic.,11024
    Peter Martin says the era of low wage rises is not going to end any time soon.
    Insolvent trading continues to rise, according to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission’s annual report into corporate insolvencies published on Tuesday.
    What is Bitcoin all about?
    Michael Koziol tells us that Tasmania would become the first state to remove poker machines from pubs and clubs in a major strike against the gambling industry announced by the state Labor opposition. This is sure to bring in a lot of political “donations” for the Libs.
    Why is the government allowing backpackers to continue to be ripped off?
    Trump strangely vindicates his support for Roy Moore.
    It’s a grievous blow for Donald Trump, but can Moore’s loss in staunchly Republican Alabama start a pushback against the forces of hate? We can but hope says Jonathan Freedland.
    Senator Kirsten Gillibrand quickly fired back at President Donald Trump on Tuesday, after he posted a crude tweet about her, attacking the lawmaker amid calls for Congress to investigate the President’s history of sexual harassment and assault and her suggestion that he resign.,11025
    Will China make us feels some pain?
    Australia’s ambassador to China has been called into the Chinese foreign ministry over the foreign interference laws. Google.
    Australians working in China should expect fallout over questions of political interference.
    Rob Burgess says there is no hiding Turnbull’s capitulation to coal.
    The shorter CBA defence seems to be “OK we ARE crooks, bit not ALL the time!”.
    Claims of forgery, claims of theft, a cover-up, deals done “off-the-books”, police kept in the dark … no it’s not a story about the Sicilian mafia, it’s a story about the Australian banks. As the Royal Commission looms, the banks are endeavouring to bury their disputes. Some disputes however, have gone too far writes Michael West.
    Here’s one very unhappy Telstra/NBN customer.–if-you-pay-for-it-and-wait-long-enough-20171213-h03pmb.html
    Meanwhile the troubled National Broadband Network will cut its wholesale prices to encourage internet users to upgrade to faster connections. Google.
    /technology/web/nbn/nbn-drops-prices-in-attempt-to-fix-crawling-connections-20171213-h03p9qOne of the two expected biographies of James Packer has been put on hold after a threat of legal action from the billionaire.
    Monitoring of waste water in Canberra has revealed some of the highest use of oxycodone, cocaine and heroin consumption in Australia.
    The brilliant sports journalist Gideon Haigh writes about the woes of the English cricket team. Google.
    These two were made for each other!
    Ross Garnaut is unhappy with the government’s one size fits all energy policy. Google.
    This Family Court Judge has a valid point here. It’s ridiculous!
    Jennifer Hewett has some practical advice for Amazon in Australia. Google.

    Cartoon Corner

    David Rowe farewells Roy Moore.

    David Pope is concerned about the environment.
    Matt Golding on Melbourne’s burgeoning birth rate.

    Here’s Golding’s view on polling in Bennelong.

    John Shakespeare on the government’s approach to solar energy.

    Paul Zanetti on what’s next for Dastyari.

    Cathy Wilcox goes right to Turnbull’s debating technique.

    Jon Kudleka spears Turnbull’s hypocrisy over Chinese donations.
    Glen Le Lievre – the panda has landed!

    Sean Leahy on the eve of the election in Bennelong.

    Alan Moir and some Trump introspection.

  3. Fragile Snowflake Trump Completely Melts Down And Throws Roy Moore Under The Bus

    Trump first tried to deny that he ever endorsed Roy Moore, and then he followed by complaining that the Republican Party needs to attract better candidates.

    Trump tweeted after claiming that he really wanted Luther Strange to win:

    Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump

    If last night’s election proved anything, it proved that we need to put up GREAT Republican candidates to increase the razor thin margins in both the House and Senate.

    Guess who is the reason why Republicans can’t attract better candidates? It is the same guy who has turned the Republican Party into a toxic brand in record time and still can’t find qualified people to work in his administration.

    Trump and the White House can’t explain why if Roy Moore was such a terrible candidate, the President endorsed and campaigned for him.

  4. Now the fire season’s upon us here’s a reminder of how intense they can get.
    When our CFS brigade was on the Pinery fire ground last year they found some of what was left of a John Deere ride-on mower. We recently mounted it on a section of red gum to place on the wll of our training room.

  5. Joe Biden on USA Today editorial on Trump v. Gillibrand fight: ‘I’ve never ever in my career read an editorial like that’

    Former Vice President Joe Biden called President Donald Trump’s attack on Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand nothing short of “disgusting.”

    During an appearance on “The View,” Biden noted, “the idea that the president is so tone deaf that that phrase sounds relative to a woman — it’s disgusting.”

    Co-host Whoopi Goldberg read aloud the USA Today editorial that criticized Trump as someone not fit to clean the toilets in the Barack Obama Presidential Library or polish the shoes of George W. Bush.

    “I’ve never ever in my career read an editorial like that,” Biden confessed.

  6. “Malcolm Turnbull stood up in front of the nation and admitted that he bought a website in my name, for the intent and purpose of smearing me, of spreading lies.” @KKeneally

  7. Well, he said it.

    Simon Banks‏ @SimonBanksHB · 13h13 hours ago

    “It has never been easier to get away with telling lies. It has never been easier to get away with the glib one liner.” said @TurnbullMalcolm

  8. It’s a hard sell – the Beijing/Obeid labor axis but labor has certainly put all its (donated) resources into the bennelong campaign.

    Certainly the people’s daily is upset at the defeat of agent dastyari -not sure that translates to the conservative evangelical Koreans and Chinese of bennelong.

    You’d have to say that Keneally is favourite to win being a by election and the general loathing of both parties but who knows maybe people will see through the labor spin machine.

  9. Gotta love the headline on the front page of the SMH this morning: “Coalition set to seize crucial by-election win”. As opposed to: “Coalition set to hold normally safe seat, despite a 7% swing”.

    I also like that the Herald claims that “around half of respondents … said revelations about … Sam Dastyari … would affect their vote”. Drilling down, it appears that 23.5% said that they would be MORE likely to vote Labor (all of whom are almost certainly ALP voters anyway), while 28.4% said it made them less likely (and I think we can safely assume that just about all of those were already voting Liberal).

    For mine, I’ve always thought it likely that Alexander would get returned. He’s built up a handy margin, and it’s a seat the Libs will hold just about all the time on normal circumstances. Finally, I expect that there is some sympathy for his position, and a little annoyance that the only reason that the by-election is on at all is because of some obscure Constitutional technicality.

    Still, as much as Turnbull will be patting himself on the back if JA wins, a 7% swing in a normally safe seat should be sounding alarm bells for both him and the Coalition. The government is in a deep hole, and Turnbull has earned a reputation as a do-nothing PM, more concerned about his internal critics than he is about issues facing the country. As we know, once an impression takes hold, it can be hard to shift.

  10. There’s a total fire ban in the Sydney region today, including the Central Coast, Blue Mountains and Illawarra. Forecast max 37 in the City, up to 42 out West.

  11. Tetsujin @ #9 Thursday, December 14th, 2017 – 7:20 am

    Using last election preferences for Bennelong, I get 49.2% for ALP vs 50.8% for Libs from the ReachTEL 1st preferences.

    ALP 1st Preferences : 36.3%
    Plus Green Preferences: 7.5% x 83% = 6.2%
    Plus Others Preferences : 14.9% x 45% = 6.7%
    Total ALP 2 Party Preferred = 49.2%

    Preference flows from:

    I dont think Labor will get as much from Others given a big chunk of then are Conservatives shifting from LIB. CON is likely to be similar preference flows to fred nile, 80% to LIBS.

    I think 36.3 + 7.5*0.83 (GRN) + 7*0.2 (CON) + 7.9*0.45 = 47.5%

  12. BK

    That plaque with the John Deere mower is a very sobering reminder of the devastation caused by bushfires.

    Here in Victoria and where I am in Gisborne about 55km north of Melbourne it is very green still and we have experienced considerable heavy downpours. As a result there is growth everywhere which is a real cause for concern. At least VicRoads are doing some serious mowing and vegetation clearing along the Calder Fwy after months of neglect.

  13. I agree with bug1 @7:58AM. I would expect that the preferences Christian Democrats and Australian Conservatives to go as tightly to the Liberals as Greens preferences go to Labor, rather like the old DLP. These are people who think that the “Liberals” are too liberal and not conservative or ‘Christian’ enough, after all. They account for 9% of the Primary vote in the Newspoll for Bennelong, so cancel out the Greens.

    If the remaining ‘others’ split 50-50, I get 36.3 + 6 from Greens + 1.5 from Con+CD (assumed to be 7.5) + 3.7 from others = 47.5.

    Margin of error on sample size (819) would be 3.5%.

  14. Thanks BK for that magnificent photo. The fire ran across the property of my wife’s brother-in-law’s family. Fortunately their house was spared.

    A lesson for me in how fire can burst across open country.

  15. So could Turnbull be charged with ‘cyber bullying ‘, given the dodgy website?

    A good summary Hugo. The headline in the SMH could be more accurate perhaps ‘Liberals at risk in safe seat ‘.

  16. On the polling remember its always caution on individual seat polling. From last night

    William Bowe says:
    Thursday, December 14, 2017 at 12:01 am
    Newspoll/Galaxy’s electorate polling hasn’t been brilliant either. It’s particularly difficult when you’ve got a big by-election on, and every potential respondent will have been contacted on multiple occasions.

  17. Morning all.

    Thanks BK for today’s links. Love the Rowe cartoon. This on Roy Moore is spot on:

    Roy Moore, in this sense, was Trump’s Trump — the man who took this mode of politics to 11 and beyond. The president has harassment accusations; the judge had mall-trawling accusations. Trump is a race-baiter; Moore was a stock character from a message movie about Southern bigotry. Trump’s populism mixed reasonable grievances in together with some stupid ones; Moore’s populism was the purest ressentiment. And like Trump but much, much more so, the Moore campaign relied on the assumption that Republicans who didn’t care for who he was and what he represented simply had nowhere else to go.

  18. Steve777 @ 8:15:
    > “I agree with bug1 @7:58AM. I would expect that the preferences Christian Democrats and Australian Conservatives to go as tightly to the Liberals as Greens preferences go to Labor, rather like the old DLP. These are people who think that the “Liberals” are too liberal and not conservative or ‘Christian’ enough, after all. ”

    On the other hand, if a voter has moved their vote from Liberal to CDP/Cons because they’re extremely unhappy, then they might decide to put ALP above Libs just to give a kicking to the Liberals.

    I think the average person does understand that only the ALP & the Liberals have a realistic chance of winning Bennelong, so if they put Liberals above ALP, and the Liberals win then the Liberals won’t ‘learn their lesson’ and become more conservative.

  19. Bennelong is an election where the incumbent is playing little more than a bit part while the challenger is on the receiving end of a torrent of abuse from the person who calls himself PM and much of the MSM.

    For Keneally to even come close to winning is a significant achievement.

    A desperate Turnbull has invoked every dastardly political trick to try and influence the vote. He knows the vultures are circling.

  20. Steven

    Ultimately if we happen to get some bad fire days here in Victoria, best thing to do is just leave until the risk has passed.
    This action would have saved plenty of lives on Black Saturday

  21. Guytaur

    I am hoping as William posited, that this has been the case with polling in the seat. Therefore meaning that Reachtel may be too generous to the fibs!

  22. As Bill said, ye of little faith. Labor should win Bennelong – if they don’t there will be serious questions to be asked of shorten leadership.

  23. victoria

    I look at the desperation of the LNP and to me that tells the story. They know the seat and thus the government is at risk as Mr Turnbull plainly stated

  24. “Edwina StJohn says:
    Thursday, December 14, 2017 at 8:39 am
    As Bill said, ye of little faith. Labor should win Bennelong – if they don’t there will be serious questions to be asked of shorten leadership.”

    That’s exactly what Rex would say. Do you two have a connection?

  25. And as is the case with all of Trump’s digital provocations, the president’s words were deliberate. He pours the gasoline of sexist language and lights the match gleefully knowing how it will burst into flame in a country reeling from the #MeToo moment.

    A president who would all but call Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand a whore is not fit to clean the toilets in the Barack Obama Presidential Library or to shine the shoes of George W. Bush.

  26. BK

    Nice. Artistic flow, too!

    I had management responsibilities which included the potentially deadly fire risk of up to 20,000 staff and visitors with only one road out.

    It was nightmarish stuff.

    I kept a bit of fire-melted metal on my desk to ensure that focus and concentration on the fire issues was 100%.

  27. guytaur

    Well i caught up with tweet as linked by fess from Samantha Maiden that stated that the LIberals were confident. As you say, their behaviour and conduct thus far doesn’t show a confident team at all.

  28. Why that USA Today comment about Trump is significant:

    If you’re thinking this is just more criticism from another liberal editorial board, you would be wrong. As the unofficial newspaper of U.S. travelers, USA Today strives for political neutrality, even on its opinion page. It has never endorsed a presidential candidate.

  29. The full primaries for the ReachTEL poll are LIB 40.4 (-1.2 since 16 Nov) ALP 35.7 (+1.2) GRN 7.0 (+1.1) CON 6.2 (+4.8) ON 2.6 (-2.8) CDP 2.3 (+0.7) Other 3.4 (+2.2) Undecided 2.4 (-5.9).

    Both the 2.4% undecided and the 2.6% for One Nation need to be distributed to the candidates.

  30. Fess

    Trump’s comments on K Gillibrand were beyond disgusting, although not surprising. He is lived up to everything I thought he would be. The big mistake I have made so far, is believing that he would not be inaugurated as President, or not last long in the role. Yet here were are. It has been nearly a year. Sigh……..

  31. victoria

    ‘This action would have saved plenty of lives on Black Saturday…’


    However, the areas identified as most at risk prior to BS were (generally speaking) not affected by the fires.

    So the potential was there for people to move from an area where they would have been safe into one where they would have been in danger.

    Basically, the only way to ensure your safety on a day like BS would have been to leave the state.

  32. Quite some time ago I worked with a girl who talked about her Young Liberal activities. Then it was all about the socialising and parties. I wonder when they morphed into a far right pressure group.

    Of course our Foreign Minister seems to keeping the socialising and parties tradition alive.

  33. ‘Labor should win Bennelong – if they don’t there will be serious questions to be asked of shorten leadership.’

    Conversely, the Liberals should be under no threat at all in Bennelong, in the same way Barnaby was under no threat at all in New England.

    No by election held in these circumstances – where the sitting member has been declared ineligible due to a S44 conflict (the original Cleary case, Jackie Kelly) – has been lost by the sitting member.

    Indeed, I think in all cases the sitting member has had a swing to them.

    If Labor gets a swing of any size towards them, that would be unprecedented.

  34. Zoomster

    The safest place for people to go that fateful day, was straight to the city next to the coast. In fact, I was on weather watch from the morning and despite us being in the suburbs, that was our game plan. Just get into the car and head towards the city.

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