Galaxy: 51-49 to Liberal in Bennelong

Another poll points to a cliffhanger in the make-or-break Bennelong by-election.

A Galaxy poll for the Daily Telegraph has John Alexander clinging on to a 51-49 lead ahead of tomorrow’s Bennelong by-election, after a poll at the beginning of the campaign had it at 50-50. On the primary vote, Alexander is down two to 40% and Kristina Keneally is down one to 38%, with the Greens on 8%, Australian Conservatives on 7% and Christian Democratic Party on 3%. The sample is only 524, but the result is in line with a similar poll conducted by the same company but badged as Newspoll for The Australian earlier in the week.

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.

616 comments on “Galaxy: 51-49 to Liberal in Bennelong”

  1. OK, as first to comment , I think that John Alexander will just hang on, but if he gets more than 52% 2pp it will be an unusually good result given the polling.

  2. Also, for those complaining about some of feeding the “Wayne” troll, apologies, I will cease and desist. I was fascinated by trying to work out whether or not it was a bot.

    On balance, I think it was someone either pretending to be a bot, or a bot with a human handler.

  3. Ah William beat me. My post from the previous thread:

    My feeling all along has been that JA would scrape home, just. The balance of poling tends to indicate this, but it really is close and could fall either way. As I said the other day, fingers crossed for some conservative preference leakage from voters seeing a chance to finish Turnbull’s leadership.

  4. 10 per cent was always a big ask.

    Have to give Labor a tick for going with KK, knowing that the Tories would plumb the sewer in the campaign.

    I suspect she will fall just short but will be well placed for another crack if that is her wish.

    An intelligent articulate woman like her will be an asset in Canberra. She will just highlight how bereft the Tories are in that department.

  5. Yeah I’m hoping that worst case for the good side is that it is too close to call this time tomorrow. If it is we may see the odd gasket blown down Point Piper way. Also the Hadleys, Bolts, Credlins and Abbotts will no doubt be full of advice for Trumble.

  6. I still think turnout could be very important here.

    Historically by-election turnout has been down about 13% on the previous election.

    So if KK has motivated some of these to turn up and vote for her it could be the difference.

  7. It’s a LNP – leaning electorate. Howard lost it in 2007 because he was very disliked, and M McKew ran an excellent campaign.
    In 2010 JA won it without a lot of effort.
    Since then Labor has put in little effort to get it back.
    It’s easy to forget that JA actually increased the lead to 9.7% in two successive elections.
    JA is a personable but unexciting moderate as a local member.
    It’s Mal the Magnificent who is causing the crash in the LNP support.

  8. (From old thread)

    Sample size 524, margin of error 4.4%.

    On primaries given by BiGD, I get ALP 2PP = 38 + 6.5 (G) + 2 (RWNJ) + 2 (Oth) = 48.5. With that margin of error, it’s line ball (tennis analogy).

  9. Theres no doubt its going to be a shit result for Turnbull whatever happens.Less than 18 months ago the electorate was a piece of piss for the Libs.Now theyre scrapping for their lives.Imagine this swing in the rest of the federal electorates and Turnbull is facing a landslide defeat in 2019.

  10. Reasons for a JA win.
    Good member who has increased his margin against the trend, brought benefits to electorate with Macquarie business Park. Higher income electorate, small business orientated get tax write offs and cuts.

    Reasons for JA loss.
    Perception like Howard won’t be around for next election, younger voters, Labor likely to win next gen election, KK good candidate strong Catholic values but speaks out.

    Probs heaps more to add but see what happens tomorrow night.

  11. A coalition loss in Bennelong would leave them in a 74-75 minority after providing a Speaker. It’s possible, I suppose that they could ask Speaker Smith to stand down in favour of a crossbencher or even an ALP turncoat, if one were interested.

    Assuming that doesn’t happen, the government will presumably still be able to rely on the crossbenchers for confidence and supply. But the main effect is likely to be in the day-to-day management of the House. Ms Gillard had to deal with that problem: even though she was largely able to keep the crossbenchers onside for legislation, she couldn’t rely on them to support procedural stuff like gags, guillotines and the like. This enabled Mr Abbott to disrupt Question Time almost every day with motions to suspend standing orders, and contributed mightily to the sense of chaos on the floor of the chamber. Ironically, the crossbenchers, by allowing Mr Abbott so to run riot, thereby helped to promote the public sense that minority governments are synonymous with instability, which came back to bite them in 2013.

  12. steve davis @ 11pm

    “If Turnbull loses tomorrow I wonder if he will spit the dummy like he did on the last election night.”

    Highly likely, but in contrast to a federal election, there’s no particular expectation on him to speak on the night. So he should have plenty of time to prepare a more sober statement.

  13. That Labor have whittled JA’s margin down and giving the Libs a run for their money is an awesome job.

    Nothing to be ashamed of at all, even if Labor don’t win tomorrow.

  14. Pedant @ #26 Friday, December 15th, 2017 – 7:03 pm

    A coalition loss in Bennelong would leave them in a 74-75 minority after providing a Speaker. It’s possible, I suppose that they could ask Speaker Smith to stand down in favour of a crossbencher or even an ALP turncoat, if one were interested.

    Assuming that doesn’t happen, the government will presumably still be able to rely on the crossbenchers for confidence and supply. But the main effect is likely to be in the day-to-day management of the House. Ms Gillard had to deal with that problem: even though she was largely able to keep the crossbenchers onside for legislation, she couldn’t rely on them to support procedural stuff like gags, guillotines and the like. This enabled Mr Abbott to disrupt Question Time almost every day with motions to suspend standing orders, and contributed mightily to the sense of chaos on the floor of the chamber. Ironically, the crossbenchers, by allowing Mr Abbott so to run riot, thereby helped to promote the public sense that minority governments are synonymous with instability, which came back to bite them in 2013.

    The other change will be that they will need the support of at least one crossbencher to pass anything.

    That means negotiating in both the Reps and the Senate to pass anything.

    This is a worse position than Gillard as needing Bandt in the Reps that got the the rest of the Greens in the Senate so passage through the Reps basically ensured passage through the Senate.

  15. Either Mal will lose, or it will be a near-death experience.
    Will he hide in his bunker at Point Piper or come out and lecture his campaigners for not doing enough?
    He is such a sore loser.
    Nasty and spiteful.
    Yes, it will be fun to watch him blame everyone else.

  16. William in today’s Crikey email:

    However, it must be remembered that pollsters who have performed to a consistently high standard in tracking national and statewide voting intention, have a much less impressive record when narrowing it down to specific electorates.

    This task is made particularly difficult at a high-profile byelection, when every potential respondent gets contacted on multiple occasions, causing response rates to plummet.

    Indeed, it may well be that the parties’ own polling is encountering the same difficulty, and that players and pundits alike stand to be surprised by the result that unfolds tomorrow night – just as they were by Barnaby Joyce’s landslide in New England, and the Victorian Greens’ boil-over in Northcote last month.

  17. Barney in Go Dau @ 11.09pm

    Indeed. And the option of using their numbers in the House to ensure that only ALP members are referred to the High Court over s44 issues will also be lost.

    Also, my sense from the way the Senate operated from July 2014 until the double dissolution in 2016 was that the Liberals weren’t well equipped to negotiate effectively with crossbenchers. The 2014-16 Senate crossbenchers were an especially motley crew, and I doubt that Eric Abetz and George Brandis knew how to deal with such people. Senator Cormann seems to have made a better fist of that than anyone on his side, but the ALP on the whole do it much better, not least because union officials have more than their fair share of cranks to deal with, and understand them better.

  18. Interesting to see the comments earlier on robocalls. I actually got rid of my landline a few months ago, largely because the only calls I was receiving on it were scams and robocalls. I found them exceptionally annoying, and I suspect many people feel the same way. Do the parties have ANY evidence that they help rather than hinder their causes?

    I’ve had a practice for some years of withholding a first preference vote from any party which defies the No Junk Mail sticker on my letterbox. This usually means that I vote for an independent nonentity who loses his or her deposit, giving me the added joy of knowing that my vote didn’t generate any public funding for a party.

  19. Less than twenty hours until Tony Abbott has free rein to respond to Trumble’s deflection on the thirty newspolls. Much plotting at the minute methinks.

  20. JM and adrian
    I agree. I think it’s up to the Church and government (not sure if it would be state or fed or both) to come up with a solution. I don’t think the Church should be able to flout the laws of our country but I also don’t want to see priests excommunicated.
    The obvious solution is that the Church has to allow priests to report child abuse or other serious crimes even if they are heard in the confessional. That presupposes that the priest actually knows the name of the person in the confessional which may not be the case.

  21. If the government really loses its clear majority on the floor of the house, that could well be the point where the conservatives in the Liberal Party decide to strike. While they might do so via an attempted leadership change, another option would be to defect from the government on a matter of confidence, echoing the fall of the Bruce-Page government in 1929.

  22. “The poll comes as The Daily Telegraph can reveal Labor spent $250,000 on the Bennelong campaign, excluding the union spend, compared with the Liberals’ spend of close to $1 million.”

    Bleed the bastards white. 🙂

  23. “Also, my sense from the way the Senate operated from July 2014 until the double dissolution in 2016 was that the Liberals weren’t well equipped to negotiate effectively with crossbenchers.”

    I would consider that somewhat of an understatement. Seemed to me they started with a “right” leaning Senate at least….and then proceeded to actively try and piss the crossbenchers off with a “we are the Govt and you must support us as we have a MANDATE you insignificant gits!!!….”

    Much silliness and born to rule self destructiveness from the Libs.

  24. imacca @ #45 Friday, December 15th, 2017 – 8:55 pm

    “The poll comes as The Daily Telegraph can reveal Labor spent $250,000 on the Bennelong campaign, excluding the union spend, compared with the Liberals’ spend of close to $1 million.”

    Bleed the bastards white. 🙂

    Clearly they literally can’t afford a stack of referrals under S44. Yeah, I agree. Bleed them white, the bastards. Utterly unfit for government.

  25. My OH and his family are from Bennelong. The seat itself has moved west, so that the ancestral family home in Boronia Park is now right on the eastern border.

    We will be watching the result with great interest. Of the two voting members living in the ancestral home, one will vote Green, and probably preference Labor. The other will vote for John Anderson, because he has been a good local member who has listened to the demographic my FIL represents – that of the retired but still very interested professionals living in the area.

    Despite the fact that Maxine McKew won Bennelong in 2007 (because of the antics of Jacky Kelly’s husband in Lindsay) , this is a deeply conservative seat, and the people who grew up there are of a uniformly conservative bent (my OH excepted). We are guarded in what we discuss politically at family gatherings.

    For Labor to take Bennelong is a big ask, and if Labor does better than 53:47, I will regard that as a significant win.

  26. Is this by election really make or break?
    With all the HC referrals coming up anything can happen. And by elections are terrible ways to “take the temperature” of the public.

  27. If the government really loses its clear majority on the floor of the house, that could well be the point where the conservatives in the Liberal Party decide to strike.

    I think it would be the point they strike. We’ve already seen Abbott stalking this by-election result with thinly veiled insinuations about Turnbull’s performance, and his media ally Credlin doing the same. Turnbull himself put it out there that the by-election is judgement on his leadership, so it’s hardly as if the reactionary wing would need to dig deep to find an excuse to remove him if KK wins tomorrow.

  28. “Clearly they literally can’t afford a stack of referrals under S44.”

    I think this is a big factor in how much the Libs are throwing at this election. They have financial troubles already i think. Who wants to finance a party that’s been behind in the polls for so long? And they really really don’t want to have to finance anything much before the next fed election.

    Lose their majority and the ALP with crossbench support (or crossbenchers doing the prodding??) wil be able to refer their own members AND Libs to the HC….which the ALP has far less reason to fear than the Libs.

    Interesting times, that get even more rapidly interesting if KK wins tomorrow. 🙂

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