BludgerTrack: 54.1-45.9 to Labor

A quiet week for national polling leaves Malcolm Turnbull looking a little bit better on personal approval, but a little bit worse on voting intention.

In a week where only Essential Research reported a national voting intention result, BludgerTrack records a tick to Labor – although it’s actually due to me finally being able to add last fortnight’s ReachTEL to the mix, for which I hadn’t previously been able to get full primary vote numbers, and which was actually a bit of a shocker for the Coalition by the pollster’s standards. As for the state breakdowns, all I can really offer at the moment is apologies for how screwy the Queensland numbers are looking. Whether because of state election static, or simply a freakish accumlation of outliers over a very short period, six of the last seven results I have from Queensland have the Coalition primary vote at 30% or below, compared with 43.2% at the 2016 election. It will be interesting to see what we get from the Newspoll quarterly aggregation, which should be along in a week or two. Essential had its montly leadership ratings this week, which have givenn Malcolm Turnbull a bit of a lift. Full results on the sidebar.

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.

768 comments on “BludgerTrack: 54.1-45.9 to Labor”

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  1. 57.2% 2PP to ALP in Qld delivering 16 seats – anyone who believes that will actually transpire at the next election needs his/her head examined. Before the last WA election i believe the projection was 5 pickups, which has since reduced to 1 (room to improve again but prob to 2-3 seats)… we will see a parallel Qld reversion in due course (the only one way it can and will go).

    This 54-46 is illusory. In real terms, i dont believe there is much left for the ALP to gain anywhere but WA, NSW and Qld. Any smashing 90-seat win has to be delivered via lots of gains in NSW (it aint coming via Qld) – and, frankly, the polling isnt there for that and has never been there for that since Abbott was chucked.

    Am inclined to agree that current polling points to a 2007 kind of result, and its Qld pickups that get the ALP past a bare majority.

    Shorten and ALP’s focus should be NSW. Whilst winning Bennelong last night was always a bridge too far (a 10+% swing there would have been a Bass-like wipeout forbearer), a by-election 5% swing is consistent with bludgertrack NSW pickup of 4 seats. They can and arguably should be doing better than this. My (surely unpopular in these parts) inference is that – in NSW specifically – Turnbull isnt nearly as unpopular as people on Pollbludger would like to believe, and that Shorten isnt all that compelling…. yet.

    If and when Turnbull craters in NSW then the landslide is on. If Qld continues to look even half as bad as it does now, its the tradeoff between a leader who can save some furniture there without giving it all back elsewhere that the coalition would be considering. Abbott/Dutton might do the job in Qld but would lose it elsewhere… the most prudent choice would be a vanilla conservative in JWH mode.

    WA, NSW, Qld – its a bit like the USA electoral college (only 10 states matter), dont care about the overall 2PP its where the seats can actually be delivered that matters. On this front, all the pollbludger hubris over Turnbull’s certain baseball bat beating i think is way overstated – just like the Bennelong overconfidence as well for the majority part.

  2. Whatever way you want to view it, Bennelong was NOT a good result for Shorten. It was a by-election. There is almost always a 5% swing against the government.

    I think we can say that Labor did not make traction, despite the high profile candidate.

    I am not at all sure why. I am throwing these ideas into the mix as ideas ONLY. I have no firm opinion either way but they are realities that MUST be analysed and addressed if necessary:

    1. Did KK have too much baggage? ie was she a bad choice for the electorate
    2. How did the ethnic communities vote?
    3. What role did the Sinophobia factor play?
    4. Has the seat been gentrifying to a more LNP demographic?
    5. Was it all just about stability?
    6. Is there a Shorten factor?
    7. Was gender a factor?
    8. Did Alexander simply have a stronger personal following that anticipated?
    9. Did the KK accent grate.

    We should note that the Conservatives/Christians did not do particularly well, although I thought their choice of candidate poor for the electorate. Maronite Lebanese would have had limited draw in either the Chinese, Korean or Aussie middle class demographics.

  3. Morning all. Thanks BK for your efforts this morning. Mark Knight has done a great job with Helen Milroy – even down to her hair.

    Woke to much needed decent rain this morning. And much cooler temps – a relief from the last few days of humidity and heat.


  4. Insiders ABC‏Verified account @InsidersABC
    1h1 hour ago
    Coming up on #Insiders today. @barriecassidy IVs @Tony_Burke. On the panel, David Marr, Niki Savva and @markgkenny. Plus a very special treat from @rabbitandcoffee. See you at 9 on @ABCTV & @abcnews. #auspol

  5. This is good

    m_mann1: @OddemocracyA We are lucky that ‘water to the home’ was rolled out before Malcolm came along to ‘turn that around’ and gave us a community well instead.

  6. Just the facts:

    Simon Banks‏
    11h11 hours ago

    Swing at #BennelongVotes is:
    Primary -6.2%
    2PP -5.6%

    Average swing against LNP Govts at by-elections since 1949 is:
    Primary -4.8% (-1.4%)
    2PP -3.4% (-2.4%)

    Average swing against all Govts:
    Primary -5.7% (-0.5%)
    2PP 4.0% (-1.6%)

    So both swings above average

    ALP primary +7.6%

    So, dtt, go Concern Troll somewhere else.

  7. Ed Husic doing well against constant interruptions by Paul Fletcher (“we’re getting on with the job” is their favourite phrase).

  8. (“we’re getting on with the job” is their favourite phrase).

    …of setting up a funnel of taxpayers’ $ to our mates in Business…

  9. Ah, Edwina, I have a few members of family and friends who also think it makes no difference to them who is in power.
    Then they tell me about the cost of their medications, cost of seeing doctors, how outrageous it is that some pathology tests are no longer bulk billed.
    And that’s just for starters.
    They like the way the NDIS is supporting them with their disabled kids, too.
    They really do believe there is some god in Canberra who provides all this stuff (or doesn’t), called The Government, and it is nothing to do with how they vote and who is in power.
    Absolutely no personal responsibility taken. None. Zip.

    So, have you made a Medicare claim lately, Edwina?
    If so, why aren’t you thanking John Deeble, and Gough, Bob and Paul, instead of praising the LNP ratbags who want to reintroduce private medical insurance?

  10. Urban Wronski‏ @UrbanWronski · 17m17 minutes ago

    “Flash bit of kit”, (as Barnaby called her) Nationals deputy Bridget McKenzie charged taxpayers to attend shooting awards in Sydney. Gunning for her strong leader’s rorting record? Certain not to trigger her resignation.

  11. Maude. LNP voters always say that all politicians are as bad as each other. It’s in their DNA. It’s their excuse for voting for a bunch of drop kicks. I have never heard a Labor voter say that.

  12. SarahEMcBride: From anti-trans bills to discrimination in the military to banning the word “transgender” for the CDC, there is a not-so-subtle effort to erase trans people from public life.

    But we aren’t going anywhere and we are fighting back. This is our country, too.

  13. Good posts expat and dtt.

    ATM it is a 2007result ie low 80s to labor.

    Question is what happens if the vote shifts a point or so either way which is highly likely.

    I think a clear cut majority either way would be better for the country but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen – about 2021/2022 till we get stable govt.

  14. The Liberals response to the Bennelong by-election result is akin to cheering and becoming all excited after selling your house for less than you paid for it eighteen months beforehand.

  15. Cat
    What nonsense.

    OK I can agree that it was a little better than average. Great. But is was NOT a world shattering result especially after selecting a well known and very presentable candidate.

    So yes I will “concern troll” as I choose. Rather that that blindly accepting the garbage that “’twas a famous victory.”

    It was a stodgy, predictable result that probably has more downside for Bill than Malcolm. Like most I got caught up in the hype and hoped for a narrow result preferably a win but at least a knock out blow.

  16. workmanalice: Here’s the anecdote John Alexander made about a disabled car sticker in his victory speech…

  17. C@t:

    Burke taking one for the team: late night last night’s election commentary and up early this morning for Insiders. 🙂

  18. Posting for the photo

    InsidersABC: Up next on #Insiders. Niki Savva, @markgkenny & David Marr join @barriecassidy, to talk #BennelongByelection. #auspol

  19. DTT
    at the risk of boring bludgers who read my post last night (clearly not your self), I offer my own pontifications to counter yours:
    What messages do we take away from this by election?
    1. Generally, by elections result in a swing away from the government.
    2. But….This was not an ordinary by election because
    a) the incumbent was standing again
    b) most people think the reason for the by election does not reflect badly on JA
    c) JA has built up a strong personal following
    d) It is a socially conservative electorate.
    3. So point 2 probably negates point 1.
    4. Both Labor and Liberal campaigned as if their political lives depended on it. The LNP like to attribute the swing to Labor’s campaign, conveniently forgetting their own was the most intensive since 2007.
    5. So the swing seen today of 5.4% is probably similar to the one we would have seen had this been a general election.
    6. It confirms William’s aggregated national poll figures to be realistic, if not conservative.
    7. We can look forward to a HofR of Labor > 90 and LNP < 55 after the next election
    8. We will be inundated with spin and hubris from the LNP and their cheer squad, but all it will do is comfort their weak-minded followers, and cement their own self-delusion.

  20. Haven’t had time to read this thread yet, so someone else may have commented along these lines:

    Based on the headline result in this Bludgertrak, there has been a 2PP swing to Labor of about 4.5% since the last election.

    Bennelong shows up at present as about a 5.6% swing. Not a huge difference.

    In the Queensland election the final 2PP was pretty much as the polls had been showing for months.

    In the same sex marriage survey the final result was withing a couple of percent of what the polls have been showing for years.

    Makes you wonder if campaigns have much effect at all these days. They certainly did when you had a much more single channel media landscape, but perhaps the decline of print and the rise of social plus the plethora of on-line media means that there is less capacity for big last minute swings.

    It’s good news for Labor, as it seems that its gradual climb since the last general election may be pretty well baked in.

  21. A 5.6% swing away from the govt in an election is “nothing but the rump is left” type of territory for the coalition.
    While you have to concede that swings in seats are are not uniform across the country, if I were Lib, Nat or LNP I would still be worried about a swing of 5.6% which occured in a safe seat with the govt majority in the balance.
    I would rather be the ALP than the LNP at the moment. The LNP has Abbott & Co to worry about and they will do whatever they can to destabilise Turnbull.
    If I was the ALP I would be saying that if the PM thinks the election is an endorsement of his party and it’s policies then go to the people and get a mandate of more than 1.

  22. Bennelong is one of those results where everyone seems to be the winner.

    Personally, I believe that the voters, in the end, did not want to change Government through an accident. Two results since the S44 rubbish and two sitting Members returned.

    A good swing to Labor means that KK is a very popular/populist candidate. Hopefully, Labor will find her a safe seat that will get her back in to Parliament soon.

    As for the leaders. Turnbull, might crow he’s a winner. But, his fellow Libs may be seeing their life flash before their eyes right now. So a month off to think and ponder and scheme may not work out in his favour.

    Shorten continues to chip away. Labor people seem really desperate to get back in to Government and the strong campaign and high visibility in Bennelong are visible manifestations of Labor rallying the grass roots supporters to the banner. So, what ever Bill is doing, he seems to have the Party supporters in agreement. Now, for the rest of the voters.

    As always in politics, it’s what happens next!

  23. Whilst i agree that this govt is very poor, current polling (which the Bennelong result last night is entirely consistent with) at an election, excluding Qld, would get the ALP to a bare majority.

    Coalition’s incumbency in Qld is very high (held on to more seats in 2016 than they should have), but there is no way the ALP are going to gain 16 seats there. Six seats would get them to parity and be a very good result. More than 8 is extremely optimistic. If Anastacia is on the nose in the next 12 months, this could rebound sharply. I’m not so sure Shorten is so well received in Qld, but its likely they hate Turnbull there?

    ALP could use more seats than the 5 across WA and NSW current polling suggests it will gain. NSW is the promised land, and Shorten is playing relatively weakly there – and its where Turnbull is doing ok esp relative to where Abbott would have taken them.

    In this game of regional chess i think there are limits for the coalition… cant gain seats in Qld without a leader that risks at least that many seats elsewhere? For Shorten, its clear – keep doing what he’s doing but with more targeted emphasis on what moves the needle in NSW swing seats.

  24. GG
    45.9% of the voters DID want to change the government.
    It just wasn’t enough in this seat, but it WILL be enough in a general election, and the LNP will be left with a RW rump in the HoR.

    Turnbull should draw no comfort from the result in Bennelong.
    They went in hard, and the incumbent had the inside running.
    The swing is genuine.
    No amount of waffle can camouflage this swing away from the government.
    What is Turnbull saying – that he’ll try harder next time??

  25. DTT isn’t concern-trolling, those are reasonable questions @8:41AM in my opinion.

    As to ESJ, not sure what he/she is doing. Whatever it is, it doesn’t seem important and doesn’t require a response.

  26. Interesting point by Burke: Coalition MPs are taking the Bennelong result as endorsement of what they’re doing, and crowing about it instead of recognising there are lessons for the govt from the result and being a little more humble.

  27. workmanalice: .@Tony_Burke says Labor’s message from #Bennelong is – The next election will be hard. But there are enough people willing to change their votes that with the right work and the right policy, we can get there. 1 in 7 ppl who voted Lib last yr, yesterday voted Labor.

  28. Spare me the TV talking heads on what the by-election means for Turnbull/Shorten. Much rather read the talking gravatars on PB.

    I dont see how it can be a loss for Shorten for the reasons listed by Maude above – other than it wasnt a win for him in a year he has had many wins.

    Shorten needs to win back and hold some of Western Sydney and QLD to get 2 terms – not electorates like Bennelong. It seemed to me he was using the by-election to hone his message for that.

  29. Steve777, I don’t accept DTT premise:
    “Whatever way you want to view it, Bennelong was NOT a good result for Shorten. It was a by-election. There is almost always a 5% swing against the government.”

    This was not a normal by election.
    The incumbent stood again, and that is worth a few percent.
    The incumbent has a lot of personal following, too.

    It’s NOT the same as by elections where the incumbent retires/dies/etc

  30. Mude

    Yes most of what you say is pretty true although i might change the emphasis a little. I basically agree with point 2 but think it probably does not add up to a full 5% to counter the usual trends.

    Seems to me as if Labor got a swing, just a little below the one predicted by Poll tracker. 3% or so. Still enough to win government.

  31. A couple of observations on Bennelong.

    1. It appears the turn out was very high!

    With the addition of postal votes, around 16,000, this would bring turnout to as high as 88% which is less than 4% down on the last election.

    Historically turnout has been about 13% down.

    So, this seems to have been the highest turnout for a by-election.

    2. Alexander’s personal vote.

    Has anyone seen an estimate for this?

    Anyway if Alexander decides not to stand at the next election, there is another few percent off the Liberal primary vote, so it does seem that Bennelong could be very much in play next election.

  32. The by election result was so bad for Mr Shorten that he turned up to the concession speech.

    Sucess was declared. The imagery of that tells you all you need to know.

    Labor hard heads no fools on election results knew what it menat for a general election

  33. ‘Fess,
    “Interesting point by Burke: Coalition MPs are taking the Bennelong result as endorsement of what they’re doing, and crowing about it instead of recognising there are lessons for the govt from the result and being a little more humble.”

    Turnbull is spinning his followers BS, and they are grasping it like a drowning man.
    There is no worse delusion than self-delusion.

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