Newspoll: SA Best 32, Liberal 29, Labor 27 in South Australia

Premier Nick Xenophon? Quite possibly, if the latest South Australian state voting intention poll is anything to go by.

Well, here’s something. The Australian has published a South Australian state Newspoll result aggregated from polling conducted from October through December, and it credits Nick Xenophon’s SA Best party with 32% of the primary vote – ahead of both the Liberals on 29%, and Labor on 27%. What’s more, Xenophon is streets ahead on a three-way preferred premier question at 46%, with Premier Jay Weatherill on 22% and long-suffering Liberal leader Steven Marshall on 19%. Weatherill’s personal ratings are 34% approval and 53% disapproval, while Marshall’s approval rating is a dangerous 27%, with disapproval of 50%. The poll has a sample of 800; with good reason, no two-party preferred figure is provided.

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.

89 comments on “Newspoll: SA Best 32, Liberal 29, Labor 27 in South Australia”

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  1. Where is all this stuff about Xenophon being right-wing coming from (couldn’t possibly be ALP propaganda, could it)? Here’s an infographic from a couple of years ago showing upper-house voting patterns:

    According to that, Labor voted more with the Abbott government than Xenophon did. And while I don’t have more recent data, we know that the Xenophon group have consistently sided with Labor and the Greens to kill government legislation. At worst, he’s a centrist.

  2. @Simon Katich

    re: “Xenophon is rational”

    Yes, just like flat earthers and Homeopaths, Nick Xenophon is rationally protecting us from infrasound, that deadly killer that somehow only manages to impact English speaking residents who live near wind turbines (even ones that are turned off) and only those who aren’t getting any money from the wind turbine being there.

    He is a reactionary, anti-science nutjob.

    He has one redeeming feature, he hates gambling.

  3. DIOG – But what would be in it for Nick? He wants “Premier” written on his tombstone. That and nothing else. I can’t see Jay being beholden to him anyway. Let the Libs have him

  4. I think SA Best could cause maximum damage by doing what PHON did in Queensland and preference against sitting members. Equally, I think the Libs and Labor can do maximum damage to the state by preferencing SA Best behind Labor and Libs respectively. Though in that case I think Labor will come up on top.

  5. VE
    **re: “Xenophon is rational”**
    I did say I believed him to be a rational populist. As far as the spectrum of populists go – he is on the rational side.

    David Heslin; there is nothing evil about centre right. There have been (if I stretch my memory) some highly regarded centre right politicians. Admittedly the 1D political spectrum is overly simplified.

    Perhaps we can settle on Xenophon being left of Abbott, more rational than Hanson and as likely to solve political problems as Peter Pan.

  6. has someone translated 2016 fed figures to sa seats?
    vote was 24% federally?
    10% approx to other than Lab , lib and sab……..assume 5% right and 5% green

  7. I note he’s standing in just seven seats at the moment – all Liberal.
    He claimed he would announce a total of 20 by Christmas. I suspect candidate vetting is causing problems.
    If they are not totally clean in their lives, the dirt units will pounce. He would be wise to delay and make sure. Voters don’t care.

  8. I do believe that I predicted a couple of months ago on this site that Xenophon’s main game was to be Premier.

    I was a little off this result (this is a higher vote than I thought they could reasonably sustain beyond the “sugar hit” of him leaving the Senate to recontest the HOA in SA), but I maintain that Mr X will use any result where his party holds the balance of power or better to insist that the price of delivering his numbers will be that HE has to run the show.

    It will be a coalition with either Labor or Liberal, but it will be spun by him as “consensus” government, ushering in a new era of “people power” … with him as the saviour of democracy, of course.

    Yep. I reckon he really is that conceited.

    PS My second prediction is that Frances Bedford will be re-elected in Florey as an Independent, and that after a good election result (especially if X becomes Premier), she will be the next Speaker of the House of Assembly.

    Remember: You heard it here first

  9. Hereunder is the 2016 senate % votes for the ALP, LIBS, NXT and ‘all others’ by federal division, adjusted proportionally for the figures of the new poll, in order of NXT descending.
    It appears that with regards to the poll, the ALP ‘vote’ has hardly changed from the 2016 senate vote, while the LIB, Greens, and other Others votes have dropped about 3% each, to make up the 9% NXT increase.
    Mayo 14.50 32.46 43.78 9.26
    Grey 21.92 32.46 36.81 8.81
    Barker 16.40 36.70 35.83 11.07
    Boothby 22.31 33.11 32.89 11.69
    Sturt 22.11 35.42 31.82 10.65
    Kingston 35.15 20.97 31.07 12.81
    Makin 32.50 24.50 30.14 12.86
    Wakefield 32.59 22.28 29.22 15.91
    Hindmarsh 28.77 32.71 27.98 10.53
    Port Adelaide 42.99 16.45 27.21 13.35
    Adelaide 27.77 31.92 25.25 15.05
    AVERAGE 27.00 29.00 32.00 12.00

  10. Ladbrokes (in side margin) has moved since this morning:

    $2.20 in to 1.95
    $1.83 out to 1.95
    SA Best
    $7 in to 5.50

  11. A most excellent analysis Fargo61 – and the rank order of federal divisions is very revealing, and explains why the Liberals are up against it.

  12. If SA Best run 20 candidates and if they manage to run them mostly in the best seats possible then we would expect that SA best is doing better in the seats they are actually planning on running then the state wide average. So they probably are favourites to win a number of seats even if the major parties swap preferences. Possibly enough to with the balance of power or to threaten Liberals as the second biggest party in the state.
    Whether SA Best can maintain or improve their position as the election comes closer and both major parties attack them strongly is questionable.

  13. What a messy Election this will be. With a strong chance of 5+ Xenophon seats, 3 cornered tussles everywhere and a couple of long term popular members standing as independents. In terms of last Federal election, Xenophon preferences in my electorate of Hindmarsh flowed very strongly to Labor. In my state electorate of Colton, a former Lib candidate in Jassmine Wood is standing as the Xenophon candidate in what looked likely a Liberal gain to their star recruit in former Paralympian gold medallist Matthew Cowdrey.

  14. I think Jassmine Wood is an excellent chance in Colton. After Paul Caica retired, coupled with the tricky redistribution, this looked a really likely liberal gain. However Jassmine is a well known local councillor and will be starting with a good name recognition. It’s quite possible she will finish second and win on labor+green preferences.

  15. Perhaps Xenephon will be looking at 2022 and may figure out that supporting the ALP to form government in 2018 will finally totally destroy the Liberals, leaving the field open for him in 2022, when he would be facing a Labor government for which “It’s Time” will have escalated form a big liability to a death sentence.

    If he supported the Liberals in government this time, there is just a chance that they will muddle through at a vaguely acceptable level for 4 years and still be a significant opponent for him in 2022.

  16. The best scenario for Xenophon is that he reduces the ALP to a minority government and the Liberals to a rump and then unsuccessfully negotiate with both sides, causing the Liberals to support the ALP minority government and then sweep the next election.

    If he takes one side or the other, he will loose votes and/or have infighting in his MPs. It is the problem faced by centre parties (DLP and Democrats) in Australia, taking a side smashes them on the rocks.

  17. Tom the first and best:

    The best scenario for Xenophon is that he reduces the ALP to a minority government and the Liberals to a rump and then unsuccessfully negotiate with both sides, causing the Liberals to support the ALP minority government and then sweep the next election.

    I agree. Both Labor and the Liberals would lose a lot of support from such a deal, and Xenophon would become the official opposition. Which is why it probably won’t happen, if Labor and the Libs have any sense whatsoever.

    I don’t pretend to have much knowledge on the intricacies of SA politics, but my reading from several states away is that a Lib/SA Best seems to most likely outcome, on the basis that A) the Liberals, especially if Marshall is still leader (which is a big “if” based on how he’s been travelling, IMO), will likely be more desperate to win government and more willing to deal with Xenophon, and B) Labor is probably not as fussed about a spell in opposition after so long in power, and would be thinking it will be easier to win from opposition in 2022 against a Lib/SA Best minority government than four years later against after potentially being whomped hard in a 2022 election. Labor has already faced the “It’s Time” factor in the last two SA elections – that they are not facing a larger loss is a minor miracle.


    Perhaps Xenephon will be looking at 2022 and may figure out that supporting the ALP to form government in 2018 will finally totally destroy the Liberals, leaving the field open for him in 2022, when he would be facing a Labor government for which “It’s Time” will have escalated form a big liability to a death sentence.

    The risk there is that Xenophon is likely to be connected to whichever party he supports in the public mind. He’d have to play things very carefully indeed to succeed with such a strategy.

  18. If Xenophon out-polls the Liberals, in votes and/or seats (of which there is a reasonable chance), I think there is a good chance he would insist on being premier himself in any arrangement with the Liberals and it would make him less likely to deal with the ALP.

    The ALP would also have only a small chance of winning against a Xenophon lead government with the ALP in power at Commonwealth level (which is near certain if the ALP win a Commonwealth election in 2019). The last time the ALP won in SA with an ALP Commonwealth Government was 1930. Xenophon would also be harder to defeat under a Coalition Commonwealth Government, than the SA Liberals, because SA best would not usually be propping up a Coalition Commonwealth Government. Xenophon, if he is successful (in the short term that is a very big if but if he gets past teething stage, he is likely to last), would be in with a chance at trying to outdo Playford`s 27 years as Premier.

  19. Just got robopolled by “nationwide research” or some similar company. (I’m in the seat of Adelaide (state and federal). It was clearly a labor funded poll as it asked various push polling questions that were to labors advantage. It also asked my preference on a combination of different preferences (ie liberals v Xenophon, labor v Xenophon etc).

  20. I notice that due to the redistribution, the ALP would need a uniform swing to it of 3.2% to have 24 seats ‘on the pendulum’ (including one independent). That would seem unlikely even without an X factor?

  21. The problem is Tom, the sample size of the ALP in opposition is very small. Since Dunstan won in 1965 (52 years ago), the ALP have only found themselves in opposition after the 1968, 1979, 1993 and 1997 elections. The ALP has won 12 elections to the Liberals 4 in that period.

  22. The Liberals have only won from opposition, under a Commonwealth Coalition Government, once since the heavy rural weighting was drastically reduced at the 1970 election (1968 was a narrow Liberal win (a small margin in a single seat) because of the heavy rural weighting, despite a large ALP 2PP lead).

    The ALP have not won from opposition with a Commonwealth ALP Government since 1945 in Victoria and WA since 1911. The WA Coalition have not won from opposition with a Commonwealth Coalition Government since 1959, the Victorian Coalition since 1955 (the split in the ALP), the Queensland Coalition 1957 (also the split in the ALP), the NSW Coalition since 1965 and the Tasmanian Liberals since 1982 (Franklin Dam issues).

    Commonwealth Government tends reduce a party`s vote in state elections, making it harder to win from opposition. This is one of the reasons that SA Best could be a serious threat to the SA ALP holding power in SA as SA Best will rarely be involved in the Commonwealth Government, making the Commonwealth Government state vote reduction factor rare for an SA Best Government.

  23. Interesting series of comments here. So many in fact, its hard to make head or tails of a possible outcome. However, I do believe that if Labor is in power federally, it makes it harder for a SA Labor win. However, that scenario is still 18 odd months away ( if it happens) so ipso facto, a better chance of Labor retaining power in 2018.
    Xenophon may want to build MP numbers in the 2018 election prior to an all-out assault on a burnt-out Labor government in the next election. Opposition Leader Marshall appears to be a dead man walking this time and possibly provides a carcass to be feasted on, metaphorically speaking, in this election.
    I think Xenophon is centre-right and holds a better chance of taking Liberal seats than Labor seats. One would think Labor will lose some seats however, and SA Best may be well placed to snaffle some of them as well, as voters may not be prepared to switch over to the Liberals.
    One other factor is in play. The Murray River.
    The Coalition is certainly on the nose, with Turnbull cleary backing NSW and Qld over water rights. The fact that the NSW Government is clearly obfuscating over obvious water theft under its watch doesn’t endear the Coalition to parochial ( and with good reason) SA voters. Victorian and Qld Labor Governments will cross their hearts and point the finger of blame at the Liberal State Government in NSW.
    Xenophon needs to play his cards close to his chest and the Murray River issue is an Ace up his sleeve.
    Merry Christmas to William and all the Bowe band and looking forward to an interesting New Year.

  24. On the subject of previous ALP victories, during the whole period of the Playford government, the LCL would have won at most 2, maybe 1, elections on reasonably fair boundaries*
    And yes the reverse applies to the last election!
    SA has been a majority Labour/ Labor state for a long time.

    *”The South Australian Election, 1959″, Heathington et al, Adelaide Uni Press.

  25. Terry R
    Actually despite (or more likely because of) the actual election outcomes, SA has been easily the most Liberal state in the country. The SA Libs have only lost the 2PP vote once in the last 30 years! That was in 2006.

  26. YEAR – ALP – LIB – ALP – LIB
    2014 – 47.0% – 53.0% – 23 – 22
    2010 – 48.4% – 51.6% – 26 – 18
    2006 – 56.8% – 43.2% – 28 – 15
    2002 – 49.1% – 50.9% – 23 – 20
    1997 – 48.5% – 51.5% – 21 – 23
    1993 – 31.0% – 69.0% – 10 – 37
    1989 – 48.1% – 51.9% – 22 – 22
    1985 – 53.2% – 46.8% – 27 – 16
    1982 – 50.9% – 49.1% – 24 – 21
    1979 – 45.0% – 55.0% – 20 – 24
    1977 – 53.4% – 46.6% – 27 – 17
    1975 – 49.2% – 50.8% – 24 – 23
    1973 – 54.5% – 45.5% – 26 – 20
    1970 – 53.3% – 46.7% – 27 – 20
    1968 – 53.2% – 46.8% – 19 – 20
    1965 – 54.3% – 45.7% – 21 – 18
    1962 – 54.3% – 45.7% – 19 – 20

  27. Marshall says he will quit if the Libs do not form Government – well DUH – do you think he would be re-elected as leader if he lost again?

    No way.

    And if ALP form Government or not then expect Malinauskas to be the next leader with Mullighan the deputy.

  28. They won’t elect a deputy from the same faction as the leader. The deputy would be someone from the left – probably Susan Close (the TAFE issue notwithstanding)

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