Newspoll: Liberal 32, Labor 30, SA Best 21 in South Australia

Nick Xenophon comes down to earth, but the South Australian election picture is otherwise looking no clearer than ever.

The Australian has a South Australian state Newspoll result that is headlined by a 21% reading for SA Best, compared with a 32% result at the last Newspoll in December. However, half of the drop is down to the fact that SA Best will only be contested 36 out of 47, and the option is no longer being made available to respondents in seats where the party isn’t running. The two major parties are both up three points, to 32% in the Liberals’ case and 30% in Labor’s. The Greens are up a point to 7%, while Australian Conservatives are on 6%.

Jay Weatherill is down a point on approval to 33%, and up one on disapproval to 54%, while Steven Marshall is up one to 28% and up four to 54%. Weatherill leads as preferred premier by 38-31, shifting from 37-32 last time. In a three-way contest, Xenophon has crashed from 46% to 29%, but remains one point ahead of Weatherill, who is up six points, and five ahead of Marshall, who is up five points.

The poll also finds the parties evenly matched on energy policy, with the Liberals favoured by 37% and Labor by 36%. Thirty-two per cent said they were more likely to vote Labor due to their 75% renewable energy target, 22% less likely, and 34% no difference.

The poll was conducted Tuesday to Thursday from a sample of 1078.

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.

48 comments on “Newspoll: Liberal 32, Labor 30, SA Best 21 in South Australia”

  1. These results must be quite encouraging for Labor but fairly big unknown as to where X SA Best and Conservative voter preferences will run. If (and a fairly big if) Labor get 50% of the SA Best, Conservatives and others then they would be a good chance.

  2. Labor needs X to win some Lib seats. This poll sheds no light on that prospect but SA Best is not getting preferences from the Greens and Labor apparently has an open ticket, so even X himself is on a knife edge.

  3. I don’t understand why the Greens are preferencing the Liberal Party over SA Best. That could cost SA Best. It’s going to be interesting!

  4. Based on these figures ALP 20 Libs 20 SA Best 4 Independents 3.

    Xenephon not in Parliament and the rest of SA Best decide who governs.

  5. Adjusting for seats contested I get this:

    LIB 32 / 47 = 0.68085 = 28.9%
    ALP 30 / 47 = 0.63830 = 27.1%
    SAB 21 / 36 = 0.58333 = 24.8%
    CON 6 / 33 = 0.18182 = 7.7%
    GRN 7 / 47 = 0.14894 = 6.3%
    OTH 4 / 33 = 0.12121 = 5.1%
    Total = 2.354449

    So, you can consider the final column as the support each party would have on average if they were all contesting every seat.

  6. Based on movements given by @GhostWhoVotes I then adjust those to: ALP 27 (0) LIB 29 (0) SAB 25 (-7) GRN 6 (0) CON 8 (+2) OTH 5 (+5?)

    This suggests that ‘others’ weren’t an option in the previous poll? And that the only actual movement is +2 to the conservatives at the expense of SAB. An no other change! It also suggests others preferences will flow pretty strongly to SAB.

  7. Among other things, these results mean that Cory Bernardi’s con party is going nowhere. They will be lucky to get an upper house seat.

    As for the lower house, who knows? Marshall cannot be premier without Xenophon, yet he says no deal?? His campaign remains lazy, with the small business tax cut scam still leading.

    For Labor these figures will include the tram announcements (look positive) but may be too early for the Oakden/Vlahos fallout to be included. A worry.

  8. DVC – you seem to be assuming that voters who don’t have a SA Best candidate in their seat will not have been offered choice of voting SA Best – where is the evidence for this/

  9. I can make one prediction confidently. There will need to be a very careful count of preferences in a lot of the seats before results can be announced. As to the outcome – who knows????

  10. Among other things, these results mean that Cory Bernardi’s con party is going nowhere. They will be lucky to get an upper house seat.

    The Conservatives are likely to receive a similar niche that Family First filled. Maybe get a few “Send a message/Lib party is not conservative enough” Libs because that’s part of the vote they’re targeting (similar appeal that the Greens have on the other side of the spectrum)

    And, at 6% primary, they’d actually be well on track to get an upper house seat.

  11. I do echo the sentiments that it might be too soon for the fallout from Oakden to have taken its effect. Mind you, having said that, I am not sure how much that is going to matter on election day. While the media and Libs are desperate to keep it alive as the scandal of the century, I’m already seeing signs that voters are once again being distracted by petty, trivial nonsense like policies. We’ll see.

  12. Very interesting numbers. Remember that an ongoing problem for the Liberals here is that they have a lot of votes safely tucked away in the country where they are of little or no use to them. On these numbers, I am struggling to see where they win enough city seats to gain a majority in their own right. But as mentioned, there is going to have to be very careful preference counting in many seats, so we could be heading for a pretty long count with many seats still in the balance at the end of the night. SA Best now back around the numbers they got at the 2016 federal election, which is more like where I expected them to be. Having said that, I do not see them dropping further in the last two weeks of the campaign.

    Will be interesting to see how Oakden plays out. Maybe it is the Labor optimist in me, but I honestly think it is something that has already been factored in, and is unlikely to change many votes at this point. Maybe different had Ministers been directly implicated, but this wasn’t the case.

  13. Certainly shaping up as possibly the most unpredictable election at state level in a long long time. It will be interesting to how the preference system works with three large parties. The only comparison might be the 1998 Queensland election but even then nobody (at least nobody serious) thought ONP was actually going to take government.
    SA Best might very well be in position to demand at least the deputy premiership. But I doubt either of the other leaders will want to be upstaged by Mr X as a deputy.

  14. DVC, you can consider your final column also as the average of the votes received by the 3 majors in the 36 seats they’re all contesting. Then you need to allow for a bit of variability around the averages. I suppose we can assume that nearly all the 2nd prefs of the AusCons will go to the “Liberals”, so we get averages of 36/27/25. The variability will put SAB ahead of Labor in a lot of “Liberal” seats but ahead of the “Lib”s in fewer seats. Then the preferences will matter (voters’ actual preferences, not the HTV cards that people increasingly ignore)! As I said a while ago, it all looks dreadfully unpredictable but I still think SAB will win more than HH’s guesstimate of 4, but not the majority I was expecting on the basis of the previous Newspoll. Fascinating….

  15. Agree re Australian Conservative preferences flowing tightly to the Liberals. Having said that, I wouldn’t be surprised to see an even tighter Green preference flow to Labor than usual. Labor has made renewable energy a very high ranking campaign issue, announcing a 75 percent renewable energy target by 2025 would have to be extremely appealing to Greens voters. What will be interesting is whether Greens voters follow their party’s recommendation to preference SA Best ahead of Rau.

  16. Oakden was probably about as bad as Labor expected. Nothing was new but it reminded the voters of the scandals plaguing Weatherill (chemo, TAFE, child protection, ramping, etc etc).
    Marshall just can’t cut through, and although not many are falling for Weatherills spin and bluster, at least he’s trying to do something.
    I think the Libs will lose. They are hopeless.

  17. It is hard to tell what will happen to Conservatives preferences. Over recent election Family First preferences have been 60/40 to Libs at best. Maybe some of the FF voters who preference Labor previously will just vote Labor without the “Family First” imagery. And quite a few of their voters are probably ON voters as well who are predictably fairly unpredictable.

  18. I cant see how the ALP can possibly win this election (hope I’m wrong). I have just done a spreadsheet of the last election when the result was ALP 24 seats, Libs 22 (including Bob Such’ s seat of Fisher which was subsequently won by the ALP in a bye-election). Independent 1 (Geoff Brock). The ALP vote in polls seems to have been on the decline and the boundaries have been changed to marginally favour the Libs. The Libs only have to win three seats to win Government. There are nine seats at serious risk, viz, Badcoe, Colton, Elder, Florey, Lee, Light, Mawson, Torrens and Wright. I’d be very surprised if the Libs can’t pick up 3 from those. The one thing that the ALP has got going for it is Steven Marshall who doesn’t seem to have much electoral appeal but whether that is enough to keep Jay in power we shall see.

  19. Interesting. I believe Tony Webb, the ALP candidate for Heysen, is the same Tony Webb who kiboshed the Nuclear Fuel Waste RC via the ‘citizens jury’.

  20. The two leaders who want a Nuclear Fuel Waste Dump are Cory Bernardi and – wait for it – Jay Weatherill. The economic benefits would be enormous.

    The Libs could lose a couple of seats to Independents – Troy Bell in Mount Gambier and Duncan McFettridge in Morphett.

    Bell was the Liberal member until he was charged with corruption offences. If he wins the seat, he still has the charges to beat in court. If cleared, he could always rejoin the Libs.

    McFettridge is the sitting member who quit the Libs in high dudgeon when he missed preselection after a draw from the hat to break a tie and then a one-vote defeat by a newbie.

  21. @Wakefield That’s what William says at the top “However, half of the drop is down to the fact that SA Best will only be contested 36 out of 47, and the option is no longer being made available to respondents in seats where the party isn’t running. “

  22. The other bizarre thing we might have to factor in is that March 17 is St Patrick’s day. This means there’s going to be an awful lot of people out wearing green. If advertising posters do anything, then having heaps of people out wearing the colour of one party might also?

  23. Under the SA system, a ballot paper with just a 1 in a single box is set aside. It is later admitted to the count and preferences are alloted in accordance with the registered voting ticket of the candidate with the 1 against his/her name. If that candidate did not lodge a voting ticket, the vote is informal.

    These votes can be critical in a tight race. X will be the loser because of the Greens’ decision to put Liberal ahead of X. The Greens of course do not want to be supplanted as the third party in SA.

  24. It is hard to see a lot of Lib or ALP voters preferencing each other rather that X. Whatever the HTV card says. And of the 36 X are contesting one of the them will finish 3rd in most seats. So they would have to be pretty unlucky to get less than 8 seats. I think 19/19/9 to 17/17/13.

    I am sad that SA looked like it had a chance to get off the floor under Weatherill. Now it looks like it will head for 3 (4?) years of a fool and a clown show.

  25. It is hard to see a lot of Lib or ALP voters preferencing each other rather that X. Whatever the HTV card says. And of the 36 X are contesting one of the them will finish 3rd in most seats. So they would have to be pretty unlucky to get less than 8 seats. I think 19/19/9 to 17/17/13.
    Weatherill seemed to have grasped that SA has to be innovative and find niche markets where it can excel. Otherwise it will become more and more irrelevant to the national economy. A retirement and welfare state.

  26. Unbelievable – a $1.2 million Chinese donation to the SA Liberals? What for, we can only wonder?

    Marshall says “But no big cheque has been received in the mail recently.”

    What does that mean? Was the cheque handed over personally with a promise not to bank it till after the election? Will they keep the cash? Sounds like a yes. What does Ms Zhou’s mining company get in return?

  27. Saturday night confession: While there’s zero chance of it happening, I’d like Rob Simms (Green) to win Adelaide. I think he is one of the Greens’ best and would like to see him in some elected office. Although, let me be clear: I have no problem with Jo Chapley (ALP) and think she’d be great if elected. Rachel Sanderson (Lib), OTOH, is an embarrassing seat-warmer and I wish she’d go away (every experience I have had involving her has been terrible.)

  28. The Sunday Mail today features a suicide in the new RAH and a new nursing home scandal.

    If this is to be the meme, there’s no clear air for Labor.

  29. Frankly, I don’t care what dirt the bin-snoopers at the Advertiser/Sunday Mail have to share. They were always going to throw everything they had at the Government (just like they did in 2010 and 2014.) The election will not be won or lost by what they have to say.

  30. The ALP has been average at best over 12 years.

    Only the drongos at the Libs have kept them in power.

    The Libs are still caught up in the faction fights of the 1970s.

    As usual the Libs are promising increased spending + tax cuts and unknown ‘savings’.

    The greens are full of inner metro nimbys. The SA best are devoid of overall policies but are suited to the cross benches.

    Having said that the ALP don’t deserve to be re-elected.

  31. ALP have put out a professionally printes full colour DL in Playford. Paid delivery too! It’s specifically targeting the SA Best candidate based on some comment she once made about graffitti being a kind of art.
    Really petty ‘play the man’ stuff in a seat where that expenditure should not be necessary.
    Can’t see this as anything as a bad sign for ALP. Why spend money on this?
    Are they niw worried about SA Best in Playford?
    Did the Playford campaign have spare money and thought it would be wasted if spent on neighbouring Florey or Wright or up the road in Newland?
    Very peculiar indeed.

  32. BBD: I think they’ve seen the writing on the wall in Florey, so you can understand why poor Rik is now just going through the motions. But Playford should be an easy win for Labor. The fact they appear to be worried about SA Best in that seat is indeed concerning.

    And, do you know what? They get ZERO sympathy from me.

    Trying to oust Frances Bedford in order to capture an extra seat for Labor Unity was always the height of stupidity. Had they had an ounce of decency, they would be running a cabinet minister (and apparently well-enough liked local member) in Playford, a very well-known and extremely popular local member in Florey and would STILL have half a chance of getting Michael Brown up in King.

    Instead, they’ve lost Florey, have a nobody in King and (it seems) have a fight on their hands in Playford.


  33. Yes, and Rick Sarre could be heading the upper house ticket instead of wasting his talents on mission impossible in Bragg.H

  34. I know Rick Sarre personally. He is a former colleague of mine. He is not interested in another serious run for parliament (truth be told, if he seriously ran for something again, it’d probably be local government.) He is just on the ballot in Bragg because there needs to be a Labor candidate on the ballot.

    Labor does not think it is going to win one of the safest Liberal seats. Get a grip.

  35. Very quixotic of Rick, as in Sturt last time. The flip side is that we missed out on having a reforming attorney-general.

  36. 3 polls from the tiser that could go to independents:


    Mr Brock is now ahead in his seat of Frome, and poised for a narrow 52-48 victory, despite a clear backlash against his decision to back Mr Weatherill. Mr Brock’s primary vote has slipped from 44 per cent to 36 per cent, as his past supporters move to the Liberals.

    Liberal candidate Kendall Jackson, who lost to Mr Brock in 2014, has boosted her primary vote from 35 per cent at the last election to 44 per cent now and is clearly in first place.

    However, Mr Brock is expected to pick up the bulk of preferences from Labor’s 15 per cent of the vote and the Greens’ 3 per cent to finish the count a nose ahead of Ms Jackson.


    In Morphett, Dr McFetridge faces a crushing loss in a four-corner contest.

    Dr McFetridge was elected as a Liberal in 2014 and holds the seat on a 7.7 per cent margin.

    In a bizarre turn of events last April, Dr McFetridge was defeated in a three-way preselection tussle included former federal MP Matt Williams and Mr Patterson. Mr Patterson and Mr Williams drew with equal votes in the first round, leading to a name drawing from a hat to decide who was eliminated. Mr Patterson ultimately won Liberal endorsement by one vote.

    Dr McFetridge then quit the Liberals to run as an independent.

    On a two-party basis, Galaxy estimates the Liberals will win 55-45 over Labor.


    In Florey, Ms Bedford is likely to win comfortably with the aid of Liberal preferences.

    Galaxy estimates she is ahead of Labor 57-43, and find she has the highest primary vote.

    Ms Bedford is picking up 36 per cent support, down from the 50 per cent she achieved as the endorsed Labor candidate in 2014. Labor’s Rik Morris has a competitive 31 per cent backing.

    However, preference flows from the Liberals’ 21 per cent and Greens’ 5 per cent are key.

    They look likely to elect Ms Bedford as an independent for the first time.

  37. Florey was made a notional 59% TPP for Bedford at the redistribution, so the loss of ALP endorsement has cost her only 2% accordining to this poll…wow.
    ALP has lost 20% from it’s Primary without her on the ticket too!

  38. Steven Marshall was most unconvincing on ABC Radio this morning.
    It doesn’t seem to matter. The vibe was that the Libs are pretty happy with their polling in key marginal seats.

  39. McFetridge could conceivably have supported Labor in a hung Parliament. Things do seem to be looking better and better for the Liberals.

  40. Interesting upper house HTVs. I’ll start by expressing my dismay that Labor have put the Conservatives at #3 (after the Greens.) Hopefully election of Labor/Greens MLCs sponges most of that overhang up.

    Having said that, the Conservatives have done well for themselves in the preference game (as Family First used to do) and could easily get over the line, especially if their primary is around the amount suggested in that Newspoll. SA Best doing terribly in the preference game (unsurprising; nobody wants them to establish a presence.) Other interesting element is that #2 SA Best preference goes to Dignity. It’s plausible that, should the SA Best vote be a bit weaker than expected, Kelly Vincent gets back in on the SA Best overhang.

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