Newspoll and ReachTEL: Liberal 34, Labor 31 in South Australia

A late poll from South Australia shows only that whoever ends up governing will do so from an historically low primary vote.

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In quick succession, we have had final statewide polls from Newspoll (for The Australian) and ReachTEL (for Sky News), and they are of one mind in having the Liberals leading Labor on the primary vote by 34% to 31%, and very nearly in accord with support for SA Best, which Newspoll has at 17% and ReachTEL has at 16%. Newspoll has the Greens on 8%; no figure is available from ReachTEL. In Newspoll’s case, the Liberals are up two on the poll a fortnight ago, Labor and the Greens are up one each, and SA Best is down four. Sky News also related that the ReachTEL poll had Labor leading 52-48 in a forced preference of undecided voters, although it’s hard to say what use that figure is exactly.

Both pollsters also asked what Nick Xenophon should do if he holds the balance of power, with rather different results. Newspoll respondents broke clearly for the Liberals, who were favoured by 52% compared with just 28% for Labor. However, ReachTEL also included a “party with the most votes” option that was favoured by 33%, compared with 35% for Labor and 32% for the Liberals. This may suggest awareness that it was the Liberals twice failed to win government after scoring higher vote shares than Labor in 2010 and 2014.

Newspoll’s personal ratings find Jay Weatherill steady on 33% approval and down one on disapproval to 53%; Steven Marshall up two to 30% and down four to 50%; Weatherill with a 38-33 head-to-head lead over Marshall as preferred premier, down from 38-31 last time; and an even balance on a three-way preferred premier question, on which Weatherill is up one to 29%, Marshall up three to 27% and Nick Xenophon down four to 25%.

I have now given my poll tracker what will presumably be its final update, and its reading naturally reflects closely the consensus of Newspoll and ReachTEL, albeit that the Liberals come in a little lower. Also for your convenience, the table below shows all the seat polling conducted through the campaign for The Advertiser by YouGov Galaxy. Click on the image for a clearer look.

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.

76 comments on “Newspoll and ReachTEL: Liberal 34, Labor 31 in South Australia”

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  1. The Xenophon preferences flowed strongly to Labor at the last Federal election in my Electorate of Hindmarsh. If repeated would prove very handy in Lee, Colton & Badcoe

  2. I am sure they said the 19% other in the poll included undecided voters who favoured Labour 52-48 over Liberal. There was also a throw away comment about the Conservatives getting 20% of undecided which seems rather strange

  3. We need to consider where the CON preferences are going to go. If we assume these people are naturally LIB voters who don’t want to vote LIB to send a message, then their preferences might go through SAB before they go back to the LIBs.

    It’s not just the primaries that matter here. The 3PP will determine who finishes 2nd. How “interesting” this election is then depends on how often SAB gets into 2nd.

  4. paywalled

    SA election Newspoll: Back Liberals, voters urge Xenophon
    The Australian 10:21PM March 16, 2018

    Nick Xenophon’s support among voters has continued to dive ahead of tomorrow’s wildly unpredictable South Australian election, with his personal standing lower than the leaders of the major parties for the first time, and his new party’s primary vote now below 20 per cent.

    In a key finding from a Newspoll taken exclusively for The Weekend Australian, most SA-Best voters want Mr Xenophon to side with the Liberals if his fledgling party, which is fielding 36 candidates in the 47-seat House of Assembly, holds the balance of power.

    Mr Xenophon’s SA-Best has seen its primary vote drop from 32 per cent in December to 21 per cent a fortnight ago and now 17 per cent, according to the latest Newspoll.


    According to pollsters, SA-Best’s support will likely be highest outside Adelaide, in regional seats where the Liberals have typically been getting over the line with more than 50 per cent of the primary vote. Much of the SA-Best vote is coming from disaffected Liberal voters, presenting some dangers for Mr Marshall, particularly in seats such as Chaffey, centred on the Riverland, where Mr Xenophon is popular.

    Pollsters predict that outside Adelaide, the two-party-preferred vote will come down to Liberal versus SA-Best in most electorates. In the key metropolitan seats, SA-Best may finish third more often than not, they say.

    Almost 200,000 prepoll and postal ballots have been cast. These will not be counted until Monday. The Greens could only manage a one-percentage-point rise in primary support to 8 per cent since the previous Newspoll, while support for other parties and independents remained unchanged at 10 per cent.

    Given the unpredictable nature of preference flows in likely three-cornered contests, Newspoll has for the third consecutive survey been unable to calculate a two-party-preferred vote.

  5. SA Best are clearly on the slide and they are going to do well to win any seats if the polls are correct. I am going with them winning none.

    So can the Liberals hold onto the majority the distribution gave them by favouring them to win 26 seats. Assuming Bedford as Labor and Bell as Liberal and Brock holds his seat then which three seats are the Liberals going to lose to Labor to keep them from getting to 24.
    Newlands looks to be an obvious one, it is the kind of result we have seen Labor achieve.
    The poll in Mawson should it at 50-50 so that could be a second.
    Hartley can be dismissed as an option for Labor and Dunstan looked to be held by Marshall if the poll can be believed
    We simply don’t know what is happening in the Liberal favoured seats Black, Adelaide, Gibson, Elder and Colton.
    The task would be made harder if they lost Lee or any other of their favoured seats but again we have no idea what is happening in King, Hurtle Valley, Torrens.
    It now looks like it is in these unpolled seats that the election will be decided if SAB is failing like the polls suggest.

  6. Thanks William for the “instant” reporting.

    Pity pre-poll votes not counted till Monday. Quite likely about 30% will have pre-polled so the commentary on vote count tomorrow night is going to depend on assumptions about pre-poll reflecting ordinary voting which has a fair margin for error.

  7. You say that Toorak, but in 2014 the Liberal vote was approx 45% and ALP+GRN was approx 44%. On this evenings polls we are now looking at LIB 34% and ALP+GRN 39%. The liberals are going to need some handy preference flows …

  8. Sykesie, which might just mean SAB preferences will flow strongly to the Liberals and deliver them a majority government. I don’t know whether this is going to happen, but it cannot be ruled out.

  9. I have no idea. I was going to lock a seat prediction in tonight, but it’d be dice rolling and there’s no point. I know it seems cowardly but I’d rather be wrong off an educated guess than a random one.

    I guess all I can say is I reckon the SAB support is understated and I think they will do better than the current wisdom is suggesting.

    I’ll randomly guess who’ll form government though: Jay will be back. Crossbench support. And what the hell, I’ll throw a wild one out there: Labor will win the 2PP (v. Lib) vote.

    Anyway, off to bed I go because I am super tired. Good luck and remember to vote!

  10. The Conservatives vote will not flow strongly to Libs based on previous FF preferences which were at times only 60/40 to Libs. FF was essentially a party based on Assemblies of God church plus other similar churches. While they could round up the faithful for Vote 1, they were not so good at shifting preferences. Given the publicity about Conservatives preferencing some Labor ahead of Liberal or split tickets the pattern of preferences is likely to continue.

    On these polls if Labor can get 50% of SA Best preferences it can get to the 50-51% of 2pp vote which is about where it needs to be to have a shot at government.

    Not sure how good the polls are at finding SA Best voters. Some of them at least are the rather switched off “plague on the major parties” voters who might be more likely to be refusing to take pollster calls.

  11. Frankly I’m not surprised that less than 2/3 of the voters haveLib-Lab number 1.
    Both are an effing disgrace to the state. X is no better but he will not win.
    I’m pretty immune to whoever wins so in some ways I don’t care. But we deserve better. We don’t deserve this.
    I can only hope there is a clean out post election and we can come up with a decent, sensible human being as premier eventually. But I can’t see one yet.


    SA Election Late Polls And Other Comments

    I have no idea who is going to win this after seeing those late polls, though I might have one when I wake up tomorrow.

    I reckon the Conservatives preference flow will be stronger than FF. The FF name tended to suck in low-information voters whereas the Conservative brand appeals more to the hardcore culture warrior who has fallen off the right wing of the Liberals.

  13. Hang the torpedoes, full steam ahead! I predict the following:

    Liberal 32 (all their current notional seats plus Hurtle Vale, King, Lee, Light and Torrens from Labor and Frome from Brock)
    Labor 14
    Independent 1 (Bedford)
    Goose egg for SA Best, with Xenophon not even coming close in Hartley

    For the upper house I’ll go with three seats each for Labor, Liberal and SA Best, and one each for the Conservatives and Greens.

    The combination of
    – the boundary changes
    – the “It’s Time” factor
    – the Oakden findings
    – the 2016 blackout
    – Shorten’s tax policy announcement (diabolical timing, regardless of whatever its merits may be)
    – the unanimous and enthusiastic Liberal endorsements by columnists and shock jocks
    – the extremely effective attack ads (“and I’ve had enough of you, Jay!”), and
    – what I suspect will be very strong SA Best preference flows
    will simply prove too difficult for Labor to overcome this time around.

    It will undeniably provide a huge moral victory for the anti-renewables culture warriors; Chris Kenny and Leon Byner in particular will be utterly nauseating in their celebrations. My only hope is that Marshall himself will have enough authority in the partyroom to keep the crazies on a reasonably tight leash.

  14. And I thought the Toorak Toff was being optimistic for the Liberals. 32 seats for the Liberals looks far too many and I cannot see it happening. Even 27 does not look that likely, but it might happen.

  15. My wild guess from a few days ago was Labor 21, Liberal 22, Xenophon, Bedford, Brock and Bell. I am far less confident in Xenophon winning, I don’t think he will win. That would give the Liberals 23 and Bell which surely means government.

  16. No result until at least tuesday when absentee votes counted.

    Computers to crash on TV as they try to factor in 2nd/3rd/4th preference flows.

  17. Here is the political roundup we deserve to have.

    I cannot get an answer from the polls other than to observe a drop in SA Best and a gradual rising trend in Libs. I think that might be enough to get the Libs over the line. Weatherall has campaigned well, but his body labguage does not look confident to me.

    I have met several angry public servants recently (mostly health) and that demographic alone might cost Labor government. If Labor do finally lose the SDA and manufacturing factions and all their right wing religious clique MPs should be cleaned out but I will not hold my breath. They will cling to office for grim death, knowing they will will never regain power via popular support once lost.

    Meanwhile if the Libs win Marshall has a mandate for nothing. Will the Chinese money get magically donated soon after the election? I expect so. The states economy is improving, but the Libs will ransack it once again. X/SAB could be useful to stop them, but he might only be a force in the upper house. For the sake of 5he state I hope Marshall does not get a majority.

  18. If there has been a substantial preroll vote the SA Best vote from earlier voters when they were doing better in the polls might be higher than their vote on the day

  19. Well, my prediction is more ‘out there’ than most, certainly in relation to the non-LibLab vote:

    Liberal – 20 seats
    ALP – 19 seats
    SA Best – 5 seats
    Independent – 3 seats

    Liberal to form government with the support of SA Best and Independents.

    You heard it here first 😉

  20. itsthevibe: Piccolo won’t lose Light. He’s a lock.

    Next to Frances Bedford, he’s the best on the ground, local campaigner in the parliament.

  21. Will be a seat by seat prospect…..reckon Bedford and Brock will win……..libs will probably win a couple of seats because of the boundary changes…..extra….. possible that Mr X loses but his band have balance……. to get 24 seats in own right will be difficult for either side. … best can get between none and say about 7……..

  22. Like chinda I think if SA Best gets seats X will form government with the Libs, not Labor. This is one reason why I am pessimistic today.

  23. Seems to me that the majority of Xenophon’s support base would be unhappy with a Labor coalition. Then again would it depend on what each side offer him? Also Marshall promised not to form minority government I believe. For what it’s worth.

  24. [Frankly I’m not surprised that less than 2/3 of the voters haveLib-Lab number 1.
    Both are an effing disgrace to the state. X is no better but he will not win.
    I’m pretty immune to whoever wins so in some ways I don’t care. But we deserve better. We don’t deserve this.
    I can only hope there is a clean out post election and we can come up with a decent, sensible human being as premier eventually. But I can’t see one yet.]

    Congratulations. The most idiotic comment in Poll Bludger history.

  25. Dreadful start to the day. Ready to hand out at a blue-ribbon Tory booth . . . lots of Lib workers and posters . . . every other party there with HTVs . . . a long queue as voters waited for the doors to open . . . . . . and no bloody Labor stuff at all!

    After a couple of frantic phone calls, the HTVs arrived but the early horse had bolted. Not that it matters too much there, but the few Labor voters deserve all the encouragement they can get. The Tories are on the rampage and very confident. The It’s Time syndrome is in full swing.

    There’s a line of thinking that says Labor can win 20 seats if it’s a really good day, 16 if it’s an average day and 12 if things go badly wrong.

  26. Looks to me like a Lib or Lib/SAB government. Might have to have a couple of rums tonight to drown the bad taste in my mouth.

  27. Nick Xenophon is suing Stephen Marshall for defamation and has also indicated back in January that Marshall should resign as Liberal leader if he fails to win enough seats to form government.

    Does this open up the possibility that Nick will only support a Liberal government if there is a change of leader? Vickie Chapman has been almost invisible this campaign, but could she end up as premier in a fortnight??

    Marshall has plenty of opponents in the Liberal parliamentary ranks, so if the price of forming government is to get rid of him, he doesn’t have a lot of rock solid backers.

  28. I am heading off to do my booth HTV duty this afternoon, and scrutineering tonight. I share TTT’s pessimism. I can’t see a way for Labor to win more than 20 seats, and then I can’t see any realistic pathway for it to form Government. My hope is that Labor gets as close to 20 seats as possible, and then sit back and watch the fun and games for the next 4 years. Peter Malinauskas as opposition leader will run rings around Stephen Marshall, or whoever else ends up as Premier. I’m still picking Xenophon to win Hartley and for SA Best to win 4 seats in total, plus 3 independents. Let’s see!! The more Labor falls short of 20 seats, the gloomier I will get…

  29. After 16 years of the socialist utopia that has SA has become the liberals should not stand a chance should they? Maybe the ALP need another 4 just to fine tune the little things like health, education, unemployment and power supply to their people but other than those little things SA has been absolutely thriving under the ALP and SA leading the way in all the measures that indicate good governance.

  30. After 16 years of ‘tired, terrible’ ALP government, the Liberals should be leading by a huge margin shouldn’t they? Maybe they need another 4 years to fine tune the little things, like actual policy.

  31. My prediction. Labor to lose Badcoe, Colton, Elder, Hurtle Vale, Light, Mawson, Newland & Torrens to the Libs and Florey to Independent. Make up of new Parliament to be
    Libs 22 (from last election) plus 8 above less Bell (Independent)= 29
    ALP 24 (from last election) less 9 above= 15
    Independents 3 (Brock, Bedford & Bell)
    SAB not to win any seats (but if they do they will come from labor)

  32. There seemed to be a lot of reluctant voting going on today. Nobody is excited by the occasion. For people voting ALP that makes sense – 16 years is an old government. But if Liberals or SABest are relying on reluctant voters it is an uphill battle for them to hold those seats next time around.

    I agree with O there is a slim chance for a 4th option for leader and Chapman would be my bet with strong backing from The Poodle.

  33. The percentages stats predictions from the Gus

    Labor primary vote 36.65% should get 25 seats

    Liberal party primary vote 38.89% should get 18 seats

  34. Some huge late movements in the seat betting markets before Sportsbet closed their markets, all in the Liberal direction. Xenophon got out to $5 in Hartley (amazingly after being a $1.02 favourite just a month or so ago when Tarzia was $10!) and Liberal got down to 1.65 in Lee and King (after being $3 King a few hours before) $1.42 Mawson and $1.10 Dunstan. Taylor also shortened for Taylor down to 2.75. Only seat that moved towards Labor at all was Torrens. So either some people are over-confident with too much spare change, or they have some accurate information from polling booths (exit polls?). We’ll find out the answer tonight (or possibly only in a week or two…)

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