The Sunday after Super Saturday

A good night for Bill Shorten as Labor lands a surprisingly emphatic win in Longman, and does enough to get home in Braddon.

While Labor’s by-election performances were nothing special in historical terms, it was undeniably a good night for the party, thanks largely to an unexpectedly clear win in Longman. Five campaign opinion polls had Labor slightly behind in the seat, before the election eve Newspoll found them edging to a 51-49 lead. Labor actually appears headed for a winning margin of around 4%, bolstering a fragile 0.8% margin with a swing of 3.4%. The big surprise was the near double-digit fall in the Liberal National Party primary vote, which leaves them struggling to crack 30%. This is well below the 34% attributed to them by Newspoll, to say nothing of a series of ReachTEL results that had them approaching 40%.

The LNP slump rendered redundant what everyone imagined would be the decisive factor, namely the flow of One Nation preferences. Despite this, One Nation were the other big winner in Longman, adding around 7% to their 9.4% vote from 2016. This indeed flowed a lot more strongly to the LNP than in 2016, reflecting the party’s how-to-vote card recommendation and the fact that they clearly picked up much of the LNP’s lost support. After receiving 56.5% of One Nation preferences in 2016, Labor looks to have scored only a third this time.

The Braddon result was less good for Labor, notwithstanding that they have clearly won, and that this looked in doubt throughout the campaign. The main change from the 2016 result is that independent Craig Garland scored a creditable 11.0% (although it may come down a little in late counting), chipping a few percent away from each of Labor, Liberal and the Greens. Rebekha Sharkie’s win in Mayo was of about the anticipated scale: her present lead over Georgina Downer after preferences is 8.6%, compared with her 5.0% margin in 2016. Sharkie’s primary vote performance was even more robust, up from 34.9% to around 45%. This bespeaks one poor aspect of the by-elections for Labor – after playing dead at two successive elections, its vote in Mayo has fallen all the way to 6.0%.

In the two WA seats, Josh Wilson did notably better in Fremantle than Patrick Gorman did in Perth, although neither was in the least bit troubled. Wilson gained 11.6% to gain a clear majority on the primary vote, with the Greens treading water at 17% and the Liberal Democrats garnering enough stray Liberals to land in the low teens. Despite the 42.3% Liberal vote from 2016 being up for grabs (compared with 36.9% in Fremantle), Labor only made a negligible gain on the primary vote in Perth, with the Greens also only up slightly. The rest spread among a large field of 15 candidates, with independent Paul Collins the strongest performer among claimants to the Liberal vote. Turnout was notably subdued in Perth and Fremantle, and looks likely to settle at around 70%.

If you click on the image below, you will find an accounting of the swings in Braddon and Longman and, in the former case, an projection of the final result. Since the swing on votes counted in Braddon thus far is exactly zero, it concludes Labor’s existing margin of 2.2% will be maintained. Also featured are regional breakdowns for Braddon and Longman, with the former broken into the larger towns (Burnie, Devonport and Ulverstone) and the remainder, and the latter into Bribie Island area and the remainder. This doesn’t turn up anything particularly interesting: especially in Longman, the swings were remarkably uniform. Craig Garland’s vote was a little lower in the larger towns, but there was otherwise little distinction to speak of in Braddon.

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.

813 comments on “The Sunday after Super Saturday”

  1. Good morning

    As I had predicted, Labor held both Braddon and Longman. The Braddon result was what I had expected, but the substantial swing to Labor in Longman was quite a surprise.

    Whether you believe, like me, that there had been something in it or, like some posters on PB, it had been entirely concocted by the media, any challenge against Shorten is now kaput.

    And things could get even better for Shorten and Labor if the results of last night embolden the conservative faction of the Libs to resume their destabilisation of Turnbull. A right-wing coup within the Libs would make Labor odds-on favourites to win the next election IMO.

    So it was a triumphant night for Labor, except perhaps for the poor branch members and supporters in Mayo: has a Labor candidate ever recorded a lower vote in a Federal seat? In hindsight, it was probably a mistake for Labor to run a candidate in a contest in which even many of its rusted-on supporters were always likely to vote tactically for Sharkie.

  2. From the previous thread.

    Good morning Dawn Patrollers. A GREAT morning actually!

    David Crowe kicks over the coals of the rout. says Bill Shorten can celebrate this victory.
    Tony Wright on the Downer family whinge. Dolly is upset that the IPA kept on haunting Georgina. Funny that she was so proud of her association with it that she deleted it from her CV.
    Katharine Murphy tells the LNP what went wrong in Longman.
    The ABC’s Matt Abraham tells that one well-placed Liberal source from deep within the Mayo camp said he feared Georgina Downer might lose even more ground if she ran again. He said it was a big mistake for Downer to say yesterday that she would stand again as this was a decision for the party, not her.
    The Australian’s Simon Benson says Super Saturday has become a bloodbath for the LNP and a nightmare for Malcolm Turnbull and that the LNP has learned nothing.
    And its Ben Packham says Labor’s clean sweep of Super Saturday by-elections should silence talk of a challenge to Bill Shorten’s leadership.
    Michelle Grattan sums up Super Saturday by declaring it to be a major fillip for Shorten
    Paula Matthewson says that the disastrous showing in Longman has sent a chilling signal to Turnbull.
    Dana McCauley writes that privacy experts have rejected the federal government’s reassurances that My Health Record patient data will not be accessed by third parties without a warrant, demanding that it redraft laws giving authorities broad powers of access.
    Ross Gittins says that with wage growth on the blink, it’s time to restore union bargaining power.
    Come on Philip, what are you waiting for?
    Michael Pascoe taunts deniers with, “Don’t believe in climate change? Then come over to Europe”
    The Washington Post says that Ivanka Trump “has no clothes”.
    Founder of The Conversation and former editor-in-chief of The Age, Andrew Jaspan, writes the Nine takeover of Fairfax is not only a blow for media diversity but the deal is also pitched too cheaply.
    Jessica Valenti writes that activists have already started preparing for the end of Roe v Wade in the US.

    Cartoon Corner

    Mett Golding sees Georgina off.

    Mark Knight at the AFL colosseum.

    Paul Zanetti and angry voters.

    Just a few in here. Matt Golding in particular.
    No cartoon yet from Peter Broelman but he did tweet this. “BREAKING: Turnbull declares himself a victim of Sudanese gangs who masquerade as argumentative pensioners.”

  3. Also from the previous thread..

    Bill asked the voters, do you want the company tax cuts, they said no. They want things like penalty rates, education pathways to decent full time work, an NBN that is not a disgrace, pensioner power cost relief and on and on.

    To the Australian that is ‘class war’, the voters however see it differently.

    Thanks William, I will be topping up my donation.
    Interesting that the swing in Longman was uniform.

  4. ajm: “Brisbane Sunday Mail front page: “Lamb chops Big Trev”
    Inside “Lamb in mint condition””


    I’m sure that they had “Lamb shanks” and “Big Trev roasts Lamb” at the ready in the event that she lost.

  5. It is also fair to say the historically the swings were not unusual.

    However Labor has been running as a big target, and continue, with care until the next election.

  6. John R: “It is also fair to say the historically the swings were not unusual.”

    Taken on its own, the Braddon result was a surprisingly good one for the Libs, especially as they had a rather poor candidate IMO (although I now accept I might have underestimated his local appeal: it’s an unusual part of the world). The final result might still end up being a small swing away from Labor.

    But the Longman result will have shaken the Libs. The economic situation in Queensland has been a bit ordinary lately, and I think this was reflected in the result. There would have to be concerns among the Libs about a flow-on effect to other suburban and outer suburban Brisbane seats that they currently hold.

    Of course, again the Libs appear to have picked a poor candidate for Longman: a relic of the Newman catastrophe with a dodgy cv. Surely they’d have done better with a fresh-faced candidate, preferably a woman with a strong connection to one of the larger communities in the electorate: something else Big Trev apparently lacked.

    But I don’t think it was just the candidate. Queenslanders are slower than the rest of us to shift their votes (some less charitable people would probably say that Queenslanders are slower than the rest of us in many respects). But, as we have seen in the past, they can shift quite dramatically on occasions. If that happens at the next election, then we’re certainly going to see PM Shorten.

  7. Delighted Labor won, and against the full on race hate, full on kill bill with every useless mindless sheep in the CPG ganging up; but on a slightly sobering note, in Longman Labor did under perform against the pollbludger Qld swing right? A little bit sobering.

  8. Does this prove that the higher the ON vote, the more disaffected libs and therefore the higher the pref flow back to the libs. So, if ON is only polling about 7% nationally, newspoll being far too generous

  9. Trump tells American military to ‘surrender’ large swaths of Afghanistan as US negotiates directly with Taliban: report

    The New York Times reports that Trump’s State Department is negotiating directly with the Taliban, with no involvement by Afghanistan’s government.

    Trump’s surrender in the country comes as an acknowledgement that he cannot lead the American military to victory over the terrorists responsible for the most traumatic attack ever launched against the U.S. government on American soil.

    Trump had previously claimed to have a strategy to defeat the group, saying that the Taliban “need[s] to know they have nowhere to hide, that no place is beyond the reach of American might and American arms.”

    Current figures say that 2,372 members of the U.S. military have died in the attempt to liberate Afghanistan from the Taliban following the 9/11 attacks.

  10. How the Russian government used disinformation and cyber warfare in 2016 election – an ethical hacker explains

    ( a long and detailed article explains how the Russian military intelligence agency and hackers used media in many forms to manipulate voters in the US – Cybersecurity experts in the U.S. knew that the Russian intelligence agencies were conducting these acts of information warfare and cyberwarfare, but doubt they had any idea how comprehensive and integrated they were – until now. ……Something similar may be set to happen in 2018, too )

  11. Good Morning

    Its great to see the split on the right worked a treat in Longman yesterday. Thats the message with the LNP primary vote collapse.

    Voters reject neo liberalism and the race baiting to try and support it too. Thus Labor got the most primary votes.

  12. The saving grace for Turnbull is that the rejection of the RWNJ’s means that the LNP gain nothing from going to Peter Dutton as PM.

    Its the only thing thats going to prevent a leadership challenge. This despite the noises the likes of Tony Abbot are going to make

    At every turn the voters are rejecting the neo liberalism. This despite as WWP points out the narrative of how well the company tax cuts are being sold etc by the media and how strong it makes the LNP. Ignoring polling has come home to roost for the MSM

  13. Has Kartoffelkopf come out and challenged Brian yet? Or is he still ordering his Panzers into position for his Super Sunday coup from deep inside the Volkshalle?

  14. “I’m also pleased to see that a new twist on Kill Bill, ‘Get Emma’, didn’t work either.”

    Get Emma has a way to run yet, me thinks …

  15. So, another round of s44 by-elections, and once again, the incumbents have been returned (often with an increased majority) – proving once again that the voters, when actually asked, don’t appear to give a rat’s about the apparent technical breaches that their representatives have been accused of.

    Despite the status quo being consistently re-endorsed, I do worry that parties will increasingly find ways to force by-elections over s44-related breaches, and that by-elections like yesterday will become more and more common. That alone is sufficient reason for reform, though more broadly I do believe that we should always be seeking a more representative parliament, and a dual citizenship bar affecting over half the population is not a good way to facilitate this.

    In regards to the politics, it was a great result for Labor, and should finally put to bed questions about Shorten’s leadership, and for that matter, any talk of an early election before 2019.

  16. And the media wonders why its losing readership.

    The problem, even for psephy types like us, is that we don’t have the access we know they do. So when they talk of Kill Bill and movements for Albo, or that the Liberals believe that they can win X seat, we have to assume there’s a least something there other than wishful thinking.

    Going into these by elections, I reiterated that candidates who lose out due to S44 get re elected. I was willing to be wrong, on the basis that there usually isn’t quite this lag being the original election and the by election, and I don’t think it’s quite that simple either – just that breaching S44 doesn’t seem to be something voters punish parties for.

    The point of this was that my opinions on S44 weren’t my own – they were the result of comments from party operatives, basically that the majors recognised that, whilst obviously compliance was important, there was no point hunting down MPs on the opposite side because all that would happen would be that they would get re elected.

    The point of this comment isn’t a “wow, zoomster, you’re fantastic” but ‘how dumb are the CPG?” If I know something because of random comments made to me over the years, then the CPG should know it, too. Even if they went on to say wtte of “it’s more complex than that”, it should at least get a mention.

    And if we can’t get reliable information from the CPG on federal politics, we’re reduced to speculation.

  17. Karen Middleton tweets

    Summing up byelection results: huge victory for ALP & leader Bill Shorten. Terrible night for LibS & PM Malcolm Turnbull. And Lib would-be leader Peter Dutton, whose seat neighbours Longman, campaigned hard on immigration & it doesn’t seemed to have helped. #interestingdaysahead

  18. Guytaur
    If Dutton thinks he can only hold his seat as PM I suspect he will be PM. The Liberal party is now mad enough to do it.

  19. Senator Wong tweets

    Turnbull’s willingness to court Pauline Hanson’s One Nation has been shown to be an unethical own goal.

  20. Libs need to wake up now, the next election is unwinnable for them, they need to aim at minimizing their losses, if they do that they could limit the next election to a small ALP majority.

    A 2% swing in Queensland will cost LNP 5 seats, that with 1 Green is the minimum ALP need to form government. A 2% swing will also cost Dutton his seat (pullbludger predicting 5.5%)

    Dutton is part of the RWNJ faction, so there is going to be big feuding to defend his seat.

    I expect there will be a lot of pork being rolled out in Queensland to try and limit the Queensland swing to 2% probably the billions from the NAIF will suddenly get allocated to projects in those marginal QLD seats (despite oversight of it), but that will just be the start.

    LNP will probably also try and limit the damage in WA to 1 seat by sandbagging Pearce and Swan, other states arent very significant after that.

  21. Guytaur – The party as a whole may gain nothing from going to Dutton as MP, but Dutton will gain and the Qld Libs may gain. That’s all that will matter to them. They’ll just force the rest of the party, at gunpoint over a cliff. The big takeaway from this is how many disaffected libs went to one nation. Mr Harbourside Mansion obviously doesn’t cut-through north of the Tweed. They will want a replacement.

  22. After reading the article posted by bk in dawnpatrol of Murphyroo, I thought she should consider resigning as political editor of The Guardian.
    Because still no criticism of MT and she mentioned only leadership tensions of ALP.

  23. Is another big takeaway from the by-elections that in the age of political alienation it’s the ground-game that really counts. It is the only thing that really connects?

  24. A11

    Thats why I talked of the split on the right. The problem for the LNP is that One Nation has run on pretending to be socialists. Opposing company tax cuts as Hanson got the message the LNP have been ignoring.

    I agree the racist dog whistling is likely to increase. However what we have seen is that despite that the Labor primary vote increased. Thus racist dog whistling does not win you elections. It just helps to split the right on primaries. The preference flow from One Nation to Labor was due to banks health and education.

    Funding real solutions for voters will work every day against racist dog whistling. Remember the whole work choices campaign was done assuming the dog whistling on race would counter the known negative polling. Mr Howard lost his own seat.

    Thats how blind the LNP and the media can be to what the voters are saying in poll after poll.

    Its the same with company tax cuts. Poll after poll for years has told us voters are willing to have increased taxes to pay for essential services. They get that you can’t have a surplus when you are not funding essential services.

  25. C@tmomma says:
    Sunday, July 29, 2018 at 8:10 am

    But is Albo going to give up?

    Was Albo ever trying is the real question.

  26. John Wren tweets

    One of the schadenfreudic joys of yesterday’s victories is the realisation that @TheIPA membership is now an electoral liability. All those young libs who signed on thinking it was an easy path into politics will now be shitting themselves. #auspol #SuperSaturday #Mayo

  27. Thank you, everyone, for the comments last night. A very enjoyable read.

    Laura Tingle looked sulky all evening, I thought. Greg Jennet struggled to provide ‘balance’ according to his KPIs 🙂

    Has Mal come out of his cave yet? I think he’s proved that he’s hopeless at campaigning amongst the peasants.

  28. zoom
    We’ve been here before with RGR. Given past events, I doubt the CPG invented everything by themselves, just that what they report is not necessarily an accurate reflection of reality. How is that possible? Someone in the ALP has been putting out various notions. The CPG, leaving their critical faculties at home, have built from those notions a narrative that suits their biases and preconceptions. It’s the slight difference between building a fantasy castle out of clouds, and building one on top of quicksand while believing it’s solid ground.

  29. The interesting thing about yesterday is which reporters where writing up excuses and which where still playing Get Bill. That is which where close enough to the action to know excuses would be required and which were writing the same old, same old crap. Murphyroo was definitely in the latter camp.

  30. Ouch !

    “He may not be as vulgar as Trump but Turnbull uses the same playbook”
    Greg Jericho

    There are those in Australia who look across the Pacific and wonder what it would be like to have a Trump-style government, and whether such a calamity could happen here. The correct answer, of course, is not only that it could but that it is happening right now.


  31. poroti
    We’ve been ahead of the curve. We had Trump in the Abbott/Turnbull frankenstein long before the US elected Trump.

    Turnbull initially (prior to his election*) promised a different kind of politics, but then immediately (and by that I mean during his speech following his election*) reverted to type.

    * His election as leader within the Coalition, I mean. Not the general election.

  32. Mike Carlton‏ @MikeCarlton01 · 10h10 hours ago

    I’ve been a journalist for >50 years. The media groupthink on these by-elections was that Turnbull was coming back, Shorten was under the pump, Labor was in turmoil, Albanese stood ready to knife him. The stupidity is eye-watering.

  33. Seeing that the Liberal Party is hell bent on running Georgina Downer in Mayo again it begs the question of what they will do differently to overcome Sharkie’s respect and popularity and the way the voters see Georgina in the electorate?
    Any ideas?

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