Turnbull 48, Dutton 35

A look at the incomplete picture of opinion polling from Super Saturday to yesterday’s spill.

This time four weeks ago, Malcolm Turnbull enjoyed surging approval ratings and a slow but persistent improvement in voting intention that had put the Coalition within striking distance on the BludgerTrack two-party poll trend. The story of his journey from there to here begins with the Super Saturday by-elections, a fact that future historians may find a little puzzling. Objectively speaking, the results in the two seats where the Coalition took on Labor were disappointing rather than disastrous: in Braddon they held their ground, which in most circumstances would be regarded as a pretty solid result, while the swing of 3.7% in Longman was well in line with the by-election norm.

One part of the problem for Turnbull was that expectations had not been duly managed — not least by Peter Dutton, who apparently put it to a radio interviewer shortly before polling day that the Liberal National Party had Longman in the bag. Instead, Longman produced the one genuine surprise of Super Saturday, in the LNP’s failure to crack 30% on the primary vote – a result surprisingly few thought to attribute to the troubled campaign of Trevor Ruthenberg. The lesson drawn by a critical mass of the state’s marginal seat MPs was that they would not survive the next election unless a solution was found to One Nation, which could not be accomplished with Malcolm Turnbull as leader. Since most of the support the party has lost to One Nation will be coming back as preferences, the argument presumably goes that One Nation’s strength is also driving voters to Labor, as it seemed to do in Peter Beattie’s heyday.

The first polls conducted after Super Saturday told of only minor damage to the Coalition on voting intention. The Newspoll and Essential Research polls conducted just under a fortnight ago both had the Coalition down two on the primary vote, but Newspoll had most of it returning through the filter of a strengthened One Nation, leaving Labor’s two-party lead unchanged at 51-49, while Essential ticked a point in Labor’s favour to 52-48. However, the real difference lay in Turnbull’s personal ratings: Essential continued to show roughly equal approval and disapproval, while Newspoll had his net rating going from minus 6% to minus 19%.

The most recent poll, from Ipsos, concurred with Newspoll in finding Turnbull in freefall: his net approval rating (always unusually positive from this pollster) went from positive 17 to minus 2. However, the poll also provided the first strong indication of the rot extending to voting intention, on which the Labor lead surged from 51-49 to 55-45. Given the pace of events last week, it’s important to bear in mind that the field work period was Wednesday to Saturday. Turnbull’s latest energy policy formulation was made known overnight on Saturday and endorsed by the party room on Tuesday; talk of resignations and floor-crossing dominated political reporting over the next few days; and Turnbull’s damaging backdown on a legislated emissions target came late on Friday. The latter, at least, would clearly have been too late to have had any real impact.

Prior to Super Saturday, the leadership showdown the media-polling complex was gearing up for was not Turnbull versus Dutton, but Shorten versus Albanese: Newspoll and YouGov Galaxy by-election polls stirred the pot with voting intention questions for a hypothetical Albanese leadership, and duly recorded stronger results for Albanese than Shorten. No such exercise has yet been conducted involving Malcolm Turnbull, whether against Peter Dutton or any other challenger, a fact that may have had an impact on how the leadership crisis has played out to this point. The omission will presumably be rectified over the coming days.

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.

1,421 thoughts on “Turnbull 48, Dutton 35”

  1. Malcolm loses every poll for over a year. He was supported by the doubtful when he took over, won an election (just) and is now being knifed.
    It has been the policies, or lack of, that have slowly but relentlessly ground the L/NP down. MT has no political nous and he displayed this when he didn’t deal with the monkey pod on day one.
    TA does not have the numbers to get anyone up and has no one capable of doing a better job anyway. This low life will continue his vendetta. This is what happens when half the team hates the other half.
    A long spell on the opposition benches is fair reward for the L/NP effort over the last 5 years.
    Come on Malcolm, take your chances with the electorate. Many of your tormentors will not be around after the election and you can exit with dignity.

  2. So as I understand the rules of the Liberal Party if Turnbull doesn’t call a party-room meeting, there would need to be a majority (43) to request one. He would still have to actually agree, but it is hard to imagine he could avoid it.

    There seems a reasonable chance there won’t be 43 signatures on that petition, which means it’s all over for a few weeks (and two more Newspoll cycles).

    If there are 43 – it would seem likely Turnbull is finished, but we may still end up with a Bishop or Morrison (or even a Cormann) if Turnbull sees the numbers and doesn’t even run. On the other side I still see Abbott as the candidate (possibly even more so given the chaos today – he could be seen as a ‘steady hand’). I think Dutton is finished – the risk for the Liberals of putting someone in who is later found to be ineligible is too great. So Dutton has been the “patsy” in Abbott’s quest for revenge on Turnbull.

  3. “In times of war, in times of conflict, you can blow up those windmills, they fall down real quick. You can blow up those pipelines they go like this,” he said, pulling his arms apart to suggest an explosion. “You’re not going to fix them too fast. You can do a lot of things to those solar panels but you know what you can’t hurt? Coal, you can do whatever you want to coal.”

    Idiot. It’s probably way easier to blow up one coal-fired power plant than one entire wind farm. And just as difficult to fix.

  4. a r says Thursday, August 23, 2018 at 12:36 am

    Idiot. It’s probably way easier to blow up one coal-fired power plant than one entire wind farm. And just as difficult to fix.

    Or the railway line that carries the coal trains.

  5. a r @ #1401 Wednesday, August 22nd, 2018 – 9:36 pm

    “In times of war, in times of conflict, you can blow up those windmills, they fall down real quick. You can blow up those pipelines they go like this,” he said, pulling his arms apart to suggest an explosion. “You’re not going to fix them too fast. You can do a lot of things to those solar panels but you know what you can’t hurt? Coal, you can do whatever you want to coal.”

    Idiot. It’s probably way easier to blow up one coal-fired power plant than one entire wind farm. And just as difficult to fix.

    Who the F@#$ said that?

  6. I’m inclined to think that Turnbull won’t quit unless he is rolled or voted out at an election. Even if the polls widen, I can’t see him giving up his sole reason for being in parliament – to be Prime Minister. I also can’t see him rushing to the polls if he knows his time is up. He’ll probably hang on until the bitter end.

  7. Will Republicans look to the coming midterm elections and decide to do something before they lose control of the house? At what point does a Trump presidency become untenable?

  8. Observer says:
    Wednesday, August 22, 2018 at 9:54 pm
    There is a statue to Hawke at Bordertown

    I do not relate to Cormann and “stateless”

    I seem to recall the NATO Headquarters being in Belgium

    So why is someone originally from Belgium “stateless”?

    What were the circumstances of Cormann to render him “stateless” and emigrating to Australia?


    You have the wrong end of the stick.

    Cormann was not stateless, he was Belgian, of German ethnicity.

    It was my wife who was stateless.

    My point was that both are now Australian citizens, and calling out Cormann as the shallow end of the pool because he was originally from Belgium is denigrating to all those who have emigrated here, including your forebears.

  9. a r says:
    Wednesday, August 22, 2018 at 10:56 pm
    Zoidlord @ #1359 Wednesday, August 22nd, 2018 – 10:48 pm

    Donald J. Trump
    ‏Verified account @realDonaldTrump
    4m4 minutes ago

    If anyone is looking for a good lawyer, I would strongly suggest that you don’t retain the services of Michael Cohen!



    Is there such a thing as libel in the US? Free speech and all that.

    It occurs to me that there must be someone detailed on 24 hour surveillance and modification as necessary of Trump’s tweets. Covfefe not withstanding, that was a while ago now.

    I would not be surprised if his tweets were sent from his phone to an underground bunker where lawyers and social experts tidy them up, and then on to the tweetiverse.

    His tweets don’t seem to come from his lexicon.

  10. Davidwh @ #1394 Wednesday, August 22nd, 2018 – 11:57 pm

    The brainiacs at 2GBinc have been saying for a long time that destroying Turnbull even if that means Shorten becomes PM for a term is a better outcome than Turnbull remaining PM.

    The problem with this strategy is that Shorten will likely remain PM for longer than one term.

    For smart people they shure are short on logic.

    Joh was elected as a stop gap. He lasted 20 plus years.

  11. Also, on the PTSD, I have actually suffered from this, and I now know how debilitating it can be.

    I lost a brother to a tragic accident, now about 25 years ago. I was the one, who after getting a first hint that there was a problem from friends who had witnessed the accident, had to ring police stations and hospitals to try and find the truth. Eventually I got put through to Merrylands Police Station (near Parramatta), and they told me that they had some officers coming in from an accident, and asked me to wait a few minutes.

    Then a police office called Robin, cannot remember the last name, came to the phone and told me that my brother had died in the accident, and gave me some details, most of which were “it was instantaneous, he did not suffer”. Robin was a lovely and caring person, and I always meant to write to Merrylands police stations to thank him for his kindness in a horrible situation, but never got around to it.

    Anyway, back then I was a tee-totaller, and never used any sort of medication, including headache tablets. I was also pregnant with baby number 4.

    As I explained, deadpan, to my psychiatrist a few years later, that each night for several years I would relive what I knew of my brother’s death, and that this would happen for several hours before I could sleep. I just put it down to my vivid imagination, and assumed that this was just something I had to get through.

    My psychiatrist said, “so, you had PTSD”. At that stage, I thought, no I am coping fine (apart from the profound depression) , and I just have a vivid imagination.

    So, I worry that unless you have experienced PTSD, then many people will look at the Guardian article posted above, and say ” just toughen up”.

  12. Molan said tonight that “everything is going to plan”.

    He should know better.

    Kein Plan überlebt die erste Feindberührung. (No plan survives the first enemy contact.) — Helmuth von Moltke (the Elder)

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