The latest fortnightly Essential Research follows Newspoll in recording an allergic reaction to the dumping of Malcolm Turnbull, with Labor’s 52-48 lead blowing out to 55-45. The report in The Guardian reveals the Coalition is down four on the primary vote to 35%, but that’s all we have for now. There is also no direct indication of whether the poll adjusted its usual Thursday to Sunday field work period to account for the leadership change on Friday, as Newspoll did by chopping out the Thursday, but the supplementary questions suggest as much. UPDATE: Full results here. They indeed held back starting the field work until Friday evening. The primary votes are Coalition 35% (down four), Labor 39% (up two), Greens 10% (steady), One Nation 7% (up one).
Some of these findings add to a confused picture when considered in conjunction with other polls. Scott Morrison holds a 39-29 lead over Bill Shorten in prime minister, which reverses the Newspoll result but is in line with the findings of ReachTEL’s seat polls for the Fairfax papers. Fifty-two per cent supported an early election, which is a very different finding from the ReachTEL polls. Then again, 56% agreed Scott Morrison should be given time “to show he can do a better job of governing Australia”, so who knows what people want.
Conversely, a question on preferred Liberal leader produces similar results to Newspoll: Malcolm Turnbull falls from 28% to 15% as support shifts to Julie Bishop (up seven to 23%) and Scott Morrison (up eight to 10%), while Tony Abbott and Peter Dutton remain much as they were, on 9% and 4% respectively. The poll also includes the somewhat surprising finding (to me at least) that 35% approve of the leadership change, with 40% disapproving. A striking 57% agreed with the proposition that “the Liberal party is divided and no longer fit to govern Australia”.
Also featured are semi-regular questions on the parties’ attributes, which I might have something to say about when I see the full results, and questions on six policy propositions, which find support for lower immigration, opposition to withdrawing from the Paris agreement, mixed views on funding more coal-fired power plants and opposition to company tax cuts.
Also today, The Australian has rolled together results from the last three Newspolls under Malcolm Turnbull to produce a final set of quarterly state breakdowns for his prime ministership, interrupting their usual schedule of publishing these at the end of each quarter. The results are very like those of BludgerTrack in finding solid swings against the government in Queensland (4.1%) and Western Australia (4.7%), only small swings in New South Wales (0.9%) and Victoria (2.2%), and a swing to the Coalition in South Australia (3.3%), where the Liberals seem to be benefiting from the new state government’s honeymoon and the decline of Nick Xenophon. UPDATE: Full results here; HT to GhostWhoVotes.
Finally, it is anticipated that a by-election in Wentworth will be held on October 6, after Malcolm Turnbull today told colleagues he would resign from parliament on Friday. While Christine Foster, Sydney councillor and sister of Tony Abbott, has attracted the most media attention, Andrew Clennell of The Australian reports the more likely Liberal candidate is Dave Sharma, former ambassador to Israel. Others mentioned as candidates are Andrew Bragg, a director at the Business Council of Australia and former leader of the Yes same-sex marriage survey campaign, who will vie with Sharma for backing from factional moderates; Peter King, tha barrister who held the seat from 2001 until Turnbull defeated him for preselection in 2004; Katherine O’Regan, a Woollahra councillor.