Election minus three weeks

A Senate poll, and reporting on the Coalition’s struggles to identify a pathway to victory.

Now that the public holiday period is past, hopefully the floodgates will open on opinion polling very shortly. Certainly we can expect a Newspoll, presumably tomorrow evening, and surely an Essential Research to boot.

What we have for now is the rarity of a Senate poll, courtesy of the Australia Institute. This is part of a quarterly online survey conducted through Dynata, on this occasion targeted 1945 respondents. Nationally, the poll has the Coalition on 30% (35.2% in 2016), Labor on 34% (29.8%), the Greens on 10% (8.7%), One Nation on 7% (4.3%). The United Australia Party is only credited with 3%, though that may be because it hasn’t captured a recent surge in support. Based on these numbers, the Australia Institute’s overall assessment is that the Coalition will win 14 to 17 seats (plus 16 ongoing), Labor will win 15 (13 ongoing), the Greens five to six (three ongoing), One Nation one to four (one ongoing), the Centre Alliance zero or one (two ongoing). Derryn Hinch isn’t predicted to win, with only 3% support in Victoria (I wouldn’t be too sure about that myself, given the small sample here), and Jacqui Lambie is only a maybe (ditto). Cory Bernardi, we’re stuck with.

Latest horse race calling in the news media:

• Despite its cheerful headline (“Written-off Liberal back in the fight”), a report on Liberal internal polling in Victoria by John Ferguson of The Weekend Australian is almost all bad news for the Liberals, with a party source quoted saying “not much has changed since the start of the campaign”. The best news the report has to offer the Liberals is that Sarah Henderson only trails in Corangamite by “about three percentage points” (the recent ReachTEL poll showing the Liberals with a 54-46 lead was “highly unlikely to be right”), and that the Liberals believe themselves to be in front in Deakin. Elsewhere, the report restates the now established wisdom that Labor will win Dunkley, which neither leader has bothered to visit; says the Liberals will “struggle to hold” Chisholm, which is at the more favourable end of recent assessments for them; and implies they are behind in La Trobe, and perhaps also Casey. Furthermore, there is “increasing concern” about Greg Hunt in Flinders, and double-digit inner city swings that place Higgins “in doubt”. Josh Frydenberg is reckoned likely to surivive in Kooyong, but clearly not very convincingly.

Aaron Patrick of the Financial Review reports the Coalition’s strategic reading of the situation as follows. Chisholm (Liberal 2.9%, Victoria), Dunkley (notional Labor 1.0%, Victoria), Forde (LNP 0.6%, Queensland) and Gilmore (Liberal 0.7%, NSW) are conceded as likely losses. Seats that are “must wins”, in the sense of being gained from Labor or independents, are Labor-held Herbert (Queensland, 0.0%), Lindsay (New South Wales, 1.1%), Bass (Tasmania, 5.4%) and Solomon (Northern Territory, 6.1%). This gets them to 76, if they can hold all the seats on a “must retain” list consisting of Corangamite (notional Labor 0.0%, Victoria), La Trobe (Liberal 3.2%, Victoria), Petrie (LNP 1.7%, Queensland), Dickson (LNP 1.7%, Queensland), Reid (Liberal 4.7%, NSW), Robertson (Liberal 1.1%, NSW), Flynn (LNP 1.0%, Queensland), Banks (Liberal 1.4%, NSW) and Capricornia (LNP 0.6%, Queensland).

Eryk Bagshaw of the Sydney Morning Herald reports the Nationals have “all but given up hope” of holding off Rob Oakeshott in Cowper. In neighbouring Page, internal polling is said to show Nationals incumbent Kevin Hogan with a lead of 52-48 “in a worst case scenario”. Remarkably though, Hogan “has left the door open to sitting on the crossbench if Bill Shorten wins”.

• Going back nearly a week, Annika Smethurst in the Sunday Telegraph reported that “Labor and Coalition strategists admit the opening days of the federal election have hardly shifted a vote”. Both sides also agree that, thanks to his attack on Labor opponent Ali France in the first week of the campaign, Peter Dutton is “in serious strife” in Dickson.

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.

685 comments on “Election minus three weeks”

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  1. Good morning Dawn Patrollers.

    Peter Hartcher writes that around the world, market economies are under stress. The Opposition Leader’s plans to lift fairness – and wages – might be the tonic our economy needs.
    Shane Wright on Morrison’s deflections from questions on the deteriorating state of the economy.
    A very good examination here from Paul Bongiorno of the Coalition’s campaign.
    Karen Middleton reveals how former AFP chief Mick Keelty, in his capacity as the Northern Basin commissioner for the Murray–Darling Basin, is examining links between political donations and water licences, and calling for proceeds-of-crime laws to be expanded.
    Katharine Murphy has a detailed look at Day 16 of the campaign.
    Martin McKenzie-Murray writes that while high-profile candidate Julian Burnside has animated the Greens in Kooyong, party strategists fear there is a lot to lose.
    Bill Shorten says he is “not convinced” on the union movement’s demand that he extend industry-wide bargaining rights beyond low-paid industries, as the ACTU unveils a massive ad blitz calling for a dramatic rewriting of workplace laws.
    Labor has angrily rejected suggestions it dragged its feet on national security after Scott Morrison used the example of just one unlegislated bill to criticise the opposition in the aftermath of the Sri Lanka attacks.
    Mike Seccombe tells us that data shows the Coalition’s 2016 election victory hinged on just three ethnically diverse seats – Banks, Reid and Chisholm. This time around Labor is shaping its campaign around winning back these communities.
    Ross Gittins reveals that the sad reality is that every year huge amounts of taxpayers’ money is wasted on infrastructure – and much of the damage is begun in election campaigns.
    Laura Tingle writes that if the government wasn’t so determined to paint itself as a small government party that is mostly interested in giving taxpayers a tax cut, it might have addressed the funding crisis in aged care.
    Stephen Koukoulas explains how the RBA has an inflation problem.
    The AFR posits that the Coalition could win the election by limiting losses in Victoria and Queensland and picking up seats in NSW, Tasmania and the Northern Territory.
    It wasn’t just the umpires that gave patrons the shits at the Anzac Day AFL match!
    Shane Wright explains why death taxes could actually be a good idea.
    Why voters under 30 will be crucial to the election result.
    Sam Maiden describes saviour Clive Palmer as a false prophet for the Libs.
    Michelle Grattan writes about Palmer’s “flypaper sticky” deal with Morrison.
    Adele Ferguson tells us how Wacka Williams has said it’s time for regulators to lose the feather and use the sledgehammer. Fair Work Australia in particular.
    And the SMH says it’s time for law makers to stand up for victims of franchise scandals. It says the industry’s governing code is a joke. Its provisions are farcical and when breached the penalties are pathetic.
    Paula Matthewson cuts through the election lies to find the truth.
    The benefit of hindsight is a wonderful thing and in the wake of the Murray-Darling ‘disaster’, water allocations from the Fitzroy River in north-western Australia region are being approached with extreme caution.
    The inquiry into the federal government’s spendathon on government contracts, especially on that global elite of corporate welfare recipients, the Big Four audit firms, has been axed — because of the federal election, we are told. The paradox is that the blow-out in government costs comes despite claims by the Government that the outsourcing binge is all about “small government”.
    Coalition MP Kevin Hogan has left the door open to sitting on the crossbench if Bill Shorten wins the May election, turning him into a key figure in the event of a hung Parliament.
    A federal Liberal candidate for the seat of Scullin has apologised for linking same-sex marriage with paedophilia during the marriage equality debate, after being questioned by The Age.
    Homeowners hoping that a widely-predicted cut in the Reserve Bank’s cash interest rate will breathe some life into the property market will be disappointed writes Elizabeth Knight.
    John Wren takes a walk on the campaign trail, uncovering scandals, misinformation and a PHONy or two.
    The parent of a man who has been in gaol explains why there is next to no rehabilitation occurring. Unsurprisingly privatisation gets a mention.
    Jim Bright explains why social media platforms are no place to conduct work disputes.
    Some journalists have launched a defence of mainstream reporters suggesting that social media criticism of journalists is coming from a “Trumpian” perspective. This view has also been expressed in a recent column by ABC talking head, Michael Rowland.
    What is it about dogs and fleas?
    US Deputy Attorney-General Rod Rosenstein has hit back hard against politicians and the press, and warned that hacking and social media manipulation are “only the tip of the iceberg” when it comes to Russian efforts to influence American elections.
    Anne Summers looks at the choices facing the US Democrats as they commence the convoluted process to select a presidential candidate.
    The London Telegraph opines that Trump has just taken the biggest economic gamble of his presidency.
    Trump has announced that the US will withdraw its support for a United Nations treaty regulating the multibillion-dollar global arms trade.
    Of all people Fox News senior judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano has argued that Donald Trump did obstruct justice, with “unlawful, defenceless and condemnable” behaviour related to the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.
    This upstart doctor has earned nomination for “Arsehole of the Week”.

    Cartoon Corner

    Alan Moir takes us to the election battleground.

    A bit of ying and yang from David Rowe.

    Andrew Dyson at the polling booths.

    Matt Davison on infrastructure promises.

    Zanetti on Palmer’s preference deal.

    I think Sean Leahy is on the money with this one.

    Jon Kudelka looks ahead to the possible MPC debate.

    From the US

  2. Convicted Russian spy Maria Butina gets 18 months in prison: ‘I have destroyed my own life’

    Maria Butina, the Russian woman accused of running a spy operation that sought to influence key conservative groups. has been sentence to 18 months in federal prison -(9 with credit for time served) . After that, she is expected to be sent back to Russia, NBC reports.


  3. Two Mueller prosecutors believe they had ‘sufficient evidence’ to criminally charge Trump with obstruction

    Sources with knowledge of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation have told journalist Murray Waas that at least two prosecutors on Mueller’s team believe they had enough evidence to charge President Donald Trump with criminal obstruction of justice — but they didn’t do so because of the Department of Justice’s policy that a sitting president cannot be indicted.


  4. Another seat poll.

    The Liberal Party is facing a huge swing of more than 20 per cent against it in the prized blue-ribbon seat of Curtin, which would be the party’s worst result in the electorate since 1996, according to a new poll.

    ReachTEL polling of 819 voters in Curtin shows the Liberal primary vote falling from 65.5 per cent to 42.5 per cent, meaning it would need to rely on preferences to retain the seat held by the retiring Julie Bishop.

    The research was commissioned by independent candidate Louise Stewart who, according to the poll, has the second-highest primary vote in the seat at 23.9 per cent.


  5. Mediocre policy that helps to fund the ‘back in black’ myth.

    Governments often make funding announcements when they are in a political tight spot, and need to look like they are doing something.

    But the particular nature of the $320 million payment announced in February – then re-announced in March – then re-announced in the federal budget, has caused disquiet even among those who benefit from it, the owners and shareholders of residential aged care facilities.

    …it is at its most basic level is a once off cash injection, given to nursing home operators without any strings attached.

    …If it wasn’t so determined to paint itself as a small government party that is mostly interested in giving taxpayers a tax cut, it might have addressed the funding crisis in aged care that has now gone on under several governments of different colours.

    Instead, when embarrassed about the state of aged care months before an election, and nervous about what the Royal Commission’s early hearings may find, it announces a money for nothing policy which puts its $185 million spend on opening, then closing, Christmas Island in the shade.


  6. Sky News AustraliaVerified account @SkyNewsAust
    22h22 hours ago
    .@J_C_Campbell on @LiberalAus and @CliveFPalmer preference deal:

    ‘It’s not an unambiguous win, it’s more like a patch-up job. The reason it’s had to do this deal with Clive Palmer is that it’s got a primary vote problem.’

    MORE: http://bit.ly/2UEWoDK #amagenda

    Sky News AustraliaVerified account @SkyNewsAust
    22h22 hours ago
    .@J_C_Campbell: I suspect @CliveFPalmer is going to do better in Victoria than other states outside Qld and that’s because @PaulineHansonOz doesn’t rate here. The vote that would otherwise drift to Hanson is more likely to go to Palmer.

    MORE: http://bit.ly/2UEWoDK #amagenda

  7. Prof Kerryn Phelps AM MP @drkerrynphelps

    Almost all of our posters around Bronte were removed within a day of them going up again.

    The only way Libs know how to fight is by cheating.

    The scare campaign appears to have emanated from Treasurer Josh Frydenberg’s office and prompted a public denial from Shorten and the Labor Party that the plan for these “taxes” did not exist and would not be a part of Labor policy. Interestingly, Morrison and the Liberals have refused to do the same. They themselves have not ruled out death and inheritance taxes.


  8. @AndrewPStreet

    Every time John Howard says something in public I just remember that time he wrote a letter in support of a convicted child sex offender in which the ex-PM described him as “a lively conversationalist”. That puts things back into perspective for me.

  9. I was robopolled in Cowper a few weeks back with supporting questions that made it sound like a Nats internal poll. Interesting to hear that they’ve all but given up. Locally, it seems they gave up before they started, with a weak candidate who hasn’t said or done much. I saw him in the shops in Coffs yesterday – surrounded by posters filling a pop-up shopfront. He was chatting to one punter, and being roundly ignored by everyone else.

  10. I reckon Page is a good chance of falling to Labor. The Nats are on the nose big time in Northern NSW. There’s a lot of Greens voters in that seat too who’s preferences should boost Labor over the top of the Nats, just as they did in the overlapping NSW state seat of Lismore recently. One to watch on election night for sure.

  11. lefty_e

    Finally a good burn from Labor

    It’s a marriage between an “ad man” and a “con man”…

    They are doing a remake of this. ‘Fake and the FatMan.”

  12. Good Morning

    Thanks William for the update.

    Interesting Senate results. Voter intention there is more favourable for the progressive cause than I feared If that holds up.

  13. Yet another franchise under scrutiny

    This time the Taiwan based Chatime. They are essentially a tea house remodelled for western tastes.

    Today’s Age has the story and background of the two upstanding characters who are at the centre of this story.


    A pox on both of them. Meeiyeee

  14. @Confessions

    If that poll in Curtin is accurate, I think a lot of people are underestimating how big the cross-bench is going to be after the federal election.

  15. That Senate poll is encouraging. If the Greens and Labor were both to perform well like that then there’s a decent chance they can get to a majority without needing anyone else. That would give us the ability to really go about cleaning up the Coalition’s mess. It would make negotiating much easier for Labor too because they’d only have to deal with the Greens as a block rather than the Greens + random individuals with their own agendas. If I were a Labor supporter that’s what I’d be hoping for as it offers the best chance for a stable and productive government.

  16. Firefox

    I think you could be right about Page, especially given state results in Lismore and Ballina. Maybe this is why Kevin Hogan is saying he might sit on the cross bench if Labor win the election. Seems he won’t get this chance.

    If SFF had not used up most of their resources, energy and candidates at the state election I think they would have really done some damage to the Nationals – especially Parkes but maybe also New England.

  17. Firefox, I think to win a Greens/ALP majority in the Senate is pretty unlikely. Don’t they need a combined 4 in a couple of states plus ACT or something? I’d say that’s an extremely tough ask.

  18. @ltep

    Labor and the Greens would need to win a total of 4 senators in at least three states to get 39 senators elected between them.

    Anyway I can see Greens Senators elected in every state on the basis of that polling. When it comes to the other minor parties, Clive Palmer might get elected in Queensland and maybe Jackie Lambie in Tasmania. However I believe that is about it, because the right-wing populist vote is so fragmented and one of these parties would need about 7% of the vote to get a reasonable chance of get a senate seat.

  19. As a progressive voter, I found the Victorian Senate ticket very hard last election, and Hinch got one of my preferences as part of the six. He wouldn’t now, and having looked at the Senate ticket this time around, I feel there’s a lot more choice for those of us who want to maximise our preferences.

  20. ltep @ #32 Saturday, April 27th, 2019 – 7:58 am

    Firefox, I think to win a Greens/ALP majority in the Senate is pretty unlikely. Don’t they need a combined 4 in a couple of states plus ACT or something? I’d say that’s an extremely tough ask.

    Especially as expert psephological analysis has The Greens with fewer Senators after the election, than before.

  21. “Firefox, I think to win a Greens/ALP majority in the Senate is pretty unlikely. Don’t they need a combined 4 in a couple of states plus ACT or something? I’d say that’s an extremely tough ask.”

    Oh I agree, it will be hard to get there, but if the results from this poll William has shared with us were replicated in the election there’d be a decent chance of it happening.

    Yes, Labor currently have 26 senators and the Greens have 9. They’d need to retain all their current spots and gain 4 more between them to get to the magic number of 39. Tough but not impossible.

  22. In a series of candid interviews with the defence industry publication SLDInfo.com, Naval Group officials have now offered insights into the problems the French company is facing in dealing with Australia.

    “Not everyone thinks like the French,” explained Jean-Michel Billig, Naval Group’s program director for the project to build 12 new “attack class” submarines.

    “We have to make a necessary effort to understand that an Australian does not think like a French person, and that it’s not better or worse, it’s just Australian.”

    He cited the barbecue as an example of Australian culture, which is an important part of fostering good work relations, but said there was a reciprocal need for Australians to understand the French sanctity of the lunch break — not just a sandwich snatched at the screen.

    Mr Billig also suggested the submarine project needed to be organised so that French translations were not just into English, but Australian English, and for employees “to speak a common language in cultural terms”.


  23. Id wager VIC is the only place where a 4 left -2 right senate result is likely. Ie 3 Lab, 1 Green V 1 Coalition + 1 other ( hinch or 2nd Coalition).

    I think because of the high vote required ACT will remain 1 Lib and Lab (Greens wont poll well enough to beat Libs on Lab preferences).

  24. Firefox

    Yes. Plus as Tristo points out with Lambie and Palmer as likely two if the improbable fails that’s better than more PHON.

    It would be nice if Adani delivered a Greens Senator instead of Palmer. I think it’s unlikely but FNQ is not a right wing block so maybe just maybe it could happen.

  25. “Especially as expert psephological analysis has The Greens with fewer Senators after the election, than before.”

    C@t, being a rusted on Labor supporter as you are, this wouldn’t be something you’d want. Labor having to negotiate with a heap of different far right Senators would be a nightmare for them to have to deal with.

    It’s going to be a fight for the Greens to keep all our spots but it always is. It’s probably going to come down to a Green vs a far right minor party candidate from One Nation etc… for the final spots in NSW, QLD and SA. I’d hope Labor supporters would be backing us in such a situation. I know I’d definitely be backing Labor if they were fighting over a seat with One Nation. 100%. Every day of the week.

    The worst part is none of us will know for weeks what the Senate will look like. I find those waits incredibly frustrating lol.

  26. As an SA Senate voter, I will be voting 1 Labor, 2 Greens, 3 Centre Alliance. I will number all above line boxes with Liberals near the tail end (though ahead of ONP and the Annings). I am not necessarily a fan of Centre Alliance but would prefer them to get up rather than a 3rd Liberal. I suspect the outcome might be 2 Labor, 1 Green, 1 Centre Alliance and 2 Liberals.

  27. Outsider
    But in Mayo I will vote strategically for Rebekha Sharkie as Labor has no hope whatsoever of winning. Mind you, she has been a very good MP these last three years and deserves another term.

  28. Firefox, if The Greens drop their ‘my way or the highway’ intransigence when it comes to post-election negotiations, then that will be a better reason to vote for The Greens more highly than other Progressive parties in the Senate. Until then, not so much. The AJP for a start are much more willing to negotiate in good faith. And that’s what I want. Adults around the negotiating table.

  29. One of the reasons I want Palmer to fail despite how it’s looking is I don’t want money to buy an election.

    The fact it might is a very good argument for public funding.

  30. If the polls haven’t shifted in two weeks, it’s very hard to see how they will shift. A substantial Labor victory looks baked in. However, I don’t think Newspoll will let the numbers go outside the 52- 48 range until the election (which will be worse for the libs)

  31. “I think because of the high vote required ACT will remain 1 Lib and Lab (Greens wont poll well enough to beat Libs on Lab preferences).”

    The Greens winning that ACT Senate spot would be an enormous achievement. It’s extremely tough for a third party to win in that situation where there’s only two spots. Canberra is a very progressive city though. The ACT Liberals are very conservative too which is totally at odds with the area they seek to represent.

    Labor voters in Canberra must remember to preference the Greens. I know most will anyway. The Greens and Labor work exceptionally well together in the ACT and there’s a lot of goodwill between the parties there. We have a rare opportunity to completely shut out the right in a senate contest. Let’s do it!

  32. I find it very hard to pick up any real sense of what is going on with this election. People I know don’t seem to want to talk about it. This does fit with a narrative that perhaps to a greater extent than usual, people have already made up their minds and they just want it over with. Which aligns with WB’s anecdotes at the top of the thread. I also bear in mind something that Zoomster said about the media coverage a week or so ago – to the effect they want to portray it as a close contest, because otherwise it will be boring. I think boring suits Labor this time round. I will be keen to see tomorrow night’s Newspoll. Put me down for 52-48 (Labor leading) in both Newspoll and ER, which I also think will be close to the final election outcome.

  33. The Greens were pretty supportive of Labor’s agenda during the 2010-13 term, which helped make a period of minority government pretty productivr, legislatively speaking.

    In terms of parliamentary process it wasn’t so great – with the Greens willing to side with Labor to shut down debate.

    This is one of the issues I have with the Greens. The ends justify the means for them rather than it necessarily coming from a principled position. I find process to be important as well as outcome.

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