Newspoll: 51-49 to Labor

The debut reading for Clive Palmer’s party in a national Newspoll result is 5%. Two-party preferred status: it’s complicated.

The Australian reports the latest Newspoll records both parties down on the primary vote, the Coalition by one to 38% and Labor by two to 37%, making room for the debut appearance of Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party on 5%. The Greens and One Nation are both unchanged, at 9% and 4% respectively. The two-party preferred headline moves a point in favour of the Coalition, from 52-48 to 51-49 – a lot more on that shortly.

Movements on personal ratings are slightly to Bill Shorten’s favour – he is up two on approval to 39% and steady on disapproval at 51%, and his 45-37 deficit on preferred prime minister is an improvement on his 46-35 in the last poll. Scott Morrison is steady on approval at 45% and up two on disapproval to 46%. Respondents were also asked which leader they most trusted to keep their campaign promises, with Morrison very slightly favoured over Shorten by 41% to 38%. The poll was conducted from Friday to Sunday, with Thursday dropped from the usual field work period because of the public holiday, from a larger than usual sample of 2136, the norm being around 1700.

Beyond that, there is a good deal to unpack. This is the first time a result for the United Australia Party has been published, but the tables in The Australian today reveal the party was on 3% in the poll a fortnight ago, and 2% in the poll the week before that. As Peter Brent discusses in Inside Story, pollsters have an important decision to make in deciding whether to include a minor party in the primary question, or saving it for those who choose “other” out of an initial list – a decision that will have a bearing on their result. I assume the publication of the UAP result in the latest poll marks its elevation from the second tier to the first, but the publication of the earlier results may suggest otherwise.

Then there’s the two-party preferred, which raised eyebrows as the primary votes are of a kind that would normally be associated with 52-48. The answer, it turns out, is that a preference split of 60-40 in favour of the Coalition is being applied to the UAP vote. The rationale is explained in an accompanying piece by David Briggs, managing director of YouGov Galaxy, which conducts Newspoll. First, Briggs confirms this is also what it has been doing with One Nation preferences since the start of last year, earlier statements having been less exact. Of the decision to extend this to Palmer:

With the UAP there is no historical trend data we can refer to in order to estimate the likely preference flow to the major parties. We do know, however, that in the 2013 election 53.67 per cent of the Palmer United Party vote was ­directed to Coalition candidates. That was without a preference deal, but in the forthcoming federal election the Liberal Party will swap preferences with the UAP and this can only result in an even higher proportion of UAP votes being directed to the Coalition.

In point of fact though, the Palmer United Party’s approach to preferences in 2013 was to put Labor last in every seat (as best as I can tell — its how-to-vote cards are preserved here). I don’t believe this arose from a deal as such, and it didn’t seem to attract any publicity at that time. However, the fact remains that every Palmer United voter who followed the card ended up in the Coalition’s two-party preferred tally, which is no different from the situation at the election to come.

Briggs also points to the party breakdowns from the aforementioned question on leader most trusted to deliver on campaign promises, which found Morrison to be favoured 53-13 among UAP voters – a significant lead, even accounting for the fact that there would only have been around 100 UAP voters out of the poll sample.

The Newspoll preference split may well be vindicated in time, but for now it’s merely a hypothesis. The dynamics of Palmer’s preferences could actually prove rather complex, if the Western Australian election of 2017 is any guide. The Liberals cut a deal with One Nation in that campaign, and they indeed got a bigger cut of their preferences, from the roughly 50-50 split of the 2016 election (out of the 15 lower house seats the party contested) to 60.6%.

However, this may have had less to do with how-to-vote cards than the backlash One Nation suffered as a result of the deal, which the polls of the time indicated had cost them as much as a third of their existing support – presumably among the kind of voter most likely to preference Labor. Since the Liberals were tainted by the deal as well, nobody doubts that it backfired on them, despite its “success” in delivering a higher share of preferences from a diminished One Nation.

As Labor prepares a rhetorical onslaught against Scott Morrison over the Clive Palmer deal, we may well be about to see a similar dynamic play out federally. However, this too is merely a hypothesis. The bottom line is that extrapolating two-party preferred from primary votes right now unavoidably involves an uncomfortable amount of guess work. For better or worse though, the BludgerTrack poll aggregate will continue to be guided by previous election results in allocating preferences – and, notably, the addition of the Newspoll numbers has made almost no difference to it.

The table below compares the results from Newspoll model with two alternative approaches that might have been taken. The results are imprecise in that they rely on the rounded primary votes published by Newspoll, but it’s nonetheless worth noting that the Newspoll method gives Labor 51.4%, suggesting the headline figure was likely rounded in their favour. The next two columns along, under “Past election: A”, apply UAP preferences using Palmer United’s 53.7-46.3 split from 2013, and One Nation’s using the almost 50-50 split from 2016. The last two columns, “Past election: B”, are how it would go if the UAP was treated as just another component of “others”, and thus given the almost 50-50 split such votes followed in 2016.

Newspoll method Past election: A Past election: B
  L-NP ALP L-NP ALP L-NP ALP
Primary 38 37 38 37 38 37
Greens 1.6 7.4 1.6 7.4 1.6 7.4
UAP 3.0 2.0 2.7 2.3 2.5 2.5
One Nation 2.4 1.6 2.0 2.0 2.0 2.0
Others 3.6 3.4 3.6 3.4 3.6 3.4
TOTAL 48.6 51.4 47.9 52.1 47.7 52.3

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.

1,496 comments on “Newspoll: 51-49 to Labor”

  1. Holden Hillbilly from the previous thread:

    Time for the bet wetting thumb sucking arrogant lefties to sign off (the ones who claim about 50% of the population are idiots).

    Kinda reminds me of people on here who are always touting themselves as the true champions of the poor and the working class, yet just as quickly dismiss said groups as “hicks” or “morons”, if they’re more motivated by issues of self-interest and survival than whatever progressive theory got the highest shouts of approval at the last lefty Sunday brunch/Wine tasting event they were at.

  2. Sceptic says:
    Sunday, April 28, 2019 at 9:35 pm
    Ghost saying. Both majors down on primaries. Weird.

    Not weird. This is the result of the campaign, which is driving resentment to new heights.

  3. Rational Leftist,
    I am poor and Working Class, so don’t you dare try to tell me I don’t know how the poor and the working class think or feel. Plus, if anyone disparages Tradies or Bogans here, then it’s more likely than not because they are Upper Middle Bogans who talk out of their backside about the real poor people. Like you seem to be doing.

  4. briefly @ #3 Sunday, April 28th, 2019 – 9:39 pm

    Sceptic says:
    Sunday, April 28, 2019 at 9:35 pm
    Ghost saying. Both majors down on primaries. Weird.

    Not weird. This is the result of the campaign, which is driving resentment to new heights.

    Or UAP being an option for the first time, according to William’s post.

  5. citizen @ #8 Sunday, April 28th, 2019 – 7:41 pm

    Is Newspoll now making a Clive adjustment to 2PP, instead of a Pauline adjustment as previously?

    According to William’s post, UAP is now included in the Newspoll mix as an option. Mumble has been musing about this very fact for the past few days and I imagine he too will have something to say about this.

  6. Interesting to see Shorten going up on approvals and PPM given how bad his campaigning has been up to this point according to the MSM.

    Interesting to see greens primary. Only reason for the 51-49 is if greens have gone down I would think.

  7. Honestly, the Coalition have a simple message-Fear Labor!

    Labor, on the other hand, are giving people a lot to digest.

  8. Like a certain someone who carries water for the Greens who lectured me for pandering to “the morons” because I said that people (whom I work with on a daily basis) who are struggling and unemployed do not give a fuck about abstract progressive issues and are more worried they’re not going to be able to afford to live before too long.

  9. I wonder what wild guess they used to distribute those UAP preferences. Five percent is a significant chunk of votes.

  10. Most of those telling Newspoll they’d vote for UAP would not even realise it has anything to do with Clive. That’s why he changed the name from PUP. To them UAP is another word for “Others” or “Not one of the big parties”. They won’t make that mistake in the polling booth!

  11. meh.

    I predict this will be as close as the Coalition ever get in any poll before the election.

    And that the actual election TPP will be higher that that for Labor.

    Antony Green’s calculator gives Labor 79 seats with 51% TPP.

  12. This is shit. We need the Greens, ON and others primaries to make sense of this Newspoll. Mainly because of the UAP debut factor.

  13. Rational Leftist @ #21 Sunday, April 28th, 2019 – 9:45 pm

    Like a certain someone who carries water for the Greens who lectured me for pandering to “the morons” because I said that people (whom I work with on a daily basis) who are struggling and unemployed do not give a fuck about abstract progressive issues and are more worried they’re not going to be able to afford to live before too long.

    Well, comrade, welcome to the real world full of real people that Labor is fighting this election for.

  14. doyley @ #20 Sunday, April 28th, 2019 – 9:44 pm

    Interesting to see Shorten going up on approvals and PPM given how bad his campaigning has been up to this point according to the MSM.

    Interesting to see greens primary. Only reason for the 51-49 is if greens have gone down I would think.

    Yet its easy to imagine Morrison driving Greens preferencing of Labor to an all-time high. As much as 90%

  15. Or UAP being an option for the first time, according to William’s post.

    I find it implausible that UAP vote was hidden in “others” or that ON voters have gone to UAP.
    If NewsPoll have included UAP at this late stage it makes previous base polling irrelevant. Do they double blind test their polling?
    They should have included UAP last year not now.

  16. I think that’s a good poll at this stage of the campaign.

    Any complacency will evaporate on Labor’s side.

    And it might give the swingers pause for thought that the Coalition might get back in, prompting a positive move to Labor.

  17. A combined Primary of 38 for both the Liberal and Nationals is nothing for the government to be happy with.
    Labors 37 is meh, but winnable.
    the TPP is a real crap shoot, which is probably wrong IMO

  18. I thought Chris Kenny was wetting his pants over the coalition primary tonight ?

    Despite all the shit thrown at Shorten over the past two weeks I think the coalition primary is pitiful and Shorten has even improved his own ratings.

    Happy with this.

    Up to labor now to convince one or two percent more to hop on board.

  19. Comparing Galaxy and Newspoll (remembering they are done by the same polling company and for Murdoch media). Galaxy was probably completed a day earlier than Newspoll.

    Galaxy
    Labor lead 52-48. Primary votes Coalition 37%, Labor 37% , Greens 9% , United Australia Party 4% , One Nation 4%

    Newspoll
    Labor lead 51-49. Primary votes Coalition 38%, Labor 37%, UAP 5%, Greens & ON not stated.

  20. Love to know if including Clive was Newspoll’s decision or Newscorpses? If it was the latter, it does not say much for Newspoll

  21. Should have added , you don’t change your questions in the middle of a critical sampling period without distorting the result. NewsPoll is looking for cover.

  22. Shorten will lose the election, PM Morrison still has about 3 weeks to come back from just 51-49 down. Shorten to implode in the tv debates.

  23. So it comes down to allocation of the Clive vote.
    What did I say days ago, Newspoll would need a methodology update.
    Clive gets 5%, as a country we are insane.

  24. I told you as that our great LNP are on the way back to win the May election by a landslide and the next newspoll will be 51/49 to our great LNP and Morrison will be PM for another three years

  25. Murdoch has skewed Newspoll because of Palmers preference deal during the week. Its just a bloody con to fit their narrative.

  26. Not what i’d like, but much oddity in this campaign. The easter/anzac break gives us an effectivley 3 week campaign? Which is starting with UAP mixing things up and PHON down the plughole?

    Only practical response…hit the phones and keep campaigning.

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