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
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”

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  1. EB
    Sunday, April 28, 2019 at 9:50 pm
    nath @ #14 Sunday, April 28th, 2019 – 9:43 pm
    If Albo was leader it would be 55/45. Just saying.

    You know it’s true. The worst government ever, 3 pm’s, 2 coups. And Shorten’s on 51. Please.

  2. Graph says Greens stay on 9% … 49 might be a generous appraisal.

    Be intrigued to see what Kevin and William and Mark come up with in their calcs

  3. “Today’s Labor announcements have not factored, obviously. Next time around should be of interest”

    Also not factored into the UAP debut is the Clive Palmer factor when put under about 5 seconds of scrutiny. I’m taking a wild guess here, but I’m guessing that about 99% of that that 5% comes from people who like Hallmark cards and are responding positively to the collage of easy shibboleths that they have been bombarded with on those TV ads over the past few months. I’m guessing that sentiment will last about as long as a snowflake on a hot day once these punters focus on the fact that Palmer has stiffed his own workers and the tax payer. Plus being reminded of all his other baggage.

    I also think that the 2% drop in labor’s primary is just being parked with UAP and I can’t see that actually going on preferences to the LNP, even with (and probably because of) Scomo’s Grubby preference deal.

  4. And in a real WTF moment, do we have a fake poll? That massive Curtin plunge, attributed to Reachtel this morning, may be dubious..

    This from Rob Harris of the Herald Sun

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

    So not even enough data to see what the methodology update was?

  6. Sceptic @ #60 Sunday, April 28th, 2019 – 9:57 pm

    NewsPoll are Australia’s Rasmussen only correct 30 seconds before the election.

    Yup, a desperate attempt by Newscorpse to stop lib volunteers walking off the job.

    Kevin Bonham says that the BPM usually favours incumbent by 16 per cent. On that basis, Shorten is well ahead and pulling away.

  7. 2PP – 38(0.0) + 37 (1.0) + 9 (0.8) + 9 (0.4) + 7 (0.5) = 51.3

    This may be overstating it a little as I don’t expect Labor to be getting 40% of PHON and UAP preferences this time, but rather, substantially less.

  8. Andrew Earlwood

    That and voters not paying attention over the holidays.

    It’s still in steady as she goes territory with the PPM being an interesting pointing to a possible shift in the future.

  9. “With the Greens unchanged at 9%, this looks more like a 52-48 going off the numbers as published.”

    I actually think this smells like 53-47 once the Clive bubble bursts. See my previous post.

    Even before then, those punters who have temporarily shifted their primary from labor to UAP simply aren’t going to preference the LNP, even if Clive tells them to.

  10. Now Labor’s Curtin candidate creates fake polls. Labor have pre-selected another shocker. This won’t go down well in WA with a number of key seats in play.

  11. nath @ #52 Sunday, April 28th, 2019 – 9:55 pm

    Sunday, April 28, 2019 at 9:50 pm
    nath @ #14 Sunday, April 28th, 2019 – 9:43 pm
    If Albo was leader it would be 55/45. Just saying.

    You know it’s true. The worst government ever, 3 pm’s, 2 coups. And Shorten’s on 51. Please.

    What I know is better than to wet my pants or cream my pants as you are over a single poll especially one sourced by the Smurdoch press 3 weeks out from an election – it is click bait idiot.

  12. 52-48. Bit dodgy numbers IMO. I await our experts to go over it. These roundings have been a little too convenient lately. *puts the tinfoil hat*

  13. What is the split of minor party prefs, by party, used in Newspoll, can it be calculated

    Green ?

    You read respondent allocations and prior election allocations but rarely see the maths done.

  14. Labor generally don’t do worse than 50% of PHON preferences, despite there being no formal deal between the 2 parties.

  15. William – at what stage do you get some more detailed figures for the various polls. Clearly the numbers are rounded to nearest whole which can hide a bit of information when trying to compare the YouGov and Newspoll?

  16. michael @ #68 Sunday, April 28th, 2019 – 10:00 pm

    Now Labor’s Curtin candidate creates fake polls. Labor have pre-selected another shocker. This won’t go down well in WA with a number of key seats in play.

    The candidate you speak of is an Independent Liberal. Fool.

    Labor’s former candidate, Melissa Parke, has dropped out of the race for Curtin. Idiot.

  17. So, beyond the actual 2PP in the last two polls, which can be debated ad infinitum and very few here would actually believe it, it’s clear that the ALP stays ahead and it’s heading for a win according to both Galaxy and Newspoll. That conclusion is definitely believable.

    So, ScuMo is failing…. What’s next for the Coalition? To desperately hope for a “gotcha” moment in the leaders debate?… Keep praying?

  18. “This won’t go down well in WA with a number of key seats in play.”

    Was the story in the West or the Sunday Times where Morrison said he thought Perth and Sydney had a lot in common? That really won’t go down well in the West, saying we’re like the Eastern staters.

  19. This is the second poll with PHoN on 4 – no state breakdowns, so maybe still a chance for 6th in Qld. With some luck and good sense by the voters, there will be nobody joining Pauline this time round.

  20. 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 year…

  21. If we are questioning polling do we know if Newspoll is only polling marginal electorates or landlines. Whatever the reason was that they undercounted Labor support in the Victorian election

    Noting they did seem to get it right in NSW.

  22. I wonder if the LNP-UAP non-aggression pact will be announced tomorrow after all?

    Because it could lead to awkward moments in this Perth ‘debate’. If it were still a theoretical arrangement until an announcement on Tuesday these could be avoided.

  23. I think the only part you can trust is the BPM. A bit hard to finagle that. The rest can be tossed into the bin.

  24. This is margin-of-error stuff after an opening fortnight of a campaign where no one was paying the least attention (I know I wasn’t, and I actually care about the minutiae of election campaigns). The polls remain where they have been for the last two years, with the two majors in the high 30s, the Greens around 10%, and Eine Nation at about 5%, with the 2PP at around 52-48. I’ll believe that big Clive gets 5% when I see it on election night.

    This election is still Labor’s to lose, and unless everything goes right for the Coalition over the next few weeks, Shorten will be PM by late May. Remember, Labor only needs to win a net four seats, and they have a lot of paths to do that. The Coalition need to win a net three seats to regain their majority, and they really need to thread the needle to do that.

    I can’t really see anything moving the polling needle much until the final week, and even then it’s a long shot for the government to be returned. People made their minds up last August.

  25. It does not matter if this poll is reported as 52-48 or 51-49 it is still no good for the coalition with a primary of 38.

    Good as gold.

  26. “Labor generally don’t do worse than 50% of PHON preferences, despite there being no formal deal between the 2 parties.”

    That’s genetally the case when the ON vote is stuck around 4% or less. Once the ON vote goes over about 7% that surge is largely due to pissed off LNP voters parking their primary with ON in protest. 4% is about the ON ‘base’ which will likely split 55-45 to the LNP.

    I reckon that labor gets better than 50% of the PUP votes as preferences as well.

  27. “the ALP stays ahead and it’s heading for a win according to both Galaxy and Newspoll.”

    Seems to be the take out from this. Would have loved 53/47 or better just to see panic in the RWNJob ranks. ah well… round for that. 🙂

    Night all.

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