Essential Research: 51-49 to Labor

More dissonance between two-party preferred and other poll movements, this time from Essential Research.

The Guardian reports the fortnightly Essential Research poll has followed Newspoll in recording the Labor lead narrowing from 52-48 to 51-49 – and also in doing so from primary votes that you would think more likely to convert to 52-48. Labor are actually up two points from an unusually weak result last time, from 35% to 37%, while the Coalition are up a single point to 39%. The explanation for Labor’s two-party decline must lie in the two-point drop for the Greens, from 11% to 9%, and the attendant weakening in their flow of preferences. One Nation are up a point to 6%; no response option has been added for the United Australia Party, and there is nothing to suggest their ascent in the combined “others” tally, which is down a point to 9%.

If preference flows from 2016 are applied to these crudely rounded numbers, Labor starts with its 37% primary vote and gets 7.4% from the Greens (82% of their total), 3.0% from One Nation (50%) and 4.4% from others (49%), plus a 0.1% boost to correct for preference leakage between the Liberals and the Nationals. Add all that together and Labor comes out on 51.9%. Since this is, to the best of my knowledge, more-or-less the formula Essential uses, the explanation must lie in rounding. Dial Labor back to 36.6% and the Greens to 8.6%, and boost the Coalition to 39.4%, and you get primary votes that round to the published totals, but which produce a Labor two-party result of 51.4%, rounding to 51-49. There can’t have been much in it though.

The poll also features Essential’s occasional measure of leadership ratings, but all we are given at this stage is preferred prime minister. Scott Morrison’s lead as preferred prime minister is 40-31, down from 44-31 when the question was last asked in early March. So here too the poll reflects Newspoll in finding leadership ratings headed the opposite way from the two-party headline.

We will have to wait until later today for the full report, but The Guardian report relates that 59% expect Labor to win compared with 41% for the Coalition (so presumably a forced response); that “voters have logged news stories about the Liberal party’s preference deal with the controversial businessman Clive Palmer’s United Australia party, and are noticing the debates about tax and healthcare”; that the top rated issues were health, national security and the economy; and that 19% reported taking no interest in the campaign, 29% a little, 33% some, and 20% a lot.

UPDATE: Full report here. The preferred prime minister is the only leadership ratings result – nothing on leaders’ approval and disapproval.

Further poll news:

Roy Morgan, which either publishes or doesn’t publish its weekly face-to-face poll in irregular fashion, has released its results for a second successive week. Polling conducted over the weekend had Labor’s two-party preferred lead steady at 51-49, according to both respondent-allocated and previous election preference measures. Both major parties are up half a point on the primary vote, the Coalition to 39.5% and Labor to 36%, while the Greens are steady on 9.5% and One Nation (which doesn’t do well in this series at the best of times) down two to 2.5%. Also not doing well in this series is Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party, steady on 2%. The poll was conducted face-to-face on Saturday and Sunday from sample size unknown, but probably around 700.

• The Advertiser has a YouGov Galaxy poll of Sturt, the Adelaide seat being vacated by Christopher Pyne, which had the Liberals leading 53-47, compared with their post-redistribution margin of 5.4%. The primary votes were 42% for the new Liberal candidate, James Stevens (44.7% post-redistribution); 35% for Labor candidate Cressida O’Hanlon (23.1%); a striking 9% for the United Australia Party (triple what Palmer United managed in Sturt in 2013); and 6% for the Greens. The poll also gives Scott Morrison a 45-31 lead over Bill Shorten as preferred prime minister; finds 40% less likely to vote Liberal because of Malcolm Turnbull’s replacement by Scott Morrison, compared with 25% for more likely; and finds only 22% more likely to vote Labor because of its franking credits and capital gains tax policies, compared with “almost half” for less likely. The poll was conducted last Wednesday from a sample of 504.

The Age yesterday related that Labor internal polling had it leading 55-45 in Dunkley, 54-46 in Lyons, and by an unspecified margin in Gilmore.

• The weirdest poll story of the campaign so far turns out to be the revelation that a supposed ReachTEL poll of the Curtin electorate, provided by independent candidate Louise Stewart to The West Australian and run as a front page story on Saturday, was fabricated. The Liberals reacted to ReachTEL’s denial that any such poll had been conducted by calling on Stewart to withdraw from her campaign, but Stewart says she believes she is the victim of a trick by her opponents. However, a follow-up report in The West Australian relates that Stewart told the paper she had “committed two polls from ReachTEL/Ucomms before election day”, and is now refusing the provide the email she received either to the paper or to ReachTEL. ReachTEL principal James Stewart said Louise Stewart had told him the email had been “deleted somehow”, but Louise Stewart says this is “not true”. Alex Turnbull, the son of the former Prime Minister, who has loomed large in independent candidates’ efforts to unseat sitting Liberals (though not, so far, in Stewart’s), said he believed he had been impersonated as part of the ruse. Stewart tells Andrew Burrell of The Australian that Turnbull’s investigations linked the distribution of the fake poll to a source “close to a senior conservative WA Liberal MP’s office in Perth”.

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.

923 comments on “Essential Research: 51-49 to Labor”

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  1. McCormack Is basically telling voters what they are planning to do but no what they have done and finger pointing at Shorten about 20 times.

  2. Michael McCormack:

    “I appreciate that some members of One Nation have done some rather interesting things lately, and said some things that are quite unpalatable. I understand that. But we’re not One Nation.”

    Quick quiz. Which is worse?

    (a) Going to a strip club and saying/doing some pretty unsavoury things? or

    (b) Your leader having an affair with his staffer with her getting pregnant while moralising about the family and family values? (or to put it into rural speak for ease of understanding: your prime bull jumping the paddock fence and servicing the cow there while pretending to be just looking after the family and chewing cud in his own paddock?)

  3. Does anyone know if SloMo has done any campaigning in Hasluck? Or anyone senior in the party apart from Ken Wyatt himself. Or have they abandoned the poor sod to his fate as a certain loss? After all, I doubt if the minesweeper pork will be cutting much ice out in the Eastern suburbs.

    In other news, a lot of the corflutes around Chidlow appear to have been run over in the last 24 hours. However, as numbers appear roughly equal ALP-Lib, I’m putting it down as a case of the local sport of knocking over road signs rather than a partisan act.

    Oh, and I’ve just noticed that there’s a Voting Centre sign which explains the presence of Lib and Lab canvassers. Dunno where it is. There are a couple of empty shops down the arcade, which seem a little more likely than the kebab shop (Democracy Doner?) or the tattoo parlour.

  4. Those who think Morrison is correct about the National party being independent . care to explain why the National party policies are virtually the same as the Liberal party’s?

  5. “Sceptic says:
    Tuesday, April 30, 2019 at 1:06 pm
    I note on the Nine MSN poll last night, some 50,000 people voted.. did 50,000 even watch ?”

    It would be remarkable if more than a few people watched the debate on Ch7 or online, then went to the Ch9/MS website, discovered there was a poll and voted.

  6. rossco – The official position has to be that a valid vote will include at least preferences 1 to 6 above the line, because that’s what the legislation says.

    The legislation, for obvious reasons, also says that – as a savings provision – a single ‘1’ above the line will still be counted for that group and then exhaust, but that can’t be considered the instructions for a valid vote.

    It’s clearly an area where there is a bit of a legal nonsense going on, but the underlying point of it all is a good one – people are instructed to number at least 6, and many people do follow the instructions, but their vote won’t be thrown away if they just vote ‘1’ ATL (as they would have been used to doing under the old system). If the official position were that a just-vote-1 is valid then a lot of people would do this and effectively disenfranchise themselves by voting a single ‘1’ for niche micro-parties. Instructing voters to vote for at least 6 (and having party HTVs therefore need to include at least 6) keeps preferences in the front of mind when people are voting.

  7. I have nowhere near the experience of others who campaign more regularly. I’ve found the best way to address people who adopt the “plague on both their houses” is to point out that the candidate in the seat where I am volunteering is as far from a traditional candidate as it is possible to get.

    That said I have not encountered “swags” of people like that, as Briefly has, just a minority. I also wonder, given the closing gap to election day, if we are not now doorknocking those who are the hardest of all to persuade.

    It is certainly easy to go full Mondo in the light of media coverage which does seem dramatically slanted to the Coalition with Labor expected to be perfect at all things while the sins of others are more easily forgiven. The only comfort is to keep going full out to try and persuade people.

    I don’t see other pareties as enemies in the way some here do, but the reality is that if Morrison gets back in we are going to see the most right-wing government this country has ever had.

    The pursuit of perfection could see climate change off the agenda for six years and irreversible damage done to our state education system.

  8. briefly

    Can you elaborate on your comment that you have met lots of angry voter lately. I assume you are door knocking and not getting a terrific reception?

  9. Journo said at Slomos presser that the debate was the 20th most watched program last night.Bob the Builder was more popular apparently.

  10. guytuar this morning: “Yet someone deliberately mowing down a non violent protester has not been a scandal for a week”

    lets not get hysterical here, a guy rode his horse around the convoy’s camp and the tried to exit through a gate. A woman then tried to shut the gate to prevent him exiting (God knows why), and she got her hand jammed in the process.

    Not exactly “mowing down”.

  11. Monday night’s historic Perth leader’s debate had voters switched on with nearly 900,000 people watching Scott Morrison and Bill Shorten first face-off of the federal election.

    According to Oztam 881,330 viewers nationally watched the debate across the 7 Network’s various TV and online platforms.

    Watching a fired up Prime Minister and Opposition Leader trade barbs on jobs taxes and climate change proved highly engaging with #leadersdebate joining #gameofthrones as the top trending topic among Australian Twitter users on Monday evening.

    A fired-up Mr Morrison threw everything he had at Mr Shorten, but most political pundits thought he failed to land a killer blow.

    Of the 48 undecided voters in the room, 25 handed the debate to the Opposition Leader, while Mr Morrison received 11 votes.

    The debate comes as more and more Australian’s choose to vote early rather than wait until polling day on May 18.

    Australian Electoral Commission figures show that 122,771 cast a pre-poll vote, compared to 66,894 on the first day of early voting at the 2016 federal election.

  12. LOL at this from Amy on the Grauniad live blog regarding McCormack’s NPC speech:
    “It’s like someone taught a loaf of white bread to talk”.

    I once had Amy on my dream dinner party guest list. But on reflection – definitely not. I dont want that level of caustic wit (no matter how funny and clever) aimed at me.

  13. Not exactly “mowing down”.

    There is a reason mounted police are so highly trained. Riding a horse near a crowd, let alone into one, would be code red on any risk assessment matrix – clearly criminally reckless.

  14. Further on the leaders debate ratings – more viewers with repeats etc. –
    ‘The Leader’s Debate pulled 317,000 Live on 7TWO with another 271,000 watching a replay later on Seven. But the network says those numbers will be adjusted due to a coding issue’.

    Leaders Debate to be adjusted to:
    Live WA Seven 125,117
    Live Non-WA 7TWO 432,532
    Rpt WA Seven 22,826
    Rpt Non-WA Seven 287,588
    Total = 868,063

    See also the figure last night for –
    Q&A (370,000)


  15. steve davis @ #313 Tuesday, April 30th, 2019 – 11:27 am

    A fired-up Mr Morrison threw everything he had at Mr Shorten, but most political pundits thought he failed to land a killer blow.

    Of the 48 undecided voters in the room, 25 handed the debate to the Opposition Leader, while Mr Morrison received 11 votes.

    Just imagine what the narrative would have been had the vote result been reversed.

  16. LGH makes a very important point about the role of institutional inertia and media laziness in propping up the ALP vs LNP contest.

    Most people get their political news from commercial television news bulletins (I’m pretty sure – correct me if you know otherwise.) I would conjecture that nearly everyone whose vote is genuinely up for grabs – who isn’t strongly committed to any party – gets their political news in this format.

    If the producers of the evening news bulletins and the current affairs and morning programs of Channels 7, 9, and 10 decided to try a multi-year radical experiment of providing equal amounts of neutral coverage of the policy platforms of every party that polls at least 5 percent in national polls, there would most likely be an interesting shift in vote shares. My guess is that the combined vote share of the ALP and LNP in their current forms would fall below 50 percent within a couple of years. They would need to change their platforms to avoid losing voters to rival parties.

    One of the most damaging oligopolies in our society is the electoral political system.

  17. How can double the number of pre-poll voters on the first day this year be good for scotty. Some obviously wanted to use their baseball bats early.

  18. steve davis says:
    Tuesday, April 30, 2019 at 1:24 pm

    Journo said at Slomos presser that the debate was the 20th most watched program last night.Bob the Builder was more popular apparently.

    And how many Bob the Builder viewers are on the electoral role?

  19. LGH…

    I’m not “disillusioned”. I’m reacting to the sometimes very bitter expressions I’ve encountered among voters in “The North”. They are politics-averse. The robo-calling, the personalising of politics, the public fighting, the SHOUTING, the sense of intrusion that politics represents, the dysfunction in the Lib-leadership…and their own family financial circumstances….these things are creating a backlash against the whole process. Voters are cross. Sometimes they are very cross.

    The reflexes include supporting the Orange Libs or the Yellow Libs or the Cory Libs.

    There is a blame-Labor instinct. It’s insane. But it’s evident in the areas I’ve been canvassing.

  20. Barney
    Bob the Builder is probably unemployed nowadays under the Liberal Government.Either that or he should be in jail for being a member of the CFMMEU.

  21. Charles….I get a lot of encouragement and warmth from Labor voters. And there is a general hostility from past-Lib voters. They are furious. The effect of the Lib media campaign is to stop them shifting to Labor. So they are trapped. They hate it. They are lashing out at any convenient target. Our political order is being shredded by the Libs and Pops. It’s a very sad thing.

  22. Barney in Phan Thiet

    “magic 3rd way pudding”

    I work in business consulting helping businesses be more efficient (lower input costs, lower output, higher profit), my experience getting there touches on various areas of government waste.

    Multiple degrees at 3 universities: Curtin, RMIT, Deakin (eye on education spending waste). Experience in the medical system 9 (as user, witness to waste). General manager of a national solar system installer (witness to fraud and government contracting practices). Consultant with a firm specialising in government R&D claims (witness to fraud & government contracting practices).

    1. Universities are admin heavy, engage in useless research, pad degrees with useless units, and overpay many of their staff.
    2. The medical system is overrun with fraud, unnecessary procedures & overpaid staff.
    3. Government programs from both sides are generally poorly configured and victims of massive amounts of fraud.

    In my role working for an organisation that specialised in gaining government funded R&D credits for business I can tell you this: if you wrote reports and provided accounting statements that claimed you were doing R&D you got paid. Almost all clients of the business were coached by the business to make up information for maximum return. The government employed consultants would also be very assistive in telling you what to write to be approved. It was immaterial whether you were actually doing R&D.
    E.g. if you booked a staff member as engaging in 400 hours of R&D work, and 20 hours of income earning, non-R&D work, when they actually worked the reverse there is/was ZERO PHYSICAL check to see that what was noted on paper matched physical reality. Fill in the forms, answer the right way in an interview and you got hundreds of thousands to millions in funding. Multiply by hundreds of businesses…

    Governments contract poorly. They contract in a manner that would put a private business out of business. They overpay, they under police & check. Society is not made up of 100% nice peoples & 5% of dodgy people can result in 40% of government spending in well-intentioned programs going to fraud.
    Note the childcare industry.. I guarantee you what they have uncovered to date is less than 1~2% of actual fraud. Again, there are no physical checks. Make the paperwork “look” right, get paid.

    The highest paid professions in Australia are medical workers. If the AVERAGE surgeon is paid $350,000 what do you think the top quartile might be paid.. $450,000? $500,000?
    Do you honestly feel if mechanisms were in place to bring that top quartile & average income down $100,000 whilst increasing the intake of suitably qualified students at university (increasing supply), that we’d have a shortage? If you do why DIDN’T that occur in the aviation industry? If you think quality was decreased in the aviation industry why did Australia’s aviation safety record retain its ‘top of the world’ positioning after the breaking of the pilots union and the relative re-alignment of their salaries & productivity?

    Are million dollar cancer treatments for 80+ year old pensioners a valid use of public funds?
    Are million dollar cancer treatments for 80+ year old pensioners originally brought in on parental visa’s appropriate use of taxpayer funds?
    If the government determined that the average net cost to the Australian taxpayer per parent brought in via a parental visa was over $400,000 (over what they contributed) largely due to medical & welfare costs and this was decreased what would be the annual saving to the medical system? (Hint: it is measured in billions per annum, ten’s of billions if Shorten’s new parental visa policy is instituted).

    Answering fully would take tens of thousands of words.. but I hope this is a sample of personal experience of waste. Note I am non partisan on this: both Liberal and Labor do the same thing in slightly different areas.

    And I know when people hear someone say “overpaid” staff they freak out. And I get cost of the necessities of life, in the current regime, require ever expanding high salaries to stay on top.
    But consider if the policy mix brought down the cost of housing by 30%, cost of financing by a further 30%, and taxation was reduced 15%. What would be the relative cost of living & living standard of a person in the current regime earning $90k vs a person in the “reduced cost, higher % post tax income share” $75k earning environment? What about if other costs in society were reduced because businesses were paying less tax and less rent and less wages?

    Reduced land costs: lower immigration, higher capital gains taxes.
    Reduced goods/services costs: lower land costs, lower wages
    Increased share of retained income after expenses & taxes: lower taxes, lower housing costs, lower goods/services costs

    In an Australia where people can earn less because things cost less.. what does that mean for our export potential?

    More exports > more jobs.

    The cycle Australia is trapped in is unsustainable, and hey, I get that everything I say here would require a tonne more links & argument support to have a chance at being accepted. All I ask is that this line of thinking be accepted as a possibility worth consideration.

    There is a lot more to worker satisfaction than end salary. Have a business put in the right tools and practices to reduce unpaid overtime and worker stress and dissatisfaction (e.g. with managers, not feeling heard, being forced into less efficient practices than they know would work) can often see worker morale improve and productivity without a pay increase. The worker is happier, and his job is easier and more fulfilling, the business is happier because it is more profitable & sustainable.

    Families earning $100k and being majorly stressed over life expenses is not an improvement on families earning $75k and being majorly stressed over life expenses if those expenses & taxation have swallowed the entirely of the income gain.

  23. What do you think would happen in the following scenario:

    Labor 73 seats
    Liberal 73 seats
    Indepedent 2 seats (Steggall, Wilkie)
    KAP 1 seat
    Centre Alliance 1 seat
    Greens 1 seat

    Coalition minority? Snap election?

  24. guytaur says:
    Tuesday, April 30, 2019 at 1:00 pm
    Wow McCormack says the Nationals are aligned with One Nation

    This is correct. There are Lib-clones everywhere. They congregate. You should see them at Pre-poll…Lib-Libs, On-Libs, Cory-Libs, UAP-Libs….all a-huddle.

    This morning the solitary G was looking for emotional support from Labor. They were given it….shelter from the Lib-Corp.

  25. I’ve had a look at this article about Essential by Peter Lewis of the Guardian.

    When asked:

    Who do you think would make the better prime minister out of Scott Morrison and Bill Shorten?

    Incredibly, only 38% of Greens voters said Shorten and 25% said Morrison, with 37% undecided. I just can’t work this out.

    Others heavily tilted to Morrison 44%-15%.

  26. A lot of preference love for Centre Alliance on the SA Senate Party How-To-Vote cards I’ve seen so far. If they can muster a decent primary vote, they might be able to win a seat (hopefully in the third “right wing” slot, not the “left” one)

  27. On-Libs, Cory-Libs, UAP-Libs

    All they are just right wing nutter groups. Pretending they will be any different to Morrison is a furphy.

  28. Charles @ #334 Tuesday, April 30th, 2019 – 2:08 pm

    I’ve had a look at this article about Essential by Peter Lewis of the Guardian.

    When asked:

    Who do you think would make the better prime minister out of Scott Morrison and Bill Shorten?

    Incredibly, only 38% of Greens voters said Shorten and 25% said Morrison, with 37% undecided. I just can’t work this out.

    Others heavily tilted to Morrison 44%-15%.

    I suppose a lot of greens are greens because they really, really don’t like labor and vote for them out of sufferance. If they liked Bill Shorten they would not be green voters.

  29. In an election where the central media has never been weaker and information sources more fragmented, the Coalition is managing to reduce the national debate into a game of scary numbers and character attacks.

    In many ways the Coalition campaign has been specifically designed for and, many would argue, by the broadcast media: a two-man contest where only the pithiest one-liners and sharpest photo-ops triumph in the nightly news cycle.

    Morrison the marketing man is in his element here, working in lock-step with a media who feeds off personal conflict and deploying post-truth advertising to frame the election as both a vindication of his own confected good blokeiness and a searing test of Bill Shorten’s deficits.

  30. AB11

    So at least a quarter of Greens would prefer Morrison PM over Shorten PM? WTAF? How can any Green voter justify that?

  31. The thing about negative character attacks, is that people eventually become numb to them…

    One of the reasons why Shorten is seeing some of his stronger personal ratings is that people are looking and going … “oh, he’s not that bad”.

    Shorten needs a stronger and more concise answer on tax and on their climate policy, for sure. But the reality for the Libs is that their campaign is in serious danger of running out of puff. One of the benefits of these debates is that it’s a chance for candidates to test out lines of attack and retort. Shorten got much more comfortable and confident responding to Morrison toward the back-end.

  32. Briefly
    All is quite passive & rather subdued in this neck of woods.
    I was hoping for fed up angry voters toting baseball bats for the Coalition. Quiet & polite!
    My worst electioneering experiences were in 1996 in the seat of Aston in outer Melbourne.
    I was spat at & threatened with violence. It was getting so hairy I had Liberal volunteers running interference.

  33. D – I am hoping that wasn’t at Knox Gardens (my first opportunity to vote). By the way hasn’t Aston just had some of the most bland representatives ever in the past 2 decades.

    By the way, Steve Fielding (remember him) came from there too…

  34. Expert claims ‘billions of dollars a year’ given to people who pay no tax

    Dr Denniss told most of us tuned out when the topic was raised because it was considered to be “boring” and “confusing” — but as a result, taxpayers were lining the pockets of the rich to the tune of billions each year.

  35. Hugh B

    Have been wondering about Morrison’s campaign movements in WA as well. So far I’ve noticed him in Stirling and Canning (further up the pendulum) but not Hasluck or swan (which are much more marginal) but could be wrong. How Steve irons has continued to get elected for so long is beyond me.

  36. The unwillingness of G voters differentiate between Shorten and Morrison reflects in part the incessant anti-Labor campaigning by the Lib-Kin.

    This is eating away at the order. It’s deliberate, consciously sought and ultimately thoroughly divisive and destructive. Not that this would trouble the Lib-Kin. They want this. They predicate everything on it.

  37. Why can’t labor do an ad. Similar to the super fund ones. Compare the pair…………

    Chris Bowen
    A nurse on $67,000 pays $13,000 in income tax. A retired shareholder with dividend income of $67,000 from shares in their self-managed super fund pays $0 in income tax and gets a tax refund of more than $27,000 from the Government. Same income, different

  38. I might be a bit pedantic but it is not true that you “need” to number 6 boxes. There are no consequences if you don’t. I would be happier with “should”. I wouldn’t do just one but I am not sure there are 6 parties I would want vote for.

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