The morning after

A quick acknowledgement of pollster and poll aggregate failure, and a venue for discussion of the surprise re-election of the Morrison government.

I’m afraid in depth analysis of the result will have to wait until I’ve slept for just about the first time in 48 hours. I’ll just observe that that BludgerTrack thing on the sidebar isn’t looking too flash right now, to which the best defence I can offer is that aggregators gonna aggregate. Basically every poll at the end of the campaign showed Labor with a lead of 51.5-48.5, and so therefore did BludgerTrack – whereas it looks like the final result will end up being more like the other way around. The much maligned seat polling actually wound up looking better than the national ones, though it was all too tempting at the time to relate their pecularities to a past record of leaning in favour of the Coalition. However, even the seat polls likely overstated Labor’s position, though the number crunching required to measure how much by will have to wait for later.

Probably the sharpest piece of polling analysis to emerge before the event was provided by Mark the Ballot, who offered a prescient look at the all too obvious fact that the polling industry was guilty of herding – and, in this case, it was herding to the wrong place. In this the result carries echoes of the 2015 election in Britain, when polling spoke in one voice of an even money bet between the Conservatives and Labour, when the latter’s vote share on the day proved to be fully 6% higher. This resulted in a period of soul-searching in the British polling industry that will hopefully be reflected in Australia, where pollsters are far too secretive about their methods and provide none of the breakdowns and weighting information that are standard for the more respected pollsters internationally. More on that at a later time.

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.

1,797 comments on “The morning after”

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  1. For my 2 cents. The election was lost by Labor because
    -The voters didn’t have their baseball bats out for the Coalition.
    -Terms like “big end of town” might be used in Trades Hall but it is not something you hear in the western suburbs.
    -“Chaos” was not something associated with Scomo, he exudes daggy dad and steady hand.
    -Indecisive on Adani, just take a position and you win votes.
    -Lived experience, some may have had trouble paying for cancer treatment but most get it free in public hospitals. Some pensioners may pay for dental but most use free state services.
    -Paying childcare workers was a confusing policy and disappointed all other industries that didn’t get it.
    -Mistake in thinking women was an issue. Of the likely results you see Labor loses Braddon (male), Bass (male), Boothby (female), Chisholm(female), Herbert (female), Lindsay (female), Longman (female), Macquarie (female). What are the chances in a party with less than 50% of women in the lower house, 75% of losses are by females? It may be unfair but perhaps incumbant females don’t resonate/relate with an electorate.
    -Shorten, he lost the previous election and then didn’t give alternative candidates a chance to check for support and by playing politics got a second term he didn’t deserve.

  2. “I loathe all political nicknames, unless it’s a common one like “Albo” ”

    That’s fine, it’s not meant as a put down. The rest of them are dumb.

  3. Briefly
    I don’t believe the NDIS will survive this government.
    Under this government thus far the processes have been stymied & skewed, largely benefitting assessors & providers to the detriment of the client.

  4. Blobbit

    “Start talking about an actual scheme to employ people building out infrastructure for renewables.”


    A statesman/woman would deal with such conflicting objectives as a matter of course. It does not reflect well on the Shortenists that they had not seemed to resolve this.

  5. “The election was lost by Labor because”

    I think it’s partly because they believed all the chatter that people wanted a government that had policies that were going to try to address inequality.

  6. Madcyril @ #1530 Sunday, May 19th, 2019 – 8:51 pm

    Is Shorten leaving parliament? Or just quitting the leadership?

    My understanding is that after an election loss the leadership becomes vacant.
    Shorten has announced he will not contest the leadership.
    He has not said anything about his future in Parliament.

  7. A couple of observations :-

    1) Shorten needs to come out and say he will not contest the 2022 election.
    2) Shorten needs to distance himself from the leadership battle

    Now onto 2022 :-

    1) dump the franking credits policy. Whenever the death tax comes up, say it is not part of policy and isn’t intending to be. Do it at the national conference if necessary.
    2) concentrate on winning the Tasmania and WA seats. Vic is progressive and will remain so. Andrews won’t do anything to upset the apple cart. Qld can go and get ******. They get nothing and hope there is a drought that affects only Qld for the next 5 years. They can have their coal mines for now but no transition monies. Give that to the southern states and WA. They need to understand for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Might be petty but those cave dwelling, coal loving, racists need to be bought to account.
    3) in all likelihood we will have a recession in 2020 (economy is not getting stronger) and further cut in interest rates suggest so together with weak inflation and GDP nos (March 1/4 due for release Wednesday week)

    What I’d like to happen is property continues its downward trajectory – this needs to be rebalanced as we are overpriced. Coalition will get the blame and keep repeating it, don’t hold back.

    By 2022, the Coalition will have been in power for 9 years, they won’t be able to blame the ALP and if the economy does tank, they will be fully responsible and the voting public won’t give them another 3 years. 2022 is very winnable given the Coalition slim majority. The global economy is due for its next economic shock.

    I’ll be fascinated by the legislation in the next 3 years by the Coalition. What is their policy agenda?


    The biggest reason for that 43 year gap between winning at an election from opposition was that the ALP won a change of government part way through a hung parliament in 1941, after nearly winning at the 1940 election, followed by 8 years of ALP government. Had the ALP not received government part way through the term, they would not have been waiting decades for a victory, at worst they would have had to wait until 1946.

    The DLP only kept the ALP from wining office from opposition at actual elections twice in 1961 and 1969. They did this by directing preferences of a previously ALP voting demographic away from the ALP, like Palmer`s UAP at this election, while the Greens direct preferences to the ALP.

    Having the Greens and before them the Democrats has probably reduced the swings against the ALP in bad elections for it because it provided an outlet for people disenchanted with the ALP to not vote for the ALP without voting for the Coalition. 1975, with its very low minor party vote, was a much bigger loss for the ALP than 1996 or 2013 with their higher minor party votes.

    The urge to fight the Greens may have cost the ALP one or more Victorian marginal seats at this election by diverting resources from ALP versus Liberal contests to Higgins where the ALP could have left the bulk of the fight against the Liberals to the Greens but the ALP was more interested in reducing the Green vote and chances of a Green victory than sensible resourcing.

  9. guytaur says:
    Sunday, May 19, 2019 at 8:44 pm


    That’s not what I said. I said Labor can’t blame the Greens. It was Labor’s decision way before Bob Brown started a convoy that decided Labor’s fate.

    The awful bald truth for Labor is that the LNP link the Greens with Labor. It worked. Why? Voters saw Labor campaign against Adani in Victoria

    And what evidence supports such an assertion?

    Once again you try topresent what can only be your opinion as supposed fact.

  10. “guytaur says:
    Sunday, May 19, 2019 at 9:18 pm
    People on twitter are saying with 9 Senate seats the Greens have the Balance of Power. Is this true?”

    If it is, in going to have to eat a bit of humble pie and say well done Green’s. Be interesting to see how they use it.

  11. Peter BrenVerified account@mumbletwits
    2h2 hours ago
    Call out to anyone who believes there will not be a Maribyrnong byelection this term, please consider purchasing this giant coat hanger.

    If Late Riser were around we could take guesstimates on this.

  12. Barney

    Ah yes. You don’t like it being pointed out so now it’s my opinion not hard fact.

    Blaming the Greens for the Adani vote against Labor is also opinion not hard fact. That’s the point.

  13. “is also opinion”

    And now we don’t even have opinion polls to test these ideas.

    I think one thing that shows the impact of Adani is the Hunter vote. That’s a coal area as well (isn’t it?) but not in QLD.

  14. Amongst my friends in NQ Adani isn’t the BIG issue you southerners are making out to be. The biggest issue amongst my friends is the neglect from all forms of government. In terms of services we are 15 years behind the bigger population centres.

    Voting out the useless local MP who did nothing doesn’t mean its an endorsement of Liberal values, its just booting out of an ineffectual party hack. We have turned over the seats both State and Federal on a regular occurrence over the last 12 years. Has none of the political parties noticed that there is no safe seat in Townsville?

    Yes there are issues to do with economic activity, but mining is only one piece of the puzzle. We have state and federal governments that have pulled out of the region and that’s the issue.

  15. Blobbit

    You can’t blame the Greens in the Hunter. No convoy to get upset about as the cause of voting Labor. 🙂

  16. Yes – almost certain that Shorten will resign from Maribyrnong sometime in the coming months, and while politicians in his position cop flak for doing that I don’t really hold it against them. It’s a plum seat so you’d hope the ALP would find a quality candidate who can make a strong contribution to the Parliamentary team rather than a beneficiary of factional largesse.

  17. Unless there has been a massive swing to the ALP in the Senate, since I last looked at the Senate result, no. If the ALP gets 2 senators elected in every state, with a major question mark currently over the second ALP candidate in Queensland winning, then 9 Greens means ALP plus Greens is 2 Senators short of half the Senate (due to the Greens wining no long-term senators in Qld and SA, while the ALP only won 2 long term Senators). If the Greens manage to knock Zed out of the Senate in the ACT, currently a very long shot, the ALP plus Greens only need one crossbencher to block legislation.

  18. max @ #1570 Sunday, May 19th, 2019 – 9:28 pm

    Yes – almost certain that Shorten will resign from Maribyrnong sometime in the coming months, and while politicians in his position cop flak for doing that I don’t really hold it against them. It’s a plum seat so you’d hope the ALP would find a quality candidate who can make a strong contribution to the Parliamentary team rather than a beneficiary of factional largesse.

    Again, that is purely opinion with no factual basis.
    It may well prove to be correct, but at this stage it is just conjecture.

  19. Patrick Bateman @ #1518 Sunday, May 19th, 2019 – 8:44 pm

    I think it was more likely about franking credits, negative gearing and lies, aka retirement tax, property tax, death tax.

    I’ll give you the ‘lies’ part. I don’t believe that anyone who actually understood what the franking credits and negative gearing changes were would have switched their vote over it.

    But “Labor will tax you to death”, that’s going to cut through. Especially when it festers unanswered.

  20. Zoidlord:

    LNP still short of majority

    75 to them.

    Things going to be shit for them still with a minority/slim majority.

    No mandate.

    Yes, I’m sure they are devastated right now.

  21. “guytaur says:
    Sunday, May 19, 2019 at 9:28 pm

    You can’t blame the Greens in the Hunter. No convoy to get upset about as the cause of voting Labor.”

    Don’t be disingenuous. I don’t think you’re stupid. The whole Adani thing made the left look callous in terms of its concern about people’s livelihoods, if they are in mining.

  22. guytaur says:
    Sunday, May 19, 2019 at 9:23 pm


    Ah yes. You don’t like it being pointed out so now it’s my opinion not hard fact.

    Blaming the Greens for the Adani vote against Labor is also opinion not hard fact. That’s the point.

    Bizarre in the extreme!

    Where did I do so?

    Unlike you I don’t see the world through a binary prism and accept that there can be multiple causes combining together to contribute to an event.

    You seem to have left the planet more than usual since last night.

  23. Blobbit

    The Greens had a costed policy for transition. This is because the Greens are treating it as an emergency not as something that can be Don with a first step then ramping up.

    That’s their view. That’s why they are acting as they are.
    It’s kind of like those people in London glueing themselves to trains as a protest in London.

    The sense of urgency produces a different way of approaching an issue.

  24. Not to inflate this – but the convoy embodied everything that was perceived as “wrong” with Southern state “elitists” who want to come in and tell people what they should do.

    FTR – the Adani project is a disaster, but there was a better way to handle it.

    Onto the issue at hand.
    1. Not that I think some here were good faith posters, but I believe at the heart of it, Labor cannot win back Government nationally with an unpopular leader. Whether I think it’s fair or not, isn’t the point, the reality is that he was unpopular. There was a reason why the Libs leaked polling about Shorten’s popularity in Northern Tassie without the actual voting figures. They didn’t need to. When someone is +20 versus -30, these things matter.

    2. You cannot appear to threaten boomer’s stuff… even if few would be impacted, the message of fairness got blurred, when the Libs were able to suggest that one of Labor’s core reforms was fundamentally unfair. Even if the existence of the policy in the first place was unfair.

    I liked that Labor took an ambitious policy agenda to the people, but it was always going to be a high-risk strategy, especially when the baseball bats were clearly not out. It was too much, too fast… too big for the people to take on board and became inconsistent.

    I wanted to take this opportunity to apologise to mundo et al. Part of my defensiveness when pessimistic predictions were made, was that I was also feeling concerned about the apparent lack of anger at the Libs, the overly-targeted approach of the tax reforms, FUCKING ADANI not fucking off and hurting Labor in Queensland and Shorten’s inability to connect with voters. I still didn’t think that Labor would lose, but my feeling all the way along was that this could all blow up in our faces… but the polling kept telling me I could stand down, so took a degree of solace in it.

    So I wanted to apologise and don’t expect to be posting much in here for a while… except to say that that under NO circumstances should Chris Bowen be leader of the ALP.

    Of the names raised, Tanya, Albo and Chalmers are my picks – a Tanya/Chalmers team would be good.

  25. “The sense of urgency produces a different way of approaching an issue.”

    Did the policy address how the people who would lose their jobs would get new ones at the same pay?

    Or was it we’ll retrain you. That’s not going to win votes until you’re in an industry which is actually in the process of shutting down. Coal isn’t there yet, unfortunately.

  26. I think its hard to deny that the convoy was a fucking stupid idea that ended up doing far more harm than good to the anti-Adani cause. Was it the only factor that led to Labor losing? No, of course not. But it was a factor.

    Now, I usually have a fair bit of time for the Greens, and in the past have jumped to their defense in the various squabbles that break out here, but they totally screwed the pooch on this one. What was Bob Brown thinking?

  27. But ..but…but .. If we can’t trust polls anymore, what is the meaning of Pollbludger? Is it just GuessBludger?

    Who will hold out for Newspoll? There is no point.

  28. Confessions @ #1571 Sunday, May 19th, 2019 – 9:30 pm

    A mea culpa from PvO.

    10 News FirstVerified account@10NewsFirst
    48m48 minutes ago
    According to more than two years worth of opinion polls, Labor couldn’t lose this election. @vanOnselenP sat down with @theprojecttv to talk about where they could have gone wrong. #AusVotes #10YourVote

    I assume “they” in this case means “opinion polls” and not “Labor”?

    Labor went wrong because the opinion polls were falsely telling them they couldn’t lose. The polls went wrong because…I have NFI.

  29. AL

    I would guess Bob Brown was thinking he was doing direct action. Just like he did with the Franklin Dam.

    Agree or not that’s the lived experience. Mr Shorten sadly was no Bob Hawke willing to take on a forestry union and his own state party.

  30. Rational Leftist says:
    Sunday, May 19, 2019 at 12:11 pm
    Briefly, thank you for everything you did this campaign. You put hard work in and your reports were interesting reads.

    Thanks RL. I appreciate it.

  31. Are the journos still writing articles about how Australians are crying out for a party to have policies?

    Cause that’s crap. I think people just say that because they think they should.

    I haven’t been able to face reading anything today.

  32. Agreed @Asha – it seemed to many as a smug vanity project.

    …also – can we agree that Sco Mo played Palmer like a fiddle – $60 million to bombard the airwaves, blur the messaging, maybe throw a Senate seat as worst case, but gets much more benefit through preferences.

  33. guytaur says:
    Sunday, May 19, 2019 at 9:42 pm


    My first sentence was. For those blaming the Greens

    Are you ok?

    You seem to have stopped mid-sentence.


    The negative gearing changes certainly cost few votes among those who understood them, although this could have been reduced by seizing the day to counter the falling house price fears with restoring the first home buyers grant to existing properties.

    The franking credits policy likely lost them many voters who are lower end “self-funded” retirees or those on smaller part pensions, even if they understood the changes, because many of them lost a large chunk of cash. It was also poorly targeted in that those receiving enough income to have enough other tax obligations to use up all their franking credits, people wealthier than those loosing their franking credits, faced not franking credit cuts at all. A more broad based cut to franking credits, say capping the proportion of corporate tax payed that can receive franking credits to 5 sixths, would have been both fairer and more saleable.

  35. Bonza,

    Have no evidence they will it is just banks are stricter and gut feel they still have a way to go – not significant but they are still over priced in the eastern states. If we go into recession they yes they will but how far? Who knows.

    Of course we will have the shysters (real estate agents etc) who will say never has there been a better time to buy. But if wages aren’t growing how do you justify servicing of a high $ mortgage.

  36. Aren’t the terms of Senators who were elected just now backdated to July 1 2018. Similar considerations caused Malcolm to decide on a July 2 election in 2016 to get a full year term.

    So to avoid a half-Senate election in 2021, the next House election has to be held by the same time in 2021.

    If I am right, if the past is any guide, this means the early election speculation will commence early next year. Morrison (or whoever is leading the “Liberals” might go late next year if he thinks he could win (I would have said leading in the polls but…)

    EDIT: scrub that. This only applies to double dissolutions. New Senator’s terms commence on July 1 2019.


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