Another pollster returns from the naughty corner today to chance its arm at voting intention, which now makes three if you count the erratically published Roy Morgan series (which I incline not to myself). That pollster is Essential Research, which has remained prodigious with attitudinal polling since the May 2019 federal election, and has maintained its monthly leadership ratings, while offering no clue as to its voting intention numbers beyond the inclusion of raw figures in reporting its sub-samples.
Unhappily for we salivating dogs in the psephoblogosphere, these figures will only be published on a quarterly basis. This appears to mean that every sixth or seventh fortnightly Essential Research release will provide the fortnightly voting intention results of the preceding period. This, the pollster says, will “mitigate the tendency to report on minor movements as some sort of political horse race”. This latest release confuses the issue by providing weekly numbers through June, but I believe this is an artefact of a temporary move to weekly polling to track reactions to COVID-19.
Essential will also make a point of not excluding the undecided from its headline results, arguing the conventional practice entails a “lack of nuance”, though no doubt rivals will accuse the pollster of hedging its bets. The pollster still follows the conventional practice of prodding the initially undecided with a follow-up that asks who they are leaning towards. A proportion of these persist in declining a response, but remain in the sample with responses included for the other survey questions.
The latest primary vote numbers show the Coalition on 38% (up one), Labor on 35% (up one), the Greens on 9% (down one), One Nation on 4% (steady) and others on 6% (steady). If the undecided were excluded, the results would be Coalition 41.3%, Labor 38.0%, Greens 9.8% and One Nation 4.3%, and 51-49 to Labor on two-party preferred (for the sake of consistency with other pollsters, it’s the latter figure that I will continue to use in my headlines). Compared with the 2019 election result, this leaves Labor up nearly five points but the Coalition hardly changed, with the slack taken up from smaller parties and independents.
Labor with 47% of the decided two-party vote (up one on a fortnight ago) to the Coalition’s 45% (steady), leaving an outstanding 8% potentially to be called on to fill the gap between the reported numbers and an actual result. The pollster’s two-party numbers look to be consistent with a 2019 election preferences allocation, although the report is not specific as to whether this method or respondent allocation was used. In his piece in The Guardian, Peter Lewis of Essential Research explains: “We will now be asking participants who vote for a minor party to indicate a preferred major party. Only when they do not provide a preference will we allocate based on previous flows.“
These results are obviously a lot better for Labor than what has come through from Newspoll and Morgan, and are clearly an established peculiarity of the series. Where headline results over the past two months have shown Labor matching or exceeding their primary vote at the election despite the inclusion of a 7% to 9% undecided component, the Coalition have been coming in two to four points lower. The Greens are reckoned to be about where they were and the election and One Nation a little higher, though the latter is complicated by their tendency to only run in selected seats.
Also featured in the latest poll:
• The federal government’s ratings for COVID-19 response are unchanged at 64% good and 16% poor, and the combined response for state governments has shifted only negligibly, with good and poor both up a point to 65% to 18% respectively.
• The small-sample results for individual state governments show the Victorian government up four points on both good and poor, to 53% and 30% respectively. This still leaves it with the weakest figures out of the mainland state governments, with the Western Australian government recovering its title of strongest performer (up five to 82%) from South Australia (down three to 76%).
• On JobKeeper and JobSeeker, 69% supported businesses being retested for eligibility, with 9% opposed; 66% supported continuing payments for six months, with 12% opposed; 54% supported reducing the amount of the payments, with 21% opposed; but only 29% supported excluding casual workers, with 40% opposed.
• Forty-three per cent rated themselves very concerned about COVID-19, up seven on a fortnight ago, with quite concerned down four to 44%, not that concerned down three to 9% and not at all concerned up one to 4%.
• Fifty-six per cent favour a “suppression strategy” and 44% an “elimination strategy”.
• Sixty-eight per cent support mandatory face masks. with 13% opposed; 19% believe them very effective, 46% quite effective, 20% not that effective and 5% not effective at all.
The poll was conducted Wednesday to Sunday from a sample of 1058.