Utting Research: 16% swing to Labor in WA marginals

A rare public poll from Western Australia suggests the McGowan government is headed for an historic landslide at the March state election.

Five months out from the election, The West Australian has published what I believe is only the second media-commissioned poll of state voting intention since the McGowan goverment came to power in March 2017. The poll was conducted by Utting Research, which has been associated over the years with Labor internal polling, and targeted 700 voters apiece in five marginal seats (as is sadly typical for The West, no detail is provided on survey mode or field work dates, not to mention primary votes). The results are, by any measure, extraordinary:

• The poll finds Liberal leader Liza Harvey headed for a 66-34 drubbing in her seat of Scarborough, which she holds on a margin of 5.6%.

• Labor leads 59-41 in the Mandurah seat of Dawesville, where the Liberals’ young hope Zak Kirkup eked out a 0.7% winning margin in the face of Labor’s 2017 landslide.

• Labor holds a 67-33 lead in the northern suburb seat of Hillarys, where Liberal member Peter Katsambanis held out by 4.1% at the 2017 election in a race complicated by outgoing member Rob Johnson’s attempt to retain the seat as an independent after quitting the Liberal Party. The seat has never been held by Labor in a history going back to 1996, although the precedessor seat of Whitford was held by Labor through its time in office from 1983 to 1993.

• Labor leads 66-34 in the northern suburbs seat of Joondalup, which Emily Hamilton won for Labor in 2017 by a 0.6% margin off an 11.0% swing.

• Labor’s Jessica Stojkovski holds a 67-33 lead in the northern suburbs seat of Kingsley, which she won by 0.7% off a 14.7% swing in 2017, and which has been won by the Liberals at six of eight elections since its creation in 1989.

The collective swing to Labor across the four seat is 16%, which would leave the Liberals with nothing if reflected uniformly across the state, although the Nationals would survive in the three seats of their wheatbelt heartland. More realistically, the poll suggests that Labor has every chance of gaining an upper house majority and with it the opportunity to correct its heavy rural bias. The West Australian earlier reported that Utting Research polling conducted privately for a business group in May had Labor with a lead of 66-34, a swing of 10.5%.

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.

5 comments on “Utting Research: 16% swing to Labor in WA marginals”

  1. The Federal Liberals have defined themselves by a position on Covid that threatens the well-being and sense of security of every West Australian. Their State colleagues will pay the price for this.

    Maybe this will translate to federal voting intentions too…

  2. “Maybe this will translate to federal voting intentions too…”

    It should. The same dominant right wing faction runs both the WA and Federal Liberals.

  3. Whilst the above scenarios seem far fetched, hopefully Labor’s lead stays strong enough for it to win a majority (or a combined Labor-Greens majority) in the legislative council and then fix that malapportioned mess of a chamber.

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