Newspoll: 68-32 to Labor in Western Australia

The most authoritative poll yet to emerge from the Western Australian campaign suggests Labor could be headed for the biggest election win in the country’s history.

A Newspoll in today’s Australian is remarkable in two ways: for being only the second media-commissioned poll of statewide voting intention in Western Australia to appear anywhere since the 2017 election, and for what may be the most lopsided result of any opinion poll this site has ever reported on.

Labor is credited with nothing less than a lead of 68-32 on two-party party preferred, a swing of 13.5% on their already commanding win in 2017, from primary votes of Labor 59% (!), compared with 42.2% in 2017; Liberal 23%, down from 31.2%; the Nationals 2%, down from 5.4%; the Greens 8%, down from 8.9%; and One Nation 3%, down from 4.9% (presumably the question was only posed in the 40 seats where the party is fielding candidates).

Mark McGowan’s personal ratings are in line with other pollsters at 88% approval and 10% disapproval, but Zak Kirkup’s ratings would be particularly disappointing to the Liberals, at 29% approval and 41% disapproval, with McGowan leading 83-10 on preferred premier. The poll was conducted from last Friday to Thursday from a sample of 1034.

Elsewhere:

• The Liberals may perhaps take solace in the finding of the finding of new-pseph-website-on-the-block Armarium Interreta that state polling has historically skewed to incumbents, although there is some evidence the effect has moderated over time. Then again, the site’s election forecast model rates the most probable seat outcome as 50 for Labor, five for Liberal and four for the Nationals. A new post explains how the model has reacted to the apparent peculiarity of the Newspoll result, namely by boosting Labor’s expected two-party vote from around 60% to 63% and widening the range of uncertainty.

• I’ve been provided with breakdowns from the Online Research Unit poll that was covered in the previous post. These suggest age effects will be relatively subdued at this election: applying crude preference estimates to the primary vote results, I get Labor’s two-party leads gently sloping down from 62-38 among the 17-24 cohort to 56-44 among the 65-plus. By comparison, Newspoll’s most recent federal breakdowns had Labor leading 61-39 among the 18-34 cohort and trailing 62-38 among the 65-plus.

• Peter Law of The West Australian (no link that I can find) relates a prediction by Glenn Druery that Labor will fall just short of a Legislative Council majority with 17 out of 36 seats, with the Greens almost certain to hold the balance of power if they fail. The Nationals are campaigning on the likelihood that a left-dominated Legislative Council will reduces or eliminate the chamber’s rural malapportionment: the Greens are open in their advocacy for one-vote one-value, but Labor is fudging the issue by saying the question is “not on our agenda”.

• On the subject of Glenn Druery, his network’s preference arrangements are as usual specifically to the advantage of particular parties in designated regions: the Liberal Democrats in South Metropolitan (where Aaron Stonehouse is trying to win re-election for the party); the Daylight Savings Party in Mining and Pastoral (notwithstanding that daylight saving is a largely metropolitan enthusiasm); Liberals for Climate in North Metropolitan; the Western Australian Party in East Metropolitan; the Health Australia Party in Agricultural; and Sustainable Australia in South West.

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.

97 comments on “Newspoll: 68-32 to Labor in Western Australia”

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  1. https://www.pollbludger.net/2021/02/20/newspoll-68-32-to-labor-in-western-australia/comment-page-1/#comment-3561168

    The CPRS had an ALP-Liberal deal (watering down the original ALP policy, no negotiations with the Greens, despite offers) scuppered by Abbott being installed for the purpose of scuppering it. The ALP then should have called a DD election (although they should have done that in 2008, so they had a workable Senate earlier).

  2. The ETS which the Greens and Labor implemented was far more effective than the CPRS would have been. This is something that both parties should be proud of.

    Nah. We have got nothing now, and I’m not proud that we have got nothing. How can you be proud that we have nothing? I would comment further, but I was only using that as example. And I know this section of the blog is about WA issues.

    The sad part is the WA upper house really should be reformed with one vote one value. But I just don’t trust the Greens if they hold the balance of power in the upper house to get it done.

  3. I can believe the 68% figure simply because my partner (who is 34) enrolled to vote for the first time just so she could vote for McGowan. The level of normality allowed by our isolation on the face of covid is extremely popular.

  4. Re: Political Nightwatchman

    When William Bowe says the Greens are going to the election supporting 1v1v and the ALP is equivocating, he probably knows what he is talking about.
    So why would you trust the Greens less than the ALP on that?

    Last time there was a chance for 1v1v electoral reform, the ALP only really cared about the Legislative Assembly.

    Historically the ALP created the malapportionment with the National Party. Which to be fair was a sort of improvement.

    But arguably the ALP supported the malapportionment for decades when it suited them.

  5. My idea for the upper house: 4 regions (existing 3 metro regions, combine the regional ones), 9 seats each. It keeps the numbers at 36, has odd numbers per region, and is more or less proportional. Quota = 10%.

    In a 50-50 election, you could expect 5-4 to the left in East and South Metro, 4-5 in North Metro and regional WA: 18-all, as it should be. Greens probably get a seat in each region, some kind of One Nation/CDP type gets up in East Metro. Outside Perth, the right goes something like 2 Nat / 2 Lib / 1 Shooter.

    In 2017 (using actual figures with handwavey approximations):

    East Metro: ALP 5, Lib 2, Grn 1, ON 1
    North Metro: ALP 4, Lib 4, Grn 1 (the last Lib seat could be ON)
    South Metro: ALP 4, Lib 2, Grn 1, ON 1, LDP 1 (thanks to the donkey vote and snowball)
    rest of WA: ALP 3, Lib 2, Nat 2, ON 1, Grn 1 (2nd Nat seat could be Shooters)

    So ALP 16, Lib 10, Grn 4, ONP 3, Nat 1-2, LDP 1. Easy ALP+Grn majority.

    The Nats would obviously hate that. “What, we have to get a proportionate amount of the vote in the only part of WA that votes for us?” Smaller outfits like the Shooters might be up for it – getting 10% across WA could be easier than getting 14.3% in current regions. Libs might also be up for it, just to avoid the ignominy of being outnumbered by the Nats in a really bad election.

    I said upthread somewhere that it’s impossible for the Libs to get less upper house seats than the Nats. I might’ve been wrong: Libs could get 0 out of 6 in Agricultural region if the polls are that bad. Nat 2, ALP 2, Shooters 1, Druery snowball 1. The Libs could get 12% and be left out in the cold, like their #2 in East Metro in 2017. (They only got 18.7% in 2017, so that’s not as crazy as it sounds.)

  6. “Nah. We have got nothing now, and I’m not proud that we have got nothing. How can you be proud that we have nothing? I would comment further, but I was only using that as example. And I know this section of the blog is about WA issues.

    The sad part is the WA upper house really should be reformed with one vote one value. But I just don’t trust the Greens if they hold the balance of power in the upper house to get it done.”

    The Greens and Labor should be proud that it was implemented.

    Labor should not be proud of gifting power to Abbott by spending three years at war with themselves. Destroying two decent PMs from your own side in one go is not something to be proud of. It was just a display of insanity.

    Make no mistake, it was Labor who let the Gillard Government down, not the Greens.

    As for WA, quoting this article that we are commenting on, ‘the Greens are open in their advocacy for one-vote one-value, but Labor is fudging the issue by saying the question is “not on our agenda”.’

  7. Make no mistake, it was Labor who let the Gillard Government down, not the Greens.

    As for WA, quoting this article that we are commenting on, ‘the Greens are open in their advocacy for one-vote one-value, but Labor is fudging the issue by saying the question is “not on our agenda”.’

    There was undermining on Gillard, but as soon as she had made the agreement with the Greens the primary vote went in the late 20’s. Bob Brown was calling for Labor to hold it’s nerve. But realistically Gillard was done when those polls came out any thought of a comeback was fanciful. And it was agreement that she struck with the Greens that did it. The lesson for Labor is Labor governs alone or not at all. Greens going to table and providing a list of policies they want to implemented with 10% of the vote is really not a way to govern.

    Oh yeah as for ‘its not on agenda’ comment why would Labor give the Liberals oxygen when they are painting Labor getting the upper house as radical and dangerous. Realistically there is no point pursuing reform if its destined to fail. That’s why you need to see the make up of the upper house.

    Labor offered one vote one value reform in the upper house to the Greens in 2005. Greens suggested it to be broke up into 7 regions with five senators from each region which would have accelerated malapportionment.

  8. Tangentially related – how has Druery not done something actually illegal yet? Like, the vote snowball probably doesn’t technically break any laws, but if he’s receiving payments for doing the maths…?

  9. When William Bowe says the Greens are going to the election supporting 1v1v and the ALP is equivocating, he probably knows what he is talking about.
    So why would you trust the Greens less than the ALP on that?

    Last time there was a chance for 1v1v electoral reform, the ALP only really cared about the Legislative Assembly.

    I don’t know why you are suggesting the ALP really only cared about reforming Legislative Assembly. Unless I’m missing something. From Antony Greens blog it seemed like it was the Greens who were the one’s not keen on reforming. This resulted in keeping the upper house system weighted against Perth largely intact.

    In 2005, Labor and the Greens could not agree on a reform model for the Legislative Council. As part of the deal for lower house reform, the Greens wanted the existing six regions retained, but with six member per region instead of the existing five and seven member regions. This left in place the three-to-one weight against Perth, but added a new bias to the system by increasing the weight of votes in Agricultural Region and Mining and Pastoral Region at the expense of South West Region.

    https://antonygreen.com.au/the-growing-weight-of-country-and-remote-votes-in-the-wa-legislative-council/

  10. The notion that malapportionment in the Legislative Council in Western Australia is in any way Labor’s fault, or serves the interests Labor seeks to advance or its own political interests, is ahistorical nonsense.

    That we are debating this at all and not continually highlighting that the Liberal and National parties have virtually always (if not always, I haven’t been bothered to check) had control of both houses every time they are in government is a victory for Liberal spin.

    Even more astonishing is that the Liberals are able to run a variation on ‘Keep the Bastards Honest’ without being laughed into the Indian Ocean.

  11. Political Nightwatchman says:
    Tuesday, February 23, 2021 at 10:22 am

    The Greens are concerned that a Labor win in the LC will result in the implementation of OVOV and that this will resulting the loss of Green seats. This may not be “the official line”, but it does underly the Green campaign against Labor and is reflected private remarks by Green leadership.

  12. With only two weeks to go unless Mark McGowan puts his foot in it (unlikely; he is fairly cautious) there is no chance if a Liberal win and a bloodbath of unknown scale pending. There must be a few nervous types in the Liberal camp. Any sign of panic or people jumping ship?

  13. Any sign of panic or people jumping ship?

    Isn’t the ship pretty much underwater already? Odds are suggesting that the Libs are going to lose the seats of all three leaders they’ve had during this term, and have stuff all candidates left to select from. The Nats might be the Opposition post-election.

    They could do a Palaszczuk and somehow recover in the next term, but it’s a very long road, and McGowan is *not* Campbell Newman.

  14. Wondering who from the Liberal Party the ABC will have on their election night panel, given it’s likely to be hard to find an MP with a safe enough seat and sufficient standing to offer meaningful commentary.

    No Liberal would want to revisit 2001 when Graham Kierath was on the panel and watched his career go up in flames.

    I daresay the call could go out to some Federal members but I doubt there would be many putting the hand up to be associated with a debacle.

    And where will our esteemed mentor and guide William be engaged?

  15. As an infant my second son was a chronic regurgitater. Was cause for great worry as it’s hard to gain weight when your mother’s milk barely stays down.
    Doctors ran all sorts of tests, came up with no answer and said he’d probably grow out of it.
    He did.
    Unlike a few people who inhabit this space.

  16. Socrates @ #62 Tuesday, February 23rd, 2021 – 10:04 am

    With only two weeks to go unless Mark McGowan puts his foot in it (unlikely; he is fairly cautious) there is no chance if a Liberal win and a bloodbath of unknown scale pending. There must be a few nervous types in the Liberal camp. Any sign of panic or people jumping ship?

    The happy clappers have won the civil war that was going on inside the WA Liberals and the administrative wing of the Liberal Party, which the happy clappers control, will be dancing in the ashes after the election.

    It has been widely discussed that Newspoll could be over positive to Labor, it has not been discussed that it could be overly pessimistic. 71-29 TPP is within MOE.

  17. “One Nation 3%, down from 4.9%”…. Interesting, in WA those abandoning PHON may be directing their vote to the ALP…… Looking forward to see whether the trend is repeated across the country, in Queensland in particular.

    ScuMo’s “miracle” in 2019 was delivered to him by PHON and Palmer’s preferences, especially in Qld. If those two parties are neutralised and their voters shift to the ALP instead, things will be getting very, very exciting indeed….

  18. @Rossmcgsays

    Maybe they will roll out Nahan or Nalder for the ABC?

    Federal politicians are doing their best to pretend WA doesn’t exist due to the stench LOL

  19. I think at this point it’s hard to think how this election will even be somewhat competitive. If the polling is really out the Liberals might win at best around 10 seats or if it’s as bad as reported <5 seats. I don't sense much is going to change from now on and even the media seems disinterested with the election.

    Hard to know what the exact vote will be, but I doubt it will change much between now and election day. If I were to make a 2PP prediction now it would be 66% Labor 34% LNP. Total seats counts:

    Labor – 52
    National -4
    Liberal – 3

    Predicted Labor gains in this scenario presuming uniform swing are: Hillarys, Dawesville, Geraldton, Darling Range, Geraldton, Riverton, Scarborough, Kalgoorlie, South Perth, Bateman, Nedlands, North West Central and Carine.

    The remaining Liberal seats would be: Churchlands, Cottesloe and Vasse.

    and Nationals: Warren-Blackwood, Roe, Moore and Central Wheatbelt.

    The polls could be out but can't see a realistic scenario where Labor wins <45 seats.

  20. What a shame that the very strong support for Labor and McGowan – or at least a comfortable win if nothing else – does not seem to translate into an improvement for Labor when it comes to Federal elections….At best, Labor bumps along with 4/5 out of 15 seats on offer…….
    At the last Federal election when the dreamers were talking about Shorten delivering at least three more seats to Labor, I could never see it……….
    As painful as it seems, the problem is not the Labor brand but who leads Labor at the Federal level. Shorten never convinced here – despite holding his own when the Town Hall Debates were on…………..and depressingly, Albanese is about as attractive here as Shorten was…………

  21. http://kevinbonham.blogspot.com/2021/02/one-more-nightmare-group-tickets-and.html
    One More Nightmare: Group Tickets And The 2021 WA Upper House
    A rather ranty article about the Group Ticket nonsense in the WA upper house contest. Includes comments about the fringe COVID/anti-vax/lockdown/5G conspiracist who the Greens especially have foolishly preferenced and who could win off 0.2% as a result.

    If there was an electoral system this bad in my own state I would never get very much done because I would be spending half my spare time standing down at Parliament with a placard protesting it.

  22. A sobering and depressing read above about “democracy” WA style in the Upper House from Kevin B. The sour joke is the Liberals and the Nats doing Chiken-licken about Labor having some kind of dictatorial powers in the (still) unlikely outcome that Labor will actually have an Upper House majority. This mind you, from conservative parties who have often held control of the Upper House between them. The joke here for years has been one metro vote in WA = one vote plus one sheep in the non-metro seats – especially in the Upper House……
    True to say, Labo(u)r had some advantage when dirty, hard-working, poorly paid miners were in Kalgoorlie, but these guys/gals disappeared years ago, replaced by young blokes who can earn (so I am told) $100,000 p.a. doing form work underground…….These newer guys by and large, do not vote Labor…………….

  23. My wife and I cast our votes today at the Gateway Booragoon voting station.

    Corflutes were all around and a gaggle of party people with how to vote cards congregated at the entrance in a desultory manner, conversing with each other, (as far as I could see, amicably,) and not overly concerned about the few voters who dribbled in.

    None of them sought to hand us a card, nor to anyone else, as far as I could see.

    The voting process was quick and easy, and we were in and out inside 7 minutes.

    Very civilized, and beats the hell out of lining up on election day in the heat and the flies. I’ll do it this way again next election.

    The quality of the free ballot pencil (you get to keep it) was a little disappointing though.

  24. The West reporting that a “straw poll” at early voting centres suggests Labor getting 70% of the vote. Hearing Labor has positive vibes about Kalgoorlie. If accurate that is very bad news for the Libs and Nats.

  25. My wife and I will be postal voting, as we have for many years now. I will be helping out at the local booth.

    I just wish that those postals that are received by Friday before voting day could be counted on Saturday morning.

  26. Labor has been oddly quiet about the please to save democracy by not giving Labor control of the upper house. Given the shameless gerrymandering by a Liberal MLC to delay by months extremely popular (70% plus) legislation that even his own (then) party leader supported, you’d have expected Labor to be pointing out it is the Libs who put democracy in jeopardy.

  27. I think you mean Filibustering, not Gerrymandering. Filibustering is delaying legislation by parliamentary processes whereas Gerrymandering is adjusting the electoral boundaries to benefit one side over the other.

  28. Listening to Zak being lampooned by Liam Bartlett on 6PR as he “concedes”…
    That does not bother me but his cry that by voting Labor – or more correctly voting Liberal – is imperative to “save” democracy in WA is a hoot!
    This from the same party which was lead by that old fella Charlie Court gloating, years ago, that his goal was to wipe the Labor party out.
    Having already noted Labor has rarely if ever had control of the Upper House this is the second hoot!

  29. What a shame that the very strong support for Labor and McGowan – or at least a comfortable win if nothing else – does not seem to translate into an improvement for Labor when it comes to Federal elections….At best, Labor bumps along with 4/5 out of 15 seats on offer…….
    At the last Federal election when the dreamers were talking about Shorten delivering at least three more seats to Labor, I could never see it……….
    As painful as it seems, the problem is not the Labor brand but who leads Labor at the Federal level. Shorten never convinced here – despite holding his own when the Town Hall Debates were on…………..and depressingly, Albanese is about as attractive here as Shorten was…………

    Yeah but Tricot even Kevin Rudd did bad in WA in his strong election win in 2007. He only won four seats in WA, and Labor lost the seat of Swan which was the only seat Labor lost that they already held at the 2007 federal election. Gough Whitlam lost 2 seats Sterling and Forrest in WA in his election win in 1972. Just suggesting that Labor’s struggles federally in WA have just been a Shorten/Albanese problem is a bit misleading.

  30. @political nightwatchman

    Labor did far better in 1998 and 2001, when Beazley was federal leader. Maybe McGowan will do what Neville Wran didn’t and go federal?

    Can’t see that happening myself though.

  31. Whenever there’s a dominant State leader like McGowan people speculate on whether he could have an impact in Canberra.

    I ask why would you do it? Without a factional base the nest of vipers that is the various branches of the Labor party in NSW and Victoria would mean that any newcomer from WA could expect a lengthy spell on the back bench.

    Carmen Lawrence made the move and landed a ministry. Allanah McTiernan tried and quit in frustration.

    Christian Porter has risen through the ranks but the Liberal factions don’t choose their Ministry. And the competition isn’t that crash hot.

    I suspect McGowan would be happy to go for a hat-trick of wins in WA and then bow out gracefully.

  32. I am hoping to live in the moment and enjoy what will hopefully be a massive Labor landslide. Doesn’t happen often here so will enjoy the Liberals losing seats and the right wing media cracking a massive sad.

    But turning briefly to labor’s federal woes in W and unfortunately our record here is appalling. It’s made worse by the fact that the LNP have had some truly awful long term members here. Steve irons in swan, for example, has contributed very little and is not all that well liked (particularly after he got into strife a few terms back for spending very little time in how own electorate), yet he still wins election after election.

    Having spent a fair bit of time campaigning in Swan and Hasluck over the last 15-20 years, it’s rather depressing. The only campaign that seemed to get any cut through was Mediscare and even then, it wasn’t enough to win those seats. My experience was that the voters in these seats seemed to have very little interest in arguments about fairness etc but were largely concerned with aspirational issues like tax cuts and how they can “climb the ladder”. They don’t see labor or unions or notions of fairness as being part of this. Not sure how we change that.

    On a happier note, Manning pre poll in Hillary’s and it seems very positive for Labor so far!

  33. A Barnett-esque performance from Kirkup in tonight’s debate: intemperate, belligerent, petulant.

    Yeah I read he interrupted Mark Mcgowan several times during the debate. The thinking by choosing Zak Kirkup as leader from the Liberals is it would distance themselves from Liza Harvey mistake on requesting the borders be open. They could draw a line and start a fresh. The problem with choosing Kirkup is his inexperience is vulnerable to voters who want someone with experience to lead during a pandemic.

  34. The WA Electoral Commission has raised issues with candidates and their representatives who have been repeatedly harassing voters and the public, as well as blocking traffic near early voting centres, two weeks out from the WA election.

    In the first two days of early voting more than 50,000 people have already cast their ballot in-person, but Commissioner Robert Kennedy said he received “several reports of harassment and inappropriate behaviour by volunteers and representatives of political parties”.

    In some cases the behaviour was so bad the Commission was asked to permanently remove some political representatives.

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-02-26/wa-electoral-commission-warns-political-parties-about-harassment/13196030

  35. In conversation this evening with friends who are well-versed in Liberal politics, apparently the Liberals’ polling shows they are behind in all their metro seats, including (amazingly) Nedlands, Bateman, Cottesloe and Churchlands. I’m not quite ready to believe that, but the polling is said to be authentic and reliable.

    Nedlands in particular has been more or less written off, with an Independent Lib expected to win on prefs following the collapse of the vote for the entirely genial but ineffectual sitting Lib, Bill Marmion.

    The only seat the Liberals are actually confident of retaining is Vasse, held by Libby Mettam.

    Such a result would surely spell the end for the Liberal Old Guard, foremost among whom is the relic, Bill Hassell….a more doddery antique one could not hope to meet.

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