Newspoll: 53-47 to Labor in South Australia

The first South Australian state poll in a year suggests Steven Marshall has a lot of work to do over the next three weeks if his government is going to make it to a second term.

Three weeks out from the election, The Australian offers a Newspoll result from South Australia with a striking headline figure of 53-47 to Labor on two-party preferred, amounting to a 4.9% swing to Labor compared with the 2018 result. The primary votes are Coalition 37%, Labor 39% and Greens 10%, compared with previous election results of Coalition 38.0%, Labor 32.8% and Greens 6.7%, with much of the residue accounted for by SA-Best. The poll is particularly encouraging for Labor leader Peter Malinauskas, who unusually for an Opposition Leader holds the lead on preferred premier, by 46-39. He also records a 51% approval rating, with disapproval at 31%. Steven Marshall is at 48% approval and 47% disapproval.

The poll was conducted Friday to Thursday from a sample of 1015. For a whole lot more on the election, my South Australian election guide can be found here.

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.

82 comments on “Newspoll: 53-47 to Labor in South Australia”

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  1. Hooray a poll- we exist!
    Well this doesn’t surprise me. Labor and Malinauskas have been a visible and tireless opposition (particularly on social media) and the Liberals an inexperienced train wreck. After so long in opposition the Liberal ministers were hopeless; caught putting their hands in the cookie jar or resigning through conflict-of-interest or trying to implement bits of the mindless IPA agenda in a bumbling way.
    Marshall handled Covid well enough, then grabbed defeat from the jaws of victory by opening a month early. He is looking a bit shattered at the moment, as Malinauskas strides onwards.

  2. Labor have played the election campaign so far very smart….Keeping promises targeted to strengths such as health and ridiculing Liberal priorities of building a gazillion dollar basketball stadium which will benefit only relatively few sport fans

  3. To torchbearer. It’s interesting what you say in that to me in far away Qld. It seems Marshall is a fairly moderate sensible LNP guy compared to the lunatics we had in charge from 2012 to 2015. It sounds though from your assessment they share many characteristics with our very own Cando and his band of hard right ideological vandals. Just one question ,does the advertiser give the Libs staunch support through thick and thin like the Courier does to the LNP up here? Great news also that ALP is in front down in SA!!!!

  4. Marshall isn’t a right-wing nut in the way other state Libs are. In fact part of his problem was his refusal to promote conservatives to his cabinet, which lead them to leak against, and bring down, his Attorney-General (and deputy Premier).

    His biggest problem seems to be that he is just ‘meh’. If you ask people what Marshall has actually achieved in for years, handling Covid seems to be the only thing they can say. And even that now looks shaky for him.

  5. Thanks William – at last! Like others this doesn’t surprise me, although my view is more nuanced.

    I agree with Torchbearer. I thought the SA Libs at first were a train wreck, with expense rorting allegations against half a dozen MPs. Then Marshall responded well to covid in 2020 and early 2021 and I thought he might get back in, especially as the expense allegations gave him the reason he needed to dump some of his worst performing ministers from the opposing fundy-far right faction.

    But I thought the decision by Marshall to “open up to Omicron” last Nov/December, against medical advice, was disastrous for SA’s health and economy. Combined with the obvious cuts in health care, that must have cost Marshall a lot of votes.

    Marshall is a moderate, but he barely controls the party vs the Pentecostal Paradise church dominated far right faction, who are no saner than similar factions in other state Liberal branches.

  6. Even before the borders opened in late November, the Liberals were in trouble. After all, the last statewide poll during the height of the period of COVID-free “triumph” in March 2021, the Libs lead was a bare 51-49 (ie slightly worse than their 2018 election performance). Things have got much, much worse politically for them since then. Something snapped during December after the borders opened. All those people who had to line-up to get a COVID test with the frankly ridiculous (with literally daily rule changes) COVID testing requirements will not forgive easily. This was an incredible abdication of leadership on Marshall’s part – Police Commissioner Stevens may as well have been Premier, because it felt like (rightly or wrongly) he had the ultimate veto on decisions.

    Many of the long-standing commenters with an SA interest that have been on PB since (I reckon) even before the 2007 election such as Diogenes, Toorak Toff, myself and others are pretty much saying the same thing. (Should probably add Socrates to that list!).

  7. Q; It seems Marshall is a fairly moderate sensible LNP guy …

    The SA Libs on the whole have never been as nasty as the QLD or NSW Libs (and there are no Nats)….that’s why I said they made a ”bumbling” attempt at the IPA agenda, but they just dont have the mongrel to pull it off.
    Not sure about the The Advertiser, I suspect it is a cesspit, but its paywalled and I never look at it.

  8. Apart from covid, I have another major objection to Marshall on the economic front. Marshall has been reluctant to criticise the Morison government in pursuit of SA interests, even when the behaviour of Morrison towards SA has been terrible.

    The cancellation of the French subs contract has robbed SA of at least $4 billion in Federally funded work in the next 3 years. Marshall said not a word of criticism, saying it was a “win” for SA! What a lie.

    Likewise in my area (transport), Marshall has not done much. All projects completed since 2018 were started under the previous Labor (Weatherall) government. Marshall abandoned all the tram line projects Labor had proposed and gained IA approval for. This cost SA any chance at more Federal transport funding.

    Meanwhile Marshall “replaced” the cancelled tram projects with the South Road upgrade. Except that the South Road project has been on the books since Labor proposed it under Rann. I think the South Road upgrade is a colossal waste of money, but it is money SA has not received. In four years how much new cash has Marshall spent on South Road? Zero.


    Yes you may definitely add me to that list.

  9. Morrison better hope he gets a bounce in Newspoll tomorrow night, because if the situation in Ukraine (which typically plays to a key strength for conservatives – defence) does not make Australians want to vote for him, nothing will.

  10. Torchbearer is spot on.
    Sitting in Adelaide it is interesting how visible ALP leader Manilauskas has been as well as members of his shadow cabinet, a number of whom have been prominent over the past few years. Manilauskas dresses and carries himself like a premier, and talks about issues that affect people, hospital ramping, bus route cancellations, rail privatisation (which broke an explicit Lib promise) .
    Marshall looked pretty good in the pandemic until he opened up the state against the advise of the respected health boss, and in the past month has looked weak and a bit shocked. His very average suits and poor haircut just don’t read as ‘leader in charge’. Only a couple of his ministers appear regularly to be doing anything constructive, transport and environment, his deputy is currently stood down for conflict of interest and 4 or is it 5 members are in the sin bin for rorting their expenses.
    Apart from predictable attack ads the Libs are talking of their infrastructure spending which is actually an ALP strong suit…interesting times

  11. The major infrastucture projects such as the new RAH hospital, the road projects tram projects all begun under Labor were really starting to transform things from “little ol’ Adelaide” into a modern world city. An elderly grumpy liberal voting relative of mine whinged about the trams when they first began construction, now rides them almost daily….they are packed and poplular……but he hasnt changed, or acknowledged his mistake.
    A friend who had been overseas for more than 15 years visited us in 2019 and they were amazed at the transformation taking place…..that has now ground to a halt.
    The SA Libs are not nasty like their interstate and National cousins, they just get bullied by them. Rather the SA ones are just monumentally incompetant, feckless, bumbling fools who are never ready to govern our state and are duly put out to pasture after 1 term

  12. People, the most recent SA Labor premiers spell their names Weatherill and Malinauskas (Mali as in mallee).
    It’s probably true to say that the local Libs and The Advertiser are somewhat milder than their interstate counterparts.

  13. Sykesie
    Marshall isn’t a leader. He’s lucky covid gave him cover for the number of members he’s got who have been done for various infractions and left the party.
    He doesn’t have good ministers. Sanderson and Cory are terrible. Chapman was the most competent and she got done for a blatant conflict of interest. There is obviously some problem with Wade who has largely been hidden from us despite being Health Minister during the pandemic.
    Health care workers hate the Liberals not just for their inept response after opening the borders (too early) but also for how bad the system was before that. The Libs only response is to point out the disaster that was Transforming Health but four years is long enough to fix some of that. Ramping is way worse now than under Labor.
    The schools are a mess now with very worried parents of kids only partially vaccinated. 45% of the 1700 cases a day are kids. And everyone knows the WCH is in permanent chaos.
    And the economy is a mess.
    Malinauskas looks like a decent leader and the presidential campaign is very smart. His face is everywhere.

  14. The SA Liberals have entrenched divisions that go back decades. The sheer hatred that exists between moderates and conservatives is quite extraordinary, and when in Government the divisions emerge, which of course is political insanity. In the post-Playford era (nearly 60 years! ) Labor has been dominant, apart from the post-State Bank period, and even then the Liberals managed to implode eventually leading to Rann’s shock win in 2002. Even though Labor was shattered in 1993, the Liberals only held Government for 2 terms. They held it together in the lead up to 2018 and were duly rewarded, but yet again the wheels have fallen off.

    To people from outside SA, Marshall might not seem too bad, but there’s a sort of clamminess and gormlessness about him which is very off-putting! Still, he has done better than I expected, but the conservative Liberal faction has been bent on destroying his Government, and it looks like they will succeed.

  15. I have commented on this before, but I also think that Labor has been very smart in pre-selecting a cluster of local women with strong community connections to contest the 4 key marginals of King, Newland, Adelaide and Elder. These women have been campaigning hard for a year – pretty much full time, doing all the hard stuff, getting out and about and meeting people face to face.

    The Advertiser today is tipping the Liberals to hold on to King, which is the second most marginal (0.6%). It’s a brave prediction! I expect Rhiannon Pierce to win comfortably.

  16. Hopefully the defeat of a State Liberal Government will put another nail in the Morrison coffin. They will say “it was fought on state issues” and that may be superficially true. But the Marshall governments looming defeat will be largely brought about by an incompetant response to covid and disunity within their own party…… a familiar theme to that of Morrison and his band of Merry Morons.

    We look forward to contributing Boothby (Sturt?) to the Labor tally on election night.

  17. “Newspoll: 53-47 to Labor in South Australia”…

    Oh look, now we understand why there hasn’t been any poll for the SA state election for quite some time… somebody didn’t want to see the truth… But hey, no matter how much you close your eyes, the train coming your way is not going to just disappear….

    I can’t wait to see the effect of losing South Australia on the Federal government…. What lunacy will they try to save themselves?

  18. “Mr Mysterioussays:
    Saturday, February 26, 2022 at 9:35 am
    Morrison better hope he gets a bounce in Newspoll tomorrow night, because if the situation in Ukraine (which typically plays to a key strength for conservatives – defence) does not make Australians want to vote for him, nothing will.”…

    Yes, Scomo is in BIG troubles, especially because Albo has been able to wedge all the little booby traps thrown at him exceedingly well, including the ALP strong bipartisanship with regard to the war in Ukraine.

  19. I must admit that from afar Marshall seemed like a fairly unimpressive candidate especially lined up against Weatherill who seemed like a real goer , a super competent sort of guy. Glad to hear your advertiser is not as toxic as Brisbane’s excuse for newspaper. Considering Adelaide is where lord Voldemort got his first big kick along that’s amazing.

  20. Reading an article on the SA election on the ABC website earlier, I think the thing that struck me most was the size of Malinauskus’ biceps. That man lifts!

  21. MOFOS,



  22. SA has become a strong Labor state in the past 20 years, the peculiarities of its electoral reality notwithstanding. Even after 16 years the ALP managed a swing *towards* themselves, and only lost due to mandated electoral gerrymandering. (We can argue about 2PP victories, but it’s seats and not 2PP that decide elections, and Adelaide dominates SA politics.)
    The Liberals barely scraped in in 2018, and I think people in Adelaide are acutely aware of what they missed out on by kicking Labor out – an extensive tram system first and foremost, which would transform Adelaide for the better.
    I look forward to Labor picking back up the trams expansion if they win office.

  23. Matthew….SA has been a Labor state since 1968 when the dreadful gerrymander of Playford was finally dismantled. Dunstan, followed by Bannon, followed by Rann, followed by Weatherill….only intespersed by short bursts of incompetant Lib government

  24. Since the end of the Playmander, only one Liberal Government has ever won re-election. That was in 1997, and even then they went in with a huge majority and came out with a minority government (and that was in the 90s when the Labor brand was probably at its worst standing in SA.)

    In fact, since the end of the Playmander, the longest Liberal government, the Brown-Olsen-Kerin period (14 Dec 1993-5 Mar 2002; 8 years and 81 days) was still shorter than the shortest Labor government, the Dunstan (2nd)-Corcoran period (2 Jun 1970-18 Sep 1979; 9 years and 108 days.)

  25. FWIW, Sportsbet still have Liberals ever so slight favourites but it’s more or less even:

    Liberals: $1.87
    Labor: $1.90

    This was down from just a day ago when it was $1.75 for Liberals and $2.00 for Labor. If things continue the way they’re going, I expect Labor will become the favourites at the next revision.

  26. Even after 16 years the ALP managed a swing *towards* themselves, and only lost due to mandated electoral gerrymandering.

    There can’t be that many elections where a party gets a 2pp swing to itself but loses government – does anyone know of any other examples? SA 1970 was close but no cigar (0.1% swing to Labor, who won govt due to the abolition of the Playmander).

    Also, what is it with SA and minority parliaments? 1968, 1975, 1989, 1997, 2002, 2014 – that’s six within 50 years. Even Tasmania has had less than that within that time (four: 1969, 1989, 1997, 2010), and that’s with Hare-Clark.

  27. Well your polling in Elizabeth no doubt of course it will be that plus they need the Greens as usual
    You are most certainly not doing polling in LIB seats that’s so obvious. Although SA is such a country back water town as soon as their is development they vote LAB which then costs the tax payers of course. But then LAB have so many unemployed voters.

  28. The Labor government was comprehensively trounced in 1993.

    They came out of that election with only 10 out of 47 seats … that they came so close to winning a mere 4 years later is down to two things:

    1) the Libs deciding to slash and burn in every portfolio after promising they were such economic geniuses they wouldn’t need to. This pissed off your average punter who just wanted their usual access to essential services, and;
    2) the genius of Mike Rann engaging in a 4 year long “Labor Listens” campaign, where he and his shadow cabinet toured the state, copping criticisms of the previous government on the chin, promising to do better, and asking people what they wanted any new Labor government to do for them.

    They so very nearly pulled it off …

  29. John:

    Well your polling in Elizabeth no doubt of course it will be that plus they need the Greens as usual
    You are most certainly not doing polling in LIB seats that’s so obvious. Although SA is such a country back water town as soon as their is development they vote LAB which then costs the tax payers of course. But then LAB have so many unemployed voters.

    Who… who are you talking to?

  30. John’s comments are just that usual bullshit you get from a partisan who doesn’t like the results of a poll. He’s basically alleging that the polling company is purposely only sampling voters in strong Labor areas to get this result. It’s just as stupid as when Labor partisans claim a poll favourable to the Coalition purposely oversampled wealthy areas, or when anyone claims they’re cooking the polls or suppressing results they don’t like.

    Elizabeth, for the reference of anyone from interstate is an area in the northern suburbs of Adelaide that is very low income, with high unemployment (and those in employment are mostly in blue collar jobs or lower middle class jobs, like retail/hospitality etc.) and happens to typically strongly vote Labor.

  31. Why do the Lib supporters on here, with the exception of maybe Bucephalus or Nate if he qualifies as a Lib, have such low literacy skills? Are they real people, or parody sock puppets?

  32. Expat @ #40 Saturday, February 26th, 2022 – 8:47 pm

    Why do the Lib supporters on here, with the exception of maybe Bucephalus or Nate if he qualifies as a Lib, have such low literacy skills? Are they real people, or parody sock puppets?

    Honest answer? It’s probably because of how fierce this place can be to alternative viewpoints at times. I have seen people who fly a flag of different colours be respectful and engage others in good faith, just to be called all sorts of things and told to piss off. Life’s too short to deal with that so, unless they have the patience of a saint, they don’t bother or just lurk. Whereas those who want to kick heads or troll thrive in that sort of environment because they’re motivated by antagonism.

    Aside from that, it could also just be that there are plenty of partisan arseholes online. We just don’t really notice the pro-Labor ones as much because they blend in more and have a more friendly rapport with others here, whereas others stick out like a sore thumb.

  33. Diogenes @ #39 Saturday, February 26th, 2022 – 8:01 pm

    I’m pretty sure over the last five or so SA elections that the party with the higher 2pp vote has usually lost.

    Post-Playmander, the elections when the winner lost the 2PP popular vote were 1975, 1989, 2002, 2010 and 2014. Each time it was Labor who won. With the exception of 2002, each time it was an incumbent government who won. 2010 was a majority government, whereas all other instances were a minority government (although, in the instance of 2014, it started as a minority government but became a majority government after Labor won the 2014 by-election to replace independent Bob Such after he died.)

  34. @Wat

    Wasn’t so much the partisan nature of the comments, just that I’m never sure that they’re actual people.

    Take Wayne for example. I cannot believe he is an actual person – reads completely like someone taking the piss.

  35. Wayne’s definitely either a regular taking the piss or a bot created by somebody taking the piss.

    Note his behaviour through the 2019 election. During the campaign, he was posting constantly about how Morrison would prove the polls wrong and win another term. When that actually happened, he was completely MIA. My theory is that the joke suddenly became a lot less funny for whoever Wayne actually is.

    Our other Liberal-leaning contributors all seem pretty seem legit to me. I agree with Wat’s assessment on why they are the way they are.

  36. The handling of the border opening has left a scar, for sure. It was assumed by many in SA that State borders were closed for so long to buy time to put practical measures in place (not just vaccinations). In the lead-up to the opening, however, it was becoming obvious there was a narrow focus and it didn’t make sense. It still doesn’t – every step of the pandemic until then had been tightly controlled and super responsive (remember the snap ‘pizza shop’ lockdown?) but when the borders opened, we were cast adrift to self-manage with stretched (or no) resources and patchy public messaging. Omicron of course exacerbated things. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I really wish we weren’t at this point in a State and Federal election cycle with so many serious issues at hand. But here we are.

  37. The dumbest idea of the 2018 election was a new airport at Monarto. That disappeared without comment after the election.

    Now the Libs want to build a $500m basketball stadium on North Terrace which very few want. We need the money spent on hospitals and infrastructure especially in the outer suburbs.

  38. The Globelink freight project idea didn’t quite go away, it added fuel to the explosion in Kavel last year and subsequent fallout on North Terrace.

    Speaking of which, I wonder how differently things might have played out if Kavel’s boundary redistribution hadn’t been challenged – initially the Mt Barker township was going to be split to join Hammond.

    Must say, SA’s 2022 election promise bingo card sure is shaping up as a colourful one!

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