Federal election minus 17 days

But who’s counting? Featured today: a hard-to-believe seat poll from Goldstein, a third leaders’ debate confirmed, plus other stuff.

A particularly random assortment of federal election developments:

• A third and final leaders’ debate will be held next Wednesday by the Seven Network, starting at 9:10pm (when Big Brother ends, in case you were wondering), to be moderated by Mark Riley. The second will be on the Nine Network at 8:30pm on Sunday.

• The Australia Institute has published a uComms poll crediting independent Zoe Daniel with a 62-38 lead over Liberal member Tim Wilson in Goldstein, with Wilson even trailing Labor candidate Martyn Abbott 53-47 on two-party preferred. Including results of a forced-response follow-up for the 6.3% undecided, the primary votes are Tim Wilson 34.5%, Zoe Daniel 34.3% and Martyn Abbott 14.3%, with the Greens on 8.9%, the United Australia Party on 3.2%, the Liberal Democrats on 1.9% and One Nation on 1.8%. Further questions find support finely balanced on who Daniel should support in a hung parliament should it come to that, and Scott Morrison viewed less favourably than Josh Frydenberg but more favourably than Peter Dutton. The poll was conducted last Wednesday from a sample of 855. An unidentified Liberal spokesperson cited by Phillip Coorey in the Financial Review described the result as “absurdly low” for Wilson.

• The Age/Herald had a follow-up result from the recent Resolve Strategic poll showing Labor’s carbon emissions policy, once explained, was supported by 45% and opposed by 30%.

David Penberthy of The Australian reports that Rachel Swift and James Stevens, respectively the party’s candidate for Boothby and member Sturt, could emerge as the Liberal candidate for the looming state by-election for the safe Adelaide seat of Bragg if defeated on May 21.

• I noted the other day that Labor had made an exception to its general rule of putting the United Australia Party second last after One Nation on its how-to-vote cards in the seat of Dawson. This turns out to apply across central Queensland, where the party would evidently like it to be known that it is not directing preferences to the Greens. Other curiosities among Labor how-to-vote cards include the Liberal Democrats being put ahead of the Greens in Paterson, perhaps reflecting similar sensitivities in the Hunter region, and the Nationals going ahead of the Greens in the regional Western Australian seat of Durack. I’ll have more on preferences in Crikey later today.

• The ABC’s Media Watch had an item on Monday on the hot topic of the accuracy of opinion polling. It quoted my own assessment of the polling situation from the start of the campaign in Crikey, since which time the consensus has moved from Labor winning three seats in Western Australia to possibly two.

Matthew Denholm of The Australian reports the Australian Electoral Commission will provide telephone voting, using a system in place for blind and low vision voters, for those who test positive to COVID-19 – currently amounting to about 40,000 a day – between the close of postal vote applications on May 18 and polling day on May 21.

Ben Raue at The Tally Room offers instructive charts recording the rise of pre-poll voting over the past two decades and changes in vote types since the onset of COVID.

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.

845 comments on “Federal election minus 17 days”

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  1. Pointless Election Fact #89: In 1954, in the seat of Port Adelaide, Bert Thompson of the ALP got 94% of the primary vote. He was only opposed by Dr Alan Finger of the Communist Party and the electorate gave him the finger.

  2. The West Australian on its front page tomorrow is leading with the headline “Deal or no Teal” with the byline “Independent on a ‘transparency’ ticket STILL won’t confirm the obvious on who she’ll support in a hung parliament” referring to Kate Chaney’s candidacy in Curtin. The West has clearly picked their preferred winner, but have they ever been so blatant? Clearly the Liberals are worried in Curtin.

  3. It’s Time says:
    Wednesday, May 4, 2022 at 10:50 pm
    Bird of paradox @ #791 Wednesday, May 4th, 2022 – 10:42 pm

    Upnorth: that’d mean there were three different Flinders for a while, then. (The other one covers the Eyre peninsula in SA.)

    The AEC will have a headache trying to find ways to shoehorn Howard and Keating onto the NSW map. They had enough problems with McMahon – original plan involved merging Reid and Lowe and renaming it McMahon (he was MP for Lowe), but Reid was a PM too, so Prospect ended up getting renamed instead.

    Hawke would’ve made a decent name for a WA division. Bob’s uncle Bert was WA premier in the 1950s, so it could’ve been named for both of them (like Hasluck). Then there’d’ve been three divisions named after WA premiers (the others are Forrest and Brand). O’Connor could be but isn’t: Ray the premier ended up in prison due to WA Inc; CY was an engineer who designed the Kalgoorlie pipeline.

    Yet another pointless fact: Qld has the most division named after former premiers, with six. (Dawson, Dickson, Griffith, Herbert, Lilley, Ryan.) It’s a big state without many dead PMs to name them after.
    Hard to see any future Qld state electorates being named after dead Premiers. The last one was Nicklin and so next cab off the rank would be JBP.
    Wayne Goss RIP

  4. It evidently doesn’t occur to the LNP or their media cheerleaders that by constantly talking about “the teals” they simultaneously confirm to the electorate that these candidates are a legitimate political force and create an impression of disunity and chaos on the right while Labor calmly keeps on campaigning on the left.

  5. I just saw the Herald-Sun’s breathless “Triple Owe” cover today:
    “Debt rockets to $167.5bn, $25k for every Victorian.”

    Waiting patiently for the Federal version of this story

    “Debt rockets to $1tn, $4ok for every Australian”

    waiting, waiting, waiting …..

  6. The Teals should just let them all squirm.

    Maybe they should respond “have you asked *insert name of insipid and impotent Lib here* whether they’ll put this community first by backing legislation it actually wants? Get back to me when they commit to actual action on climate and a FICAC”

  7. Patrick Bateman @ #808 Wednesday, May 4th, 2022 – 11:45 pm

    It evidently doesn’t occur to the LNP or their media cheerleaders that by constantly talking about “the teals” they simultaneously confirm to the electorate that these candidates are a legitimate political force and create an impression of disunity and chaos on the right while Labor calmly keeps on campaigning on the left.

    Just having their attention split between the Teals and Labor is enough. The LNP’s marketing success has been grounded on having a simple message repeated ad nauseam. You then need to add the fringe right-wing parties to herd the stray RWNJ back via preferences.

    This time around their marketing is confused and the strays may not all come home.

  8. @Patrick Bateman

    Yeah it’s true, it just reinforces that people who in another time would have been an influential wing of their party are now challenging them. It’s an existential threat for the LNP because these potential teal seats were traditionally their most loyal bases in the cities and provided a lot of their campaign funds they could use elsewhere. What they are raising now is to sandbag seats they previously took for granted. It’s like the only ardent traditional Lib supporters left are the extremely wealthy, which includes media proprietors.

  9. I keep having this thought … the Liberal campaign has been … bad? And kind of highlights the core problem for the Libs … there is no compelling narrative why they need to remain in office.

    There was no pre-campaign messaging to go after Albo and set up narratives to make the ads go down more effectively.

    The attacks on Albo are, honestly, pretty weak. And anyone with any historic knowledge of campaign lines against Labor by the Liberals would have been able to throw this campaign together. Plus, agree, the legitimisation of the Teals is a massive own-goal.

    Now – Labor’s campaign hasn’t been shit hot but it’s definitely more adaptable and flexible than 2019.

    I suppose you could say “if the Libs win” then it wasn’t a bad campaign. My own view, compared to 2019 which, in hindsight was a very well executed strategy by the Libs … if they manage to run a campaign this rough and win… they probably always were going to. #mundo #maintainthepain

  10. Certainly the Coalition have broken a cardinal rule of political campaigning by giving the Teals such enormous free publicity via constantly talking about them.

  11. jt1983 at 12.18am

    I think 2019 is the only successful promotion campaign of Morrison’s adult life. The only thing that muddies the water is Clive’s $$ advertising – all of which was anti-Labor.

    I think 2007 was probably the best campaign I’ve seen. While the economy can be seen to have had structural problems due to Howard’s vote buying at successive elections, that was not part of the public discourse. In fact, Rudd had to be made into ‘son of Howard’ economically. Nevertheless, the campaign was helped by Workchoices and the ACTU’s ‘Your Rights at Work’ campaign. Always something to muddy the water.

    1993 is another contender. Keating had to overcome quite a lot to win, especially the perception his govt was tired – even though he most certainly wasn’t. Perhaps the electorate was growing tired of a decade of transformation, but Hewson’s Big Target didn’t offer solace…

  12. I don’t think Albo and Labor have really put forward a compelling case to be elected in their own right. If Labor are elected it will probably be more that the incumbent govt stinks so much that Labor seems less bad in comparison. It wouldn’t be a ringing endorsement.

  13. Oh and yes, jt1983, this Coalition campaign has been bad!

    Lacking in focus (because nothing’s worked) and credibility (as exemplified by Chalmers’ dismantling of Frydenberg over tax in today’s Treasury debate – not that anyone was watching, but its just the latest example. The Solomons is another, neatly torpedoing National Security/Red Albo.)

    Even their ads’ punchline – ‘It won’t be easy under Albanese’ – as another Bludger pointed out, communicates an assumption of a Labor win!

  14. jt1983
    The Liberal campaign has been very ordinary for a government that lead a country through a pandemic and now things are returning to normal you would think they would be talking up how great the future is but they are campaigning like it knows its beaten and is going through the motions.

  15. mj at 12.33am

    Since WW2, Australian Federal changes of govt have always been more a rejection of the incumbent than an affirmation of the Opposition.

  16. mj at 12.33 am

    I think Labor needs to present a small target to the Liberals, unlike in some prior elections where Labor were expansive on party policy and related proposals which provided lots of fodder for the inevitable Liberal attack.

  17. It’s obvious why the billionaires media outlets are pressuring independent candidates to announce which side they will support if they are in a position to choose after the election. I think in all cases if an independent wins they will knock out a Liberal so the billionaires media wants to print big headlines along the lines of “If You Vote Independent You Get Labor” alongside a scary picture of a Labor politician.

    Surely in fact what will happen if neither side has a majority, the independents will produce a list of demands and then will go along with the party most likely to give them what they want.

  18. The West is wasting its time with the pro Liberal front page.
    The only print media we Curtin electors read is the Financial Review.

  19. I understand why Labor tries to avoid conflict and play a small target strategy because the LNP will attack any slight chink it finds and Labor probably tries to do the same, but that’s the problem with current politics. It’s mostly posturing and no one is particularly focussed on what is in the broader national interest, because it’s just not good political strategy apparently. As far as I’m concerned a hung parliament supporting a Labor govt would be the best outcome at this election.

  20. beemer at 12.35am

    That’s a major weirdness: the Coalition couldn’t run on ‘pandemic management’ despite a friendly media.

    They could have run on our relative good handling of the pandemic, but they just stuffed too many things AND played politics against some phenomenally successful Premiers of the opposite party. In other words, they transparently played politics.

    I reckoned Morrison displayed his comprehensive unfitness for office in three moments:
    1) Failing to either a) actually ensure timely delivery of vaccines OR b) declare that we would vaccinate ‘with patience’ in sync with other countries, who may not be handling the pandemic so well [and definitely NOT saying we’re at the ‘head of the queue’ when he knew we weren’t.]
    2) He shouldn’t have put himself at the head of the queue for vaccination. Yes, be there when the first Australian is vaccinated, but insist on waiting his turn behind particularly needy groups.
    3) He compounded his vaccine order failings by panicking when the first deaths due to blood clots happened. Remember that late night press conference in April last year? Way to torpedo Astrazeneca! I don’t care that he maintained he was following ATAGI – I’m not persuaded about that. The way he handled it caused a near boycott of AZ, unless it was the only vaccine you could get – and it was the one this country had committed to manufacture! That was a moment for calm, reassuring leadership and he can’t do that.

    The pandemic should have put Morrison into the favourite’s position to win this election, but he stuffed it.

  21. The best outcome is a Labor majority where Labor gets a real chance to earn the electorate’s trust for a bigger agenda in the second term and undo some of the myths. Minority government where Labor has to compromise and scrap and be at the mercy of other people’s agendas is not going to do that.

  22. Here’s a thought: Albanese performs a victory speech on May 21 with Labor seemingly headed for a majority. Then he has to retract it as postal votes arrive and after sliding through minority territory he is eventually unable to form government. A Labor mirage.

    At least I don’t expect him to say that the election was stolen from him.

  23. Interesting looking at the Victorian electorate of McEwen. Fran Bailey held the seat 1990-93, then lost it for a term and regained it in 96. She held it for 14 years until Rob Mitchell gained it for Labor in 2010 (of all elections?) upon her retirement. He has held onto it since, winning 55-45 in 2019.

  24. @Hazza: in mainstream media circles it’s been mentioned that McEwen is in play! Partly due to the Deves masterstroke?

  25. @MJ

    The last four times a federal government has gone to the polls seeking a second term Hawke in 84, Howard in 98, Gillard in 10 and Turnbull in 2013 they have copped a decent swing against them and bled seats.

    All of those government had enough capital in the way of seats to eat the swing and hold on (Gillard by the skin of her teeth)A labor minority government is not what you want if you want the Tories out of power for at least a couple of terms.

  26. @Freya Stark

    I think the most likely seats for Labor to drop are any that they just held last time via leakage of phon preferences.

    Sportbet have Labor 1.03 in Blair that is massive unders should be a 1.60. Hunter is another 1.30 last time I looked should be a 1.70

  27. South Australian Senators:
    The loss of the two, so designated Centre-Alliance Senators, in your scenario, wouldn’t give a fictional returned Liberal Govt a majority vote.
    By your calculation they would fall 50 /50 Labor – Liberal.
    In fact, considering the voting record of these two Senators it would be a loss of at least Government vote.
    Furthermore, the election of a Jacquie Lambie affiliated Senator in Tasmania would create a further loss of another government supporting vote.

    Xenophon has little chance of being elected. He couldn’t win a seat at the State Election and would have little chance being re-elected to the Senate.

  28. AngoraFish

    I’ve stood next to a Labor powerbroker as he bellowed down the phone, “No, don’t do another poll, get out and doorknock!” so yes, it is a thing.

    Occasionally internal polling is leaked.

  29. Hunt was a good spokesman for government mor interesting is the libs stackings of government bords and departments with lib mates the aat the ndis bord aspi is this curup

  30. This liberal campaign is similar to labors 2013 campaign when labor know rudd would lose so went through the motions with acseption of western sydney the gladis thing has ecoes on beateys run on stratigy the liberals attacks on teels is similar to Shortens constent attacks on palmer which lagitimize his attack adds giviing him publisity labors decition to egnore him isgivinghin atention so his mostly in background labors not inspiring but stratigy could have to do with Albanese chief off staff Tim gartrell who was campaign derector in 2007

  31. they could run on the initial covid responce the fact that we have les deaths compaired to the rest of the wold but morrisons campaign has been scattered the mixed mesages on az first saying not to take it unles over 60 then panickt and said evryone sould take it at there own risk sidelining merthy and hiding behind general frewan who has not been much better and has no medical background maybi why morrison is so bad is he relies on yes men and does not liston to advice his chief of staff is Phill gaetjons and his security chief andrew shearer workt for howard plus meny lib staffers apointed to the be departmeent heads the west australians baking of liberals makes litel sence as they backt kercup against Mcgowan and libs got smashed

  32. there so desberate too hang on toFrydenberg as there is no curent mp who has the ability to be leader perhaps dutton for the base maybi bermingham but he is in sennot

  33. Thanks to Murdoch and the LNP:

    ‘Australia slid from 25 to 39 out of 180 countries in Reporters Without Borders’ (RSF) World Press Freedom Index for 2022, ranking below close neighbours New Zealand in 11th place and Timor-Leste at number 17.

    “Ultra-concentration of media ownership, combined with growing official pressure, endanger public-interest journalism” in Australia, RSF said.’


  34. More attempted gotcha shit from the journos with Albo today at a press conference regarding NDIS policy details.

    The next time the pack tries it he should reply by asking about the Frydenberg story , forcing them to break it

  35. no media ask morrison tough gotcha questions about his policies even clanells moved on the media want morrison to win

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