YouGov has dropped the first results from Australia’s first ever published MRP (multi-level regression with post-stratification) poll, which aims for a detailed election prediction by surveying an expansive national sample of 18,923 and using demographic modelling to project results for each electorate. Its methods are outlined in The Australian by Campbell White of YouGov and University of Sydney data science lecturer Shaun Ratcliff. The method became something of a cause celebre when it predicted the hung parliament at the United Kingdom election in 2017 that crippled the prime ministership of Theresa May, a rare success for the British polling industry in that period. However, it did less well at the subsequent election in 2019, tipping a 28-seat Conservative majority that actually came in at 80.
It seems News Corp plans on getting some bang for its presumably considerable buck here by dealing out results piecemeal, as all we have at this stage is projected results from seats in which independent candidates (plus Rebekha Sharkie of the Centre Alliance in Mayo) might be thought competitive. Since the model works by inferring how people will vote based on demography rather than in response to their specific local circumstances, I suspect it would be more robust in traditional party-based contests.
The results nonetheless point to Liberal defeats at the hands of teal independents in Kooyong (by 53-47) and Goldstein (52-48), but not in Wentworth (56-44) or Mackellar (53-47), and particularly not in North Sydney and Curtin, where independents are projected to finish a fairly distant third behind Labor. There is also no suggestion of independent Georgia Steele being competitive in Hughes, contrary to some media reports.
Indeed, the North Sydney result is interesting in showing Labor within striking distance at 53-47, consistent with the account of Liberal internal polling by Karen Middleton in the Saturday Paper and John Howard’s presence at Trent Zimmerman’s campaign launch last week. It is also encouraging for Labor in crediting them with a 53-47 lead in Boothby, and deficits of only 52-48 in each of their little-rated prospects of Page, Casey and Flinders.
The incumbent cross-benchers are projected to retain their seats, but by a narrower margin than I would have thought likely in the case of Andrew Wilkie in Clark (61-39 over Labor, a swing against him of 10%). Rebekha Sharkie is also credited with a margin of only 52-48 in Mayo, a swing against her of 3%. Zali Steggall is projected to slightly increase her 7.2% margin in Warringah, while a lead of 53-47 is projected for Helen Haines in Indi, compared with her 1.4% winning margin in 2019. The neighbouring seat of Nicholls, where independent Rob Priestly is widely thought to be a show, is not featured.
• Peter van Onselen reported on Ten News yesterday that “an unauthorised leak of Liberal polling” showed the Liberals trailing Labor by 55-45 in Bennelong, and also behind in Reid and Robertson, together with Gilmore and Parramatta, which the party has had high hopes of gaining from Labor. Van Onselen specified that this was polling conducted by the party’s fractious New South Wales branch, and was not part of the federal party’s tracking polling of 20 target seats.
• Raf Epstein of the ABC in Victoria posted results of Redbridge Group polling conducted for independent candidate Monique Ryan that showed her on 32.3% of the primary vote in Kooyong, behind Josh Frydenberg on 40.5% but narrowly ahead after preferences. The Greens are said to be on 8.4%, Labor 6.7% and the United Australia Party 5.2%.
• Day one of pre-polling on Monday drew 309,769 voters. Comparisons with 2019 are complicated by the fact that the pre-poll period has been reduced from three weeks to two: 661,225 pre-poll votes were cast in the entire first week of 2019, a figure low enough to encourage each of the main parties to agree that the first of the three weeks was not worth their bother, followed by 253,684 votes on day one of week two. Antony Green is helpfully plotting the relevant statistics, which point to a substantial upswing in postal vote applications: 13.2% of total enrolment compared with 8.1% at the equivalent point in 2019.
• Michael Gunner resigned as Chief Minister of the Northern Territory yesterday, but will remain the member for his Darwin seat of Fannie Bay. The Northern Territory News rates the favourites to replace him as Nicole Manison, Deputy Chief Minister, member for Wanguri and factional colleague of Gunner in the Right; Natasha Fyles, Health Minister, member for Nightcliff and member of the Left; and, unlikely as it may seem, back-bencher Joel Bowden, Johnston MP and former AFL player for Richmond.