Dunkley by-election minus four days

A second poll emerges pointing to a tight race in Saturday’s Dunkley by-election.

Following an earlier poll by uComms for the Australia Institute showing Labor leading 52-48, a second Dunkley by-election poll has emerged from YouGov showing the Liberals with a lead of 51-49, accounting for an existing Labor margin of 6.3%. However, the poll is based on a very modest sample of 394, with the pollster calculating an effective margin of error of 6.1% after taking the effects of weighting into account. The primary votes are 40% for Liberal candidate Nathan Conroy, compared with a 32.5% Liberal vote in 2022; 33% for Labor candidate Jodie Belyea, compared with 40.2%; 9% for Greens candidate Alex Breskin, compared with 10.3%; 7% for independent Darren Bergwerf, who polled 3.9% when he ran in 2022; and 11% for the four other candidates. The poll was conducted from February 15 to 22.

As ever, both sides are keen to manage expectations before the event, with Phillip Coorey of the Financial Review reporting the Liberals are anticipating a swing in their favour of 3% to 4%, only slightly exceeding their 2.7% swing at the Fadden by-election last July. A separate report in the Financial Review last week said both sides were “nervous”, with Labor figures expressing concern that right-wing activist group Advance was “cutting through” with advertising targeting the government over the cost of living and the release of immigration detainees.

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.

39 comments on “Dunkley by-election minus four days”

  1. “However, the poll is based on a very modest sample of 394, with the pollster calculating an effective margin of error of 6.1% …”

    File under ‘Why Would You Bother?’.

  2. They bother because they need something to run with – the Herald Sun were pushing it pretty hard yesterday (along with a “MyGov Poll” that wasn’t a poll).

    Pre-poll last weekend was relatively quiet in terms of number of voters – everyone just straight in and out with no line. But a fair number of volunteers. Besides the red and blue teams, Animal Justice, Greens, Libertarians, Vic Socialists and the Democrats (!) all had people handing out HTVs. Conspiracy theorist Bergwerff didn’t have any volunteers at pre-poll that I could see, but he did have a 4WD that he’d written his braindead slogans all over.

  3. If leaders mean anything, it is interesting to see that we have Victorian voters wanting to throw their lot in with Peter Dutton. If Dutton wins here, he will be well in the game at the next election, particularly given the strength of his hold on Queensland.

  4. The state gov in VIC is struggling after Andrews left so that could be contributing the libs need to run hard in Dunkley on Labor everywhere in gov state and fed in VIC as voters like to have different parties not one party at both a fed/state level.

    Immigration incompetence from labor is cutting through as is 10,000 a day approx coming into Australia whilst we have a rental and a lack of housing crisis under labor according to Aust bereau of statistics etc etc.
    Read recently a labor faction was not happy with the Dunkley labor candidate.True?

  5. Expect a Labor hold on a reduced margin. About 2.5%. I reckon by the next election Coa will be withhin striking distance and a seat like Dunkley will fall. Once the domino of states start to fall, Tas, Queensland etc, it will get interesting.

  6. It’s around 1,000 immigrants per day, PP.

    Still a lot though. My sense is that the immigration issue is bubbling up in the community across the nation, with the large number of arrivals and the release of the hardened criminals from detention and the recent boat arrivals all blending together in people’s collective minds.

    It’s a significant challenge for Labor. They need to be seen to do more and to ramp up their rhetoric on border protection. Which is difficult for some of them, as their hearts aren’t in it.

  7. Pied Piper is a right wing loon and these people lie because they are too stupid to research facts.

    I can’t be bothered doing much research myself but a simple google search of Bureau of Statistics data says in the 2022-2023 year net migration was 518,000. Divide that by 365 days and we get net migration of 1419, significantly less than the made up number used by Lied Piper.

  8. I see piper is taking the “if you’re going to lie, lie harder”.

    Might as well say Albo is adding 36 million people a year next time.

  9. Nervous wait for progressive side of politics after “YouGov showing the Liberals with a lead of 51-49” in Dunkley by-election poll.

  10. FWIW, I expect a Labor hold on Saturday, in the face of a roughly 3-4% swing to the Coalition. The current Labor margin of 6% is possibly a little inflated due to a popular former member, but history suggests that by-elections caused by the death of an MP usually lead to a smaller swing than otherwise. But the Coalition did hold this seat until 2019, so I expect that some proportion of former Coalition voters will revert to form in the post-Slo-Mo era. The Frankston line has tended to swing both ways historically.

  11. Nixon Did Nothing Wrong says:
    Tuesday, February 27, 2024 at 8:25 am
    “Man I cannot wait to read all the comments on this site when Libs win on Saturday. March on, Lion from the North!”

    I think you have misheard. It’s not Lion, but another word of similar length beginning with L.

    Oliver Sutton, Yes the Australian Democrats do have a candidate in Dunkley. I doubt that he has booked accommodation in Canberra.

  12. @Oliver Sutton

    Yes – and their slogan is “Still keeping the bastards honest”.

    I’ve met a few of the Chipps – Don’s youngest daughter Laura was a candidate for the Reason Party when they still existed (and Fiona Patten was still in parliament).

  13. Centaur009

    Interesting that you had Tas and QLD listed as domino’s to fall after Dunkley. Labor hold 2/5 in Tas and 5/31 in Qld. Not too many puzzle pieces there to play with for the LNP.

  14. Probably the next two seats that are most likely to fall after Dunkley are Lyons in Tasmania and Blair in Queensland, leaving Labor with only one and four seats in those states, respectively. This despite Labor remaining well in front on two party preferred Tasmania-wide. Lingiari in NT is also likely to switch.

    The loss of these three seats are enough to plunge the government into minority. Gilmore, Robertson, Bennelong and Hunter are probably the ones next to go after that.

  15. MelbourneMammoth says:
    “Probably the next two seats that are most likely to fall after Dunkley are Lyons in Tasmania and Blair in Queensland, leaving Labor with only one and four seats in those states, respectively.”

    Blair is next “most likely to fall”?

    Labor’s 14th most marginal seat, with a 2PP margin of more than 5%?

    Rather than Bennelong, Gilmore or Lingiari, all with margins of less than 1%?

    Please explain?

  16. Postal votes are outstripping pre-polls after a week of voting, according to Antony Green.
    Interesting figure as pre-polling has become very popular recently. Maybe postal voting is back!
    In fact, postal voting this time (currently sitting at 18.8%) has already overtaken the postal vote rate of 18.3% for the 2022 election. Could be an indication people are avoiding the booths as some posters have reported it is a fairly hyper-aggressive campaign going on in Dunkley at the moment.

    Link: https://antonygreen.com.au/dunkley-by-election-tracking-the-early-vote/

    If it’s tight on Saturday, we may not have a result until well into next week.

    Quick clarification from anyone too pls;
    Are postals counted on the night, or from 8 AM the Monday afterwards?

  17. I don’t understand why we just don’t do away with having people hand out.

    It would save on having to find volunteers, and clearly the punters hate having to run the gauntlet to get inside.

    Just have HTVs for each candidate inside the room for people to take as they see fit.

  18. Agreed Desie – “getting through the gauntlet” is annoying. Must be horrible for the elderly and people with an impairment. Agreed – ban it. I see the ALP office was daubed with posters overnight. Sounds like a pretty nasty by-election going on there.

  19. Nathan Conroy veering off track with a vow to address the youth crime crisis.

    This is a state issue. Feds don’t run prisons/youth justice centres. He needs to go for state parliament if that’s his angle. Perhaps the “cost of living crisis”, or “broken promise” is not quite resonating. Will be an interesting night on Saturday

  20. @nadia88
    “Quick clarification from anyone too pls;
    Are postals counted on the night, or from 8 AM the Monday afterwards?”

    Postal votes have not been counted on election nights, so it’s unlikely now. Factors include numbers of postal votes envelopes returned and processed, as well as staffing assigned to all related tasks.

    First postals could be counted from around Sunday / Monday with further batches progressively counted until the close of returns.

    The relevant AEC office would have a likely schedule – it’s hard to give a definitive answer otherwise.

  21. @nadia

    Yes – it’s pretty nasty. Conroy’s not exactly a warm and fuzzy guy (I gather he’s good mates with Geoff Shaw, if that tells you anything). For whatever reason, the RWNJ crowd are going very hard on Dunkley. Advance are pumping out a ton of junk mail, with slogans that would be basically illegal if we truth in political advertising laws.

    Yet, on the ground, it still seems that people aren’t super enthused about voting. Today it was again a case of voters straight in and out, no line, voters greatly outnumbered by the partisans in the gauntlet.

  22. https://www.pollbludger.net/2024/02/27/dunkley-by-election-minus-four-days/#comment-4234574

    Lingiari is not likely to fall to the CLP at the next election., for a number of reasons including:

    The long serving ALP MP for Lingiari retired at the last election, the new MP will have incumbency at the next election.

    The NT is currently having a redistribution and Solomon has a larger enrolment than Lingiari, so there is potential for some of the CLP leaning areas of Lingiari near the boundary with Solomon to move into Solomon, increasing the ALP`s margin in Lingiari (at the expense of its larger margin in Solomon).

    Lower turnout in remote Aboriginal communities (which tent to lean ALP) was an issue in 2019 and effort has gone into fixing this under the new government and there has been a referendum that may have helped the AEC to see how the measures were working and what could be improved.

  23. @nadia88
    The actual counting of the postals isn’t so much the issue.

    The whole thing is heavily guided by legislation (“Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918”) about what is done to the returned (ballot paper) envelope, when. It’s a multi-stage, time consuming process just to get to the stage where the ballot paper is sitting in a pile in front of an election official ready to be counted.

    From recollection, recent legislative changes have allowed an earlier start for the initial processing of postal and declaration vote envelopes – I don’t have the specifics to hand. Postals can also be returned 13 days following the event, so there’s essentially ongoing batches of postals being processed and counted over 2 weeks.

    The starting of it all is also about the availability of staffing to count on Saturday night. Most election staff are working (counting) at polling places and Saturday evening only staff are already counting, usually prepoll votes. From Sunday / Monday, then you can start bringing in much larger groups of people to count.

    So even in the best case scenario, the counting of postals probably can’t be dramatically sped up.

  24. Desie: “… clearly the punters hate having to run the gauntlet to get inside.”

    True for most of us, no doubt.

    But not for all. There is a cohort of voters who seek out the HTV flyer from their party of choice, and dutifully follow it when filling out their ballot paper.

    More often than not Liberal voters, by my observation.

  25. What is this “run the gauntlet”stuff for goodness sake?
    I am happy to line up, collect a ton of paper if I want, chat with those around and be in and out of the polling area after being ruled off and voted.
    Better still, it is all done and dusted and more often than not, the winner/s/loser/s are usually known within an hour or two of polls closing.
    What’s it coming to when people have to whinge when voting?
    We are fortunate to live in a nation, where, by and large, through the ballot box, the wishes/will of the voting population are expressed.

  26. VicPol with a nice attempted stitch-up.. hope they can find the actual criminal now.

    As for HTV’s, I’ve always laughed at the Liberal stooge who tries to hand me one before taking it from the Labor volunteer.

    All Dutton and the Liberals have are pure lies and bullshit.

    They seem to want Albo to ignore the High Court and keep the released people in detention for their natural lives. Why not just shoot them instead, if you’re going to start ignoring the law. Dutton with no solutions except fascism.

  27. Thanks G & Expat.
    Should be an interesting night, but tight.
    I posted on the main blog about a week ago or so, but I still reckon the Libs will top the Primary and the ALP will win overall, around 51.5 to 48.5.
    Someone on the main thread posted the ALP will win 58-42. Not going to happen. Will be much closer.
    Down the track, I suspect the ALP will have a closer look at the “Advance” organisation. I feel the ALP has been caught “with their trousers down” somewhat, but I suspect the LNP campaign went off the rails on Weds AM with the focus on youth crime (ie: State issue, not Federal). To me, this suggests, that their internal polling was not looking that great and they felt they needed to find an issue to try and boost it.
    Anyway, I stick with my assessment. ALP 2PP END tally around 51.5, but with the LNP topping the primaries… and given the postals, we won’t get a definative result on Saturday night. Postals generally flow around 57-43 in the Libs favour. Gosh, going to be tight. In fact, I’ll just add that if the ALP 2PP is 52% or lower when the blog/count closes on Saturday night, the Libs will probably win. Just checking too, the postal vote count is now 19.3%. This must be heading for the record books (for postals that is)

  28. The Democrats candidate, Heath Mackenzie, impresses. He’s an active local who’s been ignored by the big media but his YouTubes and local radio interviews are articulate, informed and constructive. I think he is the type of candidate many voters would support if they knew about him. He’s humble and decent.

  29. On postals: in 2022 federal they were 2.44% less favorable to the ALP than the entire seat average. If that holds up, 51% ALP 2PP prior to postals being counted will get the ALP over the line, 50.5% will go to the line, 50.25% will be an LNP win.


    On Bagwerf: He’ll come fourth behind the majors and GRN. His 2022 preferences split equally between the two majors even though he is a hard conservative. ALP will probably get more of his votes than many expect. At the Carrum Downs booth he’s been campaigning on a “put both majors last” basis and sometimes a “vote Independent 1 to send a message then whichever major you want second” rather than a “follow this HTV” basis, which likely explains people in 2022 who took his HTVs then voted him but preferenced ALP. If his preferences flowed as strongly LNP as the GRN preferences flow ALP, then the LNP would win. TBH, 2PP distribution of Bagwerf votes is probably the other main metric to watch on the night.

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