Newspoll breakdowns and BludgerTrack redux

New state-level numbers for federal voting intention take the edge off for the Coalition in Victoria and Western Australia, but weaken them in (of all places) New South Wales.

If you’re reading this on Tuesday morning, the results of the Essential Research poll should be available at The Guardian, but I’m on Sydney time right now and thus unable to post it overnight like I normally would (UPDATE: See below). What we do have is the latest quarterly state breakdowns from Newspoll in The Australian, which aggregate the four polls published so far this year. Some of these results seem a bit quirky this time out – the political class will be looking askance at the finding that the Coalition has recovered three points in Victoria, and that the Greens vote is lower there than that it is in New South Wales and Queensland. Nonetheless, let the record note that poll has Labor’s lead steady at 54-46 in New South Wales, but down from 56-44 to 53-47 in Victoria, 54-46 to 53-47 in Queensland, 53-47 to 51-49 in Western Australia, and 58-42 to 56-44 in South Australia. Labor’s national lead in this period fell to 53-47 from 55-45 in the previous quarter. The Australian has packed the full results into one report, rather than rolling out state and then age, gender and region breakdowns like they sometimes do. Apart from the age breakdowns (not to mention the leadership ratings), you can find the primary vote numbers in the BludgerTrack poll results archive.

With the Newspoll numbers in hand, I have finally done what I would regard as a proper full update of BludgerTrack for the first time since the start of the year. Up to now, I have just been updating the national numbers, leaving the state-level relativities as they were at the end of last year. This is because I have hitherto had only the data provided by Essential Research to work with for the current year, and this was a shallow pool for the smaller states, where there was rather too much noise mixed together with the signal. Now that it’s all in the mix, the national seat projection is unchanged, but this comes from Coalition gains in Victoria and Western Australia (two seats apiece) cancelling out losses in New South Wales and Queensland (also two apiece).

Essential Research: 52-48 to Labor

The Essential Research poll records a one-point move back to the Coalition, reducing Labor’s lead to 52-48. The Guardian’s report notes this may have been assisted by static from the New South Wales state election, since it records an increase in the Coalition primary vote in the state from 39% to 41%. The national primary votes were Coalition 39% (up two), Labor 36% (down two), the Greens 10% (up two) and One Nation 7% (steady).

Other findings related directly or indirectly to the Christchurch attacks, including approval ratings for a range of international leaders which had Jacinda Ardern on 71% favourable, compared with 41% for Scott Morrison, 36% for Angela Markel, 31% for Teresa May and 19% for Donald Trump. High uncommitted responses were recorded for Merkel and May, at 42% and 38% respectively. Sixty-nine per cent of respondents said social media platforms should be required to prevent the broadcast of violent material; 49% believed media outlets that have provided platforms for extremist and racist views bore some responsibility for the Christchurch attacks; 42% believed major party politicians in Australia had deiberately stirred up anti-Islamic sentiment; 40% believed Christchurch was an isolated act rather than being connected to broarder debates; 37% reported regularly hearing racist or Islamaphobic statements.

Questions on the federal budget produced typical responses with respect to budget spending priorities, with health, education and pensions most favoured, although it’s perhaps telling that affordable housing came fourth out of a list of 14. Fifty-eight per cent expected the budget would be good for the well off and 50% believed it would benefit business, but only 19% expected to benefit personally, and 34% thought it would be bad or very bad. Other than that, “ a majority of voters want more spending in health, education and aged pensions”.

Monday morning madness

Sturt preselection and election date talk – but above all, a new venue for general discussion of the political situation.

Newspoll have held off this week owing to the New South Wales election, resulting in one of the occasional three week gaps in their schedule. However, the fortnightly Essential Research will come through as normal this (i.e. Monday) evening. In other non-New South Wales news, moderate faction nominee and Christopher Pyne ally James Stewart won the Liberal preselection for Sturt on Saturday, consistent with expectations and despite resistance from conservatives who sought to make hay from the fact that the moderates had chosen not to back a woman. We also have a front page headline in The Australian this morning that reads, “Gladys triumph: PM eyes May 11”. Beyond that, over to you.

New South Wales election: late counting

A post progressively following the late counting in the New South Wales state election.

Tuesday, March 28

Whatever doubt remained about Dubbo, and by extension the government’s majority, was laid to rest yesterday by the 12,319 votes at the pre-poll voting centre in Dubbo, which broke 5493-4728 for Nationals candidate Dugald Saunders over independent Mathew Dickerson. With a further 4581 votes from smaller pre-polls, iVotes and postals breaking almost perfectly evenly, Saunders’ lead has increased from 186 to 960.

Sunday, March 26

I don’t have much of substance to offer yet, but this post will feature regular updates over the next week or two to follow the late counting in New South Wales. The Greens conceded defeat in Lismore yesterday, which surprised me a little, but obviously they would know things I don’t. Clearly then they will drop out at the last count and leave the final count as a race between Labor’s Janelle Saffin and Nationals candidate Austin Curtin (the Nationals incumbent, Thomas George, is retiring). On the notional two-candidate preferred count between the two, Saffin has a surely decisive lead of 3.9%.

Another seat where a Nationals incumbent is retiring, Dubbo, remains in doubt between Nationals candidate Dugald Saunders and independent Mathew Dickerson, with Saunders holding a 0.6% lead. Past history strongly indicates the independent will lose ground on late counting, so this seems very like to remain with the Nationals, but I will continue following the count. A Nationals win would ensure a majority for the government, assuming it stays ahead in East Hills, as it almost certainly will. I will also continue following Coogee, although Labor looks to have that in the bag, one of its only two gains.

Then there is the Legislative Council, to which I currently have nothing to add beyond what I said yesterday. Kevin Bonham has a good account here; no doubt there are others.

New South Wales election: the morning after

A quick and dirty review to an election result that proved surprisingly similar to the one in 2015.

I lack the energy to offer much in the way of a post-mortem at this late hour, except to say this was a remarkably status quo result. The Coalition dropped around 3% on the statewide primary vote, and Labor and the Greens about 1% apiece, so presumably the Coalition landed somewhere between 53% and 54% on the two-party vote. This is a couple of points better than the polls suggested, making this the first election result in a very long time that surprised on the up side for the Coalition (UPDATE: Thanks to NathanA in comments for jogging my memory about Tasmania last year). To a certain extent, that might be explained in terms of the Newspoll, with its Tuesday to Thursday field work period, only picking up part of a final week shift away from Labor – although it doesn’t explain an exit poll that was in line with the two-party result.

The Coalition went into the election needing to restrict its losses to six to retain its majority, and it is only clear that they have lost three. Two of these losses were to Shooters Fishers and Farmers, who had a rather spectacular night in picking up all three of their target seats, with Barwon and Murray joining their existing seat of Orange (I was suggesting the Nationals were more likely to retain Barwon quite late in my election night commentary, but they actually have a very handy lead there). Labor’s only clear gain is Coogee, which they now look to have in the bag, although by a lower than expected margin. It looks like they will fall short in East Hills and Penrith, but I will keep an eye on those all the same. Independent Mathew Dickerson has come close against the Nationals in Dubbo, but he is slightly behind and independents tend to lose ground in late counting.

The one seat on which I have crunched numbers is Lismore, which is likely but not certain to be lost by the Nationals. The question is whether it will be lost to Labor, who lead the notional two-party candidate, or the Greens, who had an unexpectedly good night despite the drop in their statewide vote, retaining their three existing seats of Balmain, Newtown and Ballina, and being well in the hunt in Lismore to boot. The two-party count has Labor with a lead of 1840, which looks too much for the Nationals to reel in – they should gain about 500 when pre-polls that have thus far been counted only on the primary vote are added, and the 2015 results suggest they will gain a further couple of hundred when absents and postals are added. However, Labor candidate Janelle Saffin holds a lead of just 24.85% to 23.90% over the Greens, and the race to stay ahead at the last exclusion could go either way. If the Greens win, they will certainly get enough preferences from Labor to defeat the Nationals UPDATE: Didn’t have my thinking cap on there – they may very well fail to get enough Labor preferences to do so.

The basic election night count for the Legislative Council accounts for 48.4% of enrolled voters, and only provides specific results for above-the-line votes for seven parties, when an “others” total that lumps together above-the-line votes for all other parties, and below-the-line voters for all and sundry. The only votes identified as informal at this point are those ballot papers that were left entirely blank – less obviously informal votes are presently in the “others” pile. Disregarding that complication, the current numbers show a clear seven quotas for the Coalition, six for Labor, two for the Greens, one apiece for One Nation and Shooters, leaving four to be accounted for.

The Coalition has enough of a surplus to be in the hunt for one of those; Labor probably doesn’t; One Nation look in the hunt for a second seat; the Christian Democrats and Animal Justice are both possibilities. The wild card is that three quotas under “others”, which would maybe a third of a quota’s worth of below-the-line votes for the seven main parties. My very late night feeling is that the Liberal Democrats (i.e. David Leyonhjelm), Australian Conservatives and Keep Sydney Open might all be in contention.

New South Wales election live

Live coverage of the counting for the New South Wales state election. One exit poll for starters shows Labor set to gain Coogee from the Liberals.

10.28pm. The Nationals look to have gone off the boil in Lismore, in another turn in fortunes for that seat. By this I mean they are trailing Labor in the two-candidate preferred count. But Labor are still coming third behind the Greens on the primary vote, and I think you can give it to the Greens if they stay there.

10.25pm. I’ve been casting around for information on the below-the-line upper house voting rate at past elections. I’ve come up with a figure of 2.1% at the 2011 election, which is lower than I would have thought. If we bump that up to 3%, which is two-thirds of a quota. That leaves well over two quotas for parties whose vote totals we have no idea about. If any one of them — David Leyonhjelm, say, can get about a quarter of that, they should be in business.

10.21pm. Gladys Berejiklian victory speech concluded.

10.16pm. The Legislative Council count is 18.45% through, and while this is completely unmatched and might swing around, we’ve got seven quotas for the Coalition, six for Labor, two for the Greens, one apiece for One Nation and Shooters, and four to be accounted for. The Coalition has enough of a surplus to be in the hunt for one of those; Labor doesn’t, at least on the current numbers. One Nation is in the hunt on the current numbers, but I guess they will fade as more big booths in Sydney report. Ditto Shooters. The Christian Democrats and Animal Justice look possibilities, but I wouldn’t go any further than that. The big wild card is that 2.93 quotas are identified by the Electoral Commission as “others”, that includes not only the outstanding parties, but all below-the-line votes. There is plenty of room in that for David Leyonhjelm, but since it also includes all below-the-lines, we really need more information.

9.46pm. The Nationals now have a handy looking lead in the two-party count against Labor, but the Greens are ahead on the primary vote, and will probably win if they stay there. One way or another, this one’s staying on the watch list.

9.41pm. Michael Daley has conceded to Gladys Berejiklian and will shortly give his concession speech.

9.32pm. The view around the room is that East Hills is falling out of Labor’s reach.

9.18pm. Upper Hunter is very close – I’ve been leaving it off my potential list of Coalition losses. That list has fairly consistently been four or five seats, with its composition changing over time.

9.16pm. Labor have fallen behind in East Hills according to the Nine count, but not the ABC’s (yet). I think you would rather be the Nationals than the Shooters in Barwon at this stage, but nor would you call lit.

9.04pm. Another seat you can’t give away if only because of the slow count is Penrith, where the Liberals are ahead but not by ahead to be definitive about it, with only 22.6% counted on the primary and 12.8% on two-party. Pre-polls could transform the situation here, one way or another, and we may have to wait beyond this evening for a meaningful picture there.

8.58pm. Finally, an update in Auburn, and it’s looking better for Labor now, but will still require monitoring.

8.52pm. Other than that, there have been a number of dogs that haven’t barked. The count in Kogarah is painfully slow, but Labor is in front, and that’s the only evidence of a Chinese backlash effect – Labor has a fairly solid swing in the other supposedly endangered seat, Strathfield. The Nationals have done okay on the northern coast, contrary to expectations. And the Liberals have held up in their south-eastern seats of Goulburn and Bega.

8.50pm. Antony is calling Dubbo as lineball, whereas my sense was that the Nationals were doing okay. So there’s a fifth seat the Coalition might potentially lose.

8.40pm. Hard to identify the six seats that would cost the Coalition its majority. All I’m seeing is East Hills and Coogee to Labor, both only maybes (particularly East Hills). Barwon, under threat from Shooters, is looking better for the Nationals now, but the Shooters continue to look strong in Murray. I would also note that in Auburn, where the count is particularly slow, the very early numbers have the Liberals in the lead.

8.31pm. Labor look like they might win East Hills and Oatley, but beyond that gains for them are hard to identify. Lismore remains a very confusing picture, but the Nationals have strengthened there. Shooters look good in all three of their target seats. Other than that, it looks like a remarkably stable result. The Greens look like retaining their three seats; the two independents have retained their seats, but don’t look like being joined by any new ones. The Nationals have not suffered as expected on the northern coast: Tweed and Upper Hunter look good for them.

8.16pm. I’m painting a somewhat less favourable picture for the Coalition because I’m focused only on seats where the count is seriously advanced, of which there are remarkably few. But the Nationals look okay in Tweed and Upper Hunter, which Labor seriously needed to win.

8.14pm. Antony Green says he thinks the government has been returned, and the only question is majority or minority.

8.12pm. General consternation at the slow speed of the count, or at least the slow rate at which results are being uploaded to the media feed, which also seem to contain some anomalies.

8.05pm. The surprisingly good picture for the Greens seems to be holding: they look like they’ve retained Balmain and Newtown, it looks very encouraging for them in Ballina, and the picture in Lismore remains as before – the Nationals struggling, and an open question as whether it would fall to the Greens or Labor.

8.02pm. Looking very close in Upper Hunter. I’m currently seeing a 1.7% swing to Labor, with a Nationals margin of 2.2%. They

7.52pm. And Labor look to be ahead in Kogarah, although there is a swing against them. Labor’s Chris Minns is down about 4.4% on the primary vote and the Liberals are up 2.5% – not enough for Labor to lose given their 6.9% margin. This is from six booths out of 28 on the primary vote and 13.3% counted.

7.51pm. Right on cue, Chris Uhlmann just said Labor scrutineers say they believe they will win Strathfield.

7.50pm. Encouraging numbers for Labor from Strathfield, given this was expected to be part of any Chinese backlash. Jodi McKay is up about 3% on the primary vote, and the Liberals are down about 4.5%, with seven booths in on the primary vote and 18.8% counted.

7.41pm. From what we’re seeing so far, the Greens seem to be doing surprisingly well. The first numbers in Ballina show a strong swing in their favour; they are in the hunt in Lismore; and Antony called Newtown for them, although perhaps too early.

7.38pm. Really tight three-cornered contest in Lismore. The Nationals are down nearly 5% on the primary vote, on which they will need to improve. Lineball based on current numbers as to whether Labor or the Greens will make the final count against them. Unless the Nationals improve – which they certainly may – the seat will go to whoever wins the Labor-Greens race.

7.32pm. Talking Blue Mountains a lot because the count is progressing particularly well there. It does look like there’s a modest swing to Labor of 3% to 4%, based on eight booths on the primary vote and 17.4% counted.

7.24pm. That big swing to Labor in Blue Mountains has disappeared, but they are still on track to retain their margin of 8%.

7.20pm. Early primary votes looking good for Shooters in Murray, although this could be missing geographic variability.

7.17pm. Antony says the Greens will win Newtown very easily. Latest numbers from Upper Hunter look less good for Labor than the ones I’ve counted earlier — no swing projected on the two-party figures that I’m seeing.

7.14pm. With 5.4% of the primary vote counted in Lismore, the Greens are down about 3.4%, the Nationals are down about 2.5%, and Labor are unchanged. That would get Labor into the final count ahead of the Greens, which they narrowly failed to do last time, and then to narrowly defeat the Nationals.

7.07pm. Based on five booths and 3.1% of the electoral roll counted, Philip Donato has a clear primary vote majority in Orange.

7.01pm. Good early results for Labor in Blue Mountains, with three booths in on the primary vote — Labor is on 48.5%, which compares with 38.4% in the same booths in 2015.

6.58pm. With 4% of the primary vote counted in Upper Hunter, the Nine system is projecting a 3.5% two-party swing to Labor in Upper Hunter, which would be sufficient to get Labor up by 1.3%. However, this is based on speculative preference flows.

6.31pm. First booth from Orange is 288 votes from Spring Hill Public, and there’s a good sign for Shooters member Philip Donato, who is up from 41.1$ to 57.3% on the primary vote.

6.25pm. Mulgoa Electorate Manager’s Office wins the prize for first booth to report. Splits 120-31 to the Liberals, which is a big swing in their favour for what that’s worth (i.e. nothing).

6pm. Let the record note that polls have closed.

5.25pm. The YouGov Galaxy exit poll for the Nine Network has primary vote numbers very similar to Newspoll’s, with the Coalition on 41% (the same), Labor on 36% (one point higher) and the Greens on 9% (one point lower). Two-party preferred is 50-50, compared with Newspoll’s 51-49 to the Coalition. However, the poll is from the state’s 16 most marginal seats, rather than statewide. A set of numbers from the 2015 election is provided for purposes of comparison, so the precise way to read this is to compare the results just noted with the following set of numbers: 53.1-46.9 to the Coalition on two-party preferred, and primary votes of Coalition 45.9%, Labor 36.1% and Greens 9.7%. In other words, the poll suggests a 3.1% swing to Labor, which is almost identical to Newspoll’s 3.3%.

Two-party breakdowns are provided for western Sydney and “regional” – I’m not sure of the precise dimensions of the latter. These have it at 50-50 in western Sydney, a 2.7% swing to Labor since 2015, and 51-49 to the Coalition in regional New South Wales, a swing of 3.5%, which is one point more favourable to the Coalition than the Newspoll result. The sample for the poll is 1666.

5.04pm. The Coogee exit poll has the Liberals crashing from 46.6% to 31% and Labor up from 32.5% to 41%. It does not appear there is a two-party figure, but with the Liberal margin at 2.9%, you can take it for granted that this points to an emphatic win for Labor. The poll was conducted by Lonergan Research for Greenpeace and the Nature Conservation Council from a sample of 1482.

5pm. One hour until polls close. I’m behind the scenes at Channel Nine’s election night coverage – they have YouGov Galaxy exit polling that will go live in 15 minutes. I have it in my hands right now, but I’ll spare you the “wow” routine. Greenpeace has put out a Lonergan Research exit poll of Coogee that apparently shows Labor set to gain the seat from the Liberals, in line with expectations. I’ll have a summary of that poll with you very shortly.

To get the ball rolling, I’ll repaste what I posted last night about how the NSWEC is approaching the count. We will not be privy to as much counting of pre-poll results on election night as we have lately grown accustomed. All we are promised is incomplete progress counts of the primary vote from pre-poll voting centres, which will presumably posted quite late on the night. That means no pre-poll results on two-party preferred, which could well leave us hanging in more seats than usual at the end of the night. Some postals will be counted on the night – I can’t tell you if this will just be primary votes or if it will include two-party totals as well.

The Legislative Council count on the night will be unusual, in that the only things that are specifically being tallied are above-the-line votes for the Coalition, Labor, the Greens, Shooters, the Christian Democrats, Animal Justice and One Nation. Beyond that, an “others” total will be published that will include above-the-line votes for everyone else, and below-the-line votes for all and sundry (including votes that will prove, on closer inspection, to be informal). Among other things, this means those of you hanging on the electoral prospects of David Leyonhjelm will go to bed disappointed.

Newspoll: 51-49 to Coalition in New South Wales

Slight movement in favour of the Coalition in the final New South Wales state election Newspoll, with Michael Daley’s late campaign troubles making their presence felt on personal ratings. Also featured: voluminous reading on the Electoral Commission’s plans for the count, and some late mail on where the parties believe things stand.

The final Newspoll of the New South Wales state election campaign, published in the Australian, has the Coalition leading 51-49 on two-party preferred, compared with 50-50 in the last such poll a fortnight ago. On the primary vote, the Coalition is up one to 41%, Labor is down one to 35% and the Greens are steady on 10%. On personal ratings, Gladys Berejiklian is down one on approval to 43% and up four on disapproval to 42%; Michael Daley has taken a rather big hit, being down five on approval to 32% and up nine on disapproval to 47%; and Berejiklian’s lead as preferred premier is 43-35, compared with 41-34 last time.

Breakdowns are provided for Sydney and the rest of New South Wales. In Sydney, the Coalition leads 52-48, which compares with 54.3-45.7 in 2015, from primary votes of Coalition 43%, Labor 36% and Greens 18. In keeping with expectations, a bigger swing is recorded in the rest of New South Wales, with two-party preferred at 50-50, compared with 54.4-45.6 to the Coalition last time, from primary votes of Coalition 39%, Labor 34% and Greens 9%. The poll was conducted Tuesday to Thursday from a bumper sample of 2518.

Administrative affairs:

• I’m afraid I won’t be able to make good on my earlier promise to run an election results facility. The New South Wales Electoral Commission is unusual in putting its media feed behind a security wall, and I haven’t been able to gain the permissions required to access it. To be honest, it probably wouldn’t have worked very well even if I had – optional preferential voting and enormous changes between the polling booths from the last election to this have added extra layers of complexity. None of these issues will apply at the federal election, which is actually quite a lot easier to do than a state election.

• I am currently in Sydney doing behind-the-scenes work on the Nine Network’s election night coverage. At this stage I have no idea what this will mean for what I will be able to provide in terms of live blogging tonight – it may mean I have inside dope to relate, or it may mean I will be too busy to do anything. At a bare minimum there will be a thread available where you are all invited to exchange information and generally discuss the results.

Some details about the Electoral Commission’s plans for the count:

• We will not be privy to as much counting of pre-poll results on election night as we have lately grown accustomed. All we are promised is incomplete progress counts of the primary vote from pre-poll voting centres, which will presumably posted quite late on the night. That means no pre-poll results on two-party preferred, which could well leave us hanging in more seats than usual at the end of the night. Some postals will be counted on the night – I can’t tell you if this will just be primary votes or if it will include two-party totals as well.

• The Legislative Council count on the night will be unusual, in that the only things that are specifically being tallied are above-the-line votes for the Coalition, Labor, the Greens, Shooters, the Christian Democrats, Animal Justice and One Nation. Beyond that, an “others” total will be published that will include above-the-line votes for everyone else, and below-the-line votes for all and sundry (including votes that will prove, on closer inspection, to be informal). Among other things, this means those of you hanging on the electoral prospects of David Leyonhjelm will go to bed disappointed.

• The Electoral Commission encountered technical difficulties last week with its pre-polling, with outages in the system with which it marks off those who have voted leading to “long delays and even temporary closures of some pre-poll booths”, as reported by The Guardian. The commission’s initial projection was that a little over 1 million votes would be counted at pre-poll voting centres – hard data on the number of votes cast does not appear to be available on its website, but it was reported that 670,998 such votes had been cast as of the close of business on Wednesday. I couldn’t tell you at this late hour if these means they were running below expectations.

• Trouble too with the commission’s iVote facility, which has been providing many prospective voters with error messages. The service allows the disabled, sick or those outside New South Wales to vote online or by phone. Nonetheless, the Sydney Morning Herald reports that 82% of the 227,521 who had registered had voted as of last night.

Horse race latest:

• The Daily Telegraph reported yesterday that “both major parties have struggled with phone polling in Murray and Barwon”, the two seats Shooters Fishers and Farmers hopes to gain from the Nationals to complement Orange, wbich it won from the Nationals at a by-election in November 2016. However, “internal research” by Shooters Fishers and Farmers suggested it should retain Orange, and left it “confident” of winning Barwon.

• The Sydney Morning Herald today cites a Liberal source saying there will be nothing in it in Penrith, East Hills and Goulburn, but that they will probably lose Coogee. A Labor source expresses confidence about both Coogee and East Hills. Two Nationals sources are cited offering varying perspectives on Barwon, Lismore, Murray and Tweed, with one sounding optimistic about Tweed and Lismore, but the other sounding pessimistic about Lismore. Ballina is rated “anyone’s guess”.

• Here’s my paywalled account of the situation in Crikey, the upshot of which is that Labor is more likely to outperform expectations than the Coalition. A number of the same points are made by Tim Colebatch in the Sydney Morning Herald (probably also paywalled).