Various stuff that’s happening

Sarah Henderson reportedly struggling in her Senate preselection comeback bid, plus yet more on the great pollster failure, and other things besides.

Newspoll’s no-show this week suggests last fortnight’s poll may not have portended a return to the familiar schedule. Amid a general post-election psephological malaise, there is at least the following to relate:

• The great pollster failure was the subject of a two-parter by Bernard Keane in Crikey yesterday, one part examining the methodological nuts and bolts, the other the influence of polling on journalism and political culture.

Richard Willingham of the ABC reports former Corangamite MP Sarah Henderson is having a harder-than-expected time securing Liberal preselection to replace Mitch Fifield in the Senate, despite backing from Scott Morrison, Josh Frydenberg and Michael Kroger. According to the report, some of Henderson’s backers concede that Greg Mirabella, former state party vice-president and the husband of Sophie Mirabella, may have the edge.

• The Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters has invited submissions for its regular inquiry into the 2019 election, which will be accepted until Friday, September 2019. Queensland LNP Senator James McGrath continues to chair the committee, which consists of five Coalition, two Labor and one Greens member.

Daniella White of the Canberra Times reports Labor is struggling to find candidates for next October’s Australian Capital Territory election, said by “some insiders” to reflect pessimism about the government’s chances of extending its reign to a sixth term.

• The Federation Press has published a second edition of the most heavily thumbed tome in my psephological library, Graeme Orr’s The Law of Politics: Election, Parties and Money in Australia. A good deal of water has passed under the bridge since the first edition in 2010, most notably in relation to Section 44, which now accounts for the better part of half a chapter.

Australian Capital Territory election finalised

Final scores: Labor 12, Liberal 11, Greens two; women 13, men 12.

The Australian Capital Territory election count was resolved today, producing a final result of 12 seats for Labor, 11 for Liberal and two for the Greens, confirming Labor’s re-election with Greens support. In the two close races, Labor won the final seat in Ginninderra at the expense of the Greens, for a result of Labor three, Liberal two, and the Greens edged out the Liberals in Murrumbidgee, for a result of Labor two, Liberal two, Greens one. Thirteen of the 15 elected members are women, which is presumably some sort of first.

Brindabella. This was the one result that was entirely clear on election night, with three of the seats going to Liberals (Andrew Wall, Mark Parton and Nicole Lawder) and two to Labor (Mick Gentleman and Joy Burch).

Ginninderra. The last seat was down to a third Labor candidate and the Greens, with the former prevailing. In the race for the last two seats, Indra Esguerra of the Greens dropped out with 6129 votes to 6851 and 6830 for Labor’s Gordon Ramsay and Tara Cheyne. Of the two Labor incumbents, Yvette Berry was comfortably re-elected at the point where only three Labor candidates remained, while Chris Bourke was defeated. Incumbent Vicki Dunne was the first Liberal elected, and newcomer Elizabeth Kikkert the second, edging out party colleague Paul Sweeney by 5587 to 5272 at the relevant point of the count.

Kurrajong. It was always clear the result here would be two each for Labor and Liberal, plus one for the Greens. For Labor, Chief Minister Andrew Barr was elected on the primary vote, and the race for the second position eventually went to Rachel Stephen-Smith, who finished clear of Josh Ceramidas by 7699 votes to 5165. For the Liberals, newcomer Elizabeth Lee was first elected, with incumbent Steve Doszpot managing to edge out newcomer Candice Burch by 5823 to 4920. Greens leader Shane Rattenbury was the second candidate elected after Barr.

Murrumbidgee. Caroline Le Couteur joins Shane Rattenbury as a second Greens member after prevailing over a third Liberal. Liberal leader Jeremy Hanson was elected on the primary vote, while Bec Cody and Chris Steel emerged the winners of a fairly even race between the five non-incumbent Labor candidates. The last two seats came down to Le Couteur and two Liberals, incumbent Giulia Jones and newcomer Peter Hosking, in which Hosking dropped out with 6762 votes to Le Couteur’s 7571.

Yerrabi. This was always going to be three Labor, two Liberal. Labor’s elected candidates were incumbent Meegan Fitzharris, followed by Michael Pettersson and then Suzanne Orr, the latter finishing ahead of incumbent Jayson Hinder 5141 to 4471. For the Liberals, deputy leader Alistair Coe was first elected, followed by James Milligan.

Australian Capital Territory election live

Live coverage of the count for today’s Australian Capital Territory election.

Sunday morning.

So far as the party representation is concerned, there are clear results in Brindabella (three Liberal, two Labor), Kurrajong (two Labor, two Liberal, one Greens) and Yerrabi (three Labor, two Liberal), and seats in doubt in Ginninderra and Murrumbidgee, where Labor and Liberal have won two each, and the final seat is respectively down to Labor-versus-Greens and Liberal-versus-Greens. Both major parties thus stand to win 11 or 12 seats, with the Greens on at least one and perhaps as many as three. Thanks to the magic of electronic voting, the ACT Electoral Commission has been able to take away a lot of the guess work about the preference redistribution, by publishing an indicative result showing how things would look like if only the electronic vote counted. This amounts to perhaps a quarter of the total, electronic voting being available in the six pre-poll voting centres, which also function as ordinary polling booths on election day. The electorates in turn:

Brindabella. As the ACT Electoral Commission projection makes clear, the threat to the third Liberal from the Sex Party is apparent rather than real. On the primary vote, the Liberals currently have 2.4 quotas and the Sex Party has 0.5. However, the projection has the Liberals gaining 1.4 quotas as preferences are distributed, while the Sex Party can only manage half that much. Non-electronic voting slightly boosted the Sex Party and weakened the Liberals, but not by nearly enough to make a difference. The result will clearly be three Liberals (Andrew Wall, Mark Parton and Nicole Lawder) and two Labor (Mick Gentleman and Joy Burch).

Ginninderra. The projection shows Vicki Dunne and Elizabeth Kikkert of the Liberals both elected at the point where they are the party’s only two candidates left standing, leaving four seats to be divided up by the three leading Labor candidates plus Indra Esguerra of the Greens. Esguerra need finish ahead of only one of the Labor candidates, but the projection has her on 2208 versus 2629 for Yvonne Berry, 2522 for Tara Cheyne and 2436 for Chris Bourke. Bourke fell back in late counting and now trails Gordon Ramsay, but that is unlikely to change the general situation. The overall primary vote count for the parties is currently all but identical to the electronic vote count used for the projection, so a Labor win for the final seat would appear more likely than not. Clearly Yvette Berry will be one of Labor’s three, but otherwise there is very little to separate the other four candidates. Vicki Dunne will be re-elected for the Liberals, with Elizabeth Kikkert and Paul Sweeney all but tied for second place.

Kurrajong. The quota totals here are Labor 2.35, Liberal 1.77 and Greens 1.18, making it all but certain that the result will be 2-2-1. Andrew Barr polled a quota in his own right, and his 0.3 quota surplus could theoretically shape who wins second. However, the projection suggests Barr’s surplus divides between the other four candidates in the same proportion as their primary vote shares, which is to say in favour of second-placed Rachel Stephen-Smith over third-placed Josh Ceramidas. Stephen-Smith ends up leading 2345 to 1556 at the key point in the projection – this is based on a base primary vote of 5.4%, compared with 5.8% in the count overall, while Ceramidas remains on 4.7%. Newcomer Elizabeth Lee looks set to win the first Liberal seat, and the second is likely to go to incumbent Steve Doszpot, although the latter has another newcomer in Candice Burch at his heels. On the projection, Doszpot starts with 7.0% and Burch starts with 5.7%, after which both receive the exact same amount of preferences. Burch has since slightly narrowed the gap on the primary vote, now at 6.8% to 5.8%. Nonetheless, the likely final result here is Barr and Stephen-Smith for Labor, Lee and Doszpot for Liberal, and Shane Rattenbury the election’s only clear winner for the Greens.

Murrumbidgee. Labor and Liberal have a clean two seats apiece with Liberal fighting it out with the Greens for the last seat. The projection gives it to Greens candidate Caroline Le Couteuer, who nudges out a third Liberal by 2176 votes to 1802 at the key point of the count. The count this is based on is slightly less favourable to the Greens than the total count, with the Liberals on 42.0% of the primary vote rather than 41.7%, and the Greens on 11.1% rather than 10.8%. If the Liberals can only manage two, one will certainly be Jeremy Hanson, who has matched his Labor rival in recording 1.3 quotas, and the other will be incumbent Giulia Jones or newcomer Peter Hosking, who are respectively on 7.2% and 7.0% of the primary vote. Jones stands to benefit from the pro-incumbent vote that makes up Hanson’s surplus, and is likely to stay in front. Labor had no incumbents on its ticket, and its winners will be Chris Steel and Bec Cody.

Yerrabi. The quota totals are Labor 2.66, Liberal 2.12 and Greens 0.43, which can only mean three Labor, two Liberal. The elected members will certainly include incumbent Meegan Fitzharris and newcomer Michael Pettersson, and almost certainly a second newcomer in Suzanne Orr, who leads incumbent Jayson Hinder 7.3% to 6.3% and gets a better flow of preferences on the projection. Alistair Coe is a clear winner of the first Liberal seat, and looks set to be joined by James Milligan, whose 7.5% to 6.2% lead over Jacob Vadakkedathu is projected to widen on preferences.

Saturday night

10.06pm. Labor have slipped back in Kurrajong, which probably scotches that vague possibility of three seats there. The ABC computer is saying Labor 11, Liberal 10 and Greens one with three undecided, which would refer to Brindabella, where the Sex Party continues to incrementally improve, but faces the difficulty that the third strongest Liberal, Nicole Lawder, is slightly outpolling the combined Sex Party vote; Ginninderra, where the last seat could go to a third Labor or to the Greens; and Murrumbidgee, where the last seat could go to a Liberal or the Greens.

9.29pm. The ACTEC’s provisional preference counts are giving me a headache, but Kevin Bonham points to big preference leakage after Andrew Barr’s election, which diminishes the possibility I canvassed of a 3-1-1 result.

9.02pm. Sex Party strengthening still further in Brindabella with 74.0% counted: 0.50 quotas to 2.45 for Liberal. Surely a big chance now of two Labor, two Liberal, one Sex Party.

8.58pm. Far from fading with the counting of the ordinary vote, the Sex Party in Brindabella is up from 0.45 to 0.48 with 68.6% now counted.

8.52pm. I’ve been taking for granted a 2-2-1 result in Kurrajong, but in keeping with their overall poor show, it may be worse than that for the Liberals – they have 1.59 quotas versus 2.51 for Labor, suggesting 3-1-1 can’t be ruled out. That might even get them to a majority, if they can pull ahead of the Greens in Ginninderra.

8.50pm. Antony’s matched primary votes swings: Labor up 1.%, Libearl down 3.9%, Greens down 0.5%.

8.48pm. Still a lottery for the second and possibly third Labor seats in Ginninderra: Gordon Ramsay 3200, Tara Cheyne 2960, Kim Fischer 2845, Chris Bourke 2754.

8.42pm. The Ginninderra count has just shot up from 37.2% counted to 64.8%, and Labor is up from 2.52 quotas to 2.53, and the Greens are down from 0.59 to 0.57. Incumbents Yvette Barry (Labor) and Vicki Dunne (Liberal) are home, but the intra=party contests are otherwise extremely tight.

8.30pm. The latest update in Murrumbidgee, where 34.1% are now counted, is slightly to the advantage of the Liberals, who are up from 2.50 quotas to 2.54, but the Greens are on 0.64 and Antony Green rates them more likely than the Liberals to get the last seat. Brindabella and Yerrabi counts are now over 50%, and aren’t bearing out hopeful Liberal talk of a dramatically different trend on polling booth votes.

8.20pm. Regarding my musings concerning the Sex Party in Brindabella, Antony Green points out they have a problem in the even spread of support for the various Liberal candidates, which will make it difficult for them to pull ahead during the preference distribution.

8.10pm. Yerrabi count now up to 44.2%, and it’s clearly Labor three, Liberal two. Meegan Fitzharris and Michael Petersson will win two of the Labor seats, but the third is up in the air, with Suzanne Orr leading and incumbent Jayson Hinder struggling. James Mulligan likely to join Alistair Coe as the second Liberal.

7.52pm. The ACTEC has published interim preference distributions suggesting Labor rather than the Greens will get the last seat in Ginninderra, and the Greens rather than the Liberals will get it in Murrumbidgee. That suggests a final result of Labor 12, Liberal 11 and Greens two.

7.44pm. I haven’t had much to say about the strong Sex Party performance in Brindabella, but with 26.9% counted they’re well clear of the Greens (7.1% to 5.2%), and it’s entirely possible that they could win the seat at the expense of the third Liberal on Greens preferences – assuming polling booth votes don’t prove very different from pre-poll ones, which they may well do.

7.33pm. In Murrumbidgee, Jeremy Hanson is re-elected for the Liberals, but Giulia Jones isn’t quite shaking off Peter Hosking, although it’s possible both will win. Bec Cody and Chris Steel are firming as the Labor members. The Greens candidate who’s in the hunt is Caroline Le Couteur.

7.31pm. In Yerrabi, Labor’s Meegan Fitzharris is re-elected and will be joined by Michael Petersson, but it’s anyone’s guess who the third Labor member will be. For the Liberals, Alistair Coe has been re-elected and looks likely to be joined by James Milligan.

7.30pm. So to summarise: 3-2 to Liberal in Brindabella; 2-2 in Ginninderra, with the last seat Labor versus Greens; 2-2-1 in Kurrajong; 2-2 in Murrumbidgee, with the last seat either Liberals or Greens; and 3-2 to Labor in Yerrabi.

7.28pm. Shane Rattenbury has clearly been re-elected, but beyond that the Greens have only two possibilities, being in a struggle with the Liberals for the final seat in Murrumbidgee, which will determine whether the Liberals finish on 11 or 12, and with Labor in Ginninderra.

7.25pm. Big leap forward in the Yerrabi count, now at 35.9% counted, and it’s all but confirmed now that Labor will win three seats to the Liberals two, which closes the door on the possibility of a Liberal majority.

7.16pm. Resulting firming in Kurrajong: two Labor (Andrew Barr and Rachel Stephen-Smith, although the latter might yet get displaced by a Labor colleague), two Liberal (Elizabeth Lee and Steve Doszpot) and one Greens (Shane Rattenbury).

7.13pm. A slight update to the Ginninderra numbers pushes the count over 30%, and it’s still clear the Liberals won’t get a third seat there. Still unclear which Labor and Liberal candidates will win seats, except that Vicki Dunne looks very likely to be one of the Liberals. Yvette Berry has a slight edge among the Labor candidates.

7.10pm. Now we’ve hit a lull in reporting of results after the electronic pre-polls. The laggard is Yerrabi, which just nudged from 8.2% counted to 11.3%, with the others around 25%. The Liberals have actually gone backwards on the updated Yerrabi numbers, which is bad news for them as their only path to victory involves them winning a third seat there. That’s certainly not going to happen with 2.09 quotas. Labor looking more likely to win a third seat than one going to the Greens. Still a long way to go though.

6.59pm. Now 8.2% counted in Yerrabi, and it’s not looking great for the Liberals on these numbers. So far, it looks the same as Ginninderra, with the final seat coming down to the Greens and a third Labor candidate, leaving the Liberals on two. Unless that changes, the Liberals look doomed to fall short.

6.57pm. Ginninderra still looking grim for the Liberals with nearly 30% counted. Result looks like either Labor three and Liberal two, or two each with one for the Greens. So the Liberals need three seats in Murrumbidgee and Yerrabi.

6.56pm. Brindabella looks settled: Wall, Parton and Lawder for Liberal, Burch and Gentleman for Labor. So the question remains whether the Liberals can make it to three in any two out of Ginninderra, Murrumbidgee and Yerrabi.

6.54pm. Murrumbidgee looking very important to the result, with a close race looming between a third Liberal and the Greens to win the final seat. Bec Cody and Chris Steel leading to win the two Labor seats.

6.53pm. Rachel Stephen-Smith leading the field to join Andrew Barr as Labor’s second member in Kurrajong.

6.52pm. Rapid progress now as the electronic pre-polls report. As noted, very little differentiation between party candidate votes in Ginninderra.

6.50pm. ABC computer quickly went from 4% to 11.3% counted in Kurrajong, and now the result looks as anticipated, with two Liberal, two Labor and one Greens. Elizabeth Lee looking to join incumbent Steve Doszpot (she is outpolling him) as the second Liberal.

6.49pm. Very, very close race between the Labor candidates in Ginninderra, with little differentiation between the two incumbents (Yvette Berry and Chris Bourke) and the three newcomers.

6.48pm. Surprisingly good early result for Liberals in Kurrajong, where I had simply assumed before they wouldn’t win three seats, but it’s probably a function of where the booth is.

6.48pm. ACTEC site isn’t coping and ABC doesn’t give booth results, so I’m flying blind as to where these results are coming from.

6.45pm. Comparing that Woden pre-poll result for Murrumbidgee with the overall Woden pre-poll in 2012 (remembering that pre-poll booths are set up to receive votes for all districts), Labor is down 4.5%, the Liberals are up 1.6%, and the Greens are all but unchanged.

6.43pm. FIrst result from Ginninderra didn’t look brilliant for the Liberals. Very early days, but if that continues the Liberals will have only one path to victory, with Yerrabi as well as Murrumbidgee needing to come through for them with a third seat.

6.40pm. Antony discussing a result from Brindabella, which does little to disturb the expectation that the Liberals will win three here and Labor two, although the Australian Sex Party is polling well with 6.6%. As anticipated, Mark Parton looks placed to become the third Liberal, with all four incumbents looking to be returned.

6.37pm. First result is the Woden pre-poll booth from Murrumbdigee. It provides no evidence of independents doing particularly well, and suggests Giulia Jones can’t take for granted being one of the two Liberals elected, if indeed there are are only two, with new Liberal Peter Hosking outpolling her. Antony Green’s projection says the Labor vote is down 6% to 7%.

6pm. Welcome to live coverage of the Australian Capital Territory election count, for which polls have now closed. Results can be followed here at the Electoral Commission site, or here at the ABC.

Australian Capital Territory election guide

An overview of Saturday’s election in the Australian Capital Territory, where Labor is seeking to make it five in a row.

I have just published a guide to Saturday’s Australian Capital Territory election, which provides an overview of the territory’s political history going back to the establishment of self-government in 1989, and observes the lay of the land in the five newly created five-member districts. I am indebted throughout to the coverage of the Canberra Times, which has a good overview of the election issues here.

The new regime will result in a parliament of 25, replacing an existing arrangement of one seven-member and two five-member regions, with 17 members overall. The numbers in the chamber since the 2012 election have been eight each for Labor and Liberal, with Labor surviving in government by the grace of Greens member Shane Rattenbury, who has held a position in cabinet throughout the current term. Labor has been in power since 2001 and is seeking a fifth victory under a third Chief Minister, Andrew Barr. The Liberals are led by Jeremy Hanson, who replaced Zed Seselja when he moved to the Senate in February 2013.

In the absence of published opinion polling, the situation is not easy to read. While the Liberals stand to benefit from the government’s longevity, and perhaps also the controversy over its pursuit of a light rail scheme that so far offers benefits only to the city’s north, Canberra is always difficult ground for the conservative side of politics. The challenge they face is to have three out the five seats won by Liberals or amenable independents in three of the five regions. They are presumably well placed to again win three seats in the southern suburbs district of Brindabella, but to this must be added third seats in two out of Ginninderra and Yerrabi, in the north of Canberra, or Murrumbidgee, which neighbours Brindabella in the south.

The Greens were reduced to a single seat in 2012 after winning four in 2008, and the new electoral arrangement – the fruit of a deal between Labor and Liberal – has made life difficult for them by abolishing the seven-member region of Molonglo. However, the party’s concentration of support around the centre of the city should at least be enough for them in the Kurrajong district, which Rattenbury is contesting.

Newspoll: 55-45 to Coalition

The latest Newspoll is no worse for Labor than the last on voting intention, but Julia Gillard has lost her lead as preferred prime minister.

The Australian reports the latest Newspoll has the Coalition leading 55-45 on two-party preferred, down from 56-44 at the previous poll three weeks ago, with both Labor and the Coalition down a point on the primary vote to 31% and 47% respectively and the Greens up two to 11%. Tony Abbott has apparently hit the lead as preferred prime minister; more to follow.

UPDATE: GhostWhoVotes relates that Julia Gillard’s ratings have plunged yet further, her approval down six points to 30% and disapproval up six to 58%. Tony Abbott is effectively unchanged at 33% (steady) and 55% (down one), but his 41-39 deficit on preferred prime minister is now a lead of 40-36.

UPDATE 2: The latest Morgan face-to-face result combines the last two weekends of polling, and it shows the Coalition sustaining a commanding primary vote lead of 44% (down one) to 33.5% (steady), with the Greens up a point to 10%. On respondent-allocated preferences the Coalition lead has narrowed from 56-44 to 54.5-45.5, while on previous election preferences it’s down from 54.5-45.5 to 53.5-46.5.

Other news:

• The Australian Electoral Commission has accepted Julian Assange’s enrolment in the Melbourne seat of Isaacs, which clears him to proceed with his Senate bid unless someone cares to mount a legal challenge. I had expected that Assange might fall foul of the requirement that a person enrolling overseas must intend to resume residing in Australia within six years of having left. To the best of my admittedly limited knowledge, Assange was last here furtively in 2007. Another legal grey area is his political asylum status, and what it might mean for the constitutional injunction that parliamentarians not be “under any acknowledgement of allegiance, obedience, or adherence to a foreign power, or … a subject or a citizen or entitled to the rights or privileges of a subject or citizen of a foreign power”.

• Gary Humphries, who has held the Liberals’ ACT Senate seat since 2003 and was the territory’s Chief Minister from October 2000 to November 2001, has lost preselection to Zed Seselja, leader of the ACT opposition through five years and two election defeats. Seselja prevailed in the contentious party ballot on Saturday by margin of 114 to 84. Humphries says he will abide by the result, but even before the vote his supporters had petitioned for it to be referred to a divisional council meeting on the grounds that the process had been rushed to Seselja’s advantage. That would throw the vote open to around 400 extra party members who were denied a vote because they hadn’t attended a branch meeting in six months.

• With Seselja standing aside from the leadership to contest the Senate preselection, the ACT Liberals have chosen Molonglo MP Jeremy Hanson as their new leader ahead of former leader Brendan Smyth. This was despite Gary Humphries’ claim that a deal had been reached between Seselja and another MP, Alistair Coe, in which Seselja would decisively throw his weight behind Coe in exchange for Coe’s support for his Senate preselection bid (which was nonetheless forthcoming, along with that of the remainder of the Liberal party room). Humphries claimed his decision to reveal the deal to the public caused it to come undone, although Coe denied it had ever been made. Coe won the party room ballot for the deputy leadership, unseating Smyth.

• Natasha Griggs, the Country Liberal Party member for the Darwin-based seat of Solomon since she unseated Labor’s Damian Hale in 2010, has seen off a preselection challenge from Peter Bourke, a clinical immunologist at Royal Darwin Hospital. In January the Northern Territory News reported a party source saying Bourke was likely to prevail, as Griggs was “not cut out to be a politician”.

• A rank-and-file Labor preselection vote for the south-western Sydney seat of Werriwa will be held on March 5, pitting Labor veteran Laurie Ferguson against union and party activist Damien Ogden, who had been an aspirant for the seat when Ferguson moved there after his existing seat of Reid was merged with neighbouring Lowe at the 2010 election. Anna Patty of the Sydney Morning Herald reports Ogden has some support from both the “hard” and “soft” left, respectively associated with Anthony Albanese and the United Voice union, although it appears to be generally expected that Ferguson will see off the threat. A report by Samantha Maiden in the Sunday Telegraph suggests that might not avail him in the long run, with union polling conducted late last year said to point to a decisive swing against Labor of 13%.

Ben McClellan of the Blacktown Advertiser reports the Liberal preselection for Greenway has been set for March 9, with 12 shortlisted candidates including 2010 candidate Jayme Diaz, Rose Tattoo singer Gary “Angry” Anderson, Hills councillor Yvonne Keane and “anti-bullying campaigner and motivational speaker” Brett Murray. Also in the field are business coach Robert Borg, gym owner Rowan Dickens, senior financial analyst Mathew Marasigan, marketing manager Ben Jackson, Hills councillor Mark Owen Taylor, accountant Mark Jackson, security supervisor Renata Lusica and, curiously, Josephina Diaz, mother of Jayme. The choice will be made from a panel of delegates from the electorate’s five branches and head office.

Galaxy: 53-47 to Coalition

A lot has happened since Galaxy’s last federal poll in mid-June – enough on this evidence to have lifted Labor three points, while still leaving them well short of the two-party parity recorded by Newspoll. Tony Abbott also cops the troubling finding that even Coalition voters now prefer Malcolm Turnbull.

GhostWhoVotes reports a Galaxy poll shows the Coalition leading 53-47, a three-point gain to Labor since the last national poll conducted by Galaxy, which was conducted in the Labor dark age of mid-June. The primary vote figures give Labor 35%, the Coalition down two to 47% (still well up on the other phone pollsters) and the Greens on 11% (down one). A question on preferred Liberal leader gives Malcolm Turnbull an advantage over Tony Abbott of such order (60% to 29%) as cannot be easily dismissed, with Turnbull even leading 51-45 among Liberal voters. Julia Gillard also trails in competition with Kevin Rudd 49% to 34%, which is the narrowest result in a head-to-head poll between the two since March last year. Most encouragingly for her, the improvement has been driven by Labor voters, among whom she leads 57% to 39%. However, only 25% said they believed her account of the 2010 leadership coup against 63% who said they did not believe her.

The following chart shows the results of head-to-head polling between Gillard and Rudd since the beginning of last year, as conducted by Nielsen (eight polls), Galaxy (six) and Newspoll (three).

UPDATE (5/11/12): Essential Research will not be reporting until Wednesday, but we have today a Morgan face-to-face poll derived from the last two weekends of surveying which shows a sharp improvement for the Coalition on a depressed showing last time. The Coalition primary vote has moved over three surveys from 43% to 38.5% and back to 43% – Morgan is selling the latest shift as a negative response to the mini-budget, but a far likelier explanation is that the previous result was simply an aberration. Labor is down two points to 35.5% and the Greens on 10%, down 2.5% from an unusually good result last time. On two-party preferred, the Coalition have a 52-48 lead on the previous election measure compared with a 52.5-47.5 deficit last time, while on respondent-allocated preferences a 50.5-49.5 deficit has turned into a lead of 53.5-46.5.

UPDATE (7/11/12): While attention was elsewhere, Essential Research published what by its standards was a solid move to Labor: they are up one point to 37%, with the Coalition down two to 46% the Greens steady on 9%. This amounts to a one-point drop in the Coalition’s lead on two-party preferred, which is now at 53-47. The poll also has 20% of respondents approving of Christine Milne’s performance against 33% disapproval; 17% holding the Greens as having done a good job against 47% poor; and 53% thinking them too extreme against 26% as representing the views of many voters (remembering that Essential has become quite a tough series for the Greens recently). Further questions find respondents are all in favour of Asia, but divided 41-41 on expanding uranium mining and broadly wary of nuclear energy.

Some reviews of recent electoral events. Firstly and more recently is the Sydney by-election of last Saturday, October 27. This gave a clear win to Alex Greenwich, the independent candidate endorsed by the involuntarily departing Clover Moore. Labor did not a field a candidate in order to give Greenwich a clear run, but it hardly seems likely he would have been troubled had it been otherwise. Turnout was poor, in keeping with the recent trend of state by-elections.

SYDNEY STATE BY-ELECTION, NEW SOUTH WALES
October 27, 2012

					#	%	Swing	2PP	%
Alex Greenwich (Independent)		17,687	47.3%		21,283	63.7%
Shayne Mallard (Liberal)		11,543	30.9%	+5.3%	12,120	36.3%
Chris Harris (Greens)			6,616	17.7%	+4.9%
Glenn Wall (Independent)		825	2.2%
Robyn Peebles (Christian Democratic)	724	1.9%	+0.8%
Labor							-11.3%

Formal					37,395	97.2%	-0.6%	
Informal				1,062	2.8%	+0.6%
Enrolment/Turnout			61,428	62.6%	-21.3%

Secondly, the result of the ACT election of October 20 was resolved on Friday when the sole remaining Greens MP, Shayne Rattenbury, threw in his lot with Labor in a deal that will bring him into the ministry. The Liberals emerged from the count with the frail bragging right of a 41-vote win on the aggregate primary vote, but Labor achieved equality on seats, having gained a seat from the Greens in the five-member region of Ginninderra. The Liberals gained seats from the Greens in the five-member region of Brindabella and the seven-member region of Molonglo.

AUSTRALIAN CAPITAL TERRITORY ELECTION
October 20, 2012

				Seats	#	%	Swing
Liberal				8 (+2)	86,032	38.9%	+7.3%
Labor				8 (+1)	85,991	38.9%	+1.5%	
Greens				1 (-3)	23,773	10.7%	-4.9%
Others				0 (-)	25,376	11.5%	-3.9%

Formal					221,172	96.5%	+0.3%
Informal				7,953	3.5%	-0.3%
Enrolment/Turnout			256,702	89.3%	-1.1%

Another feature of the election to be noted was the poor performance of the only published opinion poll, conducted by Patterson Market Research and published in the Canberra Times during the last week of the campaign. Patterson has a creditable track record with its large-sample polling, despite lacking the match fitness of outfits like Newspoll and Nielsen. On this occasion however the poll was by orders of magnitude in every direction, overstating Labor and the Greens at the expense of the Liberals and “others”. Cathy Alexander at Crikey reports the Liberals are greatly displeased about the poll, which they believe blunted their momentum. Pollster Keith Patterson defended his work in Saturday’s Canberra Times, and while he is commendably revealing on the question of methodology, the argument that the poll might have been brought unstuck by late shifts in voting intention, possibly initiated by the publication of the poll itself, is not entirely convincing.