New South Wales election one more time

Final results for the New South Wales Legislative Council: David Leyonhjelm of the Liberal Democrats misses out, Mark Latham has company with a second One Nation member elected, Animal Justice gains a second seat, and a nearly four decade winning streak ends for the Christian Democrats.

No details results yet that I’m aware of, but the button has been pushed on the New South Wales upper house count, and the last two seats that seemed in doubt to me at the time of my previous post on Wednesday have gone to One Nation’s second candidate and Animal Justice’s first. Those in the hunt who missed out are, notably, David Leyonhjelm of the Liberal Democrats, along with the Christian Democrats, who together with their predecessor Call to Australia had hitherto won a seat at every election since 1981, and Keep Sydney Open.

The overall result is eight seats for the Coalition, seven for Labor, two for the Greens and One Nation and one each for Shooters Fishers and Farmers and Animal Justice. Combined with the 21 members carrying over from the previous election, the numbers in the Legislative Council are Coalition 17, Labor 14, Greens four (UPDATE: make that three and one independent, owing to Justin Field’s resignation – hat tip to GhostWhoVotes), One Nation two, Shooters Fishers and Farmers two, Animal Justice two and Christian Democrats one.

UPDATE: Distribution of preferences here.

Newspoll: 52-48 to Labor

The first published opinion poll of the campaign records no change in Labor’s modest yet decisive lead.

The Australian brings us a second Newspoll in consecutive weeks, perhaps portending weekly results from now to the election. It shows no change from last week on two-party preferred, with Labor maintaining its 52-48 lead, but both major parties are up on the primary vote – Labor by two and the Coalition by one, leaving them tied on 39%. The Greens are steady on 9% and One Nation are, interestingly, down two to 4%. All we are told of the leaders’ ratings at this stage is that they are “virtually unchanged”. Scott Morrison is unchanged on 45% approval and up one to 44% disapproval; Bill Shorten is unchanged on both measures, at 37% and 51%; and preferred prime minister is likewise unchanged, at 46-35 in favour of Morrison. The poll was conducted Thursday to Sunday from a sample of 1697.

Election minus five weeks

Candidates on both sides of the aisle drop out of contention, Peter Dutton suffers a self-inflicted wound in Dickson, and Shooters Fishers and Farmers rein in their expectations.

Two days in the campaign, and already much to relate:

• Labor’s audacious gambit of running former Fremantle MP Melissa Parke in Curtin has proved short-lived, after a controversy brewed over comments she had made critical of Israel. Parke announced her withdrawal after the Herald Sun presented the Labor campaign with claims she had told a meeting of WA Labor for Palestine that she could “remember vividly” – presumably not from first-hand experience – a pregnant refugee being ordered to drink bleach at a Gaza checkpoint. Parke is also said to have spoken of Israel’s “influence in our political system and foreign policy”, no doubt bringing to the party hierarchy’s mind the turmoil that has lately engulfed the British Labour Party in relation to such matters. In her statement last night, Parke said her views were “well known, but I don’t want them to be a running distraction from electing a Labor government”. James Campbell of the Herald Sun notes the forum was also attended by Parkes’ successor in Fremantle, Josh Wilson.

• Meanwhile, Liberal Party vetting processes have caused the withdrawal on Section 44 grounds of three candidates in who-cares seats in Melbourne. They are Cooper candidate Helen Jackson, who dug her heels in when told her no-chance candidacy required her to abandon her job at Australia Post, so that the integrity of executive-legislative relations might be preserved; Lalor candidate Kate Oski, who is in danger of being Polish; and Wills candidate Vaishali Ghosh, who was, as The Age put it in a report I hope no one from overseas reads, “forced to step aside over her Indian heritage”.

• Peter Dutton has been under fire for his rhetorical overreach against Ali France, the Labor candidate in his marginal seat of Dickson. Dutton accused France, who had her leg amputated after being hit by a car in 2011, of “using her disability as an excuse” for not moving into the electorate. France lives a short distance outside it, and points to the $100,000 of her compensation money she has spent making her existing home fully wheelchair accessible. Labor has taken the opportunity to point to Dutton’s failed attempt from 2009 to move to the safer seat of McPherson on the Gold Coast, where he owns a $2.3 million beachside holiday home, and by all accounts spends a great deal of his time. Dutton refused to apologise for the comments yesterday, while Scott Morrison baselessly asserted that they were taken out of context.

Greg Brown of The Australian reports Robert Borsak, leader of Shooters Fishers and Farmers and one of the party’s state upper house MPs, concedes the party is struggling to recruit candidates, and will not repeat its state election feat of winning seats in the lower house. Nonetheless, it has Orange deputy mayor Sam Romano lined up as its candidate for Calare and plans to run in Eden-Monaro, Parkes and possibly New England. This follows suggestions the party might pose a threat to the Nationals in Parkes and Farrer, which largely correspond with the state seats of Barwon and Murray, which the party won at last month’s state election. Calare encompasses Orange, which Shooters have held since a November 2016 by-election.

• “I don’t trust our polling at all”, says “a senior federal Liberal MP” cited by John Ferguson in The Australian, apropos the party’s prospects in Victoria. It is not clear if the source was being optimistic or pessimistic, but the report identifies a range of opinion within the Liberal camp extending from only two or three losses in Victoria – likewise identified as a “worst case scenario” by Labor sources – to as many as seven.

BludgerTrack: 52.6-47.4 to Labor

With the final pre-campaign polls added, the poll aggregate records a continuation of the improvement in the Coalition’s position that has been evident for some time, rather than anything that might be called a “budget bounce”.

The BludgerTrack poll aggregate has been updated with the three post-budget polls from Newspoll, Ipsos and Essential Research, the combined effect of which is to reduce Labor’s two-party lead from 52.9-47.1 to 52.6-47.4. There’s also a fair bit going on within the state breakdowns – in fact, probably too much.

The recovery the Liberals believe they are detecting in New South Wales is well and truly coming through on BludgerTrack, albeit that Labor is still credited with a net gain of two seats there. A significant improvement has also been recorded in the Coalition’s position recently in Western Australia, although here too Labor is credited with a net gain of two seats. What we’re not seeing any sign of is the improved position the Coalition claims to be seeing in Queensland, where reports have suggested they are now hopeful of breaking even by gaining Herbert and limiting the damage in the south-east. BludgerTrack is stubbornly detecting a swing to Labor in the strategically crucial state of over 6%, translating into a gain of nine seats.

I would be a lot more confident of all this if I had more data at state level, which I’m hoping Ipsos might publish in due course – they appeared to have adopted the Newspoll practice last year of publishing quarterly state breakdowns, but we didn’t see one for October-December and are now due one for January-March. I’ve been trying to chase this up and will keep you posted.

Newspoll and Ipsos both provided new data for the leadership ratings, which are now detecting an uptick in Scott Morrison’s personal ratings, although the picture remains fairly static on preferred prime minister. All of which you can learn more about through the link below.

TECHNICAL NOTE/APPEAL FOR HELP: I’m hoping those of my readers who know their way around web programming might help me resolve an irritating niggle that’s been bedevilling the BludgerTrack display for some time. Namely, that the state breakdown tabs tend not to work, particularly when the page is first loaded. My own experience is that it requires a hard refresh before they will respond. Tablet users, I am told, can’t even do that well.

Based on my research, it would seem to be that the problem lies with the following bit of Ajax code. If anyone thinks they can offer me any pointers here, please get in touch by email at pollbludger-AT-bigpond-DOT-com.

$(document).ready(function() {
cache: false,
type: "GET",
url: "bt-output.xml",
dataType: "xml",
success: xmlParser

No Brexit in near future; Israeli election results

Brexit delayed until October 31, with a review to be held in June. Meanwhile, Benjamin Netanyahu wins re-election in Israel. Guest post by Adrian Beaumont.

Guest post by Adrian Beaumont, who joins us from time to time to provide commentary on elections internationally. Adrian’s work on electoral matters for The Conversation can be found here, and his own website is here.

On April 8, Parliament approved a bill that forced Theresa May to request a Brexit extension, after it had passed the Commons by just one vote on April 3.  On April 9, Theresa May’s proposed extension to June 30 was accepted by 420 votes to 110, though just 131 of the 313 Conservative MPs voted in favour, with the rest either abstaining or voting against.

On April 10, an emergency European leaders’ summit was held.  The 27 European leaders, not including the UK, agreed to delay Brexit until October 31, with a June compliance review, and this extension was accepted by Theresa May.  If the UK passes legislation to enable Brexit, they can get out earlier.  In practice, such an early exit is unlikely, as Labour has little incentive to cooperate with the Conservatives in reaching a deal, and Theresa May’s Brexit deal has no chance of passing the Commons without support from at least 20 Labour MPs (it got five Labour MPs the last time).

Without an early exit, the UK will hold European elections on May 23; these elections will be held in Europe from May 23-26, but Thursday is the UK’s election day.  Local government elections have been scheduled for May 2 for a long time, so the UK will be holding two major elections in three weeks.  Recent polls have had the Conservatives slumping, and these polls were taken before today’s developments.

While the Commons was happier with a long-ish Brexit delay than any other option to resolve Brexit, the public will not be happy with Brexit debate continuing on and on!  A YouGov poll recently gave respondents three options for what should be done by April 12: no-deal Brexit, Remaining or an extension.  No-deal had 40% support, Remain 36% and an extension just 11%.  Most Remain voters will settle for the long-ish extension, but, as I wrote earlier, Leave voters will feel more betrayed than they would had a soft Brexit been agreed, after been told for the last two years that Brexit would occur on March 29.

In December, May won a confidence vote among Conservative MPs by 200 votes to 117.  Under Conservative rules, she has a year’s grace, and cannot be challenged again until this December.  If May will not voluntarily resign, the one way for hard Leavers to remove her would be to join Jeremy Corbyn in voting no-confidence in their own government.  After a successful no-confidence vote, the Commons has 14 days to vote confidence in a new government; if it does not, a new election is required.  The major risk for hard Leavers from this course is that, with the Conservatives bitterly divided, a new election could well lead to PM Corbyn – the ultimate nightmare for the hard right.

If there is a vacancy in the Conservative leadership, MPs winnow the candidates down to two, and the membership decides between those two candidates.  A January poll found that 57% of Conservative members wanted a no-deal Brexit, just 23% backed May’s deal and 15% Remain.  A leadership election would likely result in a hard right MP winning.

Netanyahu wins Israeli election

At the Israeli election held on April 9, Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party won 35 of the 120 Knesset seats (up five since 2015) and the left-leaning Blue & White 35 (up 24).  Explicitly religious and nationalist parties won 26 seats, giving Netanyahu a narrow path to a parliamentary majority even without the centrist Kulanu (four seats), which was part of the last government.  Israeli Labor used to be the dominant party, but fell to just six seats (down 13).  Including Kulanu, the right won 65 of the 120 seats.  This will be Netanyahu’s fourth consecutive term.

The day of the happy event

The false starts and prevarications are set to end this morning with the official announcement of a May 18 federal election.

It’s now a known known that Scott Morrison will be visiting the Governor-General early this morning to advise an election for May 18. Two things to mark the occasion: first, what I’ll call a provisional update of BludgerTrack, since it doesn’t include some state-level data I’m hoping to get hold of today. Adding the post-budget polling from Newspoll, Ipsos and Essential Research, it records a 0.3% improvement for the Coalition on two-party preferred, reducing the Labor lead to 52.6-47.4 from last week. If you observe the trendlines in the display on the sidebar or the full BludgerTrack results page, this shows up as a continuation in an ongoing improvement for the Coalition from their miserable starting point in the immediate aftermath of Malcolm Turnbull’s removal, rather than a “budget bounce”.

Secondly and more importantly, I offer the Poll Bludger’s federal election guide, even if it’s not what I’d entirely regard as ready yet.

Here you will find the most finely appointed Poll Bludger election guide yet published, with exhaustive and exhausting summaries of all 151 House of Representatives, each of which features bells and whistles both familiar (previous election booth results maps and displays of past election results) and new (data visualisation for a range of demographic indicators that now extends to ethnicity on age distribution). A Senate guide remains to be added, the betting odds are yet to be added to the bottom of the sidebars, and the whole thing is badly in need of proof reading. Rest assured though that all that will be taken care of in the days and weeks to come, together with campaign updates and further candidate details as they become available.