Resolve Strategic: Coalition 39, Labor 31, Greens 10

Another idiosyncratic set of voting intention numbers from the Age/Herald pollster, suggesting the Coalition would again be returned with a small majority.

The Age/Herald has published its monthly federal voting intention poll from Resolve Strategic, which appeared online yesterday and in print today. The series remains an outlier in its soft reading of support for Labor, who are down one point on the primary vote to 31%, with the Coalition also down one to 39% and the Greens down two on 10%.

With the main players all down, “others” has shot up four points to 7%, which if nothing else about this poll is consistent with this week’s Newspoll – perhaps suggesting that Clive Palmer’s expensive efforts to win support from lockdown skeptics may be having an impact. One Nation also enjoys a mini-surge, up two points to 4%. The remaining 9%, down one on last month, goes to “independents”, which the pollster contentiously includes as a distinct option despite uncertainty as to what candidates voters in most seats will have available to them at the election.

The pollster does not produce its own two-party results, but if preference flows from 2019 are applied to the primary votes, they come out with a Coalition lead of nearly 52-48 – quite unlike Newspoll’s and Roy Morgan’s Labor leads of 53-47 and 52.5-47.5. Anticipating a lively reaction from the Twitter mob, the accompanying report offers the following note of explanation:

The Resolve survey uses a different methodology from others. There is no “undecided” category because Resolve asks voters to nominate their primary votes in the same way they fill in their ballot papers for the lower house at an election. This means the final Resolve tables do not exclude the “uncommitted” group, which can be about 8 per cent of all respondents. There is no “uncommitted” cohort. Respondents have to choose an option.

As usual, breakdowns are offered for the three largest states (they used to have Western Australia as well, but seem to have dropped it now), which suggest a Coalition lead in New South Wales that has grown from around 51-49 last month to 53.5-46.5. In Victoria, the implication is of a stable Labor lead of around 51.5-48.5. In Queensland, however, Labor has done quite a bit better than a particularly bad result last month, suggesting a Coalition lead of 53-47 rather than 58.5-41.5, while tanking in “rest of Australia”, where both major parties lose share to independents and others.

On personal ratings, both leaders are up three on approval and down one on disapproval: Scott Morrison to 49% approval (by which I mean a combined very good and good result) and 45% disapproval (ditto for very poor and poor), Anthony Albanese to 31% and 46%. Morrison’s lead as preferred prime minister narrows from 46-23 to 45-26. I don’t normally pay much attention to breakdowns on leadership ratings, but it may be worth nothing that Albanese has a 30% undecided rating among women compared with 16% among men.

The poll was conducted Tuesday to Saturday from a sample of 1606. At some point in the future, I will take a deeper look at the pollster’s peculiarities relative to its rivals. Tomorrow we should get its bi-monthly read on state voting intention in New South Wales, combining results from this month’s and last month’s surveys.

Newspoll: 53-47 to Labor

Both federal leaders at low ebbs, but little change on voting intention from the latest Newspoll.

The Australian reports the latest Newspoll credits Labor with a two-party lead of 53-47, down from 54-46 in the last poll three weeks ago, from primary votes of Coalition 37% (up one), Labor 38% (down two), Greens 10% (steady) and One Nation 3% (steady). On personal ratings, Scott Morrison records his weakest results since his early pandemic bounce in March last year, with approval down three to 46% and disapproval up three to 50%, but Anthony Albanese also records his weakest net rating to date, with approval down three to 37% and disapproval up one to 48%. Morrison’s lead as preferred prime minister has narrowed from 50-34 to 47-35. No hard details yet, but the poll will have been conducted Wednesday to Saturday from a sample of between 1500 and 1600.

UPDATE (21/9): As reported in The Australian today, it turns out the poll had a larger-than-usual sample of 2144, which was done to produce sufficient sub-samples from the three largest states for meaningful results on the performance of state leaders. On personal ratings, Daniel Andrews leads the field with 64% approval and 35% disapproval, with Gladys Berejiklian (56% approval and 40% approval) and Annastacia Palaszczuk (57% approval and 38% disapproval) similarly placed. Separate questions on handling of COVID-19 give Berejiklian (56% good, 41% bad) and Andrews (63% and 35%) results almost identical to their personal ratings, whereas Palaszczuk does quite a lot better at 67% well and 31% badly.

We also learn that Scott Morrison’s personal ratings are strong in Queensland (56% approval and 41% disapproval), neutral in New South Wales (46% and 49%) and weak in Victoria (41% and 57%). Morrison is deemed to have handled COVID-19 well by 48% out of the national sample and badly by 49%, reflecting no change since the question was last posted in August. This breaks down to 47% well and 49% badly in New South Wales, 40% and 58% in Victoria and 61% and 36% in Queensland. Fifty-three per cent express more concern with moving too fast on relaxing restrictions compared with 42% for too slow, compared with 62% and 34% when the question was last asked in late January.

Morgan: 52.5-47.5 to Labor

Some better numbers for the Morrison government, on voting intention from Roy Morgan and COVID-19 management from Essential Research.

Roy Morgan put out its now regular fortnightly poll of federal voting intention yesterday, which has Labor’s two-party lead at 52.5-47.5, down from 54.5-45.5 on a fortnight ago and its narrowest result in two months. On the primary vote, the Coalition is up one to 38.5% (I believe the Morgan release is incorrect when it puts it at 39.5%, which would be up by two and is different from the headline), Labor is down three-and-a-half to 35%, the Greens are up one-and-a-half to 13% and One Nation is steady on 3%.

The state two-party breakdowns have Labor leading 54-46 in New South Wales (out from 53-47 in the last poll, and a swing of around 6% compared with the 2019 election), 57-43 in Victoria (in from 59.5-40.5, a swing of around 4%) 51.5-48.5 in South Australia (in from 57.5-42.5, a swing of around 1%) and 55.5-44.5 in Tasmania (in from 63.5-36.5, a slight swing to the Liberals), while the Coalition leads 54-46 in Queensland (out from 53.5-46.5, a swing to Labor of around 4.5%) and 53-47 in Western Australia (out from 51-49, a swing of around 2.5% — and the Coalition’s best data point from this state all year). The poll was conducted online and by phone over the last two weekends from a sample of 2753.

Also out today was the regular Essential Research survey, containing neither voting intention nor leadership ratings on this occasion. The regular results on federal and state governments’ handling of COVID-19 is included as always, which record improvement for both the federal government and the governments of New South Wales and Victoria. The federal government’s good rating is up four to 43% and its poor rating is down one to 35%; the New South Wales government’s good rating is up six to 46%; and the Victorian government’s good rating is up six to 50%. For the other states with their small sample sizes, Queensland’s good rating is down two to 65%, Western Australia’s is up nine to 87% and South Australia’s is down nine to 67%.

Further questions from the survey suggest Western Australians and to a lesser extent Queenslanders are firmly of the view that states without outbreaks should be able to keep their borders closed for as long as they think necessary (67% and 55% respectively), but that only a minority of those in New South Wales and Victoria do so (28% and 31%). Interestingly though, only 26% of all respondents said they understood and had confidence in the plan specifically attributed to Scott Morrison, while 39% said they understood it and didn’t have confidence in it. The Essential Research poll was conducted Wednesday to Sunday from a sample of 1100.

Note also that today is the day of California’s gubernatorial recall election, on which Adrian Beaumont will provide live updates in the post below.

Weekend developments

Joel Fitzgibbon calls it a day, and other federal preselection news.

The opinion poll schedule for the week is likely to consist of the fortnightly Essential Research, which is not due to include the monthly leadership numbers and should thus be of limited interest (unless it includes their occasional dump of fortnightly voting intention results), and presumably a Roy Morgan voting intention poll on Wednesday.

For the time being, there is the following:

The Australian reports that Labor MP Joel Fitzgibbon will bow out at the election, creating a vacancy in his seat of Hunter, where his margin was slashed from 12.5% to 3.0% at last year’s election with One Nation polling 21.6%. There is no indication as to who might succeed him as Labor candidate, except that “NSW Right figures (are) concerned Hunter could be lost to the faction and go to someone from the left-aligned CFMEU or the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union”.

• There would seem to be no suggestion that the vacancy in Hunter might change the calculus behind Kristina Keneally’s controversial move to Fowler, which was criticised over the weekend by her federal Labor colleague Anne Aly, along with many others inside and outside the party. However, Michelle Grattan in The Conversation notes that the arrangement does not of itself deprive the local party membership of a preselection ballot, since a clause in the state party rules specific to Fowler enshrines the seat as the gift of the Right as a legacy of past branch-stacking controversies.

The West Australian reports on two further preselection challenges to sitting Liberals in Western Australia, on top of that facing Ian Goodenough in Moore from Vince Connelly after the abolition of his seat of Stirling. In Swan, where Steve Irons would appear to have his work cut out for him in defending a 3.2% margin, the challenger is Kristy McSweeney, a Sky News commentator, former adviser to Tony Abbott and daughter of former state MP Robyn McSweeney. McSweeney earlier contested preselection for the once safe but now Labor-held seat of Bateman ahead of the state election in March. In the much safer seat of Durack, Melissa Price will be challenged by Busselton councillor Jo Barrett-Lennard. For what it’s worth, The Age columnist Jon Faine today tells us to “watch out to see if former attorney-general Christian Porter opts for a spot on the Federal Court on the cusp of the election, rather than face probable defeat in his outer-suburban Perth electorate” – namely Pearce, where redistribution has cut the margin from 7.5% to 5.2%.

• As those who followed the post below will be aware, Labor recorded a strong result in the Northern Territory’s Daly by-election, with their candidate Dheran Young leading the count over Kris Civitarese of the Country Liberal Party by 1905 (55.8%) to 1506 (44.2%) with only a handful of votes left outstanding. This amounts to a 7.0% swing compared with the election last August, at which the CLP won the seat by 1.2%. It is the first time a government party has ever won a seat from the opposition at a by-election in the territory, and first time anywhere in Australia since the Benalla by-election in Victoria in May 2000.

Crying Fowler

A plan to move Kristina Keneally from the Senate to the western Sydney seat of Fowler looks set to solve one problem for Labor while creating another. Also featured: a Senate vacancy and a state poll from South Australia.

Before we proceed, please note a) the post below on electoral developments in California, Canada and Germany courtesy of Adrian Beaumont, and b) the fact that tomorrow is the day of the by-election for the Northern Territory seat of Daly, where the Country Liberal Party is defending a margin of 1.2%.

Now to the week’s big item of federal election news, which is that Kristina Keneally is set to be parachuted from her current position in the Senate to the western Sydney seat of Fowler, which will be vacated with the retirement of Chris Hayes, who holds it on a 14.0% margin. The Australian reports this will be accomplished by fiat of head office, without a ballot of local party members.

Moving Keneally to the House of Representatives resolves a difficulty arising from the 2016 double dissolution, at which three of the four elected Labor Senators were allocated full terms of six years, which will expire in the middle of next year. This includes two members of the Right – Sam Dastyari, whom Kristina Keneally replaced after his resignation in February 2018, and Deborah O’Neill – and Jenny McAllister of the Left. Since factional arrangements reserve second position on the ticket for the Left, either O’Neill or Keneally faced delegation to third position, which has not been a winning proposition for Labor at a half-Senate election since 2007. As reported in the Sydney Morning Herald, the power of O’Neill’s backers in the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association appears likely to secure her the top spot, although The Australian cites unidentified Keneally supporters saying she was confident of beating her.

The use of Fowler as a backstop for Keneally comes with the substantial difficulty that the electorate boasts the nation’s highest proportion of non-English speakers, in large part owing to the presence within it of the Vietnamese enclave of Cabramatta. As such, Labor appeared to have a promising successor lined up in Tu Le, a 30-year-old lawyer and daughter of Vietnamese refugees. By contrast, Keneally lives in a $1.8 million property in Sydney’s northern beaches. Le had the backing of Hayes and, according to another source cited by The Australian, would have won a rank-and-file ballot if one were held. The ABC reports senior front-bencher Tony Burke shares Hayes’ displeasure at the development, although it also notes that others in the Right felt Hayes “had no right to try to act as a kingmaker or name his replacement publicly”.

In other Labor preselection news, Tom Richardson of InDaily reports the South Australian Senate vacancy created by the death of Alex Gallacher last week is likely to be filled by Karen Grogan, national political coordinator with the United Workers Union and convenor of the state branch’s Left faction. According to the report, a Senate seat was set to pass from Right to Left in the factional deals arising from the abolition of the federal seat of Port Adelaide at the 2019 election. Gallacher’s death may have had the effect of preserving Steve Georganas’s position in the seat of Adelaide, which might otherwise have been used to create the requisite vacancy by providing a refuge for Right-aligned Senator Marielle Smith.

Also from South Australia, the Australia Institute has published a Dynata poll of state voting intention, although it was conducted back in July from a modest sample of 599. It suggests Steven Marshall’s Liberal government might struggle at the March election, recording 38% support to 34% for Labor, 10% for the Greens, 5% for SA Best and 12% for the rest.

Spring cleaning

A little on election timing, a lot on federal preselections, and yet more polling on climate change and COVID-19.

Josh Butler of the New Daily reports Barnaby Joyce has “dropped hints to an election being called in January, to be held in the first quarter of next year”, while Scott Morrison apparently told the Liberal party room the election would “come around sooner than we think”. However, it appears to have been made clear that this doesn’t mean the election will be this year, consistent with Joyce’s prognosis.

Here’s what we do know, specifically regarding the parties’ recent candidate preselection efforts:

The West Australian reports Vince Connelly, the Liberal member for the soon-to-be-abolished northern Perth seat of Stirling, will challenge fellow incumbent Ian Goodenough in the neighbouring seat of Moore, rather than pursue Labor-held Cowan as previously indicated. Goodenough is noted for his successes in recruiting members of Pentecostal churches to local party branches and featured heavily in the machinations of the factional grouping known as “The Clan”, whose extensive WhatsApp discussions have now been published in full by The West Australian. The Sunday Times reported yesterday that Connelly’s move had angered unidentified “senior” Liberals, who must be privy to polling remarkably different from any available to the public, since they appear to believe he should be able to win Cowan from Labor.

• A Liberal National Party preselection held last weekend for Dawson, which will be vacated with the retirement of George Christensen, was won by Andrew Willcox, former tomato farmer and mayor of Whitsunday. Willcox won a local party ballot ahead of Chris Bonanno, a Mackay councillor and unsuccessful candidate for the state seat of Mackay last year, and Charles Pasquale, a Burdekin farmer. Meanwhile, the Courier-Mail reports Henry Pike has been endorsed by the LNP state executive to succeed Andrew Laming as candidate for Bowman, which would appear to put to rest suggestions he might be elbowed aside despite having won the local party ballot.

• Labor has finalised candidates in several of the theoretically winnable Queensland seats currently held by the Liberal National Party: Rebecca Fanning, a Queensland government health policy adviser, in Longman (margin 3.3%); Elida Faith, local president of the Queensland Council of Unions and unsuccessful candidate in 2019, in Leichhardt (4.2%); Madonna Jarrett, a director at Deloitte Australia, in Brisbane (4.9%); Mike Denton, Australian Workers Union delegate and Caltex Lytton oil refinery worker, in Petrie (8.4%); and Rowan Holzberger, electorate officer to Senator Murray Watt, in Forde (8.6%).

• Labor also has candidates in place for the two Liberal-held seats in Tasmania, both of which it held before 2019. Bass will again be contested by Ross Hart, who held it from 2016 to 2019 and has since been the principal of a Launceston law firm, while Braddon will be contested by Chris Lynch, Burnie councillor and project co-ordinator at the St Giles Society, a charity assisting the disabled.

• Tracey Roberts, who has spent 10 years as the mayor of Wanneroo, has been endorsed as Labor’s candidate in Christian Porter’s northern Perth seat of Pearce.

Tom Richardson of InDaily reports Louise Miller-Frost, state chief executive of the St Vincent de Paul Society, is “set to receive cross-factional support” to become Labor’s candidate for the marginal Adelaide seat of Boothby, which will be vacated with the retirement of Liberal member Nicolle Flint.

Finally, as we head into what will likely be a quiet-to-silent week on the opinion poll front, a fair and balanced selection of privately conducted polling:

• Polling on the importance of climate change as an election issue and the future use of fossil fuels, conducted for the Australian Conservation Foundation by YouGov from a sample of 15,000, has been published in the form of interactive maps by the Age/Herald. These show results at electorate level, presumably from around 100 respondents each.

• The Centre for Independent Studies has published a survey it commissioned from YouGov concerning “attitudes to a post-Covid Australia”, conducted in early August from a sample of 1029. The libertarian think tank’s take on the results, which are in line with those of a similar exercise conducted by the same pollster for The Australian last week, is that “we are a nation of ‘Karens’ tut-tutting over people not following ‘the rules’”. While it took fine parsing of small sub-samples to get there, the report observes that Coalition voters were the most likely to support “government restrictions on civil liberties because of the pandemic” in New South Wales, whereas Labor voters were markedly more so in Victoria.

Morgan: 54.5-45.5 to Labor

Labor maintains its strong lead in the latest Roy Morgan federal poll, while EMRS finds the state Liberals still well on top in Tasmania.

Roy Morgan published its regular fortnightly (for so it now seems) federal voting intention poll on Wednesday, which recorded an incremental improvement for Labor on their already strong previous result. Labor was credited with a lead of 54.5-45.5 on two-party preferred, out from 54-46 last time, from primary votes of Coalition 37.5% (steady), Labor 38.5% (up one), Greens 11.5% (down one) and One Nation 3% (down half).

Two-party state breakdowns are included as usual, showing Labor leading in New South Wales with 53% (a swing of about 5% compared with the 2019 election, and a gain of one point since the previous poll), in Victoria with 59.5% (a swing of about 6.5%, and a loss of half a point), in Western Australia with 51% (a swing of about 6.5%, and a loss of three-and-a-half points), in South Australia with 57.5% (a swing of about 9%, and a gain of three points) and in Tasmania with 63.5% (a swing of about 7.5%, and a gain of six-and-a-half points. The Coalition’s only lead is in Queensland with 53.5%, a gain of 1.5% since the previous poll but a swing to Labor of around 5% compared with 2019.

The poll was conducted over the past two weekends from a sample of 2735. Assuming this was divided between the states in proportion to population, sub-samples would have ranged from nearly 900 in New South Wales to less than 100 in Tasmania.

Speaking of Tasmania, the first EMRS poll of voting intention in that state since the May election was published yesterday, although it does not capture the impact of the latest developments in the David O’Byrne saga, having been conducted from August 7 to 9. The result is almost identical to that of the election, with the Liberals on 49% (48.7% at the election), Labor on 28% (28.2%) and the Greens on 13% (12.4%). Newly restored Labor leader Rebecca White trails Peter Gutwein 59-29 as preferred premier, compared with 61-26 in the pre-election poll in February. The poll was conducted by phone from a sample of 1000.

Essential Research and YouGov COVID polling

Support for vaccine passports as a way out of COVID restrictions, but existing lockdowns in New South Wales and Victoria retain strong support for now.

Two fairly meaty items of attitudinal polling on COVID-19 today, starting with the fortnightly Essential Research poll, which also included its monthly leadership ratings. Scott Morrison’s ratings were hardly changed, with approval steady at 50% and disapproval up one to 41%, while Anthony Albanese’s were slightly improved, with approval up three to 37% and disapproval down two to 36%. Morrison’s lead as preferred prime minister nonetheless widened slightly, from 45-26 to 47-26. Offered a choice between the proposition that the government deserved to be re-elected and that it was “time to give someone else a go”, respondents favoured the latter over the former by 41% over 36%, which sits well with the tenor of recent voting intention polling.

On COVID-19 management, the federal government’s good rating was down two to 39% and its bad rating was up one to 36%. Of the state governments with almost meaningful sample sizes, the good rating of the New South Wales government was down two to 40%, that of the Victorian government tumbled 12 points to 44%, and the Queensland government was up a point to 67%. Of those with entirely inadequate sample sizes, the Western Australian government’s good rating was down nine to 78% and South Australia’s was up eight to 76%.

A series of questions on COVID-19 strategy produced the rather striking finding that 61% favoured the low-ball option of “less than 100 deaths per year” when asked how many would be “acceptable to ‘live with’ in Australia as lockdown restrictions are removed”. Furthermore, current lockdown restrictions remain strongly supported, with 56% in New South Wales and 57% in Victoria considering their states’ settings to be “about right”. However, the balance is tipping towards them being thought too strong, at 28% and 35% respectively, compared with too weak, at 16% and 8% respectively.

Another question found only 12% favoured Australia living with COVID-19 “even if there are hospitalisations and deaths”, compared with 44% apeice who favoured a near-zero policy and living with a few cases “even if there are hospitalisations and deaths”. There were notable differences between the lockdown states and the others: 38% in New South Wales and 37% in Victoria favoured a near-zero strategy, compared with 50% in Queensland, 51% in South Australia and 59% in Western Australia. The poll was conducted Wednesday to Sunday from a sample of 1100.

Also out today through the News Corp papers is a large-sample survey on COVID-19 conducted by YouGov, results from which can be viewed in The Australian here. This featured a number of questions on how things should be “when everyone has the opportunity to be fully vaccinated”, which 41% thought should mean an end to lockdowns, although a not inconsiderable 37% felt otherwise. Respondents from Western Australia were most pro-lockdown, those from New South Wales and Victoria least so. Younger respondents and parents of children in school were more likely to be pro-lockdown; those who did not wish to be vaccinated, accounting for 13% of the total sample, were most opposed.

The poll similarly found that 66% would eventually favour French-style vaccine passports for a range of public activities; 63% state borders being kept open only for the vaccinated; and 68% likewise with respect to overseas travel. Only 23% were opposed to the notion that employers should be able to demand their staff be vaccinated, compared with 69% who supported it for “frontline or public-facing jobs”, inclusive of 45% who thought it should be allowed across the board. Clear majorities were in favour of compulsory vaccinations for aged-care workers, nurses, school staff, public transport workers, take-away restaurant and food delivery workers, public servants and hospitality workers, and opinion was about evenly divided for construction workers and tradies.

Respondents were also given a choice between uncompromising anti-lockdown (“lockdowns should be ended immediately”) and pro-lockdown (“lockdowns must be part of Australia’s future until COVID-19 is completely eliminated”) positions and the much looser middle-ground option that “vaccination is the pathway to ending lockdowns”, which when you put it like that gets respective results of 14%, 22% and 64%. The survey was conducted by YouGov from August 20 to 25 from a sample of 3114.