Essential Research 2PP+: Coalition 48, Labor 45, undecided 8

Essential Research credits the federal Coalition with a slight lead, as more evidence emerges that Gladys Berejiklian’s embarrassment before ICAC has done her little harm with voters.

As reported by The Guardian, the latest Essential Research poll is one of the quarterly releases in which it unloads its voting intention data from the preceding period. This includes the pollster’s “two-party preferred plus” result, which uses respondent-allocated preferences for minor party and independent voters who indicate such a preference, previous election flows for those that don’t, and does not exclude those who were undecided on the primary vote. This produces a result of Coalition 48%, Labor 45% and 8% undecided. That’s all we have for now, but the full release today should have primary vote and two-party preferred plus results for the pollster’s other five fortnightly polls going back to August, which will reportedly show the Coalition leading in four but Labor ahead in a poll in early September.

Also featured are leadership ratings for the federal leaders, as well as for the state leaders based on what I presume to be small state-level sub-samples. The former record little change on the last such result six weeks ago, with Scott Morrison down one on both approval and disapproval, to 63% and 27% respectively; Anthony Albanese perfectly unchanged at 44% approval and 29% disapproval; and Morrison’s preferred prime minister lead nudging from 49-26 to 50-25.

The state results suggest last week’s unpleasantness has not done Gladys Berejiklian the slightest harm, with her approval rating at 68% – identical to the result of a YouGov poll in the Sunday Telegraph, on which more below. This puts Berejiklian clear of both Daniel Andrews on 54% and Annastacia Palaszczuk on 62%. Mark McGowan is on 84% and Steven Marshall 52%, though here sample sizes get very small indeed. McGowan’s rating is in line with polling elsewhere, but Marshall’s is at odds with the 68% he recorded in a much more robust poll in mid-September.

Other questions focus on the budget, finding 56% expecting it will help Australia recover from the recession and 53% that it will create jobs. However, 58% felt it would create long-term problems needing to be fixed in the future, and 62% believed current government debt and deficit would place “unnecessary burdens on future generations”. Fifty-four per cent felt it “balanced the needs of the genders”, contrary to much media analysis, but 45% thought it put the interests of younger Australians ahead of older people compared with 34% who thought it balanced. Forty-two per cent thought it put the interests of businesses ahead of employers, compared with 14% for vice-versa.

UPDATE: Full report here. The latest primary vote numbers are Coalition 38%, Labor 35%, Greens 9% and One Nation 4%, which becomes Coalition 41.3%, Labor 38.0%, Greens 9.8% and One Nation 4.3% if the 8% undecided are excluded, which would actually suggest a very slight two-party lead to Labor on 2019 election preference flows.

In other news:

• The aforementioned YouGov poll in the Sunday Telegraph had Gladys Berejiklian at 68% approval and 26% disapproval, and found 60% support for her to remain as Premier, with only 29% saying she should resign. Forty-nine per cent said she had done nothing wrong, compared with 36% who felt otherwise. Thirty-six per cent were more likely to vote Coalition if Berejiklian was Premier, compared with 22% less likely and 42% no difference. The poll was conducted Friday and Saturday from a sample of 836.

• Sunday’s Nine News bulletin had grim polling for federal Labor in two of its most marginal seats, showing the Coalition leading 51.2% to 27.9% on the primary vote in Macquarie and 53.2% to 31.1% in Dobell. The poll was conducted by the Redbridge Group, which also had bad seat polling for Labor in August. However, it should be noted that the pollster is careful not to stake its reputation on its voting intention polling, with Samaras having observed that “Labor and the National Party always under-report in telephone surveys because they generally have a larger number of supporters who are difficult to engage”.

• I had a paywalled piece in Crikey yesterday considering the implications of Saturday’s results in New Zealand and the Australian Capital Territory.

Around the traps

As the government approaches the middle of its term, the first sighting of early election speculation in the wild.

Dennis Shanahan of The Australian reckons “two basic assumptions are driving the economic and political debate in 2021”, and that one of these is that there will be an election late next year. The other is that COVID-19 restrictions will start to ease in the coming months; “neither is certain”. The government’s election window opens in the middle of the year, at which point the Senators given six-year terms after the 2016 double dissolution will enter the final year of the terms, the period in which the half-Senate election to replace them may be held.

That will do as a kick-off for a new open thread, which is needed because there are so many other posts flying around at the moment. For convenience, these include:

• Adrian Beaumont’s New Zealand live election count post, which will begin in earnest when polls close at 7pm New Zealand time and 5pm Australian eastern daylight time – to be followed an hour later by my own live commentary post on the Australian Territory election. And if you’re a Crikey subscriber, you can read my collective preview of the two here.

• Also from Adrian Beaumont, a review of the US situation.

• A post on a Newspoll result showing Labor leading 52-48 in Queensland.

• Another post on the Queensland campaigning detailing relevant recent developments.

• A post on a Ten News uComms poll from New South Wales showing strong support for Gladys Berejiklian.

Two polls and a by-election date

Daniel Andrews continues to keep his head above water, despite waning patience with Victoria’s lockdown measures.

Opinion poll and by-election developments:

• Roy Morgan has published another of its SMS polls from Victoria, which records little change on state voting intention from a fortnight ago: Labor leads 51.5-48.5 on two-party preferred, as they did last time, from primary votes of Labor 40% (up one), Coalition 36% (down one) and Greens 9% (down one). Daniel Andrews records a 59-41 approval/disapproval split, in from 61-39 last time. However, support for existing lockdown measures is fast dissipating: there is now a 73-27 split in favour of allowing visits to immediate family members (out from 59-41 last time and 55-45 three weeks previously); 62-38 in favour of allowing table service (56-44 in favour last time and 63-37 against the time before); and 72-28 in favour of relaxing the five kilometre rule (61-39 in favour last time, 50-50 the time before). The poll was conducted Monday and Tuesday from a sample of 899 for voting intention and 1163 for the lockdown questions.

• The Australian had results from a further question on the weekend’s Newspoll yesterday, which found 54% were more concerned about moving too quickly to relax lockdowns and restrictions, down two from mid-September, and 43% were more concerned about moving too slowly at the expense of the economy, jobs and mental wellbeing (up four).

• The date for the Groom by-election has been set at November 28.

Newspoll: 52-48 to Coalition

A middlingly good reaction to the budget according to Newspoll, which does not record significant changes on voting intention or leadership approval from three weeks ago.

The latest Newspoll in The Australian has the Coalition leading 52-48, out from 51-49 last time, from primary votes of Coalition 44% (up one), Labor 34% (steady), Greens 11% (down one) and One Nation 3% (steady). Scott Morrison’s personal ratings are unchanged at 65% approval and 31% disapproval, while Anthony Albanese is steady on 39% approval and up three on disapproval to 43%. Morrison’s lead on preferred prime minister nonetheless narrows slightly, from 59-27 to 57-28.

The poll shows a broadly favourable response to the budget, which is rated good for the economy by 42% and bad by 20%, compared with 44% and 18% last year – although a lot more of the favourable response is merely quite good (35% compared with 29% last year) rather than extremely good (7% compared with 15%). Twenty-six per cent expect it will make them better off financially compared with 23% for worse off and 51% for uncommitted, which is less strong than last year (34% better off and 19% worse off) but fairly strong by historical standards.

Troublingly for Labor, 54% expressed more trust in “a Coalition government led by Scott Morrison” to “guide Australia’s recovery” compared with 32% for “a Labor government led by Anthony Albanese”, and only 33% felt Labor would have done a better job on the budget compared with 49% for a worse job. This compares with 37% and 45% last year and is their weakest net result since the Coalition came to power in 2013, although it’s within the error margin of 2015, 2016 and 2017.

The poll was conducted Wednesday to Saturday from a sample of 1527.

Groom at the top

Eight LNP candidates nominate to fill John McVeigh’s vacancy in the Queensland seat of Groom; and the federal government says it will act to retain the Northern Territory’s two seats in the House of Representatives.

Miscellaneous developments from the past week:

• The Toowoomba Chronicle reports eight candidates have nominated for Liberal National Party preselection for the Groom by-election, of whom the front-runners are Rebecca Vonhoff, a Toowoomba councillor; Garth Hamilton, a businessman; Sara Hales, former general manager of Wellcamp Airport; and Shane Charles, former Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise chief executive. Also in the field are “Elders Rural Services’ Andrew Meara … race car driver Daniel Cassidy, Australian Lot Feeders president Bryce Camm and Doctor David van Gend”, the latter being a firebrand social conservative whom the outgoing member, John McVeigh, defeated for preselection when he succeeded Ian Macfarlane in 2016. Notably absent from the list is Senator Matt Canavan, despite a decision by the state executive to leave it to the branch membership whether the seat should go to a Liberal, as it has since 1988, or a National. The date of the by-election is yet to be confirmed.

• Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said on Thursday that the government would introduce a bill that will ensure the Northern Territory retains its two seats in the House of Representatives, though by what mechanism is unclear. A Labor-sponsored bill currently before the Senate provides a crude guarantee of a second Northern Territory seat (without extending the courtesy to the Australian Capital Territory, albeit that its population is such that the question does not arise), but when the same issue emerged before the 2004 election, it was dealt with through a technical tweak to the population statistics used to determine seat entitlements. The bottom line is that the Labor-held seats of Solomon and Lingiari, created when the territory first became entitled to a second seat in 2001 and respectively covering Darwin and the rest of the territory, will continue to exist despite enrolments of less than two-thirds the national norm. It also means the House of Representatives

• The Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters is conducting an inquiry into the “future conduct of elections operating during times of emergency situations”, encompassing “restrictions arising from a health pandemic”, “access to polling places during times of natural disasters”, “other potential drivers of social restrictions, such as future civil unrest, or international conflict” and “alternative voting methods including early, remote and postal voting”.

• The West Australian has a Painted Dog Research poll of 932 respondents in WA showing 64% want the state’s hard border maintained beyond December, with 36% favouring a resumption of travel with the eastern states.Hou

Essential Research budget expectations polling

Mixed messages on the imminent federal budget, plus polling from WA on border closures and secession.

The most interesting poll of the day is YouGov’s Queensland state poll, which you can read about here, but we do also have some results from the fortnightly Essential Research poll courtesy of The Guardian, focusing on expectations for the budget. Fifty-one per cent of respondents expected it would benefit the well off and 30% expected it would benefit those on low incomes, but only 25% thought it would benefit them personally. Thirty-five per cent expected it would be good for the economy compared with 31% for bad.

More interestingly, 78% signed on to the proposition that now was a good time to “explore new ways to run the economy”, with only 22% opposed. Sixty-nine per cent favoured “direct investment by government in job creation and in projects with the objective of improving living standards” when it was offered as an alternative to “deregulation to encourage employment and tax cuts for wealthy Australians”, which some may consider a false binary. The full report should be out later today.

In other poll news, The West Australian has been dealing out further results from the poll of 3500 respondents that recorded a 16% swing on state voting intention to Labor – remembering that this was a poll of five selected marginal seats, and not of the entire state. The poll found support for Western Australia’s hard border at 77% with 14% opposed, and support for secession at 28% and opposition at 55%, with 17% somehow unclear of their opinion.

UPDATE: Full results from Essential Research poll are available on the website, although there isn’t the usual PDF file at this point. Regular questions on COVID-19 suggest a softening of concern over the past fortnight, with very concerned down six to 30%, quite concerned up seven to 52%, not that concerned steady on 15% and not at all concerned down one to 4%. Perceptions of government performance in response are little changed, with the federal government on 60% good (down one) and 18% poor (steady), and good ratings for state governments on 65% in New South Wales (down two), 45% in Victoria (down two) 69% in Queensland (up one), 83% in Western Australia (down one) and 81% in South Australia (steady), with due regard to the small sub-sample sizes here.

UPDATE 2: PDF file here.