Polls: leadership ratings, WA border closure, Australia Day

Scott Morrison’s ratings continue to head in the wrong direction, all and sundry sinking on COVID-19 management, WA voters supportive of the protracted border closure, and the regular annual Australia Day barrage.

Nothing on voting intention, but there’s a bunch of polls around the place, the most useful from my perspective being the first fortnightly Essential Research survey of the year, as it includes the pollster’s monthly leadership ratings. Scott Morrison is at 46% on both approval and disapproval, respectively steady and up two since last month, which is the first time he has failed to record a net positive result since immediately before the onset of the pandemic in March 2020. Anthony Albanese is likewise equal on approval and disapproval, in his case at 39%, with approval down one and disapproval up three. Morrison’s lead as preferred prime minister is at 42-34, in from 42-31 last month and likewise his weakest result since March 2020.

There’s more bad news for Morrison on COVID-19 management, with the federal government recording a net negative result for the first time, its positive rating down six to 35% and negative up six to 38%. There has also been a sharp decline in the positive ratings for every state government except Victoria, most noticeably in the case of Western Australia, where the positive rating is down twelve to a new low of 66%. This remains nineteen points higher than nearest rival Victoria, up four points to 47%. New South Wales is down seventeen to 37%, now the lowest of the five, with Queensland down eleven to 46% and South Australia down fourteen to 43%. The results for the smaller states especially should, as always, be treated with caution here, but the near-uniformity of the sharp downward turn is impressive.

Respondents were also asked if various matters related to COVID-19 were likely to influence their chances of voting Coalition, an exercise I’m dubious about since it’s clear that many party loyalists respond without regard to the fact that their vote choice isn’t in doubt. For what it’s worth, 37% rated themselves less likely on account of Scott Morrison’s recent performance and 19% more likely; 30% and 15% ditto because of recent case numbers; 38% and 12% because of the shortage of rapid antigen tests (note the perversity of being more likely to vote Coalition on this basis); 22% and 19% because of reduced border restrictions; and, in the one net positive result, 23% and 27% for the Novak Djokovic affair.

The poll also finds 37% believe the choices of those who wish not to be vaccinated should be respected versus 63% who don’t, of whom 41% consider the unvaccinated ill-informed and 22% selfish. It was conducted Thursday to Sunday from a sample of 1062.

Various other polling around the place:

• A poll by Painted Dog Research for The West Australian recorded a 71-29 split in favour of the McGowan government’s indefinite postponement of the reopening of the state’s border. Respondents were also offered a poorly framed question as to whether they “agree the McGowan government could have done more to prepare to open up on February 5”, to which 51% agreed and 29% at least purported to disagree, notwithstanding the obvious absurdity of such a position. The poll had a sample of 637 Western Australian respondents; no field work date was provided, though obviously it was done after Thursday’s announcement.

• YouGov has conducted a poll for the News Corp tabloids that covers an extensive range of issues, but not voting intention, results for which are seemingly being published bit by bit (the full questionnaire is here). There have been two reports from this that I’m aware of, one dealing with state government COVID-19 management. Thirty-five per cent of New South Wales respondents rated their government’s performance positively, 28% neutrally and 34% negatively; Victorians, 42%, 21% and 36%; Queenslanders, 61%, 20% and 19%; Western Australians, 85% positively, 6% neutrally and 8% negatively; South Australians, 48%, 29% and 21%; and Tasmanians, 65%, 21% and 11%. Another report related results on election issue salience, in which respondents were asked to pick two issues out of eight, with 58% choosing cost of living, ahead of 37% for health care, 34% for the economy and 32% for climate change. The poll was conducted December 27 to January 10 from an overall sample of 2297, with state sub-samples ranging from 257 in Tasmania to 507 in New South Wales.

The Conversation reports on a Deakin Contemporary History Survey of “a representative, random sample of more than 5,000 Australians” finding that 60% overall believe the current date of Australia Day should be maintained, but with a clear age effect in which 53% of those born 1986 or later felt otherwise, with 46% favouring no change.

• According to an AAP report, a CoreData survey of 1292 respondents finds more than 80% of those under 26 and more than 70% of those aged 27 to 41 “support moving the date for the sake of improving relations with the Indigenous population” – a formulation that presumably elicits a more favourable response – which plummeted to “just over 30%” among the 56 to 75 cohort and 25% of those over 75. All that’s revealed of those of in the middle is that “the majority still supported keeping the holiday on its current date”.

• A Roy Morgan SMS poll of 1372 respondents posed the not-all-that-useful-to-my-mind question as to whether as to whether January 26 should be identified as Australia Day or Invasion Day, breaking 65-35 in favour of the former. Cross-tabs here if you’re interested.

Morgan: 56-44 to Labor

A second pollster emerges to suggest the summer break has done little to improve the situation for the Morrison government.

Roy Morgan has become the second pollster to emerge from the summer break, maintaining its recent form in crediting Labor with a 56-44 two-party lead, out from 55.5-44.5 in the previous poll. As before, this is souped up by a much stronger flow of respondent-allocated preferences than Labor managed at the 2019 election. Both the Coalition and Labor are steady on the primary vote, at 34.5% and 37% respectively, with the Greens up half a point to 12% (strong support for the Greens being another feature of the Morgan series). One Nation is down a point to 3% and Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party is steady on all of half of a point, whereas it managed 3.4% in 2019.

The “previous poll” used for the basis of comparison here wasn’t actually published at the time, as noted by a keen-eyed observer on Twitter. Morgan’s last published poll from last year was from the last weekend in November and the first weekend in December, whereas the results tables on the website include a further result for the two weeks subsequently.

The state two-party breakdowns credit Labor with leads of 58-42 in New South Wales, a swing of around 10%; 59-41 in Victoria, a swing of around 6%; 51-49 in Western Australia, a swing of around 6.5%; 60.5-39.5 in South Australia, a swing of around 10%; and 60.5-39.5 in Tasmania, a swing of around 4.5%. However, the poll has the Coalition ahead 51.5-48.5 in Queensland, which is still a swing to Labor of around 7%. Whereas Morgan’s past polling combined results from two weekends, here we are told that polling was conducted between January 4 and 16.

Resolve Strategic: Coalition 34, Labor 35, Greens 11

What had previously been the Coalition’s best poll series opens its account for the year looking just as bad for the government as the others.

The new year polling drought has been brought to an end by Resolve Strategic, courtesy of the Age/Herald, which produces a particularly grim result for the government in view of its record as the Coalition’s strongest poll series. The Coalition primary vote is down fully five points since the last poll in mid-November to 34%, with Labor up three to 35%, the Greens steady on 11% and One Nation steady on 3%. The pollster’s already high ratings for independents and “others” are up still further, by two points to 11% and one point to 6%. As ever, no two-party preferred result is provided, but applying 2019 preference flows produces a Labor lead of around 53-47.

The breakdowns provided for the three largest states suggest the damage has been spread pretty evenly on two-party preferred, but the Queensland figures are notable in that the major parties are down 12% between them while both the Greens and One Nation are up five. The results are worse for the Coalition among women than men, their primary vote dropping respectively by six points and three.

Scott Morrison’s personal ratings are nonetheless little changed, with approval and disapproval both up a point to 41% and 50%. However, Anthony Albanese records a solid improvement, with approval up three to 34% and disapproval down four to 41%. Morrison’s lead as preferred prime minister has narrowed from 40-29 to 38-31.

The poll was conducted Tuesday to Saturday from a sample of 1607. The Age/Herald’s Resolve Political Monitor display is yet to be updated at the time of writing, but more of the details are provided in the accompanying report. I have updated my BludgerTrack poll aggregate, but I always advise a bit of caution when the first poll is added after a break, as the result tends to weigh heavily on the end point of the trend measure.

Novak and Nicholls

A poll supports suspicions that the federal government was following the public’s lead in deporting Novak Djokovic. Plus preselection news, though not very much of it.

Another week of the sillier-than-usual season goes by without a great deal to report, with the only new poll result I’m aware being a Painted Dog Research poll for The West Australian finding 81% out of 1224 WA respondents surveyed around a week ago believed Novak Djokovic should be deported. Lest anyone doubt the international reach of this particular story, a British poll by YouGov found 62% believed Djokovic should not be allowed to play in the open, with only 18% believing he should. (UPDATE: And now a national poll by Resolve Strategic for the Age/Herald finds 71% believe he “should not be allowed to stay and play”.)

The biggest preselection news of the week related to Gladys Berejiklian’s former seat of Willoughby, which I’m holding off on doing a post about until a date is set for state’s looming quartet of by-elections. At federal level, both the Nationals and the Liberals now have candidates for the rural Victorian seat of Nicholls, to be vacated with the retirement of Nationals member Damian Drum. These are, respectively, Sam Birrell, an agronomist and former chief executive of the Committee for Greater Shepparton, and Stephen Brooks, a Cobram high school teacher and farmer. Also in the field as an independent is Greater Shepparton deputy mayor Rob Priestly.

Utting Research WA poll, Morrison leadership ratings and more

“More” being the Liberals’ slow-motion Dobell preselection and declining prospects for a March federal election.

As the silly season reaches its apex, such news and relevant information as I have to offer:

• A poll by Utting Research on federal voting in Western Australia, published yesterday in The West Australian, is broadly in line with other polling from the state in crediting Labor with a lead of 55-45, a swing of 10.5% compared with the 2019 election. The primary votes are Labor 46%, Coalition 39%, Greens 7%, One Nation 3% and UAP 1%. The poll also has Scott Morrison at 28% approval and 46% disapproval (which is quite a bit worse than his 45% approval and 51% disapproval from the state in the last quarterly Newspoll) and Anthony Albanese at 21% and 44%, while Mark McGowan has 75% approval with no disapproval rating provided. The poll was conducted last Wednesday from a sample of 650.

• US pollster Morning Consult’s monthly tracking polling for various international leaders’ personal ratings has Scott Morrison at 43% approval and 51% disapproval, respectively down three and up five on a month ago.

The Australian reports the dispute over the New South Wales Liberal Party’s highly incomplete federal preselection process rumbles on, with St Vincent’s Hospital cardiologist Michael Feneley winning the endorsement of John Howard in his bid for preselection in Dobell – putting him at odds with Scott Morrison, who favours Jemima Gleeson, who owns a chain of coffee shops and a preacher at the HopeUC Pentecostal church in Charmhaven.

David Crowe of the Age/Herald reports that “the Omicron wave has wiped out the idea of a snap election campaign as soon as next month”, hitherto rated “an outside chance for some Liberals who believed it was safer to go to an election in March than to wait until May”.

Poll relativities and the state of New South Wales

How the federal pollsters are differing, and an update on New South Wales by-elections likely to be held on February 12.

Past time for a new thread, though inevitably given the time of year there is not a lot to report. Polling fans might care to take note of Mark the Ballot’s latest update of a poll aggregate that tracks a three-point increase in the “others” vote over the past six months of last year, which came cleanly at the expense of the Coalition, and a neat display of pollster house effects that calibrates what close observers will have already noticed: that Resolve Strategic is (relatively speaking) high for “others” and low for Labor, Essential Research is high for both major parties, and Roy Morgan is high for the Greens.

Then there’s the New South Wales state by-elections, which deserves a thread of its own but won’t get one until the date is formally announced. The Speaker, Jonathan O’Dea, has strongly indicated it will be February 12. A milestone was reached last week when four of the departing MPs finally lodged their formal resignations. Not among them was Holsworthy MP Melanie Gibbons holding out until she is confirmed as the federal candidate for Hughes, if indeed that occurs. That leaves:

Strathfield (Labor 5.0%): Both parties now have candidates in place for the seat being vacated by Jodi McKay. Labor’s is Jason Yat-Sen Li, a former lawyer who worked for a time for the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and is now executive chairman of Vantage Asia Holdings. Yat-Sen Li was Labor’s candidate for Bennelong in 2013 third on the Senate ticket in 2019. The Liberal candidate is Bridget Sakr, who has gained prominence as a victims support advocate after her daughter and three of her cousins were killed in a car crash in Oatlands in February last year.

Bega (Liberal 6.9%): The Liberal candidate to succeed Andrew Constance is Fiona Kotvojs, a beef farmer who has twice been narrowly unsuccessful as the Liberal candidate for Eden-Monaro: in 2019, when she fell 0.8% short of unseating Mike Kelly, and at the by-election following Kelly’s retirement in July 2020, when Kristy McBain retained the seat for Labor by 0.4%. Labor’s candidate is Michael Holland, an obstetrician-gynaecologist at Moruya District Hospital and lecturer at the Australian National University medical school.

Monaro (Nationals 11.6%): The Nationals have had their candidate to succeed John Barilaro in place since October: Nichole Overall, a local historian, communications consultant and freelance writer. Conversely, Labor initially planned to forfeit before a rebellion by local party branches prompted a change of heart.

Willoughby (Liberal 21.0%): The Liberals are yet to conduct a preselection that has attracted three candidates: Willoughby mayor Gail Giles-Gidney, who is reportedly backed by Gladys Berejiklian, Paul Fletcher and Andrew Bragg; former television journalist Kellie Sloane, who is backed by Mike Baird; and Menzies Research Centre executive general manager Tim James, a factional conservative. Labor will not contest the seat, and in the absence of a strong independent emerging, of which I’ve seen no indication, the winner should have an easy time of it.

New year news: Gilmore, Pearce, Mayo

The Liberals get candidates sorted in two key seats, while a poll suggests Rebekha Sharkie has little to fear in Mayo.

First up, please note two other important posts above and below this one: the former asking for money, the latter offering an opportunity for on-topic discussion about the Senate election to mark the happy occasion of the publication of my new Senate election guide, complementing the already published seat-by-seat guide to the House.

With that out of the way, three new items of federal election news to ring in the new year:

• State MP Andrew Constance is now effectively confirmed as the Liberal candidate for the key seat of Gilmore on the New South Wales South Coast, which forms a major part of the government’s re-election strategy given its hope that Constance can recover a seat that was lost in 2019. His main rival, Shoalhaven Heads lawyer Paul Ell, withdrew from the race last week, saying he had formed the view that Constance was best placed to win, a view that was backed by a Liberal source quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald based on party polling. Others to withdraw over the past fortnight were Jemma Tribe, a charity operator and former Shoalhaven councillor, and Stephen Hayes, a former RAAF officer and staffer to Christopher Pyne, who said he was concerned he would face Section 44 issues due to his business dealings with the government.

• The Liberal candidate to succeed Christian Porter in the northern Perth seat of Pearce is Linda Aitken, a nurse and Wanneroo councillor who has run unsuccessfully three times for the state seat of Butler. Peter Law of The West Australian reports Aitken won a ballot of local party members ahead of Miquela Riley, a former navy officer who ran unsuccessfully for the state seat of Fremantle in March, by 31 votes to 23. Aitken is a member of the Victory Life Church, founded by tennis champion and noted social conservative Margaret Court. Riley had conservative credentials of her own, with earlier reports suggesting she had support from The Clan, the factional group that achieved notoriety after an extensive WhatsApp discussion between its principals was leaked to the media.

• Elizabeth Henson of The Advertiser reports a uComms phone poll of 828 respondents for the Australia Institute suggested Centre Alliance MP Rebekha Sharkie to be headed for another comfortable win in her Adelaide Hills seat of Mayo, with a 58.5-41.5 lead over the Liberals on two-party preferred, compared with her 55.1-44.9 winning margin over Liberal candidate Georgina Downer in 2019. The primary vote figures quoted are 30.9% for Sharkie, 30.8% for the Liberals, 13.3% for Labor, 7.7% for the Greens, 6.5% for One Nation, 3.3% for the United Australia Party and 3.0% for independents, with the spare 4.5% presumably being undecided. As reported on the Australia Institute website, the poll also found overwhelming support for an integrity commission and truth in political advertising laws.

Senate election guide

Introducing the Poll Bludger’s Senate election guide, rounding off a facility that further offers lower house seat guides and the BludgerTrack poll aggregate.

The Poll Bludger’s comprehensive guide to the federal election has now attained something resembling completeness (though naturally it will require frequent updating) now that it comes with a guide to the Senate election, featuring an overview and a complete exposition of everything worth knowing about each of the state and territory contests, bringing together analysis, historic background, charts and tables aplenty and full detail on the candidates and how they got there. This is despite the fact that a number of the preselections are yet to be concluded, although it’s clear in most cases which way the wind is blowing.

In the hope of getting a thread of substantive electoral discussion happening, I offer over this post to discussion specifically of the Senate contest. A new thread for general discussion can be found here.