Flying blind (open thread)

A Labor-eye-view of the election result from the party’s national secretary; the AEC’s response to social media misinformation; but nothing doing on the polling front, apart from some numbers on media trust.

Despite the polls not having failed as such, in that they uniformly picked the right winner, it seems we’re having another post-election voting intention polling drought just like we did in 2019. This is unfortunate from my perspective, as it would be interesting to compare Labor’s strength during its honeymoon period with that of newly elected governments past. It also means I have to work harder on material for regular open thread posts. Here’s what I’ve got this time:

• The Reuters Institute last week published its international Digital News Report 2022, the Australian segment of which was conducted by the University of Canberra, which asked questions on media consumption and trust. Respondents were asked to rank their trust in various media brands on a scale of one to ten. Typically for such surveys, this found the highest level of trust in public broadcasters, with ABC News ranking first and SBS News ranking second; television networks and broadsheet newspapers in the middle; and tabloid newspapers, specifically the Herald Sun and the Daily Telegraph, ranking last. The survey was conducted online in January and February from a sample of 2038.

• In an address to the National Press Club last week, Labor national secretary Paul Erickson dated a shift in voter sentiment in Labor’s favour from the announcement of the Solomon Islands’ pact with China on April 1. Erickson said voters were struck by the contrast between the Coalition’s “immature” warmongering rhetoric and attempts to associate Labor with the Chinese Communist Party and Labor’s promise to “restore Australia’s place as the partner of choice” for Pacific Islands countries. He further noted that the rot set in for Scott Morrison amid COVID outbreaks in mid-2021, when Labor internal polling showed his net competence score fall by 14 points in two weeks over late June and early July. The Coalition was also damaged by cabinet ministers’ partisan attacks on state governments in Western Australia and Victoria, and it was rated lower by voters on housing and wages.

• Saturday’s Financial Review reported on the Australian Electoral Commission’s efforts to confront online disinformation about the election process head on, through the work of its election integrity assurance taskforce and a media unit that abandoned bureaucratic formality in engaging with social media on social media’s terms. Electoral commissioner Tom Rogers claimed they had a “70 to 80 per cent success rate in changing minds”, and that Twitter had been “a bit self-correcting as a result”: “Someone would say something and you’d see people say, ‘hang on, that doesn’t sound right, I heard the AEC say this or that’”.

• Tom Rogers also foreshadows possible changes to electoral laws to allow for faster counting of postal votes after election day by streamlining the existing process whereby ballots are sorted at a central location and then sent to the voter’s electorate before they are counted.

• Nominations for the South Australian state by-election for Bragg on July 2 closed on Thursday, drawing a field of six candidates who are listed on my by-election guide.

Other recent posts on the site:

• A post on the Queensland Senate result, which was confirmed on Thursday. The buttons will be pressed today on the results for New South Wales at 9:30am and, most interestingly, Victoria at 10am. That will just leave Western Australia – the post just linked to considers at length the remote possibility that Labor might not win a third seat, as is being generally assumed.

• Courtesy of Adrian Beaumont, a preview and live commentary of France’s legislative elections, plus news on British by-elections and American opinion polling.

• A post on Saturday’s Callide state by-election in Queensland, a safe conservative seat which the Liberal National Party has retained with a swing in its favour of 6.5% against Labor.

Essential Research: Albanese approval bounce, economic conditions, republic (open thread)

Essential Research records a surge in approval for Anthony Albanese in one of the few items of polling to have come down the chute since the election.

The Guardian reports on the latest fortnightly Essential Research poll, which it seems won’t be treating us to voting intention for the time being. However, it does provide us with leadership ratings, which record a bounce for Anthony Albanese impressive even by the standards of post-election honeymoon polling: his approval rating is now at 59%, up from 42% in the final pre-election poll, while his disapproval rating has plunged from 41% to 18%. However, nothing is reported on ratings for Peter Dutton or a preferred prime minister result.

The poll also finds an eight point increase since pre-election on the question of whether Australia is headed in the right direction to 48%, with the negative response down from 42% to 27%. It apparently shows “about a third” expect economic conditions will improve over the next year, which is up five points though I’m not sure when the previous question was asked, with 40% expecting things to get worse, with expectations evenly balanced with respect to personal finances. Thirty-five per cent thought the new government would be better for their personal finances compared with 18% for one led by Peter Dutton. Asked whether Australia should become a republic with an Australian head of state, 44% said yes and 34% no, the latter being six points higher than when the question was last asked in March last year.

More detail from the poll will become available when the full report is published later today. I am unable to offer any insight as to when Newspoll will be back, when Essential Research will resume voting intention polling, or what the enigmatic Roy Morgan organisation might do. However, I can relate that Ipsos’s and Resolve Strategic’s contracts ended with the election, though that’s not to say they won’t show up again in some form at some point.

Rich Liberal, poor Liberal

A beginner’s guide to debate on the conservative side of politics about how the Liberal Party should react to its election defeat, and in particular the loss of its traditional strongholds to the teal independents.

In the wake of the Morrison government’s defeat, a culture war has broken out within the Liberal Party between those who consider recovering the teal independent seats a necessary precondition for a return to power and those who believe they should be abandoned to the political left so the party might pursue different constituencies in seats that have been swinging away from Labor, notably Hunter, Werriwa, McEwen and Gorton. Support for the latter notion has been provided by former Morrison government adviser Mark Briers, who says the party “must move our party’s focus, talent and resources away from Camberwell and Malvern towards Craigieburn and Melton”, and right-wing Victorian Liberal MP Tim Smith, who says his party should “stop obsessing with the woke concerns and obsessions with the inner-urban elites”, and “take the focus off Kew” – his own seat, until November at least – “and focus on Cranbourne”.

Repudiating his soon-to-be-former colleague, former Victorian Liberal leader Michael O’Brien told The Australian there was “no path to 45 seats” at the November state election “that doesn’t run through Malvern, Kew and Hawthorn”, the latter of which was unexpectedly lost to Labor in 2018. Similarly, federal MP Paul Fletcher – who has an interest in the matter as member for the Sydney seat of Bradfield, one of only two out of the ten wealthiest electorates that remain with the Liberal Party – wrote in The Australian on Saturday that he has not heard notions to the contrary “seriously advanced by fellow Liberals”, by which I think he means he has not heard it advanced by serious fellow Liberals. However, his prescriptions for accomplishing took pains to avoid seriously criticising his own party and offered no suggestion of any policy reorientation.

Scott Morrison, who clearly isn’t kept awake at night by jibes about him being “from marketing”, proposes a middle course, seemingly based on the notion that brand damage from the Nationals had a lot to do with his government’s defeat. As reported by Sharri Markson of The Australian, Morrison proposes the solution of a re-forged coalition in which a Queensland-style Liberal National Party serves as the main brand, allied to a distinct “new progressive Liberal movement” to run in the kinds of seats lost to the teal independents.

The loss of those seats has prompted much talk about the demise of the socio-economic cleavage that has historically defined the Australian party system, including a claim in a Financial Review headline that “for the first time Labor voters earn more than Coalition voters” – later amended to “Labor electorates earn more than Coalition seats” after it was pointed out that the initial claim was wrong. The issue with such analyses is known as the ecological fallacy, whereby inferences about individual behaviour are drawn from aggregate-level data — in this case the notion that because the electorates held by the Coalition have declined in income, it follows that their support base has as well.

YouGov data scientist Shaun Ratcliff addressed this issue by drawing on the surveying for the pollster’s multi-level regression and post-stratification poll, which reached 18,923 respondents three to five weeks out from election day. Ratcliff found that while the traditional income cleavage was reduced at this election, it certainly did not disappear. Among home-owners on $150,000 a year or more, 44% voted Coalition, 31% Labor and 10% Greens; among those on $50,000 a year or less who did not own homes, 40% voted Labor, 27% Greens and just 16% voted Coalition. While the effect was somewhat weaker among those under 35, Ratcliff provides a series of charts illustrating the clear tendency of wealthier voters to favour the Coalition over Labor and “others” (Greens support did not appear contingent on income).

This was also true within the teal independent seats, with Kooyong and Goldstein in particular having experienced an influx of apartment-dwelling “young middle-income professionals”, as noted by Remy Vega in The Australian. Data from the YouGov poll suggests the Liberal vote in the twenty seats targeted by Climate 200 was around seven points lower among those on $50,000 or less than among those on higher incomes. More broadly, Ratcliff notes that “renters also swung away from the Liberal and National Party more than homeowners and the young more than the old”.

Sticky wicket (open thread)

Schemes hatched by WA Liberals seeking a quick path out of the wilderness; a new Tasmanian state poll; nothing doing on the federal poll front.

I was hoping Newspoll might be back in the game three weeks after election day, but it seems normal service is yet to resume. Presumably Essential Research will have numbers of some sort tomorrow, but it remains to be seen if they will encompass voting intention. I hope to have more to offer shortly on whether other pollsters are still in the game in the immediate term, or whether they have pulled stumps for the time being. That just leaves me with the following miscellany to relate by way of a new open thread post:

Joe Spagnolo of the Sunday Times reported yesterday on a plan within the Western Australian Liberals to have former test cricketer and national team coach Justin Langer lead the party into the next state election in 2025. The suggestion is that the current leader, David Honey, might be persuaded to relinquish his seat of Cottesloe, one of only two lower house seats the party retained at the 2021 election. It is an any case “widely accepted that Dr Honey won’t lead the WA Liberals to the next election”, with Vasse MP Libby Mettams “his likely replacement” – indeed his only possible replacement out of the existing ranks of the Liberals’ lower house contingent.

Katina Curtis and Shane Wright of the Sydney Morning Herald have taken the trouble to compile the results of the 75,368 telephone votes cast by those in COVID-19 isolation, finding that Labor, Greens or independents candidates out-performed on them on two-candidate preferred relative to the overall results in all but eight lower house seats. Kevin Bonham is quoted in the article noting that infections are more prevalent of left-leaning demographics, namely the young and those employed in exposed occupations, though I also tend to think there may be a greater tendency for those on the right of politics to keep their illnesses to themselves.

• One bit of poll news at least: the latest quarterly Tasmanian state poll from EMRS has been published, the first since Jeremy Rockliff succeeded Peter Gutwein as Premier. It finds the Liberals down two points since March to 39%, Labor down one to 30%, the Greens up one to 13% and others up two to 18%. Rockliff leads Labor’s Rebecca White 47-34 as preferred premier, compared with Gutwein’s lead of 52-33 in March. The poll was conducted May 27 to June 2 through telephone interviews from a sample of 1000.

Lydia Lynch of The Australian reports that Julie-Ann Campbell, Queensland Labor’s outgoing state secretary and now associate partner with consultancy firm EY, is “expected to run for federal politics” – specifically for the seat of Moreton, which Graham Perrett has held for Labor since 2007.

There’s a fair bit going on at the site at the moment, so here’s a quick run-through the subjects of recent posts with on-topic discussion threads, as opposed to the open thread on this post:

• The future direction of the Liberal Party, with debate raging as to whether it should focus on recovering blue-ribbon seats from the teal independents or cutting them loose and pursuing a new course through suburban and regional seats traditionally held by Labor;

• The three state by-elections looming in the Queensland seat of Callide, the South Australian seat of Bragg and the Western Australian seat of North West Central;

• The ongoing count from the federal election, which remains of interest in relation to several Senate contests, with the pressing of the button looking reasonably imminent in South Australia and the two territories.

SEC Newgate post-election poll (open thread)

A post-election survey finds Labor recovered support among middle-aged men, while women drove the surge to the Greens and independents.

The local branch of international communications firm SEC Newgate has published a post-election survey as part of a regular monthly series that had hitherto escaped my notice. Among its findings are that 28% of Labor voters at the election had voted for a different party or candidate in 2019, and that the party had “regained some traction with its traditional base”, particularly among middle-aged men. Conversely, the flight to the Greens and independents was driven overwhelmingly by women.

The survey also found 54% felt Australia was headed in the right direction post-election, up from 47% in April, and 52% felt the success of independents was good for Australia. Labor was considered the best party to handle housing by 42% to 25%, although its policy for partial government investment in private homes had only 38% support. The Coalition’s policy to allow first home buyers to draw on their superannuation was supported and opposed by 40% apiece, but its “downsizer” reforms were supported by 52% and opposed by 18%. Fifty-nine per cent supported an indigenous voice to parliament, with only 16% opposed. The survey was conducted May 23 to 27 from a sample of 1403.

Note also the post below dealing with the election result in the two Northern Territory seats, in what will be the first of a number of “call of the board” posts. It also marks a new leaf I’m at least planning on turning over in which I will increase the frequency of specialised posts with on-topic discussion threads, distinct from the usual poll-driven open threads like this one. We’ll see if I’m actually able to devote enough energy to the blog to make this viable long term. In any case, the open thread posts will henceforth be designated as such in their titles, as per the above.

Cabinet and counter-cabinet

As the dust settles (for the most part) on the election count, both sides get their line-ups in order.

There is a post below from Adrian Beaumont on the unfolding drama in British politics and another one here relating the last scraps of counting for House of Representatives seats. As for this post:

• Both sides now have their front benches in place, the announcement of the Albanese government’s front bench last Monday resulting in promotion to cabinet rank for Murray Watt and and Clare O’Neil, respective beneficiaries of Left and Right vacancies caused by the electoral defeats of Terri Butler and Kristina Keneally. Anne Aly of the Left and Anika Wells and Kristy McBain of the Right have been promoted to the outer ministry, filling vacancies created by the promotion of Watt and O’Neil and the relegation of Shayne Neumann to the back bench as his Left faction sought to achieve gender balance.

• Peter Dutton’s shadow ministry was unveiled yesterday. The Nationals’ relative electoral success resulted in them gaining a sixth position in cabinet, their new entrants being Susan McDonald in resources and northern Australia, Perin Davey in water and Kevin Hogan in trade and tourism. Seven Liberals won promotion to shadow cabinet: Jane Hume in finance and public service, Andrew Hastie in defence, Julian Leeser in attorney-general and indigenous Australians, Jonathan Duniam in environment, fisheries and forestry, Ted O’Brien in climate change and energy, Michael Sukkar in social services and NDIS and Sarah Henderson in communications. Angus Taylor was rewarded for his record of integrity with Treasury and Alan Tudge is definitely in education now. Stuart Robert (Liberal) and Andrew Gee (Nationals) have been demoted to the outer shadow ministry, Alex Hawke, Linda Reynolds and Melissa Price (Liberal) and Keith Pitt (Nationals) are relegated to the back bench, and Marise Payne is now shadow cabinet secretary after apparently having “asked not to be considered for a prominent role”. Others formerly present and now absent: Scott Morrison, Josh Frydenberg, Ken Wyatt and Greg Hunt.

The Australian reports Scott Morrison is “expected to weigh up his future in the coming months, but is understood to be in no immediate rush to quit politics”.

UPDATE: A discussion of various matters relating to the election between me and Ben Raue of The Tally Room:

Honeymoon polling and state by-election news

The first embers of polling since the election record strong support for the new Prime Minister and his agenda.

US pollster Morning Consult, which conducts monthly international polling on world leaders’ domestic personal ratings, has found Anthony Albanese with an approval rating of 51% and a disapproval rating of 25%. Its final result for Scott Morrison was 40% approval and 54% disapproval. The poll was conducted May 23 to 31 from a sample of 3770.

Essential Research published its usual fortnightly poll this week, which had nothing to offer on voting intention or leadership ratings, although it did find that 23% rated themselves more likely to vote Coalition with Peter Dutton as leader compared with 27% less likely. Questions on attitudes to Labor policies found 70% support for increasing the minimum wage and 69% support for a federal Independent Commission Against Corruption, with only 9% opposed in each case. Fifty-two per cent felt Labor should “look for opportunities to rebuild relations” with China, with only 19% favouring a more confrontational position and 12% favouring the current set of policies. Support for the Uluru statement was found to have increased significantly since November 2017, with 53% supporting an indigenous voice to parliament in the constitution.

Some notable state news that got lost in the federal election rush:

• A by-election will be held on June 18 for the Queensland state seat of Callide after its Liberal National Party member, Colin Boyce, moved to federal politics as the Nationals member for Flynn. This is a very safe rural conservative seat, but Labor has nonetheless endorsed Bronwyn Dendle to run against Bryson Head of the LNP, a 26-year-old mining industry geologist. Also in the field are candidates of One Nation, Katter’s Australian Party, Legalise Cannabis and Animal Justice.

• The by-election to replace Vickie Chapman in the safe Liberal seat of Bragg in South Australia has been set for July 2. The ABC reports four nominees for the Liberal preselection: Jack Batty, adviser to the Australian High Commissioner in London; Sandy Biar, national director of the Australian Republic Movement and public affairs officer with the army; and Melissa Jones, a law firm director; and Cara Miller, former co-owner of a radiology business.

• Tasmanian Premier Jeremy Rockliff has announced he will introduce legislation this year to increase the size of the state’s House of Assembly from 25 seats to 35, reversing a change made in 1998. The move has the support of the Liberals, Labor and the Greens.

Week zero plus one

As the Liberal party room prepares to anoint Peter Dutton as Opposition Leader, the first poll of the new term suggests he has his work cut out for him, in Western Australia at least.

This is one of three new posts I have on offer, providing a thread for general discussion. The other two featured below deal with the ongoing counting for the House of Representatives, with Labor’s potential parliamentary majority remaining up in the air, and the race for the Senate, in which I expect Labor and the Greens to account for half the seats between them, but with a number of outcomes depending on complex flows of preferences.

Election results aside, the main item of news to relate is that the Liberal and Nationals party rooms will hold their first meetings to sort out party leadership positions. Peter Dutton and Sussan Ley will be confirmed as Liberal leader and deputy leader unopposed, but a contested vote looms for the Nationals, in which David Littleproud and Darren Chester will seek to depose Barnaby Joyce. In Joyce’s favour is the fact that the Nationals retained all their seats at the election; in Littleproud’s is the fact that Joyce had a lot to do with the Liberals losing so many of theirs, leaving the Nationals in opposition; Chester I’m guessing is a dark horse.

Thanks to The West Australian, Peter Dutton can be welcomed to the opposition leadership with the first published opinion poll of the new era, conducted on Thursday by Painted Dog Research from a sample of 1354 Western Australian respondents. It finds only 19% rating Peter Dutton a “suitable candidate” to lead the party, compared with 58% who registered a view to the contrary. Dutton’s positive ratings were 16% among women and 23% among men.