Opposites detract

As Peter Malinauskas puts the loyal back in loyal opposition, two contenders emerge for the thankless task of leading the WA Liberals to the March state election.

I had a paywalled article in Crikey yesterday that riffed off South Australian Opposition Leader Peter Malinauskas’s pointedly supportive approach to the state’s brief COVID-19 lockdown, and the explicit distinction he drew between his own approach and that of Michael O’Brien in Victoria. It was noted that Malinauskas clearly believes the general tenor of polling coming out of Victoria, even if the likes of Peta Credlin do not. This also afforded me the opportunity to highlight a clip from September in which Credlin and two Sky-after-dark colleagues brought their formidable perspicacity to bear on the likely impact of Queensland’s hard border policies on the looming state election.

Speaking of the which, both Antony Green and Kevin Bonham offer extremely detailed post-match reports on the Queensland election, in which both try their hand at estimating the statewide two-party preferred: Antony Green coming in at 53.2% for Labor, and Kevin Bonham making it 53.1%. This represents either a 1.8% or 1.9% swing to Labor compared with the 2017 election result of 51.3%, which was barely different from the 2015 result of 51.1%. Annastacia Palaszczuk can now claim the vanishingly rare distinction of having increased her party’s seat share at three successive elections. For further insights into how this came about, JWS Research has published full results of its post-election poll.

Elsewhere, Western Australia’s Liberal Party will today choose a new leader after the resignation on Sunday of Liza Harvey, who came to the job last June but has been politically crippled by COVID-19 — a no-win situation for the Liberals in the best of circumstances, but one made quite a lot worse than it needed to be by a response that was more Michael O’Brien than Peter Malinauskas. The two contenders are Zak Kirkup, 33-year-old member for the all too marginal seat of Dawesville in southern Mandurah, and Bateman MP Dean Nalder, who unsuccessfully challenged Colin Barnett’s leadership six months before the Liberals’ landslide defeat in March 2017. The West Australian reports that Zirkup has it all but stitched up, since he has the support of Harvey as well as key numbers men Peter Collier and Nick Goiran.

On and off again

The 2019 federal election pollster failure gets probed and prodded, as the dust settles on the Queensland election

The site experienced issues yesterday that prevented comments from appearing, which are now more-or-less resolved. However, this involved a lot of plugin updates that might cause certain of the site’s features to misfire for a while. One issue seems to be that comments pagination wasn’t working on the previous thread, hence the need for a new thread despite me not having all that much to relate. Except:

• The Association of Market and Social Research Organisations has published its report into the 2019 opinion poll failure, which is important and a big deal, but such has been the pace of events lately that I haven’t had time to really look at it yet. Kevin Bonham has though, and he elaborates upon the report’s analysis of historical federal poll performance by looking at state polls as well, which fail to replicate a finding that polls have a general skew to Labor.

• Recounts in the Queensland cliffhanger seats of Bundaberg and Nicklin confirmed Labor’s narrow victories, by nine rather than the original 11 votes in Bundaberg, and by 85 rather than the original 79 in Nicklin.

Simon Benson of The Australian reports privately commissioned post-Queensland election polling by JWS Research found 24% rated “economy, jobs and living costs” as the most important issue, with COVID-19 on 15%, the state’s border arrangements in response on 14% (one might well think the results for these two responses should be combined), environment and climate change on 9%, health on 8% and infrastructure on 6%.

Victorian poll, Queensland election, Groom by-election

A good poll result from Labor in Victoria, an even better election result for Labor in Queensland, and only four candidates come forward for the Groom by-election.

The Herald-Sun reported on Monday on a “privately conducted” Victorian state poll by YouGov that showed Labor maintaining a commanding 55-45 lead on two-party preferred, from primary votes of Labor 44%, Coalition 40% and Greens 11%. This compares with 57.3-42.7 at Labor’s landslide win in 2018, when the primary votes were Labor 42.9%, Coalition 35.2% and Greens 10.7%. Personal ratings are good for Daniel Andrews (65% approval and 32% disapproval) and disastrous for Liberal leader Michael O’Brien (26% approval and 53% disapproval).

The poll nonetheless found that 55% thought it fair to hold Daniel Andrews responsible for the second COVID-19 wave, compared with 40% for not fair. Fifty per cent believed Andrews had been honest and transparent about the hotel quarantine failure against 43% for not honest and transparent; 53% said Victoria was heading in the right direction versus 39% who said it is “time for change”. The poll was conducted from October 29 to November from a sample of 1241.

UPDATE: Now a Roy Morgan poll gives Labor a lead of 58.5-41.5, up from 51.5-48.5 a month ago, from primary votes of Labor 45% (up five), Coalition 34.5% (down 5.5) and Greens 11% (up two). Daniel Andrews’ approval rating split is out from 59-41 to 71-29. The poll was conducted by SMS on Monday and Tuesday from a sample of 818.

In real election news, the Electoral Commission of Queensland has been completing preference distributions for the October 31 state election, and while the numbers haven’t been officially published, Antony Green relates that luck has favoured Labor in the final preference distributions in Bundaberg and Nicklin. These seats have been gained from the LNP with respective margins of 11 and 79 votes, pending LNP requests for recounts.

Confirmation of these results would leave Labor with 52 seats in a parliament of 93, a net gain of four compared with the 2017 result. South Brisbane was lost to the Greens (6.0% margin, 9.5% swing), while five were gained from the LNP Bundaberg (by a 0.0% margin with a 4.2% swing), Nicklin (a 0.1% margin and a 5.4% swing), Caloundra (a 2.5% margin and a 5.9% swing), Hervey Bay (a 2.2% margin and an 11.3% swing) and Pumicestone (a 5.1% margin and a 6.0% swing). These are Labor’s first ever wins in Nicklin and Caloundra, both of which are on the Sunshine Coast.

The LNP is duly reduced from 38 seats to 33, unless you count their recovery of Whitsunday after its previous member was expelled from the party mid-term. Their one piece of good news from late counting was that they managed to retain the Gold Coast seat of Currumbin by 310 votes, a 0.3% margin against a swing to Labor of 3.0% (David Crisafulli will be chosen as the party’s new leader unopposed at a party room meeting today). South Brisbane increases the Greens from one to two, with the party having easily its 2017 gain of Maiwar from the LNP, while Katter’s Australian Party and One Nation achieved status quo results of three seats and one respectively, as did independents with Sandy Bolton comfortably retaining Noosa.

Official results are naturally available from the ECQ; the numbers on my live results facility are emphatically not official, in that I have preserved them as they were a week ago before the ECQ removed the indicative two-candidate preferred counts. This means both the booth-level two-candidate preferred results and preference flow by candidate breakdowns are preserved, albeit in not entirely complete form.

Finally, while the attention of most of us has been firmly elsewhere, the process for the November 28 Groom by-election has continued chugging along, with nominations having been declared last Friday. The by-election has attracted a remarkably thin field of four candidates, which somewhat to my surprise includes one from Labor: Chris Meibusch, a community lawyer and unsuccessful candidate for the Toowoomba mayoralty in March. The preselection of LNP candidate Garth Hamilton was related here. The other two candidates are from the Liberal Democrats and Sustainable Australia – as well as there being no One Nation presence, this must be the first time a while that the Greens have left a federal contest uncontested.

Queensland election: late counting

A post tracking the progress of the late count for the Queensland election.

Click here for full Queensland election results updated live.

Tuesday evening

In the two days since my last update, Labor’s narrow lead in Bundaberg has worn away, with the LNP sneaking ahead by four votes at the close of play yesterday. However, they continue to hang on grimly in Nicklin, where a slight edge on absents cancelled out their usual deficit from postals, leaving their lead at 67 compared with 84 the other night. Neither I nor the ABC is calling Currumbin for the LNP, where their lead has nudged from 268 to 302, but I imagine the addition of a two-party count on absent pre-polls will take care of that. Similarly, there is no LNP call yet for Clayfield, where counting is proceeding slowly, but there assuredly will be when the postal two-party votes are added.

Three seats are being called that weren’t as of Sunday night: Hervey Bay, now rated a Labor gain after an outstanding pre-poll result came in, and they further managed a remarkably strong result on postals; Burleigh, which is now confirmed LNP with their lead at 582; and Coomera, where the LNP now has a clearly decisive lead of 901.

Monday afternoon

A piece I wrote for Crikey that they didn’t have room/money for:

As the world braces for an electoral convulsion of one kind of another in the United States, Australia has maintained its COVID-19 era habit of endorsing the status quo with Annastacia Palaszczuk’s re-election in Queensland on the weekend.

It was a good night for the political left, with a Labor government returned, the Greens’ inner-city empire expanded, One Nation rebuffed, Clive Palmer saved from humiliation only by his lack of shame, and the Morrison government denied a return on the capital it spent taking Labor on before and during the campaign. In a parliament of 93 seats, Labor seems most likely to make a net gain of two or three on the 48 it won in 2017, with the negative side of its ledger consisting of former Deputy Premier Jackie Trad in South Brisbane defeat by the Greens in South Brisbane.

The demographics of the seats that have actually or potentially been gained point to Labor’s success among a cohort whose support it probably shouldn’t get used to, namely seniors. The three clearly gained by Labor are Hervey Bay, Pumicestone and Caloundra, which rank second, third and eighth out of the state’s 93 seats by median age (it is no doubt also notable that each was being vacated by a retiring LNP incumbent). In the retiree-rich and normally solid blue Sunshine Coast region, Labor’s performance was of an equal with the Peter Beattie landslides of two decades ago.

Relatedly, Labor seemed to do better than expected among the many greying legions of One Nation deserters, which helped blunt the LNP’s much-touted attack in central and north Queensland. The LNP had plotted a path to victory that ran through as many as seven Labor-held seats in these regions — among them Mackay, which the party did not even win in its epochal landslide of 2012 — but emerged completely empty-handed.

At the other end of the age spectrum, the Greens added South Brisbane to a trophy wall of youthful inner-city state seats that includes Balmain and Newtown in New South Wales, Melbourne, Brunswick and Prahran in Victoria, and Maiwar in Queensland — none of which the party held a decade ago. Reflecting the situation in Sydney and Melbourne, the Greens’ footprint is expanding into the inner urban periphery, adding Campbell Newman’s old seat of Cooper (then known as Ashgrove) to McConnel in the CBD as a potential target for future elections. However, such prospects may depend on the grace of the LNP, which gave the Greens an unusual fillip on this occasion by putting Labor last on its how-to-vote cards.

The resulting transformation in the Greens’ share of LNP preferences in South Brisbane — from about 40% in 2017 to 68% on the latest numbers — had Labor’s election night panellists crying blue murder and Anthony Albanese complaining of an “LNP-Greens coalition”. Had preference flowed as they did in 2017, South Brisbane would be going down to the wire, compared with what looks to be a Greens margin of around 5%.

The other fly in the Greens’ ointment was that their success was very much limited to inner Brisbane. They were not spared the exodus from the minor parties elsewhere, resulting in a drop in their overall vote from 10% to 9%. This raises the possibility that a focus on the very particular kind of seat the party can win at state elections, in terms of both campaign resource allocation and policy orientation, is weakening it elsewhere and imperilling its hold on Senate seats that are determined by the statewide vote.

Last but not least, the election was also the first serious test of Australian opinion polling since last year’s federal debacle, and in particular for YouGov, which has since assumed the job of conducting Newspoll for The Australian. The result was a qualified pass: the election eve Newspoll got the winner right and nailed the LNP vote, but tested its margin-of-error by short-changing Labor by three points and understating the decline of the minor parties.

Sunday night

This post will be progressively updated with news on the late counting for the Queensland election. My live election results pages now include the preference flow by candidate data that the ECQ is uniquely publishing progressively, in a rather more user-friendly and easy-to-locate form than on the ECQ’s site. Here you can readily find the answers to such questions as how many LNP preferences are flowing to the Greens in South Brisbane (the current answer being 67.8% of them).

The ECQ separately publishes the election night count of the primary vote and what other jurisdictions would describe as the “recheck”, on which work began yesterday. This means I have a choice between publishing the election night or the recheck results, and I will be sticking with the former until the latter are largely or entirely completed.

My results system is calling 49 seat for Labor, 30 for the LNP and cross-bench of seven, with seven Labor-versus-LNP contests in doubt. However, some of these are not really so, as will be explained when I consider them in turn shortly: one of the seven should probably be counted for Labor and four for the LNP, leaving only two generally in doubt. And another reminder that the extensive effort that has gone into all this can be rewarded via the “Become a Supporter” button at the top of the page.

• The ABC is calling Hervey Bay for Labor but my system is a hair’s breadth away from doing so. It probably should, because one of the two pre-poll booths has 7639 votes that have so far reported only the primary vote, and which will boost Labor’s 760 lead to by about 375 when its two-party count finally comes through.

• Labor leads by 277 in Bundaberg, but this is without a two-party count on 2833 postals, which by my reckoning should slightly more than halve that. That flow of about 52.5-47.5 to the LNP on postals presumably indicates there is a good chance last postals will wear away what remains of Labor’s lead.

• Labor leads by 84 in Nicklin, and could get a fillip when absents are added, if 2017 is any guide. Against that will be the usual trend to the LNP on late postals.

• The LNP leads by 268 in Currumbin, but there probably aren’t that many votes outstanding, so there would been to be some surprises here on absents and late postals for Labor to win.

• The LNP leads Labor by 547 in Burleigh, which late postals will presumably widen.

• The LNP leads by only 365 in Clayfield, but 5441 votes from the Clayfield early voting centre and 6743 postals should blow that out when they have two-party as well as primary votes reported. The ABC is calling this for the LNP.

• The LNP leads by 814 in Coomera, without much remaining to be added, so you can put down your glasses there.

Queensland election plus one day

Determining the exact size of Annastacia Palaszczuk’s slightly increased majority.

Click here for full Queensland election results updated live.

The bugs in my election results facility are largely dealt with now, some niggles notwithstanding – here you will find booth results in a far more manageable form than offered by the ECQ, and the only swing data at booth level available anywhere. This will updated live throughout the final stages of the count, although the ECQ’s move to the separately published “official” count either today or tomorrow will need to be finessed. If you find any value in this labour-intensive effort, gestures of appreciation in the form of donations are gratefully received through the “Become a Supporter” button at the top of the page.

My results system is giving Labor 50 out of the 52 seats in which they currently lead the two-party count, and the LNP 29 of their 34, with the Greens to win two barring late-count surprises at Labor’s expense in McConnel and Cooper, and the cross-bench otherwise being a status quo of three Katter’s Australian Party, one One Nation and one independent. In the few cases where my system disagrees, I suspect it is because the ABC is projecting the two-party result in large pre-poll centres that have so far reported only the primary vote. A large pre-poll booth in Hervey Bay is one such, while another pre-poll booth in the seat hasn’t reported at all. Hervey Bay also hasn’t reported any postals yet, which went around 63-37 to the LNP in 2017 compared with 59-41 in the electorate at large. Even so, even the ABC projection has Labor’s lead at 3.2% compared with a raw 4.9%, so they would have to be rated the strong favourite.

My system and the ABC’s are agreed that the LNP is not yet home and dry in Burleigh, Chatsworth, Coomera and Currumbin, but my fifth LNP in-doubt seat is Clayfield and the ABC’s is Glass House, which mine is giving away just barely. I would think it likely that the LNP will get home in all of them. I presume the ABC’s call of Clayfield relates to it projecting a two-party result from the Clayfield Early Voting Centre, which as yet has only reported on the primary vote and accounts for more than a quarter of the current primary vote total. Labor will need to achieve something special in Glass House out of the Woodford Early Voting Centre, which hasn’t reported on either the primary or two-party count. I also wouldn’t be too amazed if Labor’s leads in LNP-held Bundaberg and Nicklin failed to survive the late count, and their existing total of 50 proves their final score, one up on the result from 2017.

I’ll offer a more in-depth analysis of the situation tomorrow, together with ongoing commentary on the late count.

Newspoll: 51.5-48.5 to Labor in Queensland

The last Newspoll of the Queensland election campaign suggests Labor is about as well placed as it was in 2017, although a lot may depend on regional variation in the swing.

The Australian brings us a campaign eve Newspoll that will, on top of anything else, be the first real-world test for the poll since YouGov took it over last year. It suggests no swing at all compared with the 2017 election on the two-party vote, with Labor leading 51.5-48.5 – technically a half-point move to the LNP since the last poll a fortnight ago, but that result would have been rounded to a whole number (this one might have been rounded either to a half-point or a decimal place).

The primary votes are Labor 37%, which is unchanged on the last poll and up from 35.4% in 2017; the LNP is down one to 36%, compared with 33.7% in 2017; the Greens are unchanged on 11%, compared with 10.0%; and One Nation is on 10%, which is up one but down from their 13.7% in 2017, despite the fact they are running in nearly every seat this time but only ran in two thirds last time. Breakdowns for the regions and the south-east would have been nice, but no such luck apparently.

The LNP is surprisingly competitive given how the leadership ratings are looking: Annastacia Palaszczuk is up one on approval to 62% and steady on disapproval at 33%, while Deb Frecklington appears not have had a good campaign, with her approval down two to 35% and disapproval up four to 48%. However, Palaszczuk’s 56-30 lead as preferred premier is little changed from the 57-32 she scored a fortnight ago. The poll was conducted from Sunday until earlier today from a sample of 1032.

In light of all that, the following observation from my paywalled piece in Crikey today holds up okay:

For all that though, Labor strategists are being kept awake at night by the path to victory that remains open to the LNP in the same parts of the state that savaged Labor at the federal election.

When the federal seats of central and northern Queensland recorded swings upwards of 10% last year, the effect was certainly demoralising for Labor, but the impact was limited by the fact that there had only been one seat there for them to lose — the Townsville-based seat of Herbert, which the party gained by a paper-thin margin in 2016.

At the state level though, the region is so richly endowed with Labor marginals that a locally concentrated swing could deliver the LNP victory even if it loses the statewide two-party vote, as the latest polls suggest.

Last but certainly not least, I believe I’m in a position to promise a functioning live election results facility tomorrow evening, similar in format to my acclaimed effort from the Eden-Monaro by-election, barring unforeseen egregious technical mishaps on either my end or the Electoral Commission of Queensland’s (the latter hopefully having made good its deficiencies from the night of the council elections and state by-elections in February). For anyone whose interest in the result extends to the booth level, this will easily be the best place to view the results, assuming all goes according to plan.

Queensland election minus two days

Polls and betting markets appear to be breaking in Annastacia Palaszczuk’s favour, although Labor remains nervous about its brace of marginal seats in north Queensland.

Two days out from an election that is in a sense already half over, the rate of pre-polling and postal voting being what it is:

• Hot on the heels of similar polling from New South Wales and Victoria, the Financial Review yesterday published results of a voting intention-free poll from Ipsos. The most striking finding is that “half” believe Annastacia Palaszczuk would do a better job on the economy compared with 26% for LNP leader Deb Frecklington, a question on which conservatives traditionally have the edge. Sixty-five per cent of respondents took a positive view of Palaszczuk’s handling of coronavirus, including 38% very satisfied, with “only one in five” dissatisfied. The poll also found 40% support and 30% opposition to Adani’s Carmichael coal mine, with support at 45% in regional Queensland and 35% in “the cities”, which I take to mean the south-east. The poll was conducted last Wednesday to Friday from a sample of 1003.

• There is increasing talk about the prospects of independent Claire Richardson is the southern bayside seat of Oodgeroo, which Mark Robinson holds for the LNP on a margin of 7.2% over Labor. Richardson is the owner of a local engineering consultancy, and narrowly failed to unseat LNP incumbent in the Redlands mayoral election in March. A “senior LNP strategist” quoted in The Australian yesterday went so far as to say that Robinson would win the seat.

• Writing in Crikey earlier this week, Madonna King reported a view among Labor strategists that coronavirus had secured them the “grey vote”, reflecting a dynamic that appears to be playing out in the United States. This is reflected in Labor’s hopes of snaring LNP-held seats on Gold Coast (Bonney, Currumbin and Burleigh, in ascending order of margin) and Sunshine Coast (Caloundra and Glass House).

• On a less optimistic note for Labor, Annastacia Palaszczuk visited Mackay on Tuesday, where the LNP is talking up its chances despite an 8.3% margin and its long record as a Labor stronghold. An LNP source quoted in the Courier-Mail claimed support for Labor was “tanking in the regions”.

• The first of two leaders debates was held last night, with the other to follow tomorrow, with 53% of the hand-picked audience of 47 undecided voters saying the debate had made them more likely to vote Labor compared with 30% for the LNP, which I guess means 25 to 14. However, it would appear 23 of those selected to attend failed to show up on a night of inclement weather, thereby serving as a proxy for the nearly half of Queensland voters who are in no position to be influenced by the debate since they have voted already.

Kevin Bonham reviews the betting markets so I don’t have to: “Labor favourite in 44 seats, LNP 39, KAP 3, GRN 3, ONP 1, IND 1. One ALP/LNP tie, one LNP/KAP tie. Only 6 seats (inc Whitsunday) with incumbent not favourite. IND almost favourite in Oodgeroo“. I have a notion that things might have shifted further in Labor’s favour in the two days since that was written, as Sportsbet is offering just $1.25 on Labor to form government compared with $3.75 for the LNP, whereas not that long ago the markets gave the LNP the edge.

Queensland election minus five days

Another small-sample Newspoll seat poll, this one suggesting Jackie Trad has her work cut out for her in South Brisbane.

It turns out The Australian was holding back one last Newspoll marginal seat poll, to go with the Pumiceston, Mundingburra and Mansfield polls covered in this post. This time it’s South Brisbane, where Amy MacMahon of the Greens is created with a 54.5-45.5 lead over Labor’s Jackie Trad, who won by 3.5% in 2017. The primary votes are Greens 39% (34.4% in 2017), Labor 32% (36.0%) and LNP 24% (24.3%).

The two-party result is based on a 60-40 split of preferences from the LNP, who have Labor last on their how-to-vote cards, which is apparently a guesstimate. The only precedent I can think of for which the relevant data is readily available is Melbourne at the 2007 and 2010 federal elections (the Liberals put Adam Bandt behind Labor at later elections), at which the flow of Liberal preferences was upwards of 80%. Annastacia Palaszczuk has a 62-22 lead in the electorate over Deb Frecklington, which perhaps predictably is the widest among the four electorates polled, it being by far the weakest for the LNP.

As with the other seat polls, this was conducted last Tuesday to Thursday from a curiously exact sample of 404, and thus carries a wide theoretical error margin of 5%. It may also be noted that the record of polling in inner-city Labor-Greens contests is patchy at best.

• Elsewhere, the ABC’s state politics reporter, Peter McCutcheon, reckons there is “growing evidence the LNP is giving up on the idea of forming majority government”. This refers to the LNP’s pursuit of a curfew policy that might poach seats from Labor in the target markets in Cairns and Townsville, but will do so at a cost in support in the Brisbane marginals that are must-win from a majority point of view. It is noted that Frecklington’s campaign has made defensive plays in the Gold Coast seat of Currumbin while neglecting most vulnerable seats in Brisbane, Aspley, Mansfield and Redlands. Conversely, a “senior Labor source” quoted in The Australian says the election will be “won and lost” on Townsville, where Labor could “possibly afford to lose one seat, but any more and we’re in trouble”.

Charlie Peel of The Australian reports the LNP are hopeful of winning north Queensland seats where they finished third behind One Nation in 2017, including Mackay, Keppel and Thuringowa. Such results are predicated on a strong flow of preferences from One Nation candidates who stand to be excluded this time, and thus amount to a backfiring of Labor’s abolition of optional preferential voting at the last election. Internal LNP polling is said to show 65% of One Nation voters intend to preference the LNP ahead of Labor, much as they did at the federal election.

• Katter’s Australian Party is hawking a ReachTEL poll that shows 57% support for North Queensland to form a new state, for which the party is pushing for a referendum to be held after the election. The Courier-Mail says “350 voters in the marginal electorate of Mundingburra (were) polled as part of the survey”, leading me to wonder if that was part of the sample or the whole. Also on the KAP front, Robbie Katter says both that his party has not official position on euthanasia, which Labor has put on the agenda by promising reactivate stalled assisted dying laws, but also that he “would find it enormously hard to align with anyone that would ever contemplate pushing that agenda in the next parliament”.