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.

Tasmanian upper house elections live

Live coverage of the count for elections for three of the 15 seats in Tasmania’s Legislative Council.

8.20pm. All booths are now in from Huon, plus 1511 pre-polls: Labor is on 26.2%, Dean Harriss 23.3%, the Greens 21.9% the Liberals 21.1% and the Local Party 7.4%. I would guess that the Greens will go out after the Local Party and their preferences will increase Labor’s lead. The question will then be if Liberal preferences flow heavily enough to Harriss to overcome it. This being my last update for the evening, I will reiterate that Labor incumbent Josh Willie and independent incumbent Tania Rattray have retained their seats of Elwick and McIntyre. So Huon could either boost Labor to five seats in the chamber out of 15, or leave them on parity with the Liberals at four, and weaken them in that an ex-Labor independent will be replaced with what I presume to be a conservative one, based on his father’s history as a Liberal MP.

7.16pm. All but three of 21 booths in now from Huon, and the results of Labor 26.3%, Dean Harris 24.9%, Greens 22.0%, Liberal 18.9% and Local Party 7.9% are more closely resembling my projections.

7.05pm. Thirteen booths out of 21 in from Huon, the latest batch including the large Cygnet booth. There’s now little to separate the Greens on 25.4%, Dean Harriss on 24.1% and Labor on 23.4%. My previous assessment still holds. To reiterate: Tania Rattray looks set to win McIntyre with between 50% and 60% of the primary vote, Labor’s Josh Willie will hold Elwick with around half the vote and the rest split evenly between an independent and the Greens.

7.00pm. I’d forgotten the fact that the elections in 2020 were postponed from May to August due to COVID. Presumably we will not see a repeat of nearly half the vote being postals. As such, my booth-matched projections in Huon are probably underselling the Greens, whose current 26.0% primary vote may be nearly as impressive as it looks. But I still suspect they will have a hard time staying ahead of both Labor and Dean Harriss, the latter of whom should get a strong flow of preferences from the Liberals, who at present seem likely to go out before the Greens.

6.52pm. The raw results in Huon still look good for the Greens at 26.4% with seven booths in out of 21, after which there’s a crush between Dean Harriss, Labor and Liberal, presently in that order, at around 20%. But there were a huge amount of postals in 2020 — actually slightly more than election day votes, this being the peak of COVID — on which the Greens did not poll well, which is why I’m projecting them to finish third if not fourth. That suggests it will come down to who out of Labor and Dean Harriss, evenly placed on the primary vote, get the most preferences.

6.47pm. Five booths now in from Elwick, with hardly any change: we’re looking at around half the vote for Labor and a quarter each for the Greens and the independent.

6.45pm. Howden booth in from Huon — this booth wasn’t used in 2020 so I have no accommodation for it in my booth matching. But it’s a stronger result for the Liberals, whose candidate has now moved into third place ahead of Dean Harriss. The Greens lead Labor 27.5% to 23.1%, but my booth-matching suggests it will be downhill for them from here.

6.43pm. Collinsvale booth in from Elwick: Labor’s Josh Willie a fraction under 50%, Greens and independent 25.1% apiece.

6.41pm. A very quick count in McIntyre, courtesy of its many small rural booths. Tania Rattray is now a shade below 60%. But nothing yet from Elwick.

6.37pm. Two more booths in from Huon. Greens candidate Gideon Cordover still leads on 29.6%, but I’m now recording his swing at only 2.2%, since the new booths were ones where the Greens did well last time also. Labor’s Toby Thorpe is second on 22.7%, which is a 10.9% swing against, remembering that the Liberals weren’t in the race this time but are now. Dean Harriss’s 20.6% is a swing in his favour of 7.9%. If these swings hold, the result will be Harriss 24.1%, Labor 20.4% and Greens 19.7%. I would guess that Labor and Greens preferences will heavily flow to each other, so it’s likely a question of which one wins. The Liberals on 16.3% and the Local Party on 10.8% are not in contention. I do believe the Greens have never won a seat in the Legislative Council before.

6.34pm. Tania Rattray is down to 61.6% with six booths in from McIntyre; David Downie won the Epping booth, maintaining the pattern of him doing well enough in Northern Midlands but not making much of an impression elsewhere.

6.31pm. Huon is off to an interesting start with two booths in, with the Greens candidate leading on 29.4%. This is a 12.5% swing to them compared with the 2020 election result. Labor is on 22.6%, a 17.1% swing against. Independent Dean Harriss is in the mix with 20.2%, a 5.0% swing in his favour compared with his result in 2020. The Liberals so far seem to be striking out on 16.3% (they did not run in 2020).

6.26pm. Three booths in from McIntyre, and with Tania Rattray on 250 votes out of 359, I think it’s clear already that the other independent, David Downie, won’t threaten her. One of the three is Avoca, from Downie’s turf in Northern Midlands, and while the margin there is a lot narrower, Rattray has still won the booth.

6pm. Polls have closed for the Tasmanian Legislative Council elections for Huon, McIntyre and Elwick, which I name in what seem to be to be descending order of interest. The former pits Labor against Liberal in a Labor-held seat, but also has an independent who could prove competitive. McIntyre pits an independent candidate against what seems a reasonably well credentialed independent challenger. Elwick, unless I’m missing something, seems very likely to stay with Labor. The current numbers in the chamber are Liberal four, Labor four and independents seven. Labor did have five, but the now retiring member for Huon resigned from the party last Augus

Boothby and ACT Senate polls

Labor looking good in Boothby, a promising result for ACT Senate independent David Pocock, and a quick look at today’s upper house elections in Tasmania.

Two bits of private polling to have emerged over the past day:

The Advertiser reports a uComms poll for the SA Forest Products Association finds Labor with a 55-45 lead in the Adelaide seat of Boothby, held by the Liberals on a margin of 1.4% and to be vacated with the retirement of Nicolle Flint. The primary votes are Liberal 32.6%, Labor 31.7%, Greens 10.5% and independent Jo Dyer 5.5% – an element of the remainder would have been undecided and posed a forced-response follow-up, for which the results are not provided. Respondent-allocated preferences among the independents and minor parties flowed over 70% to Labor. The automated phone poll was conducted on Wednesday and Thursday from a sample of 810.

• The Canberra Times reports a Redbridge poll of the Australian Capital Territory Senate race for Climate 200 had Labor Senator Katy Gallagher on 27% (down from 39.3% in 2019), Liberal Senator Zed Seselja on 25% (down from 32.4%), independent David Pocock on 21%, the Greens on 11% (down from 17.7%), independent Kim Rubenstein on 6% and the United Australia Party on 6% (up from 2.3%). These figures suggest Seselja would lose his seat to Pocock, although the fall in the Labor vote is enough to suggest that any combination of two out of Gallagher, Seselja and Pocock is possible. The automated phone poll was conducted on April 23 and 24 from a sample of 1064.

The Age/Herald had a report yesterday based on a combination of the last two Resolve Strategic federal polls, allowing journalist David Crowe to analyse New South Wales, Victorian and Queensland breakdowns from plausibly large sample size (though only as high as 509 in the case of Queensland). However, since breakdowns for these states are published with each monthly poll, it’s old news as far as I’m concerned.

In other electoral news, today is the day of Tasmania’s periodic Legislative Council elections, which this year encompass the Hobart seat of Elwick, which seems likely to be retained for Labor by Josh Willie; the north-eastern rural seat of McIntyre, where long-serving independent Tania Rattray might or might not be troubled by independent rival David Downie; and what is technically a by-election in Huon, covering the towns south of Hobart, resulting from the resignation of Labor-turned-independent member Bastian Seidel. The latter would seem to be a competitive race involving Labor, Liberal and three other candidates, and constitutes an electoral test of sorts for the state’s new Premier, Jeremy Rockliff. This site will feature live commentary of some description from 6pm.

Peter Gutwein resigns

Tasmania’s Liberals prepare to anoint their third Premier since coming to power in 2014 as Peter Gutwein retires after two years in the job.

Peter Gutwein has announced his retirement from parliament and as Premier of Tasmania, effective immediately. Without knowing an awful lot about the day-to-day of the Tasmanian political scene, my assumption would be that the favourite to succeed him is Deputy Premier and Health Minister Jeremy Rockliff, who has held the deputy position in both opposition and government all the way back to 2006. Rockliff declined to seek the leadership after Will Hodgman retired in January 2020, instead joining a moderate leadership ticket headed by Gutwein.

If the conservatives are willing or able to flex their muscles, other contenders might include Michael Ferguson, who holds the infrastructure and transport, finance, state development and local government and planning portfolios (and was one of the many one-term members for the federal seat of Bass from 2004 to 2007), and Attorney-General Elise Archer. Ferguson and Archer were initially poised to run as a conservative ticket for leader and deputy when Hodgman resigned, but both withdrew when it became apparent they didn’t have the numbers.

Gutwein’s resignation will also result in a vacancy in the division of Bass, which will be filled by a recount of votes from last year’s election. There has already been a vacancy for one of the three Liberal seats, with Sarah Courtney succeeded by Lara Alexander in February. The results of that recount suggest Gutwein’s seat is certain to be filled by Simon Wood, who finished narrowly behind Alexander in the recount and well ahead of the remaining Liberal on the ticket, Greg Kieser.

EMRS: Liberal 41, Labor 31, Greens 12 in Tasmania

A regular Tasmanian state polling series records a narrowing after a long period of Liberal dominance.

EMRS has published its quarterly-or-so poll of state voting intention in Tasmania, which records a sharp downturn for the Liberals after a long period of overwhelming dominance. The party is down eight points on the primary vote since December to 41%, with Labor up five to 31%, the Greens down one to 12% and “others” up four to 16%. Peter Gutwein’s lead over Labor’s Rebecca White as preferred premier has likewise narrowed, from 59-28 to 52-33. The poll was conducted by phone on Monday and Tuesday last week from a sample of 1000.

While on Tasmanian affairs, it’s worth repeating here that Lara Alexander was sworn in last week as one of the three Liberal members for Bass, having won the recount to succeed Sarah Courtney after her resignation last month. This involved counting the ballots that elected Courtney at the election last May, which found Alexander prevailing over rival Liberal candidate Simon Wood by 5671 votes (52.9%) to 5051 (47.1%).

Ends and odds

Recent matters to report that aren’t state poll results.

It’s been a big couple of days for state opinion polls: a shock Newspoll from South Australia three weeks out from the election, a YouGov poll showing Labor still in front in Queensland, and a Resolve Strategic finding that Labor is back in the game in New South Wales. As well as all that, I can offer the following summary of miscellaneous developments to hang a new open thread off:

• The Age/Herald has related that the small sample of 170 Western Australian respondents from the recent Resolve Strategic poll had 64% supporting Mark McGowan’s decision to scrap the originally proposed date of February 5 for reopening the state’s border, with only 32% opposed. This compares with 39% and 47% respectively from the national sample of 1604.

• The Liberal National Party candidate for the Labor-held marginal seat of Lilley in Brisbane, Ryan Shaw, has announced his withdrawal. Shaw is an army veteran who served in East Timor and Afghanistan, and said he had made the decision to focus on his mental health.

• Lara Alexander will become one of the three Liberal members for Bass in the Tasmanian state parliament after winning the recount to succeed Sarah Courtney. This involved counting the ballots that elected Courtney at the election last May, which found Alexander prevailing over rival Liberal candidate Simon Wood by 5671 votes (52.9%) to 5051 (47.1%).

• The Poll Bludger, individually and collectively, was greatly saddened to hear of the death of Zoe Wilson, a.k.a. Lizzie, an unfailingly civil contributor to the forum of long standing, as was related yesterday in comments by Zoomster.

Yuletide polling detritus

A Tasmanian state poll, issue salience and COVID management polling, and a voting intention data dump from Essential Research.

Unless Roy Morgan is feeling ambitious, we’re unlikely to see new polling until mid-to-late January, although The Australian should have Newspoll’s quarterly breakdowns immediately after Christmas. If breakdowns are your game, Essential Research now provides a mother lode of them for all its polling going back the start of 2020, with voting intention broken down by (mainland) state, gender, age cohort, work status and region (categorised as inner metro, outer metro, provincial and rural). With the availability of this data, it will become worth my while to again provide state-level polling trends in BludgerTrack, as was done before the 2019 election. So stay tuned for that. For the time being, Essential’s state and gender results are now included in my poll data archive.

A few other polling morsels to report:

• The latest EMRS poll of state voting intention in Tasmania snuck out last week without me noticing. It found little change on the last poll in August, with the Liberals steady on 49%, Labor down two to 26% and the Greens steady on 13%, which in turn differed little from the March election result of Liberal 48.7%, Labor 28.2% and Greens 12.4%. Peter Gutwein’s 59-28 lead over Rebecca White as preferred premier is likewise hardly changed from 59-29 last time. The poll was conducted November 28 to December 5 from a sample of 1000.

• JWS Research has released its latest True Issues survey on issue salience. Ratings for the government’s performance across a range of 20 issues are down across the board by zero to five points since July, with defence, security and terrorism and immigration remaining its strongest suits and cost of living and environment/climate change its weakest. Among many findings about COVID-19, the federal government is deemed to have performed well by 40% and poorly by 28%, while state and territory governments in aggregate are on 60% and 12% respectively, with both maintaining downward trends from a peak late last year. Cost of living and health are rated effectively equal as the issue the government should be most focused on, with 59% and 58% respectively including them among five choices out of a list of 20. The survey was conducted November 22 to November 24 from a sample of 1000.

• Recommended reading: Kevin Bonham on “the overrated impact of party preferencing decisions” and Alan Kohler on the Australian Electoral Commission.

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.