Victorian election: highlights of week two (early edition)

Featuring external polling, internal polling, insider scuttlebutt courtesy of The Australian and the Herald-Sun, and some rather meaty attack ads.

I’d been holding back on a new Victorian election post as I’d been anticipating a new Fairfax-Ipsos poll from The Age – but so far at least, no dice. So here’s a situation report on events since the weekend:

• Electorate-level polls conducted last week by the Essential Research on behalf of the Victorian Trades Hall Council found Labor with solid leads in three key marginal seats. In Bellarine, where a 1.4% Labor margin at the 2010 election has been turned into a 2.5% Liberal margin by the redistribution, Labor was credited with a 55-45 lead on two-party preferred and 41-37 on the primary vote. In Frankston, Labor led 40% to 35% on the primary vote and 54-46 on two-party preferred, compared with a post-redistribution Liberal margin of 0.4%. Things were tighter in Mordialloc, with the Liberals leading 41% to 39% on the primary vote. However, Labor had a 52-48 lead on two-party preferred, compared with an existing Liberal margin of 1.5%.

• Roy Morgan evidently plans to conduct weekly SMS polls through the campaign, the second such giving Labor a lead of 53.5-46.5 (up from 52.5-47.5 last week) from primary votes of 36% for Labor (up two) and 38% for the Coalition (up half a point), with the Greens steady on a still implausible 18.5%. The poll was conducted Friday to Monday from a sample of 1847.

• Despite all that, the Coalition seems more than hopeful that the negative advertising blitz it unleashed this week is proving a turning point. The Australian today reports that “support for the Napthine government is starting to increase for the first time in many months”, to the extent that “senior Liberal figures believe the most likely outcome at the election will be either a small government majority or a small Labor majority”. This is said to be corroborated by the internal polling of both parties (although the federal Liberals don’t seem to have been CC’d on the memo, with Patricia Karvelas in The Australian reporting yesterday that most consider the government to be headed for defeat).

• Liberal optimism notwithstanding, The Australian’s report today suggests it is recognised that the government continues to face a tough battle in the crucial “sandbelt” seats of Bentleigh, Mordialloc, Carrum and Frankston. However, a more bullish picture of their prospects was provided by a report on Sunday from James Campbell of the Herald-Sun. Labor sources were cited claiming to be ahead in Bentleigh, “but not by so much as you would put down your glasses”. Mordialloc was deemed by both sides to be too close to call, and the Liberals were actively “confident” about Carrum. However, it appeared to be agreed that Labor was ahead in Frankston. For what little it’s likely to be worth to them, Annika Smethurst of the Herald-Sun reports that Geoff Shaw is likely to direct his preferences to the Liberals.

• The election’s secondary metropolitan flashpoint is the outer north-eastern duo of Yan Yean and Eltham, where Labor has respectively been weakened by redistribution and the retirement of a sitting member. According to today’s report in The Australian, the Liberals believe themselves to be competitive or better in both seats. However, James Campbell’s Herald-Sun report said Labor “swears it will hold Yan Yean”, about which the Liberals were “hopeful but not overly” (likewise the case for Cranbourne on Melbourne’s south-eastern fringe).

• The Coalition conducted its campaign launch in Ballarat on Sunday, signalling hopes of snaring not only the western regional seat of Ripon, where redistribution and the retirement of Labor member Joe Helper have placed them in the box seat, but also Wendouree and Buninyong (known pre-redistribution as Ballarat West and Ballarat East). However, a Liberal source cited by James Campbell’s report said “only Ripon is looking likely with the other two ‘looking hard’“.

• James Campbell also reported that “in Geelong both sides think the most likely outcome is no change”, which I take to suggest that Labor will hold Bellarine but fall short in South Barwon.

• In my previous instalment, I related media reports of polling for the Greens by Lonergan Research showing them leading in Melbourne and Richmond. Full results have been published on the party website: here for Melbourne, and here for Richmond.

• Here’s a taste of that negative Liberal advertising – this in relation to Labor’s CFMEU links (and here’s another concerning the Wonthaggi desalination plant, which enjoyed a helpful front page tie-in from the Herald-Sun on Monday). Also, for the sake of balance, a topical item for the Ballarat market from Labor.

Victorian election: highlights of week one

Introducing a Victorian state election poll aggregate, along with a quick-and-dirty guide to electoral developments from the first week of the campaign.

With three weeks to go until Victoria’s November 29 state election, I have finally got my act together to put a poll aggregation up, which you can find on the sidebar. Whereas the federal BludgerTrack purports to improve upon aggregated polling through bias adjustments based on historical performance, this really is just a poll aggregate, except to the extent that historical performance is used to determine the weight the various pollsters carry in the model. Had historically based bias adjustment been used, the Greens vote would be coming in quite a bit lower. The seat projection, which presently has Labor on 50 and the Coalition on 38, is determined as it is in the federal BludgerTrack – by calculating two-party win probabilities for every seat based on the size of the overall swing and specific seat-level factors such as the effect of retiring members, and determining aggregate seat totals by adding together the probabilities. The model assumes that all 88 seats will again be won by the major parties.

I will try, but probably fail, to update this each time a new poll comes in, which will probably be quite often. Ipsos at least is currently in the field, and we should be getting a second result from it over the coming days. Here’s some of the rest of what’s been happening:

John Ferguson of The Australian reports that internal polling has “hardheads from both major parties” expecting Labor to win the Frankston line trio of Bentleigh, Mordialloc and Carrum. Liberal polling is nonetheless said to be “better than it expected” in Frankston – although earlier in the week the same reporter related that the party “expects to fail” in the seat, and is hoping for a compensating gain in Cranbourne. Labor’s polling is also said to show it on track to retain its own marginals of Eltham and Yan Yean in Melbourne’s north-east, where Labor is respectively handicapped by the retirement of a sitting member and an unfavourable redistribution.

The Age reports that a Greens-commissioned Lonergan Research automated phone poll, targeting 400 voters per seat, shows them leading in Melbourne (40% to Greens candidate Ellen Sandell and 30% to Labor member Jennifer Kanis, a 53-47 lead to the Greens based on 2010 preference flows) and Richmond (39% to Greens candidate Kathleen Maltzahn and 29% to Labor member Dick Wynne, for a 54-46 two-party lead).

• Clive Palmer will today unveil his candidates for the eight Legislative Council regions, having hitherto kept their identity close to his chest. Palmer United will not be fielding candidates in the lower house.

• Tex Perkins, veteran frontman of The Cruel Sea, The Beasts of Bourbon and Thug, will run as an independent in Albert Park as part of a campaign to restore St Kilda’s Palais Theatre.

• Daniel Andrews has rejected the notion that Labor will enter a preference deal with the Greens, scoring helpful headlines ahead of the Liberals’ likely confirmation that they will again place the Greens last, which proved the tactical masterstroke of their 2010 campaign. This presumably means that Labor will behave much as it did in 2010, when it placed the Country Alliance ahead of the Greens on two of its three regional upper house tickets and the Sex Party ahead in Northern Metropolitan region.

Victorian election guide

Introducing the Poll Bludger’s seat-by-seat guide to the November 29 Victorian state election.

The 25-day period of the Victorian election campaign officially begins with today’s issue of the writs by the state’s Governor, Alex Chernov. To mark the occasion, I hit the button today on my guide to the Victorian election, on which you can read a paywalled introductory spiel (mostly to do with the impact of the redistribution) in today’s Crikey, and which you can access any time through the link on the sidebar. The guide encompasses reviews of each of the 88 lower house seats (a guide to the upper house region will follow in due course), which feature a number of very exciting new bells and whistles:

• Booth result maps are featured for each electorate, and rather than the crappy static images you’re used to, they’re embedded in Google Maps so you can zoom in and out, move around and toggle between map and satellite view. The maps show the new electoral boundaries as thicker blue lines, and the old boundaries as thinner red ones. Big up here to Ben Raue of The Tally Room, whose boundary data I’m using, and who deserves your donations.

• Beneath the maps you will find a series of bar charts, also embedded so if you roll the cursor over the bars you can see what the underlying numbers are. The first of these compares the 2010 election two-party results with a determination of how they electorate voted at the 2013 federal election. The latter calculations are slightly crude in that I haven’t gone to the effort of dividing up booths located near electorate boundaries, but fairly considerable trouble has been taken to account for both polling booth and declaration votes.

• There follows a series of demographic indicators, compiled from ABS census collection district data since their state electorate division results are only available pre-redistribution. These include “school leavers” (those who finished high school as a percentage of the 18-plus population), percentage of households where a mortgage is being paid, percentage of all persons who speak a language other than English (“LOTE”) in the home, and medians of weekly family income and age (or to be precise, weighted means of the medians in the census collection districts that constitute the electorate).

• Finally, at the bottom of the entry page you will find image maps for the metropolitan area and the rest of the state, so the electorate guides can be accessed by clicking on the map. Like so:

Newspoll: 54-46 to Labor in Victoria

Newspoll kicks off the official Victorian election campaign with a fresh new poll result, which puts the Labor lead slightly at the high end of a very narrow range in recent polling.

The Australian has published a fresh new poll of state voting intention in Victoria courtesy of Newspoll – conducted entirely from Thursday to Saturday, and not a bi-monthly accumulation of results as is the norm for state Newspolls. The two-party preferred result is 54-46, which is well in the zone of last week’s avalanche of five poll results of between 52-48 and 53-47 (not counting the respondent-allocated Ipsos result). The primary votes are 39% for the Coalition, 41% for Labor and 13% for the Greens. More to follow. HT: James J.

UPDATE: Full results here, including a lot of detail on how respondents rate various issues and who is best to handle them. Labor are generally back to where they were at the 2006 election after slumps in 2010, although an exception is the economy on which the Coalition has a strong lead. The big move on issue salience is water planning, down from 65% to 41% as a “very important” issue, presumably because the steam has gone out of the Murray-Darling controversy. One good bit of news for Denis Napthine is that his personal ratings are substantially improved, his approval rating up six points to 46% and disapproval down two to 41%. Uncommitted ratings are down across the board, with Daniel Andrews gaining four points on both approval and disapproval to reach 36% and 45%, while Napthine’s lead as preferred premier shifts from 41-31 to 47-34.

Coming soon:

• My long-awaited seat-by-seat Victorian election guide will go live tomorrow night (by which I mean Monday). I flatter myself that these are always good value, but this one especially is going to change the way people think about Victorian election guides.

• I guess it’s time I did I poll trend update, so watch this space.