Two polls and a by-election date

Daniel Andrews continues to keep his head above water, despite waning patience with Victoria’s lockdown measures.

Opinion poll and by-election developments:

• Roy Morgan has published another of its SMS polls from Victoria, which records little change on state voting intention from a fortnight ago: Labor leads 51.5-48.5 on two-party preferred, as they did last time, from primary votes of Labor 40% (up one), Coalition 36% (down one) and Greens 9% (down one). Daniel Andrews records a 59-41 approval/disapproval split, in from 61-39 last time. However, support for existing lockdown measures is fast dissipating: there is now a 73-27 split in favour of allowing visits to immediate family members (out from 59-41 last time and 55-45 three weeks previously); 62-38 in favour of allowing table service (56-44 in favour last time and 63-37 against the time before); and 72-28 in favour of relaxing the five kilometre rule (61-39 in favour last time, 50-50 the time before). The poll was conducted Monday and Tuesday from a sample of 899 for voting intention and 1163 for the lockdown questions.

• The Australian had results from a further question on the weekend’s Newspoll yesterday, which found 54% were more concerned about moving too quickly to relax lockdowns and restrictions, down two from mid-September, and 43% were more concerned about moving too slowly at the expense of the economy, jobs and mental wellbeing (up four).

• The date for the Groom by-election has been set at November 28.

Victorian COVID-19 polling, etc.

A new poll suggests Victorians remain sympathetic to Daniel Andrews, despite waning patience with COVID-19 restrictions.

It’s time for a new general discussion thread, but do take note of the other important new posts below this one before diving in:

• New state polling from Western Australia suggests there will be little left of the parliamentary Liberal Party after the election there in March;

• Guest contributor Adrian Beaumont offers his weekly situation report on the ever-eventful US election campaign;

• I launch my Queensland election guide, and in doing so provide a thread for discussion of that state’s October 31 election;

• I humbly plead for donations, as I do every two months.

Other than that, there is one further poll to report on in the shape of a Roy Morgan SMS poll from Victoria, following on from a similar efforts two and three weeks ago. This finds the Labor state government’s two-party lead unchanged at 51.5-48.5, but Daniel Andrews is down nine on approval to 61% and up nine on disapproval to 39%. There has also been movement in sentiment against existing COVID-19 restrictions, with a 61-39 split in favour of lifting the five kilometre rule (50-50 last time), 59-41 in favour of visits to immediate family members (55-45 in favour last time) and 56-44 in favour of a resumption of table service (63-37 against last time). The poll was conducted Monday and Tuesday from a sample of 2223.

Newspoll and Essential Research coronavirus polling

Among many other findings relating to COVID-19, the strongest evidence yet that Victorians are unswayed by news media narratives concerning their state government.

The Australian today reports Newspoll findings on COVID-19 and leadership approval from Victoria and Queensland, which were targeted with expanded samples (608 and 603 respectively) in the poll whose main results were published yesterday:

• Daniel Andrews is up five points on approval from late July to 62% and down two on approval to 35%, whereas Scott Morrison is down six on approval to 62% and up seven on disapproval to 33%. Andrews is reckoned to be doing very well in handling COVID-19 by 31% (up four), fairly well by 31% (down three), fairly badly by 13% (down five) and very badly by 22% (up four), while Morrison is on 26% for very well (down five), 45% for fairly well (down one), 15% for fairly badly (up three) and 10% for very badly (up one).

• Annastacia Palaszczuk’s ratings are only modestly changed, with approval down one to 63% and disapproval up four to 33% as compared with the poll in late July, while Scott Morrison is down five to 67% and up four to 28% as compared with the poll in late June. Both leaders’ COVID-19 ratings are a little weaker than they were in late July: Palaszczuk records 32% for very well (down five), 36% for fairly well (down eight), 16% for fairly badly (up eight) and 13% for very badly (up seven), while Morrison has 34% for very well (down six), 43% for fairly well (up three), 13% for fairly badly (up two) and 7% for very badly (up one).

• The national sample was asked about the restrictions in Victoria and Queensland, which naturally required lengthy explanation (the framing of which seems reasonable enough). For Victoria, the results were 25% too strict, 61% about right and 10% too lenient; for Queensland, 37% too strict, 53% about right and 7% too lenient.

• The balance of concern is nonetheless moving away from “moving too quickly to relax restrictions”, down 20 points since mid-July to 56%, to “moving too slowly to relax restrictions and harming economy, jobs and mental wellbeing”, up 19 points to 39%.

Today also brings the fortnightly Essential Research poll, as related by The Guardian with the full report to follow later today:

• Respondents were in favour of both Scott Morrison’s handling of COVID-19 (a 61% approval rating, up two on a fortnight ago) and Queensland state border closures he wants lifted (66% support, including 70% among Queensland respondents). Forty-seven per cent of Victorian respondents approved of the state government’s COVID-19 management, unchanged from a fortnight ago, while the rating for the New South Wales government was up seven to 67%.

• Thirty-three per cent of respondents felt tax cuts for high income earners should be brought forward from 2022, as the government has signalled it will do, while 38% believe they should be scrapped and 29% believe the government should stick to the original timetable. Twenty-one per cent believe they would be an effective economic stimulus, compared with 41% for moderately effective and 38% for not effective.

• Asked which technology they preferred for future energy generation, 70% favoured renewables and 15% gas and coal.

The poll was conducted Wednesday to Sunday from a sample of 1081.

UPDATE: Full Essential Research poll here.

Miscellany: Groom by-election, Victoria poll, perceptions of US

A by-election looms in an uncompetitive seat; a poll shows Labor maintaining a lead in Victoria in spite of everything; and regard for the United States and its President falls still further.

First up, note the new-ish posts below on a YouGov poll for South Australia and Adrian Beaumont’s latest on the US race.

• A federal by-election looms for the seat of the Queensland Groom, centred on Toowoomba. This follows yesterday’s announcement by Liberal-aligned LNP member John McVeigh, the member since 2016 and previously state member for Toowoomba South from 2012,. that he will retire due to his wife’s illness. With Labor having polled 18.7% of the primary vote in the seat at the 2019 election, it seems a fairly safe bet that they will be sitting this one out. To the extent that the seat has been interesting it has been as a battleground between the Liberals and the Nationals, most recently when McVeigh’s predecessor, Ian Macfarlane, had his bid to defect from the former to the latter blocked by the Liberal National Party administration in 2015. John McVeigh’s father, Tom McVeigh, held the seat for the National/Country Party from 1972 to 1988 (it was known until 1984 as Darling Downs), but it passed to the Liberal control at the by-election following his retirement.

• Roy Morgan has an SMS poll of state voting intention in Victoria, and while the methodology may be dubious, it delivers a rebuke to the news media orthodoxy in crediting Daniel Andrews’ Labor government with a two-party lead of 51.5-48.5. The primary votes are Labor 37%, Coalition 38.5% and Greens 12.5%. The results at the 2018 election were Labor 42.9%, Coalition 35.2% and Greens 10.7%, with Labor winning the two-party vote 57.3-42.7. The poll was conducted Tuesday to Thursday from a sample of 1147.

• An international poll by the Pew Research Centre finds 94% of Australians believe their country has handled the pandemic well and 6% badly, whereas 85% think the United States has handled it badly and 14% well, while the respective numbers for China are 25% and 73%. Twenty-three per cent have confidence in Donald Trump to do the right think for world affairs, down from 35% last year, equaling a previous low recorded for George W. Bush in 2008. Only 33% of Australians have a favourable view of the United States, down from 50% last year, a change similar to that for all other nations surveyed.

Still more affairs of state

A whole bunch of privately conducted polls from Queensland and Victoria, some more convincing than others.

No media polling has emerged in the past week, but there have been a welter of reports at state level on private polling – rather too many, one might think, given the political agendas frequently attached to them.

In Victoria, where Liberals provided the Herald Sun with polling showing Labor copping a hiding in four marginal seats last week, Labor-linked firm Redbridge Group has pushed back showing a far happier set of results for the Andrews government. This includes a state voting intention finding with Labor on 39.1%, the Coalition on 34.5% and the Greens on 7.0%, converting into an estimated 53.5-46.5% lead to Labor on two-party preferred. Pollster Kos Samaras offers a few qualifications: that phone polls tend to under-report both Labor and the Nationals, and that the Greens’ inner-city constituency is “difficult to survey”.

On the state government’s road map for emerging from lockdown, 58.1% agree it was motivated by “the best interests of Victorians” with 31.3% disagreeing. Conversely, only 34.1% thought Scott Morrison and the federal government were playing a constructive role, with 50.6% disagreeing, and just 18.2% thought so in relation to the state Liberals, with 57.0% disagreeing. The poll was conducted last Wednesday to Saturday from a sample of 2172.

There has also been a flurry of polling ahead of next month’s state election in Queensland, all of it portending bad things for Labor:

The Australian reported on polling conducted for coal miner New Hope by Omnipoll, which was co-founded by former Newspoll head Martin O’Shannessy, has the following findings in Queensland, targeting four Labor-held seats outside Brisbane. The overall pattern was of an exodus from right-wing minor parties to the Liberal National Party, and of Labor losing a bigger share of the primary vote than they would probably be able to wear:

Ipswich: Labor 44 (-4), LNP 29 (+16), One Nation 5 (-22), Greens 12 (+3).
Keppel: Labor 34 (-9), LNP 40 (+15), One Nation 10 (-16), Greens 7 (+1).
Mackay: Labor 36 (-7), LNP 37 (+12), One Nation 7 (-16), Greens 6 (+1).
Thuringowa: Labor 33 (+1), LNP 40 (+19), One Nation 4 (-16), Greens 7 (+1), Katter’s Australian Party 7 (-9).

This tends to suggest Labor losing more support than they can wear, while the LNP soaks up a huge share of One Nation and KAP support that it had probably been getting back as preferences anyway. Labor won Ipswich by 10.9% over One Nation in 2017, and wouldn’t be troubled there on these numbers; won Keppel by 3.1% over One Nation, and would likely lose to the LNP; won Mackay by 8.3% over the LNP, and would likely hang on; and won Thuringowa over One Nation by 4.1%, and would likely lose.

• The Greens have been circulating results of three inner urban seats conducted by Lonergan Research, where the LNP’s move to preference them ahead of Labor makes them likely winners wherever they can finish second. In the party’s one existing seat of Maiwar, a strong flow of Labor preferences would likely secure victory for incumbent Michael Berkman, on 36% to LNP candidate Lauren Day’s 37%, with Labor on 17%. The party is reportedly well placed to defeat former Deputy Premier Jackie Trad in South Brisbane, where their candidate Amy McMahon has 36% to Trad’s 30%, with Clem Grehan of the LNP on 21%. They also look in the hung on in McConnel, which was once more appositely known as Brisbane Central, Greens candidate Kirsten Lovejoy is on 30%, Labor incumbent Grace Grace is on 29%, and LNP candidate Pinky Singh is on 31%, with 8% undecided. Notes of caution: The Australian cites Labor analysis that has the party expecting to win a very close race; Kevin Bonham discerns a tendency for the Greens to under-perform their own published seat polling; and even the pollster itself cautions that the Greens are “typically over-represented in polls”, as reported by the Courier-Mail. Each of the polls was conducted “over the past month” by phone and SMS from samples of 600.

• A statewide poll conducted by LNP-aligned think tank the Australian Institute for Progress was trumpeted in the Courier-Mail on Monday as a YouGov poll showing Labor on 32%, the LNP 38% and the Greens on 12%. However, it turns out these were the results of the paper’s own YouGov poll from early June that the pollster used as a weighting base for responses to a series of other questions. The Courier-Mail report no longer claims the poll was conducted by YouGov, but continues to present its numbers as fresh results. The new poll would actually appear to have covered barely more than 300 respondents drawn from the organisation’s own online panel, which is quite a lot smaller than those used by YouGov and Essential Research. For what it’s worth, it finds a 56-44 split in favour of the LNP to form government, plus other findings you can read in the pollster’s own report.

Something for everybody

Great polling for Labor in Victoria, catastrophic polling for Labor in Victoria, and a mixed bag of federal seat polling — but seemingly a very clear picture in Western Australia.

Scattered accounts of opinion polling ahead of what looks like being a lean week for it, with both Newspoll and Essential Research entering an off-week in their respective cycles:

• Some seriously mixed signals coming out of Victoria, starting with Roy Morgan, who have published results of an SMS poll conducted on Tuesday and Wednesday from a sample of 2325 that records a 70-30 favourable split for Daniel Andrews’ performance as Premier. Respondents also split 63-37 against allowing restaurants, hotels and cafes to provide table service, 54-46 against ending the rule limiting travel to within 5 kilometres of a person’s home, 63-37 against an end to the 9pm curfew, although there is a 59-41 split in favour of allowing Melbourne residents to visit the homes of immediate family members, and a 76-24 split in favour of state government compensation for businesses forced to close.

• The contrast is provided by a Herald Sun report in Liberal internal polling by MediaReach of five marginal Victorian state seats, showing devastating swings against Labor. The Liberals are credited with leads of 70.6-29.4 in Bayswater (50.4-49.6 to Labor at the 2018 election), 68.0-32.0 in Hawthorn (50.4-49.6 to Labor), 54.5-45.5 in Monbulk (58.6-41.4), 54.9-45.1 in Mount Waverley (51.8-48.2) and 57.9-42.1 in South Barwon (54.6-45.4). Daniel Andrews is nonetheless said to have preferred premier leads over Michael O’Brien of 46-37 in South Barwon, 43-37 in Mount Waverley and 39-29 in Monbulk, with O’Brien leading 46-33 in Hawthorn and 37-33 in Bayswater. The polling was conducted on Tuesday from samples of between 523 and 694.

• Labor-linked firm Redbridge Group has published polling from three Labor-held federal seats, which collectively suggest Labor has gone backwards since last year’s election. Including results for a follow-up prompt for the initially undecided, and applying preference flows from the last election, I estimate the two-party results at 54-46 to the LNP in Lilley, where Labor’s margin is 0.6%; 54.7-45.3 to Liberal in Hunter, where the margin is 3.0%; but 53-47 to Labor in Corangamite, improving on their existing 1.1% margin. Whereas One Nation came close to making the final two-party preference count in Hunter last year, this poll has them a distant third with 9.5%. The poll also presented respondents in Hunter with Liberal as the Coalition response option, whereas the seat was contested by the Nationals at the election. The poll was conducted from August 20-22 from samples of 1000 to 1200 per electorate. Pollster Kos Samaras notes on Twitter that their state-level polling is “not reporting the same trends”, and suggests the firm will publish polling over the coming days casting doubt over the aforementioned MediaReach findings from Victoria.

The West Australian published further results on Monday from last week’s Painted Dog Research poll, which credited Mark McGowan with a 91% approval rating, this time on Liberal leader Liza Harvey. Harvey was found to have an approval rating of just 10%, down nine since June, with disapproval unchanged at 37%. The balance included 36% neither satisifed nor dissatisfied and 10% for don’t know – I’m not sure where that leaves the 7% balance. The poll was conducted last week from a sample of 837.

• I took part in a podcast this week with Ben Raue at The Tally Room, together with former Australian Electoral Commission official Michael Maley, in which a highly wonk-ish discussion was had about electoral redistributions.