Resolve Strategic: Labor 41, Coalition 31, Greens 11 in Victoria

A new poll finds Labor in Victoria steaming to another commanding victory, albeit that it mixes signals from November and last week.

The Age has published the latest state voting intention result for Victoria, which as usual combines results for the latest poll and the previous, a little awkwardly in this case since there was no monthly poll in December. It’s a strong result for the Andrews government, with Labor up three on the primary vote to 41%, the Coalition down three to 31% and the Greens up one to 11%. Resolve Strategic does not publish two-party results, but based on a typical preference flow this would come out at around 56.5-43.5 to Labor, a swing of barely 1% compared with Labor’s landslide win of 2018. Daniel Andrews’ lead over Matthew Guy as preferred premier has widened from 45-32 to 47-30.

The poll also features some incomplete detail on the various leaders’ handling of pandemic management. I’m unclear if this combines the results of multiple polls, but I believe the question was posed for Scott Morrison and the premiers of the three largest states and not limited to respondents from the relevant jurisdictions. Unfortunately, the report does not provide the negative result on this occasion, which makes it hard to say exactly how bad the positive results are for Dominic Perrottet in particular, who as a newcomer presumably has a high undecided rating. For what it’s worth, Daniel Andrews had a positive rating of 46%, down from 57% in August; Annastacia Palaszczuk had 45%, down from 51%; Scott Morrison had 35%, down from 38%; and Dominic Perrottet had 31%, which compares with Gladys Berejiklian’s 26%.

The Victorian results come from a sample of 1039 combined from polling in November and January, the latter of which was conducted Tuesday to Sunday.

Morgan: 56.5-43.5 to Labor

The last Morgan poll for the year maintains its recent form with a huge lead for Labor. Also: the fortnightly Essential Research and more Victorian state polling.

What is presumably the last Morgan federal voting intention poll for the year maintains the recent trend of this series in favour of Labor with a 56.5-43.5 lead on two-party preferred, out further from 55.5-44.5 last time. Also as per usual with this series, this credits Labor with what seems an improbably strong flow of preferences, the primary votes being Coalition 34.5% (down one), Labor 36% (up half), Greens 12.5% (up half) and One Nation 3.5% (steady). A result is provided for the United Australia Party for the first time, and it’s all of 1%.

The state-level two-party preferred breakdowns include a number of eyebrow-raisers, with Labor leading 55.5-44.5 in New South Wales (unchanged on the last poll, for a swing to Labor of around 8% compared with the 2019 election; 58.5-41.5 in Victoria (out from 58-42, a swing of around 5.5%); 54.5-45.5 in Queensland (out from 51.5-45.5, a swing of 13%); 50.5-49.5 in Western Australia (in from 53.5-46.5, a swing of around 6% and 64.5-35.5 in South Australia (out from 55.5-44.5, a swing of 14%). The Tasmanian result, from a particularly meagre sample, lands well off the path at 51.5-48.5 in favour of the Liberals, a swing in their favour of around 7.5%. The poll was conducted over the past two weekends from an online and phone sample of 2805.

Also out this week was the fortnightly Essential Research survey, on this occasion offering neither voting intention nor leadership approval. The regular question on COVID-19 management found the federal government’s good rating up two to 47% and bad down four to 25%, its best result since July. The New South Wales government’s good rating was down one to 56%, Victoria’s was up one to 51%, Queensland’s was down four to 56%, South Australia’s was up nine to 60% and Western Australia’s was down five to 74%, small sample sizes being the order of the day in the case of the last few.

The poll also finds 34% agreeing with Scott Morrison’s attack on ICAC over Gladys Berejiklian’s resignation with 31% disagreeing and 36% on the fence. However, 53% supported the establishment of a federal commission, with no indication of how many were actively opposed. Other questions find 61% in favour of compulsory vaccination for all adults without a medical exemption, with only 20% opposed, and 28% support for the proposition that governments should on no account impose lockdowns, with 48% opposed. Forty-nine per cent want more evidence on omicron before changing requirements and restrictions, compared with 34% who want proactive tightening and 16% no change regardless. The poll was conducted Wednesday to Sunday from a sample of 1094.

Also out this week was a Redbridge Group poll Victorian state poll for the Herald Sun that targeted eight marginal seats: Eureka (formerly Wendouree), Eltham, Brighton, Bentleigh, Evelyn, Carrum, Kalkallo (formerly Yuroke) and Melton. This was rather less good for Labor than other recent polling, with primary votes of Labor 36% (down 9.5% from the results in these seats at the 2018 election, adjusted as appropriate for the new redistribution), Liberal 28.8% (down 2.3%), the Greens 8% (down 0.7%) and, strikingly 8% for the United Australia Party and 5% for One Nation, neither of whom contested last time, quite apart from an unchanged 11% for independents and other minor parties. The latter development makes preference projections particularly uncertain, but a result is provided of 54-46 to Labor, a swing against them of around 4%. The poll was conducted November 26 to 28 from a sample of 2442.

Beware the Ides of March (or May)

Odds shorten on a May federal election; Morrison threatens a nuclear option for preselections in New South Wales; plus news on state by-elections, actual or potential.

Yesterday’s tabling of a proposed parliamentary schedule for new year resulted in another spin of the election date speculation wheel, the consensus being that it will be held on either May 7 and 14. The government has, as they say, pencilled in March 29 as the date for the budget, although “sources close to Mr Morrison” tell The Australian he may make use of his eraser if his polling improves over summer, such that March is “still a live option” for the election. That would presumably lead to South Australian Premier Steven Marshall exercising his option to delay the March 19 state election by up to three weeks in the event of a March federal election, a matter Scott Morrison denies having discussed with him.

Other election news, federal and state:

• Scott Morrison told the Liberal federal executive he was considering asking it to exercise powers to override state divisions in preselections to impose his preferred candidates in key New South Wales seats, including state MPs Andrew Constance in Gilmore and Melanie Gibbons in Hughes (Alexandra Smith of the Sydney Morning Herald reports state Police Minister David Elliott is resisting entreaties to run in Greenway). Such a move would be “seen as a declaration of war by key members of the NSW state division”, specifically its conservatives and moderates.

Sarah Martin of The Guardian reports Natalie Baini, who until recently was a cultural diversity manager at the Australian Football League, has withdrawn her preselection challenge against Liberal MP Fiona Martin in Reid and will instead run as an independent, complaining the party had failed to act on her complaint against “inappropriate conduct of some senior members of the party and the government”.

Alexandra Smith of the Sydney Morning Herald reports Labor will yield to the insistence of local party branches and field a candidate in John Barilaro’s seat of Monaro, despite Labor leader Chris Minns rating it an “impossible task”.

John Ferguson of The Australian reported last week on “intense speculation” that a Victorian state by-election could be on the cards in Kew, whose embattled Liberal member, Tim Smith, had been “linked with potential job prospects in Britain, where he once lived”. Sunday Herald Sun columnist “Backroom Baz” rates that Smith will linger until the election if the preselection goes to his ally David Davis, the Shadow Treasurer and Opposition Leader in the Legislative Council, but would be disposed to inflict the by-election on the party if it instead goes to Jess Wilson, a former staffer to Josh Frydenberg and current policy director at the Business Council of Australia. Also in the field are Lucas Moon, former soldier and commercial manager of construction company Winslow, who has been endorsed by Tim Costello; Monica Clark, a family lawyer; Felicity Sinfield, a police officer and Boroondara councillor; and Michael Sabljak, a former electorate officer to federal MP Michael Sukkar.

Resolve Strategic NSW poll and Morgan Victorian poll

Two new polls suggest recent events have done little harm to state governments in New South Wales and, especially, Victoria.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports the latest bi-monthly New South Wales state poll from Resolve Strategic suggests the change of Premier has made next to no difference to voting intention, with the Coalition steady on 41%, Labor up one to 31%, the Greens down one to 10% and Shooters Fishers and Farmers steady on 2%. Dominic Perrottet scores a 34-23 lead over Chris Minns in his first result as preferred premier, compared with Gladys Berejiklian’s lead of 48-21 in her final survey.

Resolve Strategic’s state polls combined the results of two monthly surveys, both having been conducted since Perrottet succeeded Berejiklian on October 5. The more recent round was conducted from Wednesday to Sunday while the earlier round was four weeks previous, each having gauged between 500 and 600 respondents. Alexandra Smith of the Sydney Morning Herald offers sketchy detail on further results from the poll, indicating that Gladys Berejiklian is still held in high regard — more so now indeed than in the final days of her premiership — but that 47% nonetheless feel the Independent Commission Against Corruption “has done important work and should not have its powers reduced”.

Also out overnight was a second Roy Morgan SMS poll in fortnight showing Labor with a crushing lead in Victoria, in this case of 59.5-40.5 on two-party preferred, compared with 58-42 in both the previous Morgan poll and last week’s Newspoll, and 57.3-42.7 at the 2018 election. The primary votes are Labor 45% (up two on the last poll and from 42.9% at the election), the Coalition on 29% (down two and from 35.2% at the election) the Greens on 10.5% (down half and hardly changed from 10.7% at the election) and the United Australia Party on 4% (up one). As Kevin Bonham observes, these primary votes would give Labor an even bigger two-party lead if preference flows from the previous election were applied, of around 61-39.

The poll also credits Daniel Andrews with a 63.5-36.5 approval-disapproval split, compared with 60.5-39.5 a fortnight ago, and finds a 76-24 split in favour of vaccine mandates in the workplace. The poll was conducted yesterday from a sample of 1105.

Newspoll: 58-42 to Labor in Victoria

A new state poll from Victoria finds the Andrews government matching the heights of its 2018 election landslide.

The Australian reports a Newspoll survey of state voting intention in Victoria credits Daniel Andrews’ government with a thumping lead of 58-42 on two-party preferred, matching the 57.3-42.7 result in the 2018 election landslide. The primary vote were similarly closely matched to the election result, with Labor at 44% (compared with 42.9%), the Coalition at 36% (compared with 35.2%), the Greens at 11% (compared with 10.7%) and others at 9% (compared with 11.2%, and in defiance of an apparent recent trend of minor parties profiting from anti-lockdown sentiment).

Daniel Andrews is credited with an approval rating of 56% and a 42% disapproval rating, while Matthew Guy manages only 34% and 42% two-and-a-half months after returning to the Liberal leadership. Andrews holds a 54-33 lead as preferred premier. Sixty per cent rate that Andrews has handled the pandemic well compared with 39% for poor, with Andrews performing notably better among women (65% and 34%, compared with 55% and 43% among men) and younger age cohorts. A distinctive feature of the poll is low uncommitted ratings: only 2% neither approved nor disapproved of Andrews, with 1% declining a view as to how well Andrews had handled the pandemic.

The poll was conducted Thursday to Wednesday from a sample of 1029.

Who’s the fairest

Newspoll results on attitudes to the leaders find both performing poorly eve by the grim standards of recent history.

The Australian had follow-up results from the weekend Newspoll on Tuesday showing how the two leaders compared on nine attributes, with accompanying tables neatly comparing the results to 14 earlier following the same template going back go 2008. It is characteristic of such results to move in lock step with a leader’s overall approval rating, and these are no exception, with Scott Morrison’s position deteriorating by between eight (arrogant up from 52% to 60%) and sixteen (likeable down from 63% to 47%) points since April, while Anthony Albanese’s movements ranged from positive two (arrogant from 40% to 38%) to negative four (trustworthy from 48% to 44% and experienced from 64% to 60%).

The result is that both leaders are at or near the weakest results yet recorded on a range of measures. Scott Morrison had the worst results yet recorded for either a Prime Minister or Opposition Leader on “understands the major issues” (52%) and “cares for people” (50%) and the worst for a Prime Minister on trustworthy (42%). However, he has the consolation that Anthony Albanese’s results were hardly better at 54%, 56% and 44% respectively. Both also scored poorly on being in touch with voters, at 41% for Morrison and 46% for Albanese, while landing well clear of the 33% Tony Abbott recorded a few weeks after the Prince Phillip knighthood. Conversely, Albanese’s arrogant rating of 38% is the lowest yet recorded, comparing with a middling 60% for Morrison.

Other news:

• A Liberal preselection vote on the weekend for the eastern Melbourne fringe seat of Casey, which will be vacated with the retirement of Tony Smith, was won by Aaron Violi, executive with a company that provides online ordering services to restaurants and a former staffer to Senator James Patterson. The Age reports Violi won the last round of the ballot by 152 votes to 101 ahead of Andrew Asten, principal of Boston Consulting Group and former ministerial chief-of-staff to Alan Tudge, with the last candidate excluded being Melbourne City councillor Roshena Campbell. Earlier reports suggested Campbell and Violi to be aligned with state Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien and party president Robert Clark, while Asten is in the rival Josh Frydenberg/Michael Sukkar camp.

• A Roy Morgan poll, using its somewhat dubious SMS survey method, produced very strong results for the Labor government in Victoria, which was credited with a 58-42 lead on two-party preferred, compared with 57.3-42.7 at the 2018 election. The primary votes were Labor 43%, Coalition 31% and Greens 11%. A forced response question on Daniel Andrews found 60.5% approving and 39.5% disapproving. The poll was conducted last Thursday from a sample of 1357.

Sooner or later

Odds lengthen on an early election, John Alexander calls it a day in Bennelong, doubts over the passage of the government’s voter identification bill, and more.

A consensus has locked in over the past week behind the notion that the federal election will not be until May, with John Kehoe of the Financial Review reporting public servants have been told to cut short summer holiday plans to help prepare a pre-election budget in April. The government will then be able to “fight the poll on an expected economic bounce-back from COVID-19”.

Also:

• Liberal member John Alexander has announced he will not seek re-election in his Sydney seat of Bennelong, which he recovered for the Liberals in 2010 following John Howard’s historic defeat in 2007. The Sydney Morning Herald reports contenders for the preselection are likely to include Gisele Kapterian, a former chief-of-staff to Michaelia Cash and current executive at software company Salesforce, and City of Sydney councillor Craig Chung. Kapterian was mentioned as a possible challenger to Alexander’s preselection earlier in the year.

• The federal government seems to be struggling to get the numbers it will need to pass its voter identification bill through the Senate before the election. With One Nation for and Labor, the Greens and independent Senator Rex Patrick vehemently opposed, the swing votes in the Senate are Centre Alliance Senator Stirling Griff and independent Jacqui Lambie. While Griff supports the idea in principle, the Financial Review reports that Lambie and the Centre Alliance’s lower house member, Mayo MP Rebekha Sharkie, has criticised the short time frame and the government’s prioritisation of the matter over issues including the establishment a federal integrity commission. Independent MP Bob Katter added to the momentum against the measure when he declared it “blatantly racist” due to its disproportionate impact on indigenous voters.

• In the period between his drink driving misadventure a fortnight ago and announcement at the start of this week that he would bow out at the next election, Tim Smith’s Victorian state seat of Kew was the subject of a comprehensive poll by Redbridge Group which had Liberal on 39%, Labor on 31% and the Greens on 12%, suggesting a close contest between Liberal and Labor at the final count to be determined by the unknown quantity of independent and small party preferences. However, the poll also recorded a 40.2% “very unfavourable” rating for state Labor, along with 44.9% for Smith and 49.5% for one of his backers, Tony Abbott. The poll was conducted November 4 to 7 from a sample of 920.

• The Liberals have confirmed candidates for two Hunter region seats that swung heavily against Labor in 2019. In Paterson, where the margin was cut from 10.7% to 5.0% in 2019, the candidate will be Brooke Vitnell, a family law solicitor and former ministerial staffer to Paul Fletcher and Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells. Shortland will again be contested by Nell McGill, a commercial litigator at Sparke Helmore Lawyers, who cut the margin from 9.9% to 4.4% in 2019.

• It has come to my attention that US pollster Morning Consult conducts a weekly tracking poll of approval and disapproval for 13 world leaders including Scott Morrison, who has lately fallen into net negative territory.

Resolve Strategic: Labor 38, Coalition 34, Greens 10 in Victoria

Matthew Guy’s first preferred premier result is quite a bit better than Michael O’Brien’s last, but Labor remains well ahead in the latest Victorian state poll.

The Age has published the bi-monthly Resolve Strategic poll of Victorian voting intention, which has both major parties down slightly on the primary vote: Labor by two points to 38% and the Coalition by one to 34%, with the Greens steady on 10%, independents up two to 11% and others up one to 7% (with due regard to the fact that the pollster’s questionnaire likely causes independent support to be overstated). How this converts to two-party preferred, for which the pollster offers no guide, depends heavily on how preferences from the latter two are allocated: around 55-45 in Labor’s favour if they are allocated 50-50, which is roughly in line with the 2018 result, to 53-47 if Labor’s share falls to 40%.

A preferred premier question finds Matthew Guy doing rather better on his return to the job than Michael O’Brien did in his last poll, with Daniel Andrews now leading 45-32, compared with 50-24 for O’Brien. The poll combines the results of the pollster’s last two monthly surveys, with a sample of 1105.