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.

More affairs of state

More evidence of a tight contest looming in Queensland while Mark McGowan reigns supreme in Western Australia; and a parliamentary committee in Victoria kicks the upper house electoral reform can down the road.

Not every state this time, but half:

Victoria

The Victorian parliament’s electoral matters committee has tabled the report of its inquiry into the 2018 state election, of which the greatest item of interest is a full chapter devoted to reform of the upper house electoral system. Together with Western Australia, Victoria is the last hold-out of the group voting ticket system that is electing ever-increasing numbers of preference-harvesting micro-party candidates. This reached a new height at the 2018 election, at which parties other than the Coalition, Labor and the Greens won 10 out of the 40 seats in the Legislative Council, including two elected with less than 1% of the vote. However, the report recommended only that a further parliamentary inquiry be held into the matter. The report also recommends no change to the two-week period for pre-polling, which the Liberals and Nationals called to be shortened.

Queensland

Polling of the marginal state seats of Currumbin, Mansfield and Aspley by YouGov for the Australian Conservation Foundation shows a combined two-party result of 52-48 for Labor, compared with an almost exact 50-50 for these three seats in 2017. The primary votes are Labor 37%, LNP 37%, Greens 10%, One Nation 4% and 10% don’t know, compared with 2017 election results of Labor 41.2%, LNP 38.4%, Greens 10.6% and One Nation 8.5%. The poll was conducted from August 17-19 and targeted 200 respondents in each of the three electorates.

Western Australia

A poll for The West Australian by Painted Dog Research showed Mark McGowan with an approval rating at 91%, up four from an already stratospheric result in June. Support for the state’s border closure was at 92%, up from 89% in May. The poll was conducted from a sample of 837, with field work dates not provided.

Northern Territory

As related in the dedicated post, the CLP sneaked home in an eighth seat in the Northern Territory election as the count concluded last night, producing a final result of Labor 14, CLP eight, Territory Alliance one and independents two.

Affairs of state

One finely crafted electoral news item for every state (and territory) that is or might ever conceivably have been part of our great nation.

A bone for every dog in the federation kennel:

New South Wales

Gladys Berejiklian has backed a move for the Liberal Party to desist from endorsing or financially supporting candidates in local government elections, reportedly to distance the state government from adverse findings arising from Independent Commission Against Corruption investigations into a number of councils. Many in the party are displeased with the idea, including a source cited by Linda Silmalis of the Daily Telegraph, who predicted “world war three” because many MPs relied on councillors to organise their numbers at preselections.

Victoria

The second biggest story in the politics of Victoria over the past fortnight has been the expose of the activities of Liberal Party operator Marcus Bastiaan by the Nine newspaper-and-television news complex, a neat counterpoint to its similar revelations involving Labor powerbroker Adem Somyurek in June. The revelations have been embarrassing or worse for federal MPs Michael Sukkar and Kevin Andrews, with the former appearing to have directed the latter’s electorate office staff to spend work time on party factional activities.

Together with then state party president Michael Kroger, Bastiaan was instrumental in establishing a conservative ascendancy with help from Bastiaan’s recruitment of members from Mormon churches and the Indian community. Having installed ally Nick Demiris as campaign director, Bastiaan’s fingerprints were on the party’s stridently conservative campaign at the 2018 state election, which yielded the loss of 11 lower house Coalition seats. Religious conservatives led by Karina Okotel, now a federal party vice-president, then split from the Bastiaan network, complaining their numbers had been used to buttress more secular conservatives.

The Age’s report noted that “in the days leading up to the publication of this investigation, News Corporation mastheads have run stories attacking factional opponents of Mr Bastiaan and Mr Sukkar”. Presumably related to this was a report on Okotel’s own party activities in The Australian last weekend, which was long on emotive adjectives but short on tangible allegations of wrongdoing, beyond her having formed an alliance with factional moderates after the split.

Continue reading “Affairs of state”

Newspoll state leaders and coronavirus polling

Persistent high ratings all round for state Premiers and the Prime Minister amid the coronavirus crisis, but signs the current Victorian outbreak may have cost Daniel Andrews some shine.

Courtesy of The Australian, Newspoll offers a repeat of an exercise conducted two months ago in which a large national sample is polled to produce state-level results on the popularity of premiers as well as the Prime Minister, both generally and in their dealings with the coronavirus. While the results are positive all round, they find Daniel Andrews falling from a top tier that continues to include Peter Gutwein, Mark McGowan and Steven Marshall, bringing him about level with Gladys Berejiklian but still clear of Annastacia Palaszczuk.

Andrews was down eight on approval to 67% and up ten on disapproval to 27%, while Berejiklian was down one to 68% and up three to 26%. Allowing for small sample sizes in the smaller states, Peter Gutwein took the lead (up six on approval to 90% and down three on disapproval to 8%) from Mark McGowan (down one to 88% and up three on 9%). Despite continuing to trail the pack, Palaszczuk recorded the best improvement with a four point increase in approval to 59% and a four point drop on disapproval to 35%.

However, Palaszczuk remains the only Premier with a weaker net approval rating in their state than Scott Morrison, who according to the poll has strengthened in Queensland (by five on approval to 72%, and down four on disapproval to 24%) but weakened everywhere else (approval down six to 61% and disapproval up five to 35% in New South Wales; down seven to 65% and up four to 30% in Victoria; down three to 67% and up two to 29% in South Australia; down three to 70% and up three to 26% in Western Australia; down four to 60% and up six to 37% in Tasmania).

Andrews’ deterioration on approval is more than matched on the question of handling of coronavirus, on which he now trails out of the Premiers with 72% for well (down 13 points) and 25% for badly (up 14). This pushes him behind Berejiklian (up two to 79% and down two to 16%), Palaszczuk (up four to 76% and down one to 22%) and Marshall (up five to 87% and down two to 9%). Still clear of the field are McGowan and Gutwein, who are tied at 93% well (down one for McGowan, up four for Gutwein) and 5% badly (up one and down three). Scott Morrison’s ratings on this score are little changed, and remarkably consistent from state to state — Queensland and South Australia are his best with 84% well and 14% poorly apiece, but his weakest result, in New South Wales, is still 79% well and 18% badly.

The poll was conducted from a national sample of 2949, ranging from 526 in Victoria to 309 in Tasmania.

The week that was

Party turmoil in Victoria and Queensland, state and territory seat entitlements for the next federal parliament determined, and more polling on attitudes to demonstrations in the United States.

After a particularly eventful week, a whole bunch of electorally relevant news to report:

• The last official population updates have confirmed next month’s official determination of how many seats each state and territory will be entitled to in the next parliament will cause the abolition of seats in Western Australia and the Northern Territory, and the creation of a new one in Victoria for the second consecutive term. Antony Green offers detailed consideration of how the redistributions might look, suggesting Victoria’s will most likely result in the creation of another safe Labor seat in Melbourne’s outer north-west, while Western Australia’s could either mash together Hasluck and Burt in eastern Perth, or abolish the safe Liberal south-of-the-river seat of Tangney, with knock-on effects that would weaken Labor’s position in Fremantle and/or Burt.

• In the wake of the 60 Minutes/The Age expose on Adem Somyurek’s branch stacking activities on Sunday, Labor’s national executive has taken control of all the Victorian branch’s federal and state preselections for the next three years. Steve Bracks and Jenny Macklin have been brought in to serve as administrators until January, and an audit of the branch’s 16,000 members will be conducted to ensure that are genuine consenting members and paid their own fees.

• Ipsos has published polling on the recent demonstrations in the United States from fifteen countries, which found Australians to be supportive of what were specified as “peaceful protests in the US” and disapproving of Donald Trump’s handling of them, although perhaps in slightly lesser degree than other more liberal democracies. Two outliers were India and Russia, which produced some seemingly anomalous results: the former had a strangely high rating for Trump and the latter relatively low support for the protests, yet both were uniquely favourable towards the notion that “more violent protests are an appropriate response”.

• The Tasmanian government has announced the periodical Legislative Council elections for the seats of Huon and Rosevears will be held on August 1, having been delayed from their normally allotted time of the first Tuesday in May.

In Queensland, where the next election is a little over four months away:

• After floating the possibility of an election conducted entirely by post, the Queensland government announced this week that the October 31 state election will be conducted in a more-or-less normal fashion. However, pre-poll voting is being all but actively encouraged, to the extent that Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath says there will be an “election period” rather than an election day. This will mean “more pre-poll locations, longer pre-poll hours, and more pre-poll voting days in the two weeks prior to the election”.

• The Liberal National Party opposition was thrown into turmoil last week after the Courier-Mail ($) received internal polling showing Labor leading 51-49 in Redlands, 52-48 in Gaven, 55-45 in Mansfield and 58-42 in inner urban Mount Ommaney. The parties were tied in the Sunshine Coast hinterland seat of Glass House, while the LNP led by 52-48 in the Gold Coast seat of Currumbin, which it recently retained by a similar margin at a by-election. Frecklington’s supporters pointed the finger at the state branch president, Dave Hutchinson, who was reportedly told by Frecklington that his position was untenable after Clive Palmer hired him as a property consultant in January. The party room unanimously affirmed its support for Frecklington on Monday, as mooted rival David Crisafulli ruled out a challenge ahead of the election.

• The Queensland parliament this week passed an array of electoral law changes including campaign spending caps of $92,000 per candidate and limitations on signage at polling places. The changes have been criticised ($) by the Liberal National Party and Katter’s Australian Party, who complain that union advertising will now dominate at polling booths, and that the laws was pushed through with indecent haste on Tuesday and Wednesday.