Western Australian election minus two weeks

As pre-poll voting centres open to brisk business, Zak Kirkup waves the white flag.

Notable developments of the past week:

• Zak Kirkup conceded on Thursday that the Liberals would not win the election, and indeed that he held a “fear that we could be decimated”. Liberal campaign material implicitly acknowledges the certainty of the defeat by promising to “hold Labor to account by keeping the important checks and balances”. State political observers with long memories may recall Geoff Gallop doing much the same on the eve of the 1996 election, which was not reckoned at the time to have done Labor any favours.

• With the opening of pre-poll voting on Wednesday, The West Australian conducted a straw poll of 335 voters at centres in Scarborough, Mandurah, Hillarys and Riverton. While this exercise is obviously highly unscientific, it’s surely worth noting that 70% said they were voting Labor. There were 94,379 pre-poll votes cast between Wednesday and Friday, with The West Australian reporting an expectation (it does not say whose) that 60 to 70 per cent of all votes will be postals or pre-polls.

• Antony Green’s Legislative Council election calculators are now in business. Kevin Bonham observes that they show a particularly strong potential for a preference snowball to deliver a seat to Bass Tadros of the flaky Health Australia Party in Agricultural region.

Newspoll: 68-32 to Labor in Western Australia

The most authoritative poll yet to emerge from the Western Australian campaign suggests Labor could be headed for the biggest election win in the country’s history.

A Newspoll in today’s Australian is remarkable in two ways: for being only the second media-commissioned poll of statewide voting intention in Western Australia to appear anywhere since the 2017 election, and for what may be the most lopsided result of any opinion poll this site has ever reported on.

Labor is credited with nothing less than a lead of 68-32 on two-party party preferred, a swing of 13.5% on their already commanding win in 2017, from primary votes of Labor 59% (!), compared with 42.2% in 2017; Liberal 23%, down from 31.2%; the Nationals 2%, down from 5.4%; the Greens 8%, down from 8.9%; and One Nation 3%, down from 4.9% (presumably the question was only posed in the 40 seats where the party is fielding candidates).

Mark McGowan’s personal ratings are in line with other pollsters at 88% approval and 10% disapproval, but Zak Kirkup’s ratings would be particularly disappointing to the Liberals, at 29% approval and 41% disapproval, with McGowan leading 83-10 on preferred premier. The poll was conducted from last Friday to Thursday from a sample of 1034.


• The Liberals may perhaps take solace in the finding of the finding of new-pseph-website-on-the-block Armarium Interreta that state polling has historically skewed to incumbents, although there is some evidence the effect has moderated over time. Then again, the site’s election forecast model rates the most probable seat outcome as 50 for Labor, five for Liberal and four for the Nationals. A new post explains how the model has reacted to the apparent peculiarity of the Newspoll result, namely by boosting Labor’s expected two-party vote from around 60% to 63% and widening the range of uncertainty.

• I’ve been provided with breakdowns from the Online Research Unit poll that was covered in the previous post. These suggest age effects will be relatively subdued at this election: applying crude preference estimates to the primary vote results, I get Labor’s two-party leads gently sloping down from 62-38 among the 17-24 cohort to 56-44 among the 65-plus. By comparison, Newspoll’s most recent federal breakdowns had Labor leading 61-39 among the 18-34 cohort and trailing 62-38 among the 65-plus.

• Peter Law of The West Australian (no link that I can find) relates a prediction by Glenn Druery that Labor will fall just short of a Legislative Council majority with 17 out of 36 seats, with the Greens almost certain to hold the balance of power if they fail. The Nationals are campaigning on the likelihood that a left-dominated Legislative Council will reduces or eliminate the chamber’s rural malapportionment: the Greens are open in their advocacy for one-vote one-value, but Labor is fudging the issue by saying the question is “not on our agenda”.

• On the subject of Glenn Druery, his network’s preference arrangements are as usual specifically to the advantage of particular parties in designated regions: the Liberal Democrats in South Metropolitan (where Aaron Stonehouse is trying to win re-election for the party); the Daylight Savings Party in Mining and Pastoral (notwithstanding that daylight saving is a largely metropolitan enthusiasm); Liberals for Climate in North Metropolitan; the Western Australian Party in East Metropolitan; the Health Australia Party in Agricultural; and Sustainable Australia in South West.

Western Australian election minus three-and-a-half weeks

A rare whiff of voting intention polling from Western Australia, plus a deep dive into the group voting tickets for the upper house.

UPDATE: The West Australian now reports on a further poll, this one conducted by uComms for the Conservation Council of Western Australia, giving Labor a 61-39 lead on two-party preferred statewide poll. The primary votes are Labor 46.8%, Liberal 27.5% and Nationals 5.1%, Greens 8.3% and One Nation 6.9%, after inclusion of a forced response follow-up for the 5.3% who were initially undecided. There was also apparently a separate poll targeting the northern suburbs marginals of Joondalup, Hillarys and Scarborough, which showed “Labor’s primary vote at 46.1 per cent and the Liberals at 31.9 per cent, followed by The Greens (8.8 per cent) and One Nation (3.8 per cent)”.

The West Australian has details of a poll conducted by something called the Online Research Unit for an unspecified political party, encompassing all of the state except for the Agricultural and Mining and Pastoral upper house regions, which is to say all but the nine most far-flung of the state’s 59 seats. Labor is credited with 49% of the primary vote, up 6.8% on the 2017 election, with the Liberals down 7.2% to 24%, The Greens little changed on 9%, the Nationals down from 5.4% to 3% and One Nation down from 5.4% to 3%. The poll was conducted from a sample of 1546 “in the week before the five-day lockdown”.

Numbers are also provided for upper house voting intention, though respondents do not traditionally do a good job of answering this question accurately: Labor 45%, Liberal 25%, Greens 11% and One Nation 2%, the latter comparing with 8.2% in 2017. On the subject of the upper house, yesterday saw the publication of group voting tickets, which are neatly laid out by Antony Green on the ABC site. We await his calculators to help us determine where the chips are most likely to land, but I offer impressionistic summaries of each party’s approach over the fold.

Continue reading “Western Australian election minus three-and-a-half weeks”

Western Australian election minus four weeks

The closure of nominations reveals a glut of candidates, as parties frantically negotiate ahead of tomorrow’s deadline for upper house preference tickets.

The Poll Bludger election guide has now been updated will full lists of candidates for every seat, after Friday’s closure of nominations and ballot paper draw. This revealed an over-supply of candidates for both houses, calculated by Antony Green at 7.8 per lower house district (463 across 59 seats) compared with 7.1 in 2017 and 4.9 in 2013, and 54.2 per upper house region (325 across six regions), compared with 50.3 in 2017 and 27.5 in 2013.

The boom in candidate numbers over the past two elections partly reflects the lure of preference harvesting as organised by Glenn Druery, whose machinations will become clearer after Legislative Council group voting tickets are lodged at noon tomorrow. One Nation and Shooters Fishers and Farmers are contesting a similar number of seats this time as in 2017 (up from 35 to 40 in the former case and down from 19 to 15 in the latter). The decline of Christian minor parties is interesting to observe: Australian Christians are down from 45 lower house candidates to 29 and Family First is not contesting for the first time since 2001. No doubt this reflects the diversion of religious conservative energies into the Liberal Party, a notable example being party powerbroker Nick Goiran, whose mother Madeleine Goiran is again running for Australian Christians.

A number of parties who were in the Glenn Druery network in 2017 have rebranded themselves for 2021, including the former Flux the System! party, which once promised a revolution in digital direct democracy but now purports to represent “Liberals for Climate”. It will thus join the Liberal Democrats as a second l-word minor party that will gain a small dividend from confused Liberal supporters, particularly where they are in an opportune position on the ballot paper. Only in Agricultural and North Metropolitan regions is the Liberal Party the first party so named in the ballot paper order. However, Aaron Stonehouse, whose opportune ballot paper placement helped him win a South Metropolitan seat for the Liberal Democrats in 2017, has been a good deal less fortunate on this occasion.

The party that ran in 2017 as Julie Matheson for Western Australia is now the Western Australia Party, which I’m guessing has heard its fill of WAP jokes by now. The party has secured a seat in parliament by recruiting former One Nation MLC Charles Smith, but it pitches itself as a centrist concern that hopes to take a leaf from Nick Xenophon’s book. Matheson herself, who is on Subiaco City Council, is only running this time as second on the Mining and Pastoral ticket behind Dave Grills, who held a seat in the region for the Nationals from 2013 to 2017. Taking the cause of regional particularism a step further is the secessionist WAXit Party, which has recently merged with a party that contested the 2017 election as the Micro Business Party.

Further developments:

• Despite the disastrous response to its preference deal with One Nation in 2017, the Liberals show no inclination entertain Labor demands that they put the party last on how-to-vote cards and group voting tickets. Joe Spagnolo of The West Australian reports One Nation’s member for Mining and Pastoral region, Robin Scott, is likely to behind only the Nationals in the Liberal preference order (which is at least a step down from the 2017 deal, which put One Nation ahead of the Nationals), and that it is “widely speculated” that One Nation will direct preferences to Liberal ahead of Labor.

• Labor is also putting a “No Mandatory Vaccination” party behind the Liberals and Nationals in second last place. The party is competing for the same corner of the electoral market as the Health Australia Party, which contested the 2017 election as Fluoride Free WA.

Peter Law of The West Australian reports Labor is negotiating a deal that will give Shooters Fishers and Farmers preferences ahead of the Greens in the Agricultural and Mining and Pastoral upper house regions, in exchange for directing preferences to Labor ahead of the Liberals and Nationals in the lower house. The Greens were unlikely to win a seat in Agricultural region in any case, but Greens member Robin Chapple, who is now retiring, narrowly held out against Shooters at the 2017 election.

Joe Spagnolo of the Sunday Times reports emergency plans are being drawn up in case a COVID-19 outbreak requires the election to be delayed, which could be done to as late as April 3 (although I note the Electoral Act says “no extension of the time for taking the poll shall be made … later than seven days before the time originally appointed”. Another COVID contingency is that every voter will get a free pencil, since these are not to be reused, unless they follow the WAEC’s advice and bring their own writing implement. This should not include a highlighter pen – apparently Sharpies are okay.

The West Australian had a Painted Dog Research poll on Monday showing Mark McGowan on 88% approval and 7% disapproval. Zak Kirkup is on 17% satisfied, 24% dissatisfied, 42% neither and 17% don’t know (suggesting the 5% balance in McGowan’s results included both neither and a presumably very low “don’t know” reading. The poll had a sample of 804, with field work dates not provided.

Western Australian election minus five weeks

A summary of recent developments in the Western Australian state election campaign, which officially began with the issue of the writs on Wednesday.

The Western Australian election campaign is now officially under way following the issue of the writs on Wednesday, with red letter days as follows:

Friday, February 12. Close of nominations and ballot paper draw.
Monday, February 15. Lodgement of group voting tickets for the Legislative Council.
Monday, February 22. Start of postal voting.
Wednesday, February 24. Start of pre-poll voting.
Saturday, March 13. Election day.

For a great deal more on the subject of the election, check out the Poll Bludger election guide if you haven’t already. Some recent developments of note:

• The Liberals are seeking a new candidate for the safe Labor seat of Baldivis in Perth’s outer south after the original nominee, Andrea Tokaji, was prevailed upon to withdraw last week over a piece she wrote for a conservative website that posed the question on everyone’s lips: “is there a correlation between the current roll-out of 5G technology and COVID-19?”

• A report in The West Australian on Tuesday drew attention to comments made in 2019 by Rod Henderson, Liberal candidate for the key marginal seat of Swan Hills, who told a Swan City Council meeting in 2019 that climate change had been “totally dispelled” and, particularly puzzlingly, that NASA and the CSIRO had both come round to this point of view.

• The return of Clive Palmer’s familiar yellow-and-black advertisements to newspapers this week has encouraged speculation that he may change his mind about his United Australia Party not contesting the election, as per his announcement a month ago. The latest advertisements aimed their fire on Mark McGowan and Attorney-General John Quigley over the lockdown, the puzzling inclusion of the latter likely reflecting his role in fighting Palmer’s unsuccessful High Court challenge against border closures last year. His party’s chances of making even an indirect impression on the result are non-existent in any case.

Western Australian election guide

Introducing the Poll Bludger’s painstaking and voluminous guide to the March 13 Western Australian state election.

After more hours of labour than I care to think about, the Poll Bludger’s guide to the Western Australian election is now open for business. I like to think these guides are always pretty good, but some are better than others and this, I am quite sure, is my best ever. The historical scope of the profiles of each of the 59 lower house seats and six upper house regions is without precedent and has, I like to think, been accomplished without sacrifice to clarity and readability. Also featured is a beginners’ guide to the election reviewing the electoral terrain and the political state of play over the past four years.

All of the familiar bells and whistles are present, including charts and tables detailing past results and, best of all, interactive maps showing polling booth results from the previous election. These include an exciting (to me at least) new feature: when you click on one of the polling booth icons that indicate the winning party and size of their two-party vote, a pop-up appears with a table neatly displaying full results on primary vote and two-party preferred.

I’ve also done a lot of work improving the coding and general architecture, which may not be immediately noticeable to the general reader but will greatly reduce the amount of time I have to devote to technical work on election guides to come. If all this is of any professional or entertainment value to you, I encourage you to consider rewarding my efforts through a donation, which you can do by clicking the “become a supporter” button at the top of the page or the bottom of the post.

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