Odds and sods: week two

The betting markets record movement to the Coalition on the question of party to form government, but seat markets offer ample opportunities to those not anticipating a Labor landslide.

Welcome to the second instalment of what will be a more-or-less weekly review of movements on election betting markets – in particular, those of Ladbrokes – coming slightly ahead of schedule, the first such post having been six days ago. On the big question of party to form government, the odds have reflected the tenor of media chatter over the past week by moving to the Coalition, who are now paying $3.80 compared with $4.50 last Thursday, while Labor are out from $1.19 to $1.23 (you can find these odds in the sidebar).

On the seat markets though (where you can find the odds at the bottom right of each page on my electorate guide), this only translates into two more seats where the Coalition is now rated favourite – leaving Labor as favourites in a surely implausible total of 95 seats, with the Coalition ahead in 50 and others in six. The latter are the five existing cross-bench seats, with Indi favoured to remain independent ($1.77 to $2.15 for the Coalition) despite the retirement of Cathy McGowan, and Rob Oakeshott favoured to win Cowper ($1.65 to $1.95 for the Coalition). They aren’t favourites, but someone at Ladbrokes or in the betting market thinks Shooters Fishers and Farmers are a show in Calare, where they are paying $3.00, in from $3.25 last week. Captain GetUp seems to have impressed the markets, with Tony Abbott in from $1.75 to $1.67 in Warringah and Zali Steggall out from $2.00 to $2.20.

In a fairly clear case of the polls leading the markets, one of the two seats where the Liberals are newly the favourites is Bass, where they have been slashed from $4.00 to $1.80, with Labor out from $1.20 to $1.70. This has also been reflected to an extent in the odds for Braddon, where the Liberals are in from $4.00 to $2.75 and Labor are out from $1.22 to $1.40. For some reason though, neighbouring Lyons has gone the other way, with the Liberals out from $4.00 to $4.50, and Labor in from $1.20 to $1.18. There also seems to have been no effect from the Corangamite poll, at least not yet – the Liberals have actually lengthened there, from $6.00 to $6.50.

The other seat where the Liberals are now the favourites is Brisbane, where they have shortened from $2.50 to $2.00, with Labor lengthening from $2.00 to $2.30. This was one of a number of modest movements to the Liberals in seats they are defending, the others including Dickson ($3.00 to $2.50), Capricornia ($2.75 to $2.50), Gilmore ($4.75 to $4.50), Dunkley ($4.20 to $4.00) and Higgins ($1.45 to $1.40). In Labor-held seats, the Liberals are in from $2.80 to $2.50 in Herbert, $5.00 to $4.00 in Solomon, $11 to $8.00 in Dobell, and $15 to $13 in Macarthur.

It hasn’t all been one way though – as well as Corangamite and Lyons, there have been movements to Labor in two seats that can be readily understood in terms of events on the ground last week. One is George Christensen’s seat of Dawson, although the movement here is very slight, with Christensen out from $2.20 to $2.25. The other is Chisholm, where Liberal candidate Gladys Liu’s bad press has brought Labor in from $1.44 to $1.33, although Liu herself is unchanged at $3.75. The Liberals have also lengthened in Boothby (from $2.20 to $2.40), Bonner ($2.40 to $2.90) and Grey ($1.30 to $1.36).

Election minus four weeks

Another seat poll emerges crediting the Liberals with a surprise lead – in a seat neither side expects them to win, according to media reports.

First up, two seat polling anecdotes to relate, one new, the other not so much:

• The Geelong Advertiser yesterday published a ReachTEL poll from Corangamite, showing Labor trailing 52-48 in the must-win seat. After exclusion of the 3.5% undecided, the primary votes are Liberal 42.1%, Labor 34.9%, Greens 8.2%, United Australia Party 5.7% and others 5.6%. The results are radically unlike those of the last such poll in December, which had primary votes of Labor 42.8%, Liberal 33.7% and Greens 11.7%. The poll was conducted “earlier this week” from a sample of 788.

• Further results have emerged from the uComms/ReachTEL poll of Bass, conducted for the Australian Forest Products Association and covered here in a post on Wednesday, have emerged: specifically, the full primary vote totals, both for the initial question and the forced-response follow-up for the undecided. However, there was evidently an error in the latter set of results, as they added up to 131.4%.

Other assessments of the situation from around the place:

• Contrary to a growing view that the Coalition might be back in business, David Crowe of the Sydney Morning Herald reports Labor is confident it can win more than 15 seats, which includes “a handful in Victoria, some in Western Australia and several in Queensland, not least Peter Dutton’s seat of Dickson”.

• On Tuesday, Michael Koziol of The Age said the consensus from Victoria is that the Coalition would lose three to five seats: “Corangamite and Dunkley seem likely to fall, Chisholm too, while La Trobe and Casey are marginal”. Not included in the list is Deakin, where Liberal sources cited in The Australian, also on Tuesday, said they were “fairly comfortable”. Contra ReachTEL, the Liberal sources rated Corangamite a “near-certain loss” – an assessment that did not stop Scott Morrison campaigning in the seat that very day.

BludgerTrack: 52.5-47.5 to Labor

Not much doing in the one published poll to emerge since the start of the election campaign, reflected in a stable reading from the BludgerTrack poll aggregate.

Despite the onset of the election campaign, there is only one new data point to add to BludgerTrack this week, which is a status quo 52-48 result from Newspoll that has duly little effect on the national vote trends. Such movement as there is is away from One Nation and towards the Coalition on the primary vote, with next to no impact on two-party preferred or the seat projection, where the Coalition makes a single gain in Victoria.

Since there is no new state-level data this week, the breakdowns continue to record an unnatural looking lurch to the Coalition in New South Wales, which I would want to see corroborated by more data. The leadership trends are interesting in that an upswing in Scott Morrison’s net approval has returned him, just barely, to net positive territory. The effect on preferred prime minister is more modest, but there appears to be a slight trend in his favour there too.

However, the biggest news in BludgerTrack this week as far as I’m concerned is that a helpful reader has told me how to fix the bug that was preventing the state breakdown tabs from working much of the time. If this was causing you grief before, there is a very good chance it will not be doing so if you try again now, which you can do through the link below.

Campaign updates: Bass, Chisholm et al.

A private poll turns up a surprisingly strong result for the Liberals in the Labor-held Tasmanian state of Bass, while a Liberal candidate stumbles in a key Melbourne marginal seat.

Latest electorate-level campaign news updates for the Poll Bludger election guide:

The Australian reports a uComms/ReachTEL poll for the Australian Forest Products Association gives the Liberals a surprise 54-46 lead in Bass, the north-eastern Tasmanian seat that has changed hands at seven of the last nine elections, most recently in favour of Labor incumbent Ross Hart in 2016. The primary votes from the poll are Liberal 42.8%, Labor 32.6% and Greens 10%, though I would guess the balance includes an undecided component of around 6% that hasn’t been distributed. The two-party result suggests a much more favourable flow of preferences to the Liberals than in 2016, when Labor received fully 89.2% of Greens preferences as well as about 55% from the other two candidates. That would have converted the primary votes in the poll to a two-party total more like 51-49. The poll was conducted on Monday night from a sample of 847.

Rachel Baxendale of The Australian reports Labor is “distributing postal vote application forms across the blue-ribbon Liberal seats of Goldstein and Higgins for the first time ever”. As for the Liberals’ assessment of the situation in Victoria, you can take your pick between reports yesterday from The Australian and the Daily Telegraph. The former spoke of the Liberals “becoming less pessimistic about a wipeout”, with optimists speaking of the loss of two to four seats. But according to the latter, “the Coalition fears its losses will be worse than it expected before the campaign began”, to the extent of being “seriously concerned about the loss of up to eight seats”.

• The Melbourne seat of Chisholm has been much in the news over the past few days, partly on account of Liberal candidate Gladys Liu’s overreach as she sought to bat off a question about her views on gender identity and same-sex marriage. Liu helped organise anti-Labor activity on popular Chinese language social media service WeChat at the 2016 election, much of it relating to the Safe Schools program, as she discussed at the time with Doug Hendrie of The Guardian. Confronted over her comments to Hendrie, Liu appeared to claim his report was “fake news”, and that she had been pointing to views that existed within the Chinese community rather than associating with them herself. However, Hendrie provided the ABC with a recording that showed Liu had been less careful on this point than she remembered. Thomas O’Brien of Sky News reported yesterday that a planned interview with Liu as part of its electorate profile had been cancelled by party headquarters, following earlier efforts to insist she not be questioned about the matter.

• Gladys Liu’s comments on Sunday were made at an Australian-first candidates’ debate conducted in Mandarin, the first language of Labor’s Taiwanese-born candidate Jennifer Yang, but only a third language of Liberal candidate Gladys Liu, who identifies her first languages as English and Cantonese. Rachel Baxendale of The Australian quoted a Labor strategist saying they expected Liu “use Ms Yang’s Taiwanese heritage against her with mainland Chinese voters”, but also indicates that Labor has a better handle on the importance of WeChat than it did in 2016. The service was also much discussed during the New South Wales state election campaign, with respect to the controversy generated by Labor leader Michael Daley’s statements of concern about the impact of Asian immigration on the employment and housing markets.

• Leaning heavily on the passive voice, a report in The Australian today says it is “understood” Labor polling shows it is unlikely to gain the regional Queensland seats of Capricornia, Flynn and Dawson, in addition to facing a “growing threat” in its own seat of Herbert. However, Labor is said to be encouraged by its polling in the Brisbane seats of Petrie, Bonner and Forde, and believes itself to be in the hunt in Brisbane and Dickson.

Odds and sods

Betting odds continue to point towards a sweeping Labor victory, even as intelligence from both sides of politics suggests a much tighter contest.

Speaking on RN Breakfast on Friday, Ben Oquist of progressive think tank the Australia Institute voiced the beltway consensus that “the bookies have got this one wrong at the moment – they’re forecasting a much bigger Labor victory than anybody seems to be predicting”. Betting markets at first appeared to respond, if not to Oquist specifically, then to the view coming through in media reports that both major parties were expecting a tight contest. Labrokes was offering $5 on a Coalition on Thursday, but by Sunday this was in to $3.50. Then came Newspoll, showing Labor maintaining its lead, and the Coalition blew back out to $4.50.

The individual seat markets have been more consistent, pointing to a Labor landslide of even greater dimensions than the one currently projected by BludgerTrack, which I would have thought quite a bit too favourable for Labor, particularly in Queensland. Ladbrokes rates Labor as favourites in five Coalition-held seats in New South Wales (Banks, Gilmore, Page, Reid and Robertson), four in Victoria (Chisholm, Corangamite, Deakin and Dunkley), three in Western Australia (Hasluck, Pearce and Swan), one in South Australia (Boothby), and a Kevin Rudd-equalling nine in Queensland (Bonner, Brisbane, Capricornia, Dawson, Dickson, Flynn, Forde, Leichhardt and Petrie).

There has been some movement to the Coalition in the seat markets, notably in Flinders, where Liberal member Greg Hunt has edged to very narrow favouritism. Other significant movements have been recorded in the Liberals’ favour in Banks ($3.50 to $2.25), Lindsay ($3.50 to $2.05), Page ($2.40 to $1.90), Lyons ($5.50 to $4), Chisholm ($5 to $3.75), although Labor remains favourites in each. However, there has actually been movement in Labor’s favour in Gilmore, where they are in from $1.30 to $1.18, with Liberal out from $4.50 to $4.75.

Of the independent contenders, Albury mayor Ken Mack is rated equally likely to succeed against Liberal member Sussan Ley in Farrer as Zali Steggall is against Tony Abbott in Warringah, each offering a payout of $2.00. Both are trumped by Rob Oakeshott in Cowper, the most highly fancied non-incumbent independent at $1.75. In Mallee, where Andrew Broad of the Nationals is retired hurt, Ladbrokes is offering $3 for an independent to win, be it Ray Kingston, Cecilia Moar or Jason Modica. (Sportsbet has it at $4.75). Dave Sharma is favoured to recover Wentworth for the Liberals from Kerryn Phelps, with the two respectively at $1.57 and $2.30.

Among the many features of the Poll Bludger election guide, you can find Ladbrokes’ seat odds listed on the bottom right of each of the electorate pages, which are linked to individually throughout this post.

Newspoll: 52-48 to Labor

The first published opinion poll of the campaign records no change in Labor’s modest yet decisive lead.

The Australian brings us a second Newspoll in consecutive weeks, perhaps portending weekly results from now to the election. It shows no change from last week on two-party preferred, with Labor maintaining its 52-48 lead, but both major parties are up on the primary vote – Labor by two and the Coalition by one, leaving them tied on 39%. The Greens are steady on 9% and One Nation are, interestingly, down two to 4%. All we are told of the leaders’ ratings at this stage is that they are “virtually unchanged”. Scott Morrison is unchanged on 45% approval and up one to 44% disapproval; Bill Shorten is unchanged on both measures, at 37% and 51%; and preferred prime minister is likewise unchanged, at 46-35 in favour of Morrison. The poll was conducted Thursday to Sunday from a sample of 1697.