Essential Research: 53-47 to Labor

No sign of seasonal goodwill extending to our political leaders, both of whom score declining approval ratings in the first federal poll for the year.

The New Year poll drought has been brought to an end by Essential Research, which will henceforth be conducting fortnightly polls, dispensing with its long establishing practice of polling weekly and publishing two-week rolling averages. As related by The Guardian, the poll has Labor’s lead unchanged on the final poll last year at 53-47 – as usual, primary votes will have to wait for the publication of the full report later today. Both leaders’ personal ratings have weakened: Malcolm Turnbull is down three on approval to 38% and up one on disapproval to 45%, Bill Shorten is down four on approval to 32% and up four disapproval to 49%, and Turnbull’s lead as preferred prime minister is out from 42-28 to 42-25.

Other findings: 53% support a tax on sugar-sweetened drinks, with 38% opposed; 44% support and 29% oppose “Australia becoming a republic with an Australian head of state”, which is all but identical to when the same question was asked a year ago (44% and 30%); and society is widely seen as going to pot, with crime perceived as on the rise across all categories, regardless of what the official statistics might say.

UPDATE: The primary votes are Coalition 37% (steady), Labor 38% (steady), Greens 9% (steady), One Nation 6% (down one). Full report here.

New year news (week two)

A bunch of state polling, particularly from Victoria, and two items of preselection news.

Another random assortment of polling and preselection news to tide us over until the federal polling season resumes:

• Essential Research has broken the poll drought to the extent of releasing state voting intention results, compiled from the polling it conducted between October and December. The results find Labor ahead in all five states, with Tasmania not covered. This includes a breakthrough 51-49 lead in New South Wales, after they were slightly behind in each quarterly poll going back to April-June 2016; a 51-49 lead in Victoria, after they led either 52-48 or 53-47 going back to October-December 2015; a 52-48 lead in Queensland, from primary vote results well in line with the state election held during the period; and a new peak of 57-43 in Western Australia. In South Australia, Labor is credited with a lead of 51-49, from primary vote numbers which are, typically for Essential Research, less good for Nick Xenophon’s SA Best than Newspoll/Galaxy: Labor 34%, Liberal 31%, SA Best 22%.

The Age has ReachTEL polls of two Victorian state seats conducted on Friday, prompted by the current hot button issue in the state’s politics, namely “crime and anti-social behaviour”. The poll targeted two Labor-held seats at the opposite ends of outer Melbourne, one safe (Tarneit in the west, margin 14.6%), the other marginal (Cranbourne in the south-east, margin 2.3%). After excluding the higher-than-usual undecided (14.5% in Cranbourne, 15.5% in Tarneit), the primary votes in Cranbourne are Labor 40% (down from 43.4% at the last election), Liberal 40% (down from 41.3%) and Greens 7% (up from 4.2%); in Tarneit, Labor 43% (down from 46.8%), Liberal 36% (up from 26.4%), Greens 10% (up from 9.0%). Substantial majorities in both electorates consider youth crime a worsening problem, believe “the main issues with youth crime concern gangs of African origin”, and rate that they are, indeed, less likely to go out at night than they were twelve months ago. The bad news for the Liberals is that very strong majorities in both seats (74.6-25.4 in Tarneit, 66.5-33.5) feel Daniel Andrews would be more effective than Matthew Guy at dealing with the issue.

Rachel Baxendale of The Australian reports on the latest flare-up in an ongoing feud between Ian Goodenough, member for the safe Liberal seat of Moore in Perth’s northern suburbs, and party player Simon Ehrenfeld, whose preselection for the corresponding state seat of Hillarys before the last state election was overturned by the party’s state council. The report includes intimations that Goodenough may have a fight of his own in the preselection for the next election, with those ubiquitous “party sources” rating him a “waste of a safe seat“, particularly in light of Christian Porter’s dangerous position in Pearce.

• Not long after Andrew Bartlett replaced Larissa Waters as a Queensland Greens Senator following the latter’s Section 44-related disqualification, the two are set to go head-to-head for preselection at the next election. Sonia Kohlbacher of AAP reports that Ben Pennings, “anti-Adani advocate and former party employee”, has also nominated, although he’s presumably a long shot. The ballot of party members will begin on February 16, with the result to be announced on March 26.

New year news

What’s next for Kristina Keneally; the trouble with Victorian Labor; George Brandis’s Senate vacancy; new hopefuls for a resurgent ALP in Western Australia; and more.

Ring in the new year with two months of accumulated news concerning preselections for the next federal election – not counting matters arising from Section 44, which will be dealt with in a separate post during the January lull in opinion poll news.

Continue reading “New year news”

BludgerTrack: 53.5-46.5 to Labor

Some slightly better numbers for the Coalition improve their position in the final BludgerTrack reading for the year, although they remain fatally weak in Queensland.

With last week’s results from Newspoll and Essential Research added to the mix, the BludgerTrack poll aggregate records a solid shift back to the Coalition after a recent Labor blowout, converting into a 0.6% increase on two-party preferred and four on the seat projection. The Coalition is up even more on the primary vote, although this is basically at the expense of One Nation (see the sidebar for full results). Furthermore, The Australian published the Newspoll quarterly state breakdowns for October to December this week, which is the last polling data we will get until well into January, and this too has been added to the mix.

I’ve been noting in recent weeks that BludgerTrack’s readings for Western Australia and especially Queensland were looking off beam, and anticipated that the long-awaited addition of Newspoll data would ameliorate this. However, the Newspoll result backed up the picture of a huge swing to Labor in Queensland, of 9%, resulting in a two-party lead of 55-45. Labor’s lead in Queensland has nonetheless narrowed in BludgerTrack this week, reducing their projected seat gain from an entirely implausible 16 seats to a still rather unlikely 11, but this is as much to do with more normal-looking numbers from Essential over the past two weeks than Newspoll.

A very likely problem here is that both Newspoll and BludgerTrack are assuming preferences will behave as they did in 2016, which means a roughly even split of preferences from One Nation. The Queensland state election result suggests the support One Nation has built since comes largely from former Coalition voters, resulting in a stronger flow of preferences to them – of about 65%, in the case of the state election. In the new year, I will begin calculating preferences by splitting the difference between 2016 election flows and a trend measure of respondent-allocated preferences (which have been leaning too far the other way). This will result in more conservative readings of Labor’s two-party support.

In addition to the five seat shift to the Coalition in Queensland, BludgerTrack has the Coalition up a seat in New South Wales – but down two in Western Australia, where the Newspoll numbers (again with some help from a more normal-looking result from Essential Research) have taken the wind out of an outlier result from the state in the Ipsos poll a fortnight ago.

The leadership rating trends have been updated with the latest Newspoll results, producing a slight drop in both leaders’ net approval ratings. However, this too suffers a deficiency to which I will make an overdue correction in the new year, namely that no account is made for the idiosyncrasies of particular pollsters – such as lower approval and higher disapproval ratings from Newspoll, and lower uncommitted ratings from Ipsos. This means changes from week to week often reflect the specific pollsters that have published results, as much as meaningful change in the numbers.

Essential Research: 53-47 to Labor

Essential Research closes its account for the year by recording a slight improvement in the Coalition’s position, and a generally more positive outlook than in recent years.

The final Essential Research result for 2017 (actually released yesterday, but who’s keeping score at this time of year) has the Coalition gaining a point on two-party preferred for the second week in a row, reducing the Labor lead to 53-47. They’re also up two on the primary vote to 37%, with Labor steady on 38%, the Greens down one to 9% and One Nation steady on 7%.

Essential closes the year with a particularly interesting series of supplementary findings, one of which is that only 29% approve of tax cuts to medium and large businesses, with 54% opposed. On political donations, overwhelming support is recorded for immediate disclosure of donations (84% versus 6%) and politicians’ meetings with companies donors and unions (82% versus 5%), very strong support for a ban on foreign donations (67% to 16%), capping donations at $5000 (59% to 20%) and banning donations from companies and unions (58% to 22%), but opposition to banning donations altogether and replacing them with public funding (30% to 50%).

Another series of generalised questions on how things have been going over the past year suggest Australians are feeling a good deal more positive than they have at any time since this annual series began in 2013. In particular, there are greatly improved perceptions on the state of the economy; neutral but improved ones on respondents’ personal financial situations; greatly improved, but still somewhat negative ones on how “the average Australian” has fared; and a view on “Australian politics in general” that remains highly negative, but is still greatly improved. Included for the first time is a question on “the planet”, with 20% consider to have had a good year versus 42% for bad.

Newspoll: 53-47 to Labor

Relief for Malcolm Turnbull from Bennelong, but none from Newspoll, which records yet another stable result.

Courtesy of The Australian, the final Newspoll of the year is something of a non-event, with two-party preferred unchanged at 53-47, primary votes unchanged at 36% for the Coalition, 37% for Labor and 10% for the Greens, and the only move being a one point drop for One Nation to 7%. Malcolm Turnbull’s personal ratings are also unmoved, at 32% approval and 57% disapproval, while his lead as preferred prime minister shifts from 39-33 to 41-34. Bill Shorten is down one on approval to 32%, and up two on disapproval to 56%. The poll was conducted Thursday to Sunday from a sample of 1669.