Essential Research: 54-46 to Labor

Essential Research polls on early election prospects and the next stage of same-sex marriage, and records little change on voting intention.

The latest Essential Research result appears to have Labor leading 54-46 (it says 52% to 46% in the report, but it also says there is no change). GhostWhoVotes was somehow able to relate that the primary votes were Coalition 35% (down one), Labor 38% (steady), Greens 9% (steady) and One Nation 8% (steady). The poll finds 47% saying the government should run its full term, compared with 37% who favour an early election. Thirty-six per cent said they expected Labor to win the next election, compared with 20% for the Coalition, and 18% for a hung parliament.

The poll also found 63% of the view that marriage celebrants should be allowed to refuse to officiate at same-sex weddings, with 27% opposed. Other related issues were finely balanced: 48% opposed the notion that businesses should have the right to refuse service to gay weddings, while 43% supported it; 42% supported parents being able to remove their children from classes that did not reflect a traditional view of marriage, while 44% were opposed.

Galaxy: 50-50 in Bennelong; ReachTEL: 53-47 to Liberal

Two polls suggest Labor’s Kristina Keneally gambit is paying off – although one more so than the other.

Two polls from Bennelong:

• The Daily Telegraph has a Galaxy poll that has nothing separating John Alexander and Kristina Keneally on two-party preferred. The only primary vote numbers provided are 42% for Alexander and 39% for Keneally. Despite Keneally’s strong showing, only 37% rated that Keneally had done a good job as Premier, compared with 42% for bad job. The poll of 579 respondents was conducted on Wednesday evening, following the announcement of Keneally’s candidacy on Monday.

• A slightly less dramatic result from ReachTEL for the Sydney Morning Herald, with John Alexander leading 53-47 on two-party preferred – which nonetheless indicates a swing of over 6%. The primary votes seem to be a shade under 36% for Alexander and around 29% for Keneally. The poll of 864 respondents was conducted on Thursday evening. Alexander’s personal ratings (51.2% favourable versus 15% unfavourable) are rather stronger than Keneally’s (41.6% to 28.1%), and Malcolm Turnbull records a 59.7-40.3 lead as preferred prime minister.

BludgerTrack: 53.9-46.1 to Labor

A long period of poll trend stasis appears to have ended, with three pollsters reporting a break to Labor.

Newspoll, Essential and YouGov each offered evidence of break in Labor’s favour this week after a long period of stasis at 53-47. If that’s so, it may take another week or two for the BludgerTrack trend to adjust fully to the new reality. For the time being, Labor is up 0.7% on two-party preferred and two on the seat projection. Two sets of leadership numbers from Newspoll and Essential have a visible effect on the trend measures, with Turnbull heading south on both net approval and preferred prime minister. Full results on the sidebar.

Same-sex marriage survey: 61.6 yes, 38.4 no

And the winner is …

So there you have it. Below is a tool for exploring the results at divisional level according to a range of electoral and demographic criteria. Take your pick from the drop down menu, and you will get divisional “yes” votes recorded on the vertical axis, and their results for the relevant indicator on the vertical axis. Most of these are self-explanatory, with the exception of “One Nation support index”. This equals the division’s 2016 Senate vote for One Nation divided by the party’s overall Senate vote in that state, multiplied by 100. So an electorate will score 100 if its One Nation vote is exactly equal to the state average; it will score 200 if it’s double; 50 if it’s half; and so forth. This is to prevent the party’s across-the-board high results in Queensland from spoiling the effect. “Finished school” is measured as a percent of the 15-plus population.

Essential Research: 54-46 to Labor; YouGov: 52-48

Essential has Malcolm Turnbull losing ground on personal approval, but not voting intention; YouGov does the opposite.

No change on voting intention this week from Essential Research, with Labor continuing to lead 54-46 on two-party preferred (UPDATE: Actually, it was 53-47 last week. Labor is up a point on the primary vote to 38%, the Coalition is down one to 36%, the Greens are down one to 9%, One Nation is steady on 8%). Monthly leadership ratings confirm Newspoll’s picture of declining personal support for Malcolm Turnbull, who is down five on approval to 37% and up six on disapproval to 49%. However, Bill Shorten hasn’t done brilliantly either, being down two on approval to 35% and up four on disapproval to 48%, and making only a slight dent in Turnbull’s 42-28 lead as preferred prime minister, which now stands at 40-28.

Other findings:

• Forty per cent approve of a requirement that for MPs to provide declarations about their eligibility, while 44% say this does not go far enough. Forty-nine per cent say MPs found to have been invalidly elected should should repay their public funding, compared with 30% who thought otherwise.

• Forty-five per cent felt the same-sex marriage postal survey was a bad process that should not be repeated; 19% felt it good, but not one that should be repeated; and 27% thought it a good process that should be used more often.

We only have the report from the Guardian to go on at this point, with primary votes to follow with the publication of Essential’s full report later today.

The fortnightly Fifty Acres-YouGov poll records a break to Labor, who are now 52-48 in front after uncharacteristically trailing 51-49 in their last few polls. However, the pollster’s distinguishing peculiarity – the strength of support recorded for minor parties – is more pronounced than ever, as the Coalition sinks five to 31% and Labor only picks up one to 34%, with One Nation up two to 11% and the Greens up one to 11%. As usual, the two-party total is based on a respondent-allocated preference flow that gives three-quarters of the One Nation vote to the Coalition.

The pollster also has its occasional personal ratings for a range of politicians, which are unusual in being relatively favourable over all, and having low uncommitted ratings. Contrary to the other pollsters, Malcolm Turnbull records little change since early September, with approval steady at 44% and disapproval down one to 47%. Bill Shorten is up two on approval to 45% and down two to 44%, and Pauline Hanson’s ratings are not unlike those of the major party leaders, with approval up three to 45% and down two on disapproval to 48%. Also featured: Richard Di Natale (up three to 29%, down six to 33%), Nick Xenophon (up one to 53%, steady on 28%), Bob Katter (up one to 37%, steady on 41%), Tony Abbott (up two to 36%, down one to 56%) and Christopher Pyne (steady on 32%, up one to 45%).

Other findings are that respondents want same-sex marriage legalised straight away if the survey result is yes, though 42% think opponents should vote with their consciences in parliament; they overwhelmingly favour a “full parliamentary audit” on Section 44; and they want a much harder line on tax avoidance and evasion.

Strike two: the Bennelong by-election

Some recent historical perspective on another looming federal by-election.

Hot on the heels of Barnaby Joyce’s disqualification by the High Court, there is now a second Section-44 related by-election on the way following Saturday’s resignation announcement by John Alexander, the Liberal member for Bennelong. As in Joyce’s seat of New England, reports suggest the government will act quickly to get the by-election over and done with, which could mean writs being issued today for a pre-Christmas poll on December 16. Whereas the New England by-election looks like being nothing more than an expensive diversion that will shortly restore Joyce to his place in parliament, Bennelong is a loseable seat, as John Howard memorably discovered on the occasion of his government’s defeat in 2007.

As you can see on the sidebar, I now have guides up for both the New England and Bennelong, although the latter as yet has no detail to relate concerning candidates other than Alexander. For some perspective on how much danger the goverment is in, the chart below compares results in federal and state by-elections that were contested by both the Coalition and the Labor going back to the 1980s with the state of play in opinion polls at the relevant time. Results in both cases are conceived in terms of swings to the government party, which in the case of opinion polling is determined either through the most recent Newspoll or, where available, my own poll trend measurement.

The red line constitutes a line of best fit for the available data, which suggests that there is indeed a relationship between polling and by-election results, even if it’s far from ironclad. The Turnbull government has been looking at an adverse swing of around 3% in poll trend measures for some time now, which translates into a typical by-election swing of around 8% – not quite enough to erase Alexander’s margin in Bennelong of 9.7%. However, it today’s 55-45 result from Newspoll is more indicative of the government’s true form, the anticipated swing lands right on the mark. A comparable feat was achieved by Labor at the by-election for the Brisbane seat of Ryan in February 2001, at which a Liberal margin of 9.5% was barely accounted for by a swing of 9.7%.