A pre-campaign assembly of polling and scuttlebutt about the respective parties’ prospects for an election that must surely be called very soon.
The window for a May 11 election has passed, which would seem to narrow it down to May 18 or May 25, with the former seeming more likely given concerns expressed in the past about the latter. Some details on where things may or may not stand:
• Roy Morgan has published its weekly face-to-face poll result, normally available only to subscribers, but occasionally sent out in the wild when its proprietor has a point to make. This time, it’s that the government’s position has improved post-budget, with the Labor lead not at 52.5-47.5, from 55-45 last week (it may be observed that the organisation wasn’t duly excited by any of the results that got Labor to that position in the first place). On the primary vote, the Coalition was up 2.5% to 37%, Labor down 1.5% to 35%, the Greens up 1% to 13.5% (Morgan sharing Ipsos’s apparent skew to the Greens) and One Nation up half a point to 4%. The poll was conducted on the weekend from a face-to-face sample of 829 respondents.
• Michael Koziol of the Sydney Morning Herald reported on the weekend of Liberal polling that was “diabolically bad” for Tony Abbott in Warringah. Abbott’s primary vote is said to be down 12% on his 51.6% in 2016, which would indeed leave him a fair way short of competitive. Nonetheless, Liberal sources quoted by Koziol were optimistic Abbott would hang on, in part because of “a $1 million war chest from fundraising and his Advance Australia lobby group allies”. Whether that confidence remains intact now they have had a look at how Advance Australia plans on spending that money is not yet known.
• Other than that, the Liberals appear upbeat about their prospects in New South Wales. The Sydney Morning Herald reports optimism Kerryn Phelps’s win in Wentworth will prove to have been a one-off, now that voters there have vented their spleen about the removal of Malcolm Turnbull. Furthermore, the Sydney Morning Herald report says the Liberals believe they are in front in Lindsay – a claim that is both corroborated by Labor sources, and fleshed out in a report yesterday by Andrew Clennell of The Australian, which says the party’s polling credits them with a lead of 53-47. Clennell’s Liberal sources were particularly bullish, claiming leads in Dobell – on which Koziol’s source was more circumspect – and also to have the lead in their existing seats of Reid, Gilmore and Robertson. A Nationals source cited in Clennell’s report believes the party to be “marginally ahead” in their Mid North Coast seat of Page.
• Nonetheless, Labor is reportedly hopeful of maintaining the status quo in New South Wales, considering that Gilmore or Reid might balance a loss in Lindsay (apparently not rating a mention is Banks, which I for one would have thought vulnerable). Beyond New South Wales, Labor “believes it will win at least nine – and probably more – elsewhere”. Ben Packham of The Australian reported on the week end that Labor feels too secure in Victoria to devote resources to any of its own seats, and will target five held by the Coalition with “full field” campaigns: Dunkley, Corangamite, La Trobe, Chisholm and Deakin.
• The Australian reports Nick Xenophon’s Centre Alliance will only field candidates in Mayo, which is held for the party by Rebekha Sharkie, along with Grey and Barker, where they have respectively endorsed Andrea Broadfoot and Kelly Gladigau. The party’s predecessor, the Nick Xenophon Team, polled 21.3% across South Australia in 2016, and finished second in Grey, Barker and Port Adelaide (the latter now abolished).
• Jamie Walker of The Australian notes that Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party, which has endorsed candidates in more seats than any party other than Labor, has nonetheless left open its Queensland Senate ticket and the Townsville-based seat of Herbert. Palmer earlier maintained he would run in Herbert, but few now expect that to happen, given the certainty he would fail there.
• There’s a redistribution in train in the Northern Territory, which Ben Raue at The Tally Room is on top of if you’re interested.