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.

BludgerTrack: 52.6-47.4 to Labor

With the final pre-campaign polls added, the poll aggregate records a continuation of the improvement in the Coalition’s position that has been evident for some time, rather than anything that might be called a “budget bounce”.

The BludgerTrack poll aggregate has been updated with the three post-budget polls from Newspoll, Ipsos and Essential Research, the combined effect of which is to reduce Labor’s two-party lead from 52.9-47.1 to 52.6-47.4. There’s also a fair bit going on within the state breakdowns – in fact, probably too much.

The recovery the Liberals believe they are detecting in New South Wales is well and truly coming through on BludgerTrack, albeit that Labor is still credited with a net gain of two seats there. A significant improvement has also been recorded in the Coalition’s position recently in Western Australia, although here too Labor is credited with a net gain of two seats. What we’re not seeing any sign of is the improved position the Coalition claims to be seeing in Queensland, where reports have suggested they are now hopeful of breaking even by gaining Herbert and limiting the damage in the south-east. BludgerTrack is stubbornly detecting a swing to Labor in the strategically crucial state of over 6%, translating into a gain of nine seats.

I would be a lot more confident of all this if I had more data at state level, which I’m hoping Ipsos might publish in due course – they appeared to have adopted the Newspoll practice last year of publishing quarterly state breakdowns, but we didn’t see one for October-December and are now due one for January-March. I’ve been trying to chase this up and will keep you posted.

Newspoll and Ipsos both provided new data for the leadership ratings, which are now detecting an uptick in Scott Morrison’s personal ratings, although the picture remains fairly static on preferred prime minister. All of which you can learn more about through the link below.

TECHNICAL NOTE/APPEAL FOR HELP: I’m hoping those of my readers who know their way around web programming might help me resolve an irritating niggle that’s been bedevilling the BludgerTrack display for some time. Namely, that the state breakdown tabs tend not to work, particularly when the page is first loaded. My own experience is that it requires a hard refresh before they will respond. Tablet users, I am told, can’t even do that well.

Based on my research, it would seem to be that the problem lies with the following bit of Ajax code. If anyone thinks they can offer me any pointers here, please get in touch by email at pollbludger-AT-bigpond-DOT-com.

$(document).ready(function() {
cache: false,
type: "GET",
url: "bt-output.xml",
dataType: "xml",
success: xmlParser

The day of the happy event

The false starts and prevarications are set to end this morning with the official announcement of a May 18 federal election.

It’s now a known known that Scott Morrison will be visiting the Governor-General early this morning to advise an election for May 18. Two things to mark the occasion: first, what I’ll call a provisional update of BludgerTrack, since it doesn’t include some state-level data I’m hoping to get hold of today. Adding the post-budget polling from Newspoll, Ipsos and Essential Research, it records a 0.3% improvement for the Coalition on two-party preferred, reducing the Labor lead to 52.6-47.4 from last week. If you observe the trendlines in the display on the sidebar or the full BludgerTrack results page, this shows up as a continuation in an ongoing improvement for the Coalition from their miserable starting point in the immediate aftermath of Malcolm Turnbull’s removal, rather than a “budget bounce”.

Secondly and more importantly, I offer the Poll Bludger’s federal election guide, even if it’s not what I’d entirely regard as ready yet.

Here you will find the most finely appointed Poll Bludger election guide yet published, with exhaustive and exhausting summaries of all 151 House of Representatives, each of which features bells and whistles both familiar (previous election booth results maps and displays of past election results) and new (data visualisation for a range of demographic indicators that now extends to ethnicity on age distribution). A Senate guide remains to be added, the betting odds are yet to be added to the bottom of the sidebars, and the whole thing is badly in need of proof reading. Rest assured though that all that will be taken care of in the days and weeks to come, together with campaign updates and further candidate details as they become available.

Phony war communiques

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.

Essential Research: 52-48 to Labor

A positive reception to the budget fails to move the needle on Essential Research’s voting intention reading. Also featured: a closer look at the budget response results from Newspoll.

As reported by The Guardian, Essential Research has provided the third post-budget poll, and it concurs with Newspoll in having Labor leading 52-48, but in not in finding the Coalition’s improved, since 52-48 was where Essential already had it a fortnight ago. Both major parties are down a point, the Coalition to 38% and Labor to 35%, the Greens are up one to 11% and One Nation is down two to 5% – which means the residue is up fairly substantially, by three points to 10%.

The poll also agrees with Newspoll and Ipsos in finding a positive response to the budget, which was rated favourably by 51% and unfavourably by 27%. Respondents were presented with a list of budget measures and asked yea or nay, with unsurprising responses: strongly positive for infrastructure spending, tax relief measures aimed at those on low and middle incomes and the projection of a surplus, but much weaker on flattening tax scales. Also featured was an occasional question on best party to handle various issues, which does not appear to have thrown up anything unusual. Full detail on that will become available when the full report is published later today.

UPDATE: Full report from Essential Research here. The poll was conducted Thursday to Sunday from a sample of 1069.

Backtracking a little to the weekend’s Newspoll numbers, I offer the following displays covering three of their measures in two charts, placing the results in the context of the post-budget polling that Newspoll has been conducting in consistent fashion since 1988. The first is a scatterplot for the questions on the budget’s anticipated impact on personal finances and the economy as a whole (net measures in both cases, so positive effect minus negative effect), with last week’s budget shown in red. Naturally enough, these measures are broadly correlated. However, respondents were, relatively speaking, less convinced about the budget’s economic impact than they normally would be of a budget rated so highly for its impact on personal finances.

Nonetheless, the standout fact is that the budget was very well received overall – the personal finances response was the second highest ever recorded, and economic impact came equal seventh out of thirty-two. There are, however, two grounds on which Labor can take heart. First, the one occasion when the personal finances result surpassed this budget was in 2007, immediately before the last time the Coalition was evicted from office. The second is provided by the question of whether the opposition would have done better, which if anything came slightly at the high end of average. For Labor to hold its ground here in the context of a budget that had a net rating of plus 25 on personal impact, compared with plus two last year, suggests voters have revised upwards their expectations of what Labor might do for them financially.

Newspoll: 52-48 to Labor; Ipsos: 53-47 to Labor

Newspoll and Ipsos offer very mixed signals on the question of whether the government has enjoyed a rarely sighted “budget bounce”.

Two post-budget polls are in – Newspoll from The Australian, Ipsos for Nine Newspapers – and they offer contrasting pictures as to whether support for the government has gone up or down in the wake of last week’s budget.

Newspoll produces an encouraging result for the Coalition in showing Labor’s two-party lead at 52-48, rather than 54-46. Ordinarily I would point out that a two-point movement from Newspoll is a rare occurrence, which close observers of the polling industry suspect is down to Newspoll smoothing its numbers with some variety of rolling average, in which the results of the previous poll are combined with those of the latest. However, the last Newspoll was, very unusually, four weeks ago, the delay being down to the New South Wales election a fortnight ago and a desire to hold off until the budget last week. So it would not surprise me if things were different this time, and the result was drawn entirely from this week’s survey, which will have been conducted from Thursday to Sunday (UPDATE: as indeed it was, from a sample of 1799).

The report currently up on The Australian’s website is a bit sketchy, but it tells us the Coalition is up two on the primary vote to 38% and Labor is down two to 37%, with One Nation down one to 6%. Scott Morrison’s approval rating is up three to 46% and Bill Shorten’s is up one to 37%, but there is no word yet on disapproval ratings, preferred prime minister, the Greens primary vote and the sample size. The report also rates the budget has scored the highest since the last Howard government budget in 2007 on impact on personal circumstances and cost of living. Stay tuned for further detail.

UPDATE: The Greens primary vote is steady at 9%; Morrison is down two on disapproval to 43%; Shorten is steady on disapproval at 51%; Morrison’s lead as preferred prime minister is out from 43-36 to 46-35.

The post-budget Ipsos poll for Nine Newspapers, which is the first since mid-February, records an actual deterioration for the Coalition on the last since last time, albeit that that was an anomalously strong result for the Coalition (the one that had The Australian proclaiming “Morrison’s Tampa moment” across its front page headline). The two-party headline in the poll is 53-47 in favour of Labor, compared with 51-49 last time, which I’m guessing applies to both respondent-allocated and two-party preferred preference measures since the reports don’t specify. Ipsos’s primary votes are as usual on the low side for the major parties and well on the high side for the Greens: the Coalition are down a point to 37%, Labor is steady on 34% and the Greens are steady on 13%. If it might be thought odd that such small primary vote movement should produce a two-point shift on two-party preferred, it would appear that rounding favoured the Coalition last time and Labor this time.

On the budget, the poll finds 38% expecting they would be better off and 24% saying worse off, which is around the same as last year. Forty-one per cent thought it fair and 29% unfair. Leadership ratings are, as usual, more favourable from Ipsos than other pollsters, but otherwise notable in recording increased uncommitted ratings across the board. Scott Morrison records 48% approval and 38% disapproval, both down one from last time; Bill Shorten is is down four on approval to 36% and one on disapproval to 51%; and Morrison’s lead as preferred prime minister shifts from 48-38 to 46-35.

Reports on the poll, possibly paywalled, can be found at the Sydney Morning Herald and the Financial Review. The poll was conducted Wednesday to Saturday from a sample of 1200.