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 South Wales by-elections live

Live commentary of the counts for the New South Wales state by-elections in Blacktown, Cootamundra and Murray.

7.57pm. The two-party count in Murray has nearly caught up with the primary vote count, and the projected and actual Nationals leads have converged a bit above 3%, which I still expect to increase by about 1% in late counting. Whatever lingering doubt might have remained in Cootamundra has been dispelled by 3921 pre-polls, which suggest my projection of the Nationals gain on late counting in Murray may be a bit conservative.

7.38pm. In Murray, there are four booths outstanding on the primary vote, and 16 on two-party. The Nationals have a raw lead of 2.8%, which I get up to 3.4% by filling the gaps on the booths that have only reported primary votes. I further project them to gain 1.0% after declarations and pre-polls are added. So while it’s close, it’s difficult to see them losing.

7.34pm. Seven more booths have reported two-party results from Murray (dizzyingly quick count here) and the Nationals’ lead has indeed come down to 1.5%. However, now my projected result is rosier for them, putting them 3.4% in front.

7.28pm. A strong booth has blown the Nationals two-party lead in Murray out to 4.5%, with 19 booths in out of 47 on the two-party count, but I’m still projecting that to 1.5% by projecting the reported preference flow on to the 20 booths for which only primary vote numbers are available. Probably though the relative strength of the Nationals in those booths will be reflected in a stronger flow of preferences.

7.24pm. Now neck and neck between Labor and the Shooters for second place in Cootamundra. Nationals look safe on 46.3% primary, although I’m projecting that to come down to 42.9% (which is still safe).

7.21pm. The Nationals’ raw two-party lead in Murray is 2.5%, but that comes down to 1.6% if reported preference flows are projected across booths from which we only have primary vote totals. Conversely, my projection suggests the Nationals will pick up 0.8% on the primary vote between now and the end of the count.

7.13pm. I’ve had my eye off the ball a bit in Murray, and Shooters have surged there in the meantime: their raw primary vote deficit is only 40.9% to 33.4%, and they’re only 1.3% behind on the raw two-party count. Nor are my primary vote projections much different from the raw result. Most likely result is that the Nationals will get home, but there won’t be much in it.

7.12pm. Thirty-two booths now in from Cootamundra, and we appear to have a consistent trend of the Nationals doing better in the larger centres: the primary vote swing against them is now 21.0%, and the projected total up to 43.1%, which would be sufficient to win them the seat even with a better flow of preferences to Shooters than Murray seems to suggest.

7.06pm. With three more booths reporting two-party in Murray, the flow of preferences to Shooters has strengthened since my earlier update on that subject, now up to 36.6% with the Nationals on 19.6%. However, the exhaustion rate is approaching 44%, which would put them out of the hunt in Cootamundra if replicated there.

7.03pm. With 27 booths in out of 47, the primary vote swing against the Nationals in Cootamundra continues to moderate, now at minus 23.9% and projecting to a total of 40.2%. Shooters (26.6%) are keeping their nose ahead of Labor (23.0%), but would need a much stronger flow of preferences than would seem plausible.

7.02pm. Labor on over two-thirds of the vote in Blacktown, which is probably the last you’ll hear from me on that subject.

6.59pm. The first two-party count results from Murray are good news for the Nationals, despite their small numbers, with 42% exhausting, and Shooters (32%) getting barely more than the Nationals (25%). If that’s repeated in Cootamundra, they should be okay.

6.50pm. Eighteen out of 47 booths now in from Cootamundra, though naturally this is all the very small ones, and perhaps the most favourable to Shooters. The Nationals’ position has improved a little: I’ve now got their primary vote booth-matched swing at minus 27.5%, which projects to a total of 36.7%. That’s dangerous for them on its face, but the larger booths could behave differently, and we’re completely in the dark on preferences. The foregoing assumes that Shooters will indeed finish second ahead of Labor — their lead is 27.9% to 22.6%.

6.39pm. The NSWEC is doing a Nationals-versus-Labor two-party throw in Cootamundra, which isn’t going to be much use.

6.37pm. Better news for the Nationals from Murray, where the booth-matched primary vote swing from the first four booths is 13.4%. If consistent, that would put them at around 42%, which should be enough.

6.33pm. Ten very small rural booths are already in from Cootamundra, and Matthew Stadtmiller is polling very strongly so far, on 24.1%. On a booth matched basis, the Nationals vote has very nearly halved, from 61.9% to 31.6%. Larger towns may behave very differently however, and I have little sense on what Labor’s 18.2% will do as preferences.

6pm. Polls have closed for today’s trio of New South Wales state by-elections, in Blacktown, Cootamundra and Murray. Live commentary to follow.

BludgerTrack: 53.9-46.1 to Labor

Labor bites and holds its poll trend gain from last week, and Essential Research unloads a set of state voting intention numbers.

The one brand new poll for the week, from Essential Research, made so little change to the BludgerTrack voting intention numbers that I had to double check the result. There was also an infusion of new state breakdown data courtesy of Newspoll’s quarterly state-level results, but the only difference this has made is to add one to the Coalition tally in New South Wales and subtract one in Queensland. There’s big movement in Malcolm Turnbull’s favour on the leadership trend rating following new numbers from Essential Research, but this measure is over-sensitive to the vagaries of particular pollsters, which I’ve long been meaning to correct for. Full results at the bottom of the post.

Essential Research has also released its quarterly state voting intention results this week, which are accumulated from all of its polling over the past three months. In New South Wales, the Coalition has a steady lead of 51-49; in Victoria, Labor’s lead narrows from 53-47 to 52-48; in Queensland, Labor holds a steady lead of 54-46, which is better than they have been doing from other pollsters lately, with One Nation’s primary vote at a relatively modest 13%; in Western Australia, Labor’s lead is down from 55-45 to 54-46; and in South Australia, Labor has a steady lead of 52-48, with the Nick Xenophon Team’s primary vote at 18%. Read all about it here.

ReachTEL: 52-48 to Coalition in New South Wales

Gladys Berejiklian’s government keeps its head above water ahead of three by-elections in New South Wales on Saturday.

Yesterday’s Sydney Morning Herald had a ReachTEL poll of state voting intention in New South Wales, showing the Coalition with a 52-48 lead on two-party preferred. After exclusion of the 8.1% undecided, primary votes are Coalition 40.9%, Labor 33.7%, Greens 9.9%, One Nation 8.9% and Shooters Fishers and Farmers 2.4%. Gladys Berejiklin recorded only a modest 52.1-47.9 lead over Labor’s Luke Foley in the forced response preferred premier question. The poll was conducted last Thursday from a sample of 1647.

This comes days before Sunday’s hat trick of by-elections, which are summarised below together with links to my election guide pages:

Blacktown: Former Labor leader John Robertson’s resignation has brought about a by-election in a seat where Labor looks set to go untroubled. The Liberals are not contesting, the Greens have little support in the seat, and the only other challengers to Labor’s Stephen Bali are the Christian Democratic Party candidate and a low-profile independent.

Cootamundra: Vacated by the resignation of Nationals member Katrina Hodgkinson. Labor is making the rare effort to contest this seat and Murray, but the main threat to Nationals candidate Steph Cooke may be Matthew Stadtmiller of Shooters Fishers and Farmers.

Murray: Vacated by the resignation of Adrian Piccoli, former deputy leader of the Nationals. Nationals candidate Austin Evans faces Helen Dalton, Shooters Fishers and Farmers candidate who ran second as an independent at the 2015 election with 18.2% of the vote.

Newspoll: 51-49 to Coalition in New South Wales

On the eve of three New South Wales state by-elections, Newspoll finds the Liberal leadership change in January has had little impact on voters.

Newspoll has published New South Wales state voting intention numbers from its polling in March and April, from a sample of 1584, providing the first such results from Newspoll since Gladys Berejiklian succeeded Mike Baird in January. It records the Coalition with a two-party lead of 51-49, which is unchanged from the November-December result. The primary vote readings are disturbed by the entry of One Nation on 8%, with the Coalition down a point to 40%, Labor down two to 34% and the Greens down one to 10%. Berejiklian opens her account with an approval rating of 44% and disapproval of 21%, while Labor’s Luke Foley is down on both measures, by two points to 32% on approval and four on disapproval to 36%. Berejiklian holds a 43-21 lead as preferred premier, which compares with 43-26 in Baird’s last poll.

There will also be three New South Wales by-elections tomorrow, including a contested race in a marginal seat (Gosford) and two in blue-ribbon Liberal seats where Labor is not fielding candidates (North Shore and Baird’s old seat of Manly). More on that shortly also.

ReachTEL: 55-45 to Coalition in New South Wales

A snap poll suggests Gladys Berejiklian is set to inherit a government in healthy electoral shape, with Labor crowded out by a surge to One Nation.

Seven News swung quickly into action in the wake of Mike Baird’s resignation yesterday, commissioning ReachTEL to conduct a poll overnight that shows the Coalition with a handsome two-party lead of 55-45. The primary votes cited by Seven are inclusive of a 7.1% undecided component – if this is excluded, the numbers are Coalition 42.7%, Labor 28.0%, One Nation an imposing 16.3%, and Greens 8.4%. I gather we will get full results on the ReachTEL website tomorrow.