Wagga Wagga by-election: September 8

A look at this Saturday’s state contested by-election in Wagga Wagga, which is being vacated under duress by Liberal member Daryl Maguire.

I have a guide up for Saturday’s New South Wales state by-election in Wagga Wagga, for which the Liberals are managing expectations ahead of an anticipated bad result. The by-election arises from the sudden career implosion of Daryl Maguire, after Independent Commission Against Corruption investigators recorded a phone call in which Maguire appeared to seek payments in lobbying for development applications on behalf of a Chinese developer. A ReachTEL poll result related here last week recorded an exodus from the Liberals to minor parties and independents, with independent Joe McGirr looming as the biggest threat. Gladys Berejiklian said last week a Liberal win would be “miraculous” in the circumstances, with existing fears further compounded by the Liberals’ federal leadership crisis. The Nationals contentiously bowed to Berejiklian’s demands not to field a candidate, a decision that was criticised last week by federal party leader Michael McCormack.

Après le déluge

Situations vacant for aspiring Liberals, first in Wentworth, now in Chisholm, and perhaps soon in Curtin. Also: polls for the ACT Senate and next weekend’s New South Wales state by-election in Wagga Wagga, neither good for the Libs.

Post-leadership change turbulence costs the Liberals a sitting MP in a crucial marginal seat, as preselection hopefuls jockey for safe seat vacancies:

• Liberal MP Julia Banks yesterday announced she will not recontest her Melbourne seat of Chisholm, citing bullying she was subjected to ahead of last week’s leadership vote by the anti-Malcolm Turnbull camp. Banks won the seat on the retirement of Labor member Anna Burke in 2016, making her the only Coalition member to gain a seat from Labor at the election. Rob Harris of the Herald Sun reports the Liberals will choose their new candidate in a community preselection, which presumably entails an open primary style arrangement in which anyone on the electoral roll can participate. Labor has endorsed Jennifer Yang, former adviser to Bill Shorten and mayor of Manningham who ran second as a candidate in the Melbourne lord mayoral election in May, finishing 3.0% behind winning candidate Sally Capp after preferences. The party initially preselected the unsuccessful candidate from 2016, former Monash mayor Stefanie Perri, but she announced her withdrawal in May, saying she had been deterred by the expreience of Tim Hammond.

Alexandra Smith of the Sydney Morning Herald cites “several senior Liberals” who say the “only real contenders” for the Wentworth preselection are Dave Sharma, former ambassador to Israel, and Andrew Bragg, a director at the Business Council of Australia and former leader of the Yes same-sex marriage survey campaign. The report says Sharma has moderate factional support, including from powerbroker Michael Photios, while Bragg is supported in local branches. It also says it is no foregone conclusion that Labor will contest the seat, despite having an election candidate in place in Tim Murray, managing partner of investment research firm J Capital. An earlier report by Alexandra Smith suggested Christine Forster’s bid for Liberal preselection appeared doomed in part because, as an unidentified Liberal source put it: “She is an Abbott and how does that play in a Wentworth byelection? Not well I would suggest.”

Primrose Riordan of The Australian identifies three potential candidates to succeed Julie Bishop in Curtin, assuming she retires. They are Emma Roberts, a BHP corporate lawyer who contested the preselection to succeed Colin Barnett in the state seat of Cottesloe, but was defeated by David Honey; Erin Watson-Lynn, director of Asialink Diplomacy at the University of Melbourne; and Rick Newnham, chief econmist at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Sally Whyte of the Canberra Times reports a Greens-commissioned ReachTEL poll of the Canberra electorate suggests ACT Liberal Senator Zed Seselja’s role in Malcolm Turnbull’s demise may have put his seat in danger. Elections for the ACT’s two Senate seats have always resulted in one seat each for Labor, but the Liberal seat could potentially fall to the Greens if its vote fell significantly below one third. After allocating results of a forced response question for the initially undecided, the results are Labor 39.6%, the Greens 24.2%, Liberal 23.7% and One Nation 2.8%. Even accounting for the fact that the Canberra electorate is particularly strong for the Greens, these numbers suggest there would be a strong possibility of Greens candidate Penny Kyburz overhauling Seselja on preferences. The poll also finds 64.6% of voters saying Seselja’s role in Turnbull’s downfall made them less likely to vote for him, with only 13.0% saying it made them more likely to, and 22.4% saying it made no difference. Among Liberal voters, the respective figures were 38.7%, 29.6% and 31.7%.

In other news, the Liberals in New South Wales are managing expectations ahead of a feared defeat in Saturday week’s Wagga Wagga state by-election, most likely at the hands of independent Joe McGirr. Andrew Clennell of The Australian reports a ReachTEL poll commissioned by Shooters Fishers and Farmers has the Liberals on 30.2%, Labor on 23.8%, McGirr on 18.4% and Shooters Fishers and Farmers on 10.9%, after exclusion of the 7.4% undecided. However, McGirr faces a complication in Shooters Fishers and Farmers’ unusual decision to direct preferences to Labor, which could potentially prevent him from overtaking them to make the final count. According to Clennell’s report, “any government loss post-mortem would be expected to focus on why the Liberals did not let the Nationals run for the seat”.

ReachTEL: 52-48 to Coalition in New South Wales

An overdue post on a New South Wales state poll published last week, and a look at the state’s poll trend since the 2015 election.

I’m way late with this one, but while I was preoccupied with South Australia and Batman last Friday, the Sydney Morning Herald had a ReachTEL poll of state voting intention in New South Wales, conducted last Thursday from a sample of 1521. After excluding the 6.2% undecided, the poll had the Coalition leading 52-48 on two-party preferred, and with 44.7% of the primary vote, up 3.8% on the last poll in October – quite a bit better than the 50-50 and 38% attributed to them by Newspoll recently. The Labor primary vote is up 0.9% to 34.6% and the Greens up 0.1% to 10.0%, which much of the Coalition gain coming off a declining One Nation, down 3.5% to 5.4%. Gladys Berejiklian led Luke Foley 52.3-47.7 as preferred premier. The poll also found 58.9% opposed to the government spending $2.5 billion on new stadiums, with only 25.6% supportive.

To make this overdue post worthwhile, I offer the poll tracking measure below going back to the last election. The general picture is that the Coalition’s dominant position as of the 2015 election was whittled away during Mike Baird’s final year as premier, but had stabilised by the time he resigned in January 2017. Support for the two parties has been fairly balanced in Berejiklian’s year and a bit in the job, with the Coalition perhaps very slightly in front.

Continue reading “ReachTEL: 52-48 to Coalition in New South Wales”

Newspoll: 50-50 in New South Wales

A new result from Newspoll finally brings the curtain down on a decade of Coalition leads in New South Wales.

The Australian has a Newspoll result of state voting intention in New South Wales, the first such poll in a year, and it’s the first since 2008 which doesn’t credit the Coalition with a two-party lead. The Coalition is on 38% of the primary vote, down from 40% a year ago and 45.6% at the 2015 election, while Labor is on 34%, unchanged on both last year’s poll and the 2015 result (which was 34.1%, to be precise). Gladys Berejiklian still has favourable personal ratings, with 45% approval and 35% disapproval. This compares with 44% and 21% at the poll conducted a year ago, which was shortly after Berejiklian became leader. Luke Foley is on 37% approval and 35% disapproval, compared with 32% and 36% last year. Berejiklian leads 43-25 as preferred premier, down from 43-21 a year ago. The poll is tagged as “February-March 2018”, but was obviously conducted mostly in February, from a sample of 1526.

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.