Newspoll: 52-48 to Labor

Newspoll returns after three weeks to find the situation all but totally unchanged.

One Nation are off two points on the primary vote, from 8% to 6%, but the latest Newspoll is otherwise as dull as it gets. Labor’s lead on two-party preferred is unchanged at 52-48, both major parties are unchanged at 38% on the primary vote, the Greens are up one to 10%. Malcolm Turnbull is up a point on both approval and disapproval, to 40% and 50% respectively; Bill Shorten is down one to 33% and steady on 55%. Turnbull leads 46-31 on preferred prime minister, compared with 47-30 last time. The poll was conducted Thursday to Sunday, presumably from a sample of about 1600.

ReachTEL: 54-46 to Labor in Darling Range

A week out from the McGowan government’s first electoral test in Western Australia, a new poll suggests Labor will do rather a lot better than they might have feared.

The West Australian had a ReachTEL poll yesterday of voting intention for next week’s state by-election in Darling Range, which Labor won by a 5.8% margin after an 18.9% swing at the state election last March, and which is now being vacated by Barry Urban after it emerged his CV had been littered with falsehoods. The result is remarkably strong for Labor, who hold a 54-46 lead on two-party preferred. The online report is a little vague on the primary vote, but it seems after exclusion of the 10% undecided that the primary vote for Labor candidate Tania Lawrence is little changed on the election result, while Liberal candidate Alyssa Hayden is up from 30.4% to around 34%. One Nation look to be around 10%, and the Greens on around 4%. More than half the respondents said Barry Urban’s resignation (and presumably also the first choice of Labor candidate, Colleen Yates, after it emerged she had exaggerated her educational attainments on her LinkedIn profile) would not affect their vote, with around a third saying they were less likely to vote Labor and 16% somehow registering that they were more likely to. The poll had 600 respondents; the field work data is not provided, but I’m assuming it was Thursday.

Mid-week miscellany

Federal electoral news nuggets, sourced from Western Australia and the Australian Capital Territory.

We are having one of the poll-free weeks that have occasionally bedevilled us since Essential Research moved from weekly to fortnightly, with Newspoll having one of its occasional three-week gaps so its next poll coincides with the resumption of parliament. So here’s some random bits of electoral news:

• A polling nugget I forgot to relate a fortnight ago: according to a report by Nick Butterly of The West Australian, a Labor internal poll recorded a neck-and-neck result in the Perth seat of Stirling, which Michael Keenan holds for the Liberals by a margin of 6.1%. After excluding the 10.8% undecided, the primary votes were Liberal 40.2% (49.5% in 2016), Labor 37.6% (32.2%), Greens 9.0% (11.7%) and One Nation 5.3%. The poll was conducted by Community Engagement from a large sample of 1735.

Gareth Parker in the Sunday Times reports that Matt O’Sullivan, who ran unsuccessfully in the lower house seat of Burt at the 2016 election, has narrowly won preselection for the third position on the Liberals’ Western Australian Senate ticket, behind incumbents Linda Reynolds and Slade Brockman. O’Sullivan emerged with 56 votes to 54 for Trish Botha, co-founder with her husband of an evangelical church in Perth’s northern suburbs. The closeness of the result surprised party observers, especially given Christian conservative numbers man Nick Goiran backed O’Sullivan. As Gareth Parker noted in his weekly column, Botha appears to have attracted support from “non God-botherers” opposed to Goiran’s alliance with Mathias Cormann and Peter Collier, who may not have been aware of the messianic language employed by Botha’s church.

• Katy Gallagher has announced she will seek preselection to recover the Australian Capital Territory Senate seat from which she was disqualified last month over Section 44 complications, after speculation she might instead seek the territory’s newly created third lower house seat. However, it appears she will face opposition from the newly anointed successor to her Senate seat, David Smith, former local director of Professionals Australia.

• As for the lower house situation in the Australian Capital Territory, Andrew Leigh will remain in Fenner and Gai Brodtmann will go from Canberra to the nominally new seat of Bean, leaving a vacancy available in Canberra. Smith appears set to run if he loses the Senate preselection to Gallagher; Sally Whyte of Fairfax reports he will be opposed by Kel Watt, a lobbyist who has lately made a name for himself campaigning against the territory Labor government’s ban on greyhound racing. Other potential starters include John Falzon, chief executive of the St Vincent de Paul Society; Jacob Ingram, a staffer to Chief Minister Andrew Barr; and Jacob White, a staffer to Andrew Leigh.

• Occasional Poll Bludger contributor Adrian Beaumont has launched his own website of local and international election and polling news.

BludgerTrack: 52.1-47.9 to Labor

The BludgerTrack poll aggregate continues to record a voteless recovery in Malcolm Turnbull’s personal ratings.

Two new polls this week, a particularly strong one for Labor from Essential Research and a stable one from ReachTEL, produce a 0.4% shift to Labor on this week’s reading of the BludgerTrack poll aggregate. Labor gains two on the seat projection, those being in Victoria and Western Australia. Essential provided a new seat of leadership ratings, and these conformed with the existing impression of an upswing in personal support for Malcolm Turnbull that has so far done little to improve his party’s voting intention. Full results through the link below.

By-elections and preselections

Can Rebekha Sharkie hold the Mayo? A new poll suggests as much. Also featured: the latest on the many preselection challenges besetting an increasingly fractious Liberal Party.

UPDATE: Now a YouGov Galaxy poll for The Advertiser finds Rebekha Sharkie leading 58-42, with Sharkie leading 44% to 37% on the primary vote, Labor on 11% and the Greens on 6%. Sharkie has a 62% positive rating, 20% neutral and 10% negative; Downer, 31% positive, 21% neutral and 41% negative. The poll was conducted last night from a sample of 515.

After providing the Liberals with encouraging results for Braddon and Longman in its Sky News poll last week, ReachTEL now delivers them a rude shock in a new poll from Mayo, this time for the progressive think tank the Australian Institute. After allocating results from the forced response follow-up for the undecided, the primary votes are 41.4% for Rebekha Sharkie, 35.5% for Georgina Downer, 11.1% for Greens candidate Major “Moogy” Sumner, 8.2% for a wrongly identified Labor candidate (more on that below), and 4.2% for unspecified alternatives. With respondent-allocated preferences going 68.2% to 31.8% in favour of Sharkie’s favour, this translates to a blowout 58-42 on two-party preferred, although my own calculation only gets it to 57-43. Sharkie received 55.0% of preferences at the 2016 election, but the presence of Family First and Liberal Democrats candidates meant there was a higher right-of-centre minor party component than in the poll result. The poll was conducted on Tuesday from a sample of 1031.

A peculiarity of the result is a low primary vote for Labor, who polled 13.5% at the election, well clear of the Greens on 8.1%. The poll identified as the party’s candidate Glen Dallimore, who ran in 2016, but it was today announced that the candidate will be Reg Coutts, owner of a communications consultancy and a former telecommunications professor at the University of Adelaide and member of a panel that advised the Labor government on the National Broadband Network. Coutts won preselection ahead of Alice Dawkins, the 23-year-old daughter of Keating government Treasurer John Dawkins and a recent recipient of a Schwarzman scholarship. Dawkins was earlier rated the front-runner, but Tom Richardson of InDaily notes her pedigree would have blunted Labor attacks on the dynastic pretensions of Georgina Downer.

The ReachTEL poll also features a company tax question that differs from earlier polls in specifying that yet-to-be-legislated cuts relate to large businesses (“like banks, mining companies and supermarkets”), and making the question about the direction the rate should head in, rather than whether it should proceed. Even in this conservative seat, this finds support for increasing the rate at basically the same level as reducing it (25.4% to 24.8%), with 44.9% opting to keep it as is. Given who commissioned the poll, this was presumably intended as a riposte to Newspoll’s qeuestion asking when cuts should be implemented, which left opponents holding out for the last of three listed options (and offered nothing specific to advocates of an increase). Notably, both gave respondents three options, but in ReachTEL’s case the middle course amounted to opposition, while for Newspoll it meant support. Thus did one poll find 25% support for company tax cuts, and another 63%. The Braddon and Longman polls also had questions on company tax cuts, but these specified cuts for all business, and found support at 56.0% in Braddon and 58.1% in Longman.

Another result from the Mayo poll helpful to the Australia Insitute’s agenda is a finding that 42.4% believe tax cuts are most warranted for those on $60,000 or less, progressively diminishing to 28.9% from $60,000 to $120,000, 8.9% from $120,000 to $180,000, 6.6% for $180,000 plus, and 9.0% for “all income brackets”. Conversely, 60.2% were opposed to allowing those on Manus Island and Nauru to settle in Australia, with only 30.8% on support, although a 90-day limit for mandatory detention was strongly supported (62.9% to 25.5%).

On other news, there is quite a bit of preselection action to relate, all of it from the Liberal Party, and with a recurring theme of conflict between conservatives and moderates:

• Reports have indicated that moderate challenger Kent Johns has the numbers to prevail over Craig Kelly, arch-conservative and ally of Tony Abbott, in his preselection challenge for the Sydney seat of Hughes. However, a report from Greg Brown of The Australian suggests conservatives may have succeeding in tipping the scales back in Kelly’s favour by threatening to challenge Nick Greiner for the party presidency at next weekend’s federal council meeting. Tony Abbott has called on Malcolm Turnbull to “involve himself” in support of Kelly, complaining he has gone further to help Ann Sudmalis in her preselection challenge in Gilmore (see below).

• A number of other challengers are unfolding to Liberal incumbents in New South Wales, but press reports suggest none of them are in real trouble. These include Gilmore MP Ann Sudmalis, whose challenger Grant Schultz has not been deterred by endorsements for Sudmalis from Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison; Mackellar MP Jason Falinski, a factional moderate who faces a seemingly quixotic tilt from conservative Frits Mare; and Bennelong MP John Alexander, whose challenger is Ryde councillor Trenton Brown.

David Crowe of Fairfax reports the Victorian Liberal Party’s administrative committee is set to deprive branch members of a preselection vote by intervening to protect all incumbents. Conservatives Michael Sukkar and Marcus Bastiaan are said to be backing the idea partly to protect Kevin Andrews, who has local barrister and former army officer Keith Wolahan circling in his safe seat of Menzies. Other subjects of speculation about preselection challenges are Kevin Andrews in Menzies, Julia Banks in Chisholm, Russell Broadbent in McMillan (shortly to become Monash), Kelly O’Dwyer in Higgins and Tim Wilson in Goldstein.

• The enforced peace in the Victorian Liberal Party does not extend to Senate preselection, where Jane Hume and James Paterson face competition from Karina Okotel, the party’s federal vice-president, and Bev McArthur, wife of former Corangamite MP Stewart McArthur.

• Alex Antic, an Adelaide City councillor, is hoping to take the second position on the party’s South Australian Senate ticket with conservative backing. This would come at the expense of fellow conservatives David Fawcett and Lucy Gichuhi, who have moderate backing for the second and third positions, which are respectively safe and extremely difficult.

Essential Research: 54-46 to Labor

Labor roars back in the latest Essential poll, despite a slump in Bill Shorten’s personal ratings.

The latest fortnightly Essential Research poll sharply reverses a recent trend away from Labor, who are back to leading 54-46 on two-party preferred after their lead fell to 51-49 in the previous poll. This is apparently driven by a four point drop in the Coalition primary vote, but as usual we will have to wait until later today for the full numbers. However, it’s a curiously different story on leadership ratings, on which Malcolm Turnbull gains two on approval since last month to reach 42% while remaining steady on 42% disapproval, while Bill Shorten is down four to 33% and up five to 46%. Turnbull’s lead over Shorten as preferred prime minister is unchanged, shifting from 40-26 to 41-27. Like ReachTEL and unlike Newspoll, Essential has posed a straightforward question on company tax cuts that finds approval and disapproval tied on 37%. The poll also finds 68% support for an increase in Newstart.

UPDATE: Full results here. The Coalition primary vote crashes from 40% to 36%, Labor’s rises one to 37%, the Greens are steady on 10% and One Nation are steady on 8%.

UPDATE 2: Further details from those ReachTEL polls for Sky News, which were conducted last Wednesday. In the national poll, after allocating results from a forced response follow-up for the 5.1% undecided, the primary votes were Coalition 36.5%, Labor 35.3%, Greens 10.7%, One Nation 9.3% and others 8.2%, translating into a 52-48 lead for Labor after respondent-allocated preferences favoured them by 54.8-45.2. Malcolm Turnbull’s lead on the forced response preferred prime minister question was almost exactly unchanged at 54.6-45.4 (54.5-45.5 last month); his very good plus good rating went from 29.9% to 30.8%, and his poor plus very poor from 32.6% to 37.0%. Bill Shorten went from 28.4% to 27.7% on good plus very good, and from 35.5% to 39.9% on poor plus very poor.

In the poll for the Braddon by-election, after allocating the forced follow-up results from the 5.9% undecided, the primary votes were Liberal 48.2%, Labor 34.5%, Greens 6.6%, independents 7.2%, others 3.5%, resulting in a 54-46 Liberal lead on respondent-allocated two-party preferred. In Longman, with the 7.1% initially undecided likewise allocated, the results are Liberal National Party 40.4%, Labor 37.3%, independents 5.5%, Greens 2.7% and others 14.1% (confirming there was no specific option for One Nation), resulting in an LNP lead of 52-48. Respondents for these polls were asked how they would vote “if a by-election in the federal electorate of X were to be held today”. The by-election polls were conducted last Wednesday, from samples of 824 in Braddon and 810 in Longman; the national poll was conducted Wednesday and Thursday from a sample of 2523.