BludgerTrack: 54.0-46.0 to Labor

Plenty of excitement this week from Wentworth, but none whatsoever from BludgerTrack.

New polls from Newspoll and Ipsos have made next to no difference to the BludgerTrack poll aggregate’s reading on voting intention, unless you count 54-46 as a psychological barrier, since it was 53.9-46.1 last week. There has been no change on the seat projection, and only small movements in the primary vote – the largest being a drop from 6.6% to 5.9% for One Nation, who were down from 7% to 5% in the Ipsos poll. I still don’t have a Scott Morrison net approval trend in action yet, but Bill Shorten’s reading records a slight improvement after a somewhat stronger result from Newspoll than their previous poll three weeks ago. The preferred prime minister trend has hardly moved at all, and remains very much as it was under Malcolm Turnbull.

Full results on the link below. Note also the post below this one, dealing with the rather more interesting subject of Saturday’s Wentworth by-election.

Wentworth by-election minus three days

As the Wentworth race enters the home strait, Liberal internal polling reportedly records a blowout lead for Kerryn Phelps.

Panic stations in the Liberal camp ahead of Saturday’s Wentworth by-election, according to latest reports:

The Australian reports that “leaked” (by which they mean “dropped”) Liberal internal polling has found Kerryn Phelps breaking out to a 55-45 lead, after being level pegging a week ago. Caution should always be taken with reports of internal polling, which is invariably selectively released even if not actually fabricated, and it is clear in this case that the objective is to scare potential protest voters back into line. Nonetheless, an apparent turn against the government is all too explicable given its performance over the past week or so, and is also consistent with the evident desperation of the Prime Minister’s thought bubble about moving the Australian embassy in Israel to Jersualem – an all too obvious pitch at the 12.5% of the Wentworth population that identifies as Jewish, the highest proportion of any electorate in the land.

• The reported movement in internal polling has been reflected on the betting markets, with Ladbrokes now has an unspecified independent a very slight favourite to win, from $2.75 at the start of the week to $1.70, while Dave Sharma is out from $1.33 to $1.80. Labor’s Tim Murray is out very slightly from $7.50 to $8. If you’re up for a bet, particularly a losing one, it would help me out if you signed up through the Ladbrokes advertisement on the sidebar.

• Evidently recounting complaints from the Kerryn Phelps camp, a report by Joe Hildebrand of the Daily Telegraph made overheated claims that a poll conducted for independent candidate Licia Heath a fortnight ago was an example of “push polling”. In particular, a question on Heath’s campaign for a new high school in the electorate prompted an unidentified Phelps campaign operative to assert, “if that’s not push-polling I don’t know what is”. It would seem the spokesperson does not, indeed, know what push polling is – properly understood, the term refers to efforts to disseminate false information under the guise of conducting an opinion poll. But the information in this case is not false, and the poll was very clearly a poll, even if it may not have been a particularly good one. Kevin Bonham notes that such a question may have contaminated voting intention responses if it had preceded it in the question order, but my attempt to clear this up did not elicit a response.

UPDATE: Now Greenpeace has produced results of ReachTEL poll that tends to confirm the picture painted by the reported Liberal internal polling – after allocation of a forced response question for the 2% initially undecided, the primary votes are 33.5% for Dave Sharma (Liberal), 26.4% for Kerryn Phelps (independent), 21.7% for Tim Murray (Labor), 9.2% for Dominic Wy Kanak (Greens) and 5.6% for Licia Heath (independent). Applying the remarkable results for respondent-allocated preferences, which finds over 90% flowing to Phelps, Phelps emerges with a crushing lead of 62.4-37.6. The poll was conducted Monday from a sample of 661. Respondents were also asked about their vote in 2016, and the results aligned fairly well with the actual result. Among the other findings were that a remarkable 66.0% agreed, including 54.0% who strongly agreed, with Alex Turnbull’s assertion that the Liberal Party had “been taken over by extremists on the hard right“. For perspective, the course of four ReachTEL polls to have emerged through the campaign has run like so:

Newspoll: 53-47 to Labor; Ipsos: 55-45

Labor’s lead is down slightly in Newspoll but well up in Ipsos, with improving personal ratings for Scott Morrison offering scant comfort for the Coalition.

Two new federal polls this evening:

The Australian reports the first Newspoll in three weeks has Labor’s two-party lead down from 54-46 to 53-47, from primary votes of Coalition 37% (up one), Labor 38% (down one), Greens 11% (up one) and One Nation 6% (steady). If I understand the report correctly, Scott Morrison is up one on approval to 45% and steady on 39% disapproval, Bill Shorten is up three to 35% and down three to 51%, and Morrison’s lead as preferred prime minister is in from 45-32 to 45-34. The poll was conducted Thursday to Saturday from a sample of 1707.

• The latest monthly Ipsos poll for the Fairfax papers has Labor’s lead out from 53-47 to 55-45. After curiously low results for both major parties last month, this month’s primary vote figures have both on 35%, which is a one point increase in the Coalition’s case and a four point increase in Labor’s. The pollster continues to record implausibly strong results for the Greens, who are steady at 15%. Despite everything, Scott Morrison’s approval rating is up four to 50% and disapproval down three to 33%, while Bill Shorten is respectively down three to 41% and up one to 49%. Morrison’s lead as preferred prime minister is 48-35, out from 47-34 last time. The poll also finds 74% of respondents opposed to laws allowing religious schools to discriminate against gay students or teachers, and 45% in favour of a reduced immigration intake, compared with 23% who want it increased and 29% for it to remain as is. The poll was conducted Thursday to Saturday from a sample of 1200.

US mid-terms minus twenty-five days

Bad polling in Tennessee and North Dakota reduces the Democrats’ chances in the Senate, while they improve slightly in the House. And how state elections impact federal electoral boundaries. Guest post by Adrian Beaumont.

Guest post by Adrian Beaumont, who joins us from time to time to provide commentary on elections internationally. Adrian’s work on electoral matters for The Conversation can be found here, and his own website is here.

Last fortnight, I discussed Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the US Supreme Court. On October 6, following a one-week FBI investigation of sexual assault allegations that was criticised as a whitewash by Democrats, the US Senate confirmed Kavanaugh by a 50-48 margin. One Democrat, West Virginia’s Joe Manchin, voted for Kavanaugh, and one Republican, Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, voted “present”, though she was opposed, to cancel out the absence of another Republican. Maine’s Susan Collins, who is up for election in 2020, was the critical vote to confirm Kavanaugh, as a tie would have been broken by Vice President Mike Pence.

As of last week, the fight over Kavanaugh appeared to help Republicans – see my Conversation article. While Kavanaugh was unpopular, he was more popular than Trump and Republicans, and lifted their ratings. The Democrats’ lead in FiveThirtyEight’s aggregate of the race for Congress was 8.7 points last fortnight, 7.7 points last week, and is back to 8.4 points now. Democrats probably need to win the House popular vote by six to seven points to win the House. The FiveThirtyEight Classic model currently gives Democrats a 79% chance of winning the House (80% last fortnight, 74% last week).

In the Senate, there have been bad recent polls for Democrats in North Dakota and Tennessee, with Republicans leading in those states by double digit margins. Trump won North Dakota by 36 points in 2016, and Tennessee by 26 points. Democrats also trail in Texas and Nevada. If the Democrats lose North Dakota, they will need to run the table in all the close states and win Texas to gain control of the Senate.

The FiveThirtyEight Classic Senate model currently gives the Democrats just a 19% chance to win the Senate, down from 22% last week and 32% last fortnight. The hope for the Democrats is that most Senate polls were taken when the Kavanaugh fight was at its peak, and that they regain ground as it fades as an issue for most voters.

Trump’s ratings are currently 41.8% approve, 52.5% disapprove, for a net approval of -10.7 points. His approval rating is well up from 40% in mid-September, but down from its peak of 42.5% on October 8, two days after Kavanaugh was confirmed. The strong US economy continues to assist Trump and Republicans, though Trump should be doing much better given economic conditions. A key risk for Trump and Republicans is the stock market: US shares had large falls on Wednesday and Thursday, though they recovered some ground on Friday. Stock market falls are likely to be partly blamed on Trump’s tariffs, and could undermine his economic credentials.

As well as US House and Senate elections, 36 of the 50 states hold gubernatorial elections on November 6, and there are also elections for state legislative chambers. Republicans are defending 26 governors, Democrats just nine, and Alaska has an independent governor. The Senate map is tough for the Democrats, as they had a great year in 2012, the last time those seats were up. The governors’ map is tough for Republicans, as they had a great year in 2014.

State elections are important not just for state politics, but because they affect federal boundaries. Every ten years a Census is carried out, and Congressional Districts are required to have roughly equal numbers of people. However, in most states politicians draw the boundaries. If a party has complete control of a state (governor and both chambers of the state legislature), that party can gerrymander that state’s federal districts to its advantage.

The last Census was conducted in 2010, and that was a great year for Republicans. Partly due to gerrymandering, Republicans retained control of the US House in 2012 by a 234-201 margin despite losing the popular vote by more than 1% – see my 2012 election report for The Green Papers. If Democrats have a great year this November, and again in 2020, they could do their own gerrymandering after the 2020 Census, or at least force neutral maps.

Far-right Bolsonaro likely to win October 28 Brazilian Presidential runoff election

I previewed the Brazilian presidential election on my personal website. At the October 7 first round election, the far-right candidate, Jair Bolsonaro, won 46.0% of the vote, while the left-wing Workers’ Party candidate, Fernando Haddad, had 29.3%. Another left-wing candidate won 12.5%, and a centre-right candidate won 4.8%. As Bolsonaro did not win over 50% in the first round, a run-off will be held on October 28 between Bolsonaro and Haddad. The three runoff polls taken so far give Bolsonaro a seven to fifteen point lead over Haddad. Bolsonaro has made comments sympathetic to the 1964-85 Brazilian military dictatorship.

Wentworth by-election minus one week

Reported internal polling from Wentworth suggest the Liberals have a nervous week ahead of them.

With one week to go, two polling snippets to launch a dedicated Wentworth post and discussion thread:

Andrew Clennell of The Australian reports Liberal internal polling shows Kerryn Phelps is “likely” to finish ahead of Labor’s Tim Murray, and that Phelps emerges “a fraction of a percentage point ahead” of Liberal candidate Dave Sharma after preferences.

• Both Kerryn Phelps and Tim Murray are credited with two-party leads of around 55-45 over Dave Sharma in an online poll conducted for Voter Choice, a research project by James Cook University doctoral candidate Kathryn Crosby. While the poll has a respectable sample of 736 and appears to use judicious weighting, the self-selecting nature of the sample warrants a degree of caution. UPDATE: Kevin Bonham has looked at this more carefully, and advises still more caution.

BludgerTrack: 53.8-46.2 to Labor

No real change in the BludgerTrack poll aggregate this week, except that there is now a Morrison-versus-Shorten preferred prime minister trend in business.

BludgerTrack has been updated with the latest fortnightly Essential Research poll, together with the state breakdowns published earlier this week by Ipsos. This yields only the tiniest change on voting intention, and no change whatsoever on the seat projection.

I’ve also made my first effort to reactivate the leadership ratings, which have been dormant since Malcolm Turnbull’s because there has been insufficient data to generate a trend measure for Scott Morrison. This is still the case with his net approval ratings, for which there are only five data points, but there have been two extra points for the preferred prime minister question, which makes all the difference.

As such, the leadership ratings trends available through the full BludgerTrack display (click below) show separate trend measures on the preferred prime minister chart for the Turnbull-versus-Shorten and Morrison-versus-Shorten eras. This demonstrates that Morrison’s lead over Shorten is more or less the same as Turnbull’s was. I have also finally updated Bill Shorten’s net approval trend, which suggests a very slight improvement since the Liberal leadership change.