Essential Research: 53-47 to Labor

Essential Research yet again records a solid lead for Labor on two-party preferred, but finds Malcolm Turnbull moving clear as preferred Liberal leader.

The Guardian, which joins the fun by spruiking the result as the “eightieth straight loss” for the Turnbull government, reports that Labor holds a lead of 53-47 in the latest Essential Research poll, out from 52-48 a fortnight ago. The poll also features Essential’s monthly leadership ratings, which find Malcolm Turnbull’s lead over Bill Shorten as preferred prime minister unchanged at 41-26 (a growing contrast with the narrow results from Newspoll); a 39% approval rating for Turnbull, down two, and a disapproval rating of 42%, down one; and a 35% approval rating for Bill Shorten, down two, and a disapproval rating of 43%, down one.

A question on preferred Liberal leader finds Turnbull moving clear of Julie Bishop since the last such result in December – he’s up three to 24%, with Bishop down two to 17%. Both are well clear of the more conservative alternatives of Tony Abbott, on 11% (up one) and 3% (down one). Scott Morrison scores only 2%, unchanged on last time. When asked who they would prefer in the absence of Turnbull, 26% opted for Bishop and 16% for Abbott, with Dutton and Morrison both on 5%. Also featured is an occasional question on leaders’ attributes, but I would want to see the raw numbers before drawing any conclusions from them. Those should be with us, along with primary votes, when Essential Research publishes its full report later today.

UPDATE: Full report here. The primary votes are Coalition 38%, Labor 37% (up one), Greens 10% (up one), One Nation 7% (down one).

Also today, courtesy of The Australian, are results from the weekend’s Newspoll which find support for a republic at 50%, down one since last August, with opposition up three to 41%. With the qualification of Prince Charles ascending the throne, support rises to 55%, unchanged since August, while opposition is at 35%, up one.

Newspoll: 52-48 to Labor

The Newspoll everyone has been waiting for is in all other respects a dull, steady, status quo result.

Malcolm Turnbull’s thirtieth successive Newspoll loss is 52-48 to Labor, down from 53-47, which actually completes a hat trick of polls for the Coalition over recent days which have been at the better end of normal for them (see previous post on Ipsos and Morgan results). On the primary vote, the Coalition up one to 38%, Labor is down two to 37%, the Greens are up one to 10% and One Nation is steady on 7%.

As Kevin Bonham has observed, it seems likely that Newspoll is no longer using a roughly 50-50 preference split for One Nation as per the results of the 2016 election, but is instead being guided by the lean towards the Coalition evident at the Queensland and Western Australian elections. This was apparent in the pollster’s recent quarterly state breakdowns, and this latest poll would come out at 52.7-47.3 if the earlier measure had been used (albeit that rounding might have changed this).

For personal ratings, Malcolm Turnbull is steady on 32% approval and up one on disapproval to 57%; Bill Shorten is down two to 32% and up three to 57%. On preferred prime minister, Turnbull is down a point to 38%, while Shorten is steady on 36%. The poll was conducted Thursday to Sunday from a sample of 1597.

Correctives to the notion that Tony Abbott should feel vindicated:

• Newspoll has been a lot less volatile in Malcolm Turnbull’s time than it was in Tony Abbott’s, when it was essentially a different poll – but even the most favourable outliers under Abbott failed to draw the Coalition level, such was the scale of their underlying deficit.

• At the time of his ousting in September 2015, my trend measure found Tony Abbott with a net approval of around 30%. Turnbull is currently at around minus 20% and was only as low as minus 25% at his nadir, whereas Abbott bottomed out at minus 45% right after the Prince Phillip knighthood on Australia Day 2015.

• Turnbull also enjoys a modest but consistent lead over Bill Shorten as preferred prime minister, whereas Abbott never did better than equal him, and was usually behind — often badly, which is very unusual for the incumbent.

Ipsos: 52-48 to Labor

A new poll from Ipsos just about does for Malcolm Turnbull what he can apparently only dream of from Newspoll.

Two days out from the one we’ve all been waiting for, Fairfax has cutely interjected with an Ipsos poll – conducted on this most special of occasions from Tuesday to Thursday for publication on Friday night, and not from Thursday to Saturday for publication on Sunday night as standard. The sample is 1166, somewhat lower than the usual 1400 from Ipsos.

The headline two-party result of 52-48 to Labor, as determined using 2016 election preference flows, is only slightly above the Coalition’s usual form – but Malcolm Turnbull is given a very useful straw to grasp with a tied result using respondent-allocated preferences. This is something the Coalition hasn’t achieved on either kind of two-party measure in any poll since September 2016, except for the quirky and apparently short-lived YouGov series for Fifty Acres. The previous Ipsos poll in early December had Labor leading 53-47 on previous election preferences and 52-48 on respondent allocation. On the primary vote, the Coalition is up two to 36%, Labor is up a point to 34%, and the Greens are down a point to 12% (high results for the Greens being a consistent features of Ipsos polls).

The good news for Malcolm Turnbull doesn’t end there: the poll finds only 28% in favour of the Liberals removing him as leader, compared with 62% who think he should remain, and his approval rating bounces five points to 47%, with disapproval down six to 43%. This is the first time since April last year that Turnbull has recorded net favourable personal ratings – the previous instance being another Ipsos poll, which is no coincidence, since the series consistently records high approval and low undecided ratings for both leaders. Bill Shorten is steady on 38% approval and up one on disapproval to 53%. The poll also finds 49% support for company tax cuts, with the number opposed not provided. This is dramatically more favourable than ReachTEL’s finding of 29% in favour and 56% opposed, although recent Essential Research polls have had slight net favourable results.

We have also had Roy Morgan publish results of its face-to-face polling for the second fortnight a row, which the pollster has hitherto been reserving for its massively expensive subscriber service since the 2016 election campaign. I’m not sure if this portends a regular return to publication, or if it will be appearing on an ad hoc basis, as the release a fortnight ago seemed to suggest. Whatever it is, the result is likewise on the high side for the Coalition, with Labor holding a steady 51-49 lead on two-party preferred. This is in contrast to the form of the Morgan face-to-face series of old, which was notorious for its skew to Labor.

However, as with Ipsos, it’s respondent allocation that’s making the difference – if previous election preferences were applied, Labor’s lead would be up from 51-49 to 53-47. The primary votes are Coalition 38.5%, down from 40% a fortnight ago; Labor 37.5%, up from 35%; Greens 11%, down from 12%; and One Nation on an unusually weak 3%, down from 3.5%. The Morgan release has two-party breakdowns by state and income category. The poll was conducted over the past two weekends from a combined sample of 1477.

Victorian and ACT draft federal redistributions

New federal boundaries (and seats) in Victoria and the ACT bring Labor good news on multiple fronts.

The Australian Electoral Commission has published draft boundaries for redistributions of Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory, both of which gain new seats. At the bottom of the post are my estimates for the new margins, which I’m pleased to say are almost bang on those produced independently by Ben Raue at The Tally Room. The redistribution picture will not be complete (even in draft form) until next month, when we get a draft for South Australia, which is to be knocked back from eleven seats to ten.

As expected, the draft redistributions for Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory are full of good news for Labor, who gain a new seat on Melbourne’s booming western fringe and have two Liberal-held seats made notionally Labor, without suffering too much damage through the knock-on effects. The creation of a third seat in the Australian Capital Territory could hardly fail to be of benefit to Labor, and so it has proved. There are a number of name changes: Corangamite is now Cox, in recognition of the fact that its titular lake has been transferred to neighbouring Wannon to the west; Melbourne Ports is Macnamara; Murray is Nicholls; McNamara is Monash. Corangamite and Cox I get, but I could do without the name changes to Melbourne Ports and Murray, which denote in-my-view-excessive zeal not to have electorates named after geographic features.

First, a quick guide to the most interesting of the proposed changes in Victoria. All of this relates to Coalition versus Labor: nothing of very great interest is to happen in the seats where the Greens are strong, with Adam Bandt’s position marginally improved in Melbourne, and their chances of gaining Higgins from the Liberals very slightly reduced.

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BludgerTrack: 53.2-46.8 to Labor

Newspoll’s quarterly state breakdowns provide new grist for the BludgerTrack mill, highlighted by strong numbers for Labor in South Australia despite their unhappy state election result.

The Australian today brings us Newspoll’s quarterly breakdowns by state, gender and metropolitan/regional, which provides a welcome deepening of BludgerTrack’s data pool for the states. In particular, the addition of the Newspoll takes the edge off the double-digit swing to Labor that BludgerTrack has been recording of late in Western Australia, bringing it down to 8.4% (Newspoll has it at 6.7%).

Newspoll comes within about 1% of the existing readings of BludgerTrack in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland, but has Labor leading 54-46 in South Australia, where BludgerTrack formerly had it at 51.4-48.6. On the seat projections, BludgerTrack now has Labor one higher in Victoria and two higher in Queensland than before the Newspoll numbers were added, but two lower than their implausibly strong result from Western Australia.

It should be observed that the Newspoll data is not new, having been aggregated from the results of the last four Newspolls. As such, the BludgerTrack national voting intention numbers are exactly as they were following last week’s update, with only the state breakdowns changing.

The full results from Newspoll can be viewed here. The biggest changes since the last quarter are a four point gain for the Coalition in Queensland, on both primary and two-party, although the primary gain is more at the expense of One Nation (down two) than Labor (down one); and a six-point drop for “others” in South Australia, presumably reflecting the decline of the Nick Xenophon Team, which yields a four-point gain for Labor and one-point gains for the Liberals and the Greens, with Labor up a point on two-party.

Other breakdowns record a three-point increase in the Coalition primary vote among those aged 50 and over, although this comes more at the expense of One Nation than Labor; a three-point gain for Labor among the 35-49s, with the Coalition also up a point, the Greens and One Nation down one, and “others” down two; and nothing of consequence in the gender breakdowns.

Once more with feeling: Batman, SA, Tasmania

One last look at last month’s two state elections and one federal by-election.

Now the dust has settled, a considered review of the three big electoral events of March.


Labor’s win was ultimately more comfortable than it appeared on election, which has fed into the post-election speculation as to what it all means. For what it’s worth, a ReachTEL poll commissioned by a timber industry lobby group two days out from the election came within one point of accuracy on the two-party vote, and found Adani, health and education each recording about 20% on the question of most important campaign issue.

First the basic results:

A table further below zeroes into the count’s two curiosities, the first of which is the extent of Labor’s surge on late counting. The result is broken down into polling day votes, namely ordinary election day votes, provisional votes and (in the case of the 2016 election, to derive the swing) absent votes; pre-poll, which includes both the pre-poll voting centre booths and declaration pre-polls; and postals, which is just postals.

The fact that Labor didn’t do so well on the day has led suggestions that something must have happened late in the campaign to blunt Labor’s momentum, with the most obvious culprit being Labor’s dividend imputation policy. There may certainly be something in this, but the same pattern was evident in lesser degree at the Northcote by-election, at which the Greens’ swing was 1.9% weaker on pre-polls and 4.4% weaker on postals as compared with polling day votes, with the equivalent differences in Batman being 3.6% and 5.8%.

The second notable feature of the result was the disparity between the Labor-loyal northern end of the electorate and the Greens-leaning south. The former area did actually deliver the Greens the gentle swing they needed to win the seat, while the latter swung solidly to Labor – although there remains a 15.1% differential between the two, compared with 21.5% at the 2016 election. The table separately records votes cast north and south of Bell Street, and excludes votes where this cannot be discerned (postals and such).

South Australia

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