Galaxy marginals polls and the rest

News Limited have unloaded what they had promoted, accurately I believe, as “the largest opinion poll ever conducted in Australia” – a 4000-sample monster covering four marginal seats in each mainland state. This poll has been dubiously reported, thanks to a national total calculation which has credited the Coalition with a 51.4 per cent two-party vote. This appears to be a straight average of the five states’ results provided by Galaxy, without regard to population relativities between the states or the fact that the seats targeted were 2 per cent weaker for Labor than the national total in 2007. A balanced appraisal of the results points to a swing of about 1.7 per cent, which would produce a national Labor two-party vote of 51 per cent if consistent – slightly at the lower end of the recent phone poll trend. The poll shows a 2.4 per cent swing to the Liberals in the NSW seats of Eden-Monaro, Gilmore, Macarthur and Macquarie; a 1.6 per cent swing to Labor in Corangamite, Deakin, La Trobe and McEwen in Victoria; a 5.4 per cent swing to the Liberal National Party in Bowman, Dawson, Dickson and Flynn in Queensland; a 2.1 per cent swing to the Liberals in Hasluck, Stirling, Cowan and Swan in Western Australia; and no swing at all in Boothby, Grey, Kingston and Sturt in South Australia.

The rub for Labor is that the New South Wales and Queensland swing figures are right where they need to be to maximise the Coalition seat haul in uniform swing terms: over the 4.5 per cent mark needed for a tenth seat in Queensland, and just reaching the threshold that would cost them seven seats in New South Wales (it would take a further 1.5 per cent to bag an eighth). A straight loss of this many seats would single-handedly cost Labor the election. With no swing recorded in South Australia, the only counterbalancing gains would be the two Liberal marginals in Victoria, La Trobe and McEwen. The result would be a bare absolute majority for the Coalition.

However, any haul of 17 seats in New South Wales and Queensland would have to include a few they are generally expected to retain, such as Eden-Monaro and Page. Possibly some of the seats selected for the poll are a bit unflattering for Labor. There is a concentration of western Sydney in the NSW sample, an area yesterday’s poll of four seats for the Daily Telegraph showed to be tough for Labor (it appears Galaxy have conducted separate polls for Macarthur for each release). The Queensland sample also includes Bowman, which Labor has probably written off (UPDATE: Mark Bahnisch at Larvatus Prodeo says “Labor is barely running a campaign, with reports appearing for weeks in the Brisbane Times that their candidate is invisible, and the local papers can’t get hold of her for an interview”). Note that for all the vastness of Galaxy’s total national sample, as far as all-important Queensland is concerned the results are less sturdy than yesterday’s Newspoll, which targeted eight Queensland seats rather than four and 1600 respondents rather than 800. That poll produced a swing of 3.4 per cent against Labor compared with Galaxy’s 5.4 per cent, which in uniform swing terms would mean a difference of no fewer than four seats.

The table below shows swings recorded in state-level Newspolls and Nielsens through the first three weekends of the campaign (with one Westpoll thrown in for good measure), plus the targeted polling we have seen over the current weekend. For the former, samples for any given observation are 765 for NSW, 665 for Victoria, 585 for Queensland, 465 for WA (865 in week three, achieved by throwing in the Westpoll result) and 445 in SA, producing margins of error ranging from 4.6 per cent in South Australia’s case to 3.6 per cent for New South Wales. The composite of the most recent two Nielsen figures has smaller samples of around 250 for the smallest states. The latest Galaxy polls have samples of 800 per state and margins of error of about 3.5 per cent. The Newspoll marginals poll had samples of 600 in Victoria (4 per cent margin of error), 1200 in New South Wales (2.8 per cent margin of error) and 1600 in Queensland (2.5 per cent margin of error).

  TOTAL NSW VIC Qld WA SA  
Week 1 0.2 1.4 3.7 -3.8 0.1 4.0  
Week 2 -3.6 -9.1 1.7 -3.3 -2.9 0.4  
Week 3 -2.0 -1.8 -1.8 -5.5 -3.4 4.4  
Nielsen (2 week) -1.7 -2.7 3 -3.4 -2.7 0.6  
Galaxy marginals -1.7 -3.1 1.6 -5.4 -2.1 0  
Newspoll marginals  0.6 -1.3 6.2 -3.4      

UPDATE: Remiss of me not to have noted when the poll was conducted: from Sunday to Thursday, and hence not as timely as some of the more favourable recent polling for Labor.

Morgan phone poll: 51-49 to Labor

Morgan has now produced a phone poll which, unusually, was entirely conducted today. The sample for the poll was 966, about 300 higher than earlier Morgan phone polls. The poll gives Labor a 51-49 two-party lead from primary votes of 40.5 per cent Labor, 44 per cent for the Coalition and 12.5 per cent for the Greens. Labor’s two-party vote in this series had gone from 55.5 per cent when the election was called to 53 per cent in week two and 50 per cent in week three.

News Limited is also spruiking “the largest opinion poll ever conducted in Australia”, covering 17 seats with a bumper sample of 4000, and it sounds like bad news for Labor. According to Channel Nine’s report, the poll has Labor “at risk” in 10 seats in Queensland and seven in New South Wales. More to follow, obviously.

UPDATE: So far I’ve been able to ascertain that Galaxy polled Bowman, Dawson, Dickson and Flynn in Queensland and found a 5.4 per cent swing against Labor; Hasluck, Stirling, Cowan and Swan in WA and found a 2.1 per cent swing against Labor; La Trobe and McEwen in Victoria and found a 1.6 per cent swing to Labor. Have to wait for detail on New South Wales.

In the WA seats, Labor’s primary vote was down from 41.3 per cent to 36 per cent; the Liberals up from 44.9 per cent to 46 per cent; Greens up from 7.9 per cent and 12 per cent. Julia Gillard led as preferred prime minister 48-36. The Coalition was rated more united 50-31; 30 per cent believe Tony Abbott’s four-point sales pitch and 66 per cent don’t; Gillard as rated preferred prime minister over Rudd 48-36; 13 per cent say Kevin Rudd’s recent involvement made them more likely to vote Labor, 8 per cent said less likely and 78 per cent no difference; 45 per cent believe themselves better off three years ago compared with 33 per cent worse off.

Newspoll marginals poll: NSW, Queensland, Victoria

Newspoll has targeted 17 marginal seats in NSW, Queensland and Victoria, with results that are heartening for Labor: a manageable 1.3 per cent swing in NSW, a surviveable 3.4 per cent in Queensland and, remarkably, a 6.2 per cent swing in their favour in Victoria. We are told of a 4.6 per cent drop in the Labor primary vote in the six NSW seats, an 8.1 per cent drop in the eight Queensland seats and a 1 per cent increase in three Victorian seats. The Coalition are respectively up two to 47 per cent and 1.7 per cent in Queensland, but down 5.3 per cent in Victoria.

UPDATE: PDF here. The seats covered were Bennelong, Eden-Monaro, Gilmore, Macarthur, Macquarie and Robertson in New South Wales, Brisbane, Dawson, Dickson, Flynn, Forde, Herbert, Leichhardt and Longman in Queensland, and Dunkley, La Trobe and McEwen in Victoria.

Note also this evening’s Galaxy marginals poll and Nielsen national poll covered in the previous post.

Other matters of note:

Stephen Lunn of The Australian reports that Antony Green, Newspoll’s Martin O’Shannessy and Bob Brown’s chief-of-staff Ben Oquist all agree that Greens preferences will run 80-20 to Labor as usual. This is contrary to much talk around the place from such as Dennis Shanahan, who spoke of Labor two-party results bloated by “heroic assumptions“ about Greens preferences. The Nielsen poll released earlier this evening gave Labor 86 per cent of respondent-allocated Greens preferences.

• An article on the Liberal campaign by Simon Canning and Patricia Karvelas of The Australian is interesting both for its content, and in providing the first hint of pre-emptive recriminations in the Liberal camp. “Senior Coalition frontbenchers” have complained the Liberal camapign director, Brian Loughnane, had “left Tony Abbott vulnerable with an overly safe advertising campaign”. John Singleton is quoted in the article saying it had been “the worst campaign the Liberal Party has ever run”. Many of the specific criticisms proffered ring false to these ears, but it has indeed been notable that Liberal advertising has failed to target “Kevin Rudd’s execution and re-emergence, and the constant distraction provided by former leader Mark Latham”.

• Michael Kroger in The Australian optimistically rates the week a “draw”, and appears to believe the decisive seats so far as a Labor majority is concerned will be Bass, Corangamite, Forde and Solomon. He also offers that “a Labor loss in the seat of Melbourne now seems likely”.

Emma Chalmers of the Courier-Mail notes the Australian Electoral Commission’s statistics on postal vote applications show Labor has lodged three times as many as the Liberal National Party in a “a clutch of key Queensland marginal seats”. Labor is said to have learned its lesson after being slow off the mark with its postal vote campaign at last year’s state election.

• The Age reports the Northern Territory Country Liberal Party is likely to disendorse its candidate for Lingiari, Leo Abbott, for failing to inform the party he had breached a domestic violence order.

• GetUp! have had another win, this time in their challenge against the Australian Electoral Commission’s refusal to admit enrolment applications signed with a digital pen and submitted through their website. One observer who declined to join in the congratulations was Possum, who argued it would strengthen the “potential fraud” argument the Howard government used to justify its franchise-curtailment measures in 2006.

Nielsen: 53-47 to Labor; Galaxy western Sydney poll

GhostWhoVotes tweets that Nielsen has Labor leading 53-47 on two-party preferred, from primary votes of 40 per cent for Labor, 41 per cent for the Coalition and 12 per cent for the Greens. Julia Gillard’s lead as preferred prime minister has widened from 49-41 to 52-38 since the poll of last week, which had the Coalition leading 51-49, and she has traded two points of disapproval (now 36 per cent) for approval (54 per cent). Tony Abbott has returned to net negative personal ratings, with his approval down five to 45 per cent and disapproval up fifve to 48 per cent.

UPDATE: Galaxy has published a poll of 800 respondents in Hughes, Lindsay, Macarthur and Greenway, the result suggesting Lindsay and Greenway would stay with Labor. Conducted on August 11 and 12, it shows Labor’s primary vote down 8 per cent to 37 per cent and the Coalition on 45 per cent, translating into a 3.9 per cent two-party swing: certainly enough to cost them Macquarie and Macarthur, but not Lindsay. Eighty-six per cent said Labor did not deserve to be re-elected, but 52 per cent said that they were better than the alternative. Forty-five per cent considered Gillard more impressive to 36 per cent for Mr Abbott; 42 per cent more trustworthy compared to 33 per cent. Forty-one per cent said they were now better off than they were three years ago, while 44 per cent said worse off.

UPDATE 2: Newspoll has targeted 17 marginal seats in NSW, Queensland and Victoria, with results that are enormously heartening for Labor: a manageable 1.3 per cent swing in NSW, a surviveable 3.4 per cent in Queensland and, remarkably, a 6.2 per cent swing in their favour in Victoria. More to follow.

D-day minus 8

Patricia Karvelas in The Australian:

Liberal strategists believe they are in line to easily win at least seven Labor seats and retain their own most marginal ones – but concede they are still falling short of being able to take Government. A senior Liberal strategist said the Queensland seats of Leichhardt and Longman are as “good as gone” to Labor and that Health spokesman Peter Dutton would easily retain the seat of Dickson – which has become notionally Labor because of a redistribution. The Liberals also believe they are in line to take Dawson on a 2.4 per cent margin from Labor. In NSW they say they will easily keep their seats of Gilmore, and Macarthur, but are not as confident about the battleground seat of Lindsay in western Sydney. But they believe they can pick up Robertson and Macquarie. In WA, the Liberals believe they could pick up Hasluck and keep Swan.

Mark Simpkin on ABC Television:

Labor MPs are calling Mark Latham all sorts of things, of which the most polite is “unwelcome distraction”. One minister told the ABC the government would have lost if the election had been held in the second or third weeks of the campaign, but it’s slowly clawing its way back, making a distraction-free final week crucial.

Simon Canning in The Australian:

THE Australian Labor Party has spent nearly $5 million advertising on metropolitan television and radio, and in newspapers in the first three weeks of the election campaign, outspending the Liberals by more than $1.3m. In the first concrete ad spending figures for the election compiled by the Nielsen Company, the ALP spent $4.86m on ads until August 7, as it worked to gain an early advantage over the Liberals. The ACTU, running a campaign against the possibility of a Liberal government reintroducing Work Choices, has emerged as the third biggest spender during the first three weeks, investing $2.13m. Spending by all three groups is believed to be significantly higher than Nielsen reports with subscription TV, regional radio and regional newspapers not yet accounted for … Labor looks unlikely to match the massive spend of the Liberals during the 2007 campaign, when they invested $14.4m during the course of the campaign.

Further to the last item, Wednesday’s Gruen Nation aired results from market research company Xtreme on the volume of party television advertising. They found that from the day the election was called until last weekend, the Liberals aired 736 ads to Labor’s 635. Over half of the deficit was accounted for by Perth, where a Liberal Party engorged by mining donations has been able to blitz Labor by 151 ads to 83. The market hardest hit by both parties was Brisbane with 197 ads for Labor and 188 Coalition ads. In Sydney the score was 188 Labor and 153 Liberal; in Melbourne, 128 Coalition and 83 Labor; in Adelaide, 116 Coalition and 84 Labor.

Morgan face-to-face: 57.5-42.5 to Labor

News Radio reports the latest Morgan face-to-face poll, conducted last weekend, has Labor’s two-party lead leaping to 57.5-42.5. This series is traditionally favourable to Labor, but the lead recorded here is their highest since February. The Greens primary vote was 15.5 per cent, up 4.5 per cent, the highest ever recorded by Morgan (no other details available yet on the primary vote). Contrary to expectation, Morgan does not seem to have conducted a mid-week phone poll as it has been doing throughout the campaign so far.

UPDATE: Labor actually down a point on the primary vote from last week to 43 per cent, but the Coalition are down four to 37 per cent, making room for that Greens surge.