Newspoll: 51-49 to Liberal in Lindsay; 50-50 in Dawson

The opinion poll bonanza rolls on, with a Newspoll survey in The Australian focusing on the key seats of Lindsay in western Sydney and Dawson in northern Queensland, both presumed trouble spots for Labor. The Lindsay poll is everything Labor might have feared, showing the Liberals with a 51-49 lead after a 7 per cent swing. However, the Dawson result is much better news for Labor, showing an even two-party split and a swing to the Liberal National Party of 2.4 per cent. The poll was conducted between Tuesday and Thursday, before the Kevin Rudd intervention. Primary votes are 45 per cent Liberal to 41 per cent Labor in Lindsay, and 44 per cent LNP to 42 per cent Labor in Dawson. It seems we’ll have to wait for the hard copy to find out the sample size.

For those of you who have just joined us, note the previous two posts covering poll results which have emerged over the past evening.

UPDATE: Full results here. The samples turn out to be 600 per electorate, producing margins of error of 4 per cent. Both leaders’ approval ratings are evenly split between approve and disapprove in both electorates – in a poll conducted in Lindsay in the final days of Kevin Rudd’s leadership, the result was 33 per cent approve, 61 per cent disapprove. Julia Gillard leads Tony Abbott as preferred prime minister 49-34 in Dawson and 46-41 in Lindsay. Labor’s support is softer than the Coalition’s in Lindsay, but basically the same in Dawson.

UPDATE 2: Courtesy of Possum, full results from Nielsen, who are helpfully maintaining their three-poll state-by-state averages.

Westpoll: 52-48 to Coalition in WA

In addition to the two polls discussed in the previous post (more on those as details come to hand), we now have a Westpoll survey from the normal regrettably small sample of 400 Western Australian respondents. This has the Coalition’s two-party lead at 52-48, compared with 53.3-46.7 per cent in 2007. The Coalition primary vote is 48 per cent (47.4 per cent in 2007) to Labor’s 35 per cent (36.8 per cent) and 14 per cent for the Greens (8.9 per cent). Further questions suggest Tony Abbott’s Catholicism is slightly more damaging electorally than Julia Gillard’s atheism, and there is a 54-33 split in favour of Kevin Rudd returning to cabinet, a relatively narrow result reflecting his unpopularity in Western Australia. More to follow.

UPDATE: Full set of Westpoll results here. The Coalition has a 15-point lead on the economy and a 28-point lead on asylum seekers, while Labor has leads of eight to 13 points on health, industrial relations, education and environment.

Galaxy marginal seats poll; Nielsen 51-49 to Coalition

We learn via Channel Nine that Galaxy has conducted a poll of two marginal seats in New South Wales, Macarthur and Eden-Monaro, and two in Queensland, Bonner and Bowman. We are told only of a 2.8 per cent swing against Labor, which I’m guessing means a composite result of 51-49 in favour of the Coalition from the four seats in question, which collectively produced a Labor two-party vote of about 51.8 per cent in 2007. On the primary vote, Labor is said to be down six points to 39 per cent and the Coalition steady on 44 per cent. I await further elucidation. I also await Nielsen and Westpoll, which Possum advises us will be out later this evening.

UPDATE: Courtesy of the indispensible GhostWhoVotes, Nielsen has it at 51-49 in favour of the Coalition. More to follow.

Roll playing games

In a stunning repudiation of the Howard government’s electoral law “reforms” of 2006, the High Court has today upheld by majority a GetUp!-sponsored legal challenge against the closure of the electoral roll on the day the writs for the election were issued. Until 2006 this routinely occurred seven days later, which allowed voters time to enrol or amend existing enrolments, and the Australian Electoral Commission time to advertise the urgency of doing so. The current government introduced legislation to reinstate the seven-day period, but it was still before parliament when the election was called. The ruling will allow the 100,000 prospective voters who did in fact enrol in the seven day period after the issue of the writs to vote at the August 21 election, which presumably falls far short of the number that would have enrolled if the value of doing so had been known in advance. The High Court has yet to publish its reasons, but the GetUp! case sought to build on an earlier ruling that invalidated another aspect of the 2006 act which denied the right to vote to all prisoners. This established a test whereby restrictions on the exercise of the vote had to involve a proportionate response to a legitimate problem. It appears the court has agreed that the amendment lacked the requisite foundation in evidence to meet such a test, the AEC having consistently maintained that a later closure of the rolls posed no threat to the “integrity” of the roll, as had been claimed by the Howard government. The AEC now has the onerous task of informing the 100,000 affected voters that they are now eligible to vote.

UPDATE: The Australian Electoral Commission advises that since the voter lists for use on August 21 have already been printed, the affected voters will have to lodge declaration votes. I take this to mean what are classified as “provisional” votes, where prospective voters who present at the polling booth and find they are not listed can lodge a vote that is withheld from the count unless and until it is established that they ought to have been on the roll. Unlike other voters, provisional voters are required to provide identification. Prior to 2007 the success rate for such votes being admitted was about 50 per cent, which in most cases involved voters who had moved within the electorate and been removed from the roll when it was found they were not at their listed address. However, the 2006 act was to prevent such votes being admitted to the count which, as Peter Brent calculates, cut the admission rate to 14 per cent. This is going off not-quite-final figures of 24,212 out of 168,767 provisional votes received. Presumably both figures will be quite a lot higher this year.

UPDATE 2: As well as being delightfully informative in this post’s comments thread, electoral law expert Graeme Orr gives the best available overview of the decision in Inside Story.

Advertiser poll: 55-45 to Liberal in Sturt

The Advertiser’s third electorate poll of the campaign brings bad news for Labor in Sturt, held for the Liberals by Christopher Pyne on a margin of 0.9 per cent. The survey of 575 respondents conducted on Wednesday evening has Pyne leading Labor’s Rick Sarre 55-45 on two-party preferred and 49 per cent to 35 per cent on the primary vote, compared with 47.2 per cent and 41.5 per cent at the 2007 election. The Greens are on 10 per cent, up from 6.4 per cent in 2007. More happily for Labor, Julia Gillard was rated stronger on the economy by 44 per cent compared with 41 per cent for Tony Abbott, and as more honest by 46 per cent compared with 38 per cent for Abbott. The margin of error on the poll is about 4 per cent. Previous Advertiser polls had Labor leading 67-33 in Kingston two weeks ago (a swing to Labor of 12.5 per cent), and Liberal leading 52-48 in Boothby one week ago (a swing to Labor of 1 per cent).

Stuff in the papers

With just under half the campaign to go:

• George Megalogenis in The Australian accuses Labor of spending the first two weeks of the campaign pursuing “an imaginary centre position between young and old”, instead alienating the former by being too conservative. Megalogenis explains Labor’s poll decline among older voters in terms of the global financial crisis having “ended the party for baby boomers just when they thought they had made it to a prosperous retirement”, and says the fear of falling property prices in Queensland (not shared in Sydney and Melbourne) has united young and old voters in that state against Labor.

Milanda Rout of The Australian reports the Coalition is pessimistic about Labor’s two Victorian marginals, Deakin and Corangamite, and fears defeat not only in La Trobe and McEwen, but even in seemingly unassailable Aston (where sitting member Chris Pearce is retiring).

Sean Parnell of The Australian offers the interesting tidbit that the Queensland Liberal National Party “allowed the federal Liberal Party to fundraise almost exclusively in the state – including through the mining debate – to fill its depleted coffers and avoid Queensland’s tougher disclosure laws”. The Bligh government reduced the threshold for disclosing donations from $1500 to $1000 in June 2008. This was presumably in anticipation of the Rudd government’s proposal to cut the threshold from $10,000 (to which the Howard government had hiked it from $1500 in 2005) to $1000, which is yet to come to fruition.

• The Adelaide Advertiser has launched a crusade against Barnaby Joyce over his rejection of Penny Wong’s call for a live debate over the River Murray in Adelaide, which Joyce dismissed as “parochial”. Joyce protests there will be “nothing much to talk about” in the absence of the water allocation plan, which the Murray Darling Basin Authority has contentiously delayed releasing until after the election.

• Phillip Hudson of the Herald-Sun reckons “ALP insiders have not seen any immediate improvement in their stocks from the PM’s pledge to unleash the ‘real Julia’.”

• Possum runs Newspoll and Nielsen state breakdowns through his fantabulous contraption and finds Labor 79.4 per cent likely to win at least 74 seats, 71.4 per cent likely to win at least 75 and 62.2 per cent likely to win at least 76 (i.e. an absolute majority).

• Antony Green’s Senate calculators are open for business.