Victorian election minus two days

Two days to go until an election that is, in a sense, already half over, thanks to the extraordinary growth in pre-poll voting.

Amid the ongoing opinion poll drought, quench your thirst with the following intelligence from John Ferguson and Ewin Hannan of The Australian.

Elsewhere:

• Pre-poll voting continues to be conducted at an unprecedented clip, which will potentially make life different for prognosticators on Saturday night. The Victorian Electoral Commission reports just shy of a million pre-poll votes have been cast, with the trend suggesting upwards of 350,000 are still to come over the next two days, eventually accounting for nearly 40% of all votes cast. Taking postal votes into account as well, little more than half the votes are likely to be cast on election day. This will be the first Victorian election at which pre-poll votes are counted on the night, and if there is indeed a different dynamic on pre-poll votes, the picture that emerges early in the count may be upset later in the night. The VEC site offers full data on the number of pre-poll and postal votes cast by day and by electorate.

• Last night’s apparently incident-free leaders debate was deemed to have been won by Daniel Andrews by 49 members out of the audience of 100 swinging voters hand-picked by Galaxy Research, with 33 favouring Matthew Guy.

• Fourteen months after it came to light and two days before the election, the Herald Sun reports Russell Northe, Nationals-turned-independent member for Morwell, received a $5000 donation ahead of the 2010 election which, a Nationals official says, never made its way to the party’s campaign account. Northe’s departure from the party in August last year occurred against a backdrop of personal and financial difficulties, among which was a gambling problem. The seat is a complicated contest in which Northe might equally lose to the Nationals or Labor (or perhaps even former Australian Motoring Enthusiasts Party Senator Ricky Muir, now with Shooters Fishers and Farmers).

Noel Towell of The Age reports Labor believes it is “close enough to justify extra spending” in Melbourne, which Ellen Sandell of the Greens won from it by a 2.4% margin in 2014. While Labor believes it is drawing blood in its attacks on the Greens for standing by Angus McAlpine, erstwhile gangster rap homeboy and now candidate for Footscray, a party source says it is “treating its research in Melbourne with caution, because of the shortcomings of single-seat polling and the difficulty of accurately gauging voter intentions in inner-city seats”.

• The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal has prohibited the dissemination of how-to-vote cards in Northcote disseminated by “Citizens for Stable Government”, having determined that they look rather too much like Liberal Party material. Helpfully for Labor, the cards recommended the Greens be placed last, whereas official Liberal material advises voters to make up their own minds.

• Not unsurprisingly, Labor has failed in a legal bid to have fresh ballot papers printed in Yan Yean to acknowledge Meralyn Klein’s new-found status as an independent candidate. Klein was disendorsed by the Liberal Party after the closure of nominations over her links with the far right Australian Liberal Alliance.

BludgerTrack: 53.9-46.1 to Labor

Ipsos and Essential’s 52-48 results have knocked nearly a full point off Labor’s lead in the BludgerTrack aggregate, although that still leaves plenty to spare.

Two much better results for the Coalition this week, from Ipsos and Essential Research, have knocked 0.8% off Labor’s still commanding two-party lead on the BludgerTrack poll aggregate. This converts into three gains on the seat projection, being one apiece in Victoria, Queensland and South Australia.

For those playing particularly close attention, I am not making use here of The West Australian’s local poll by unheralded market research outfit Painted Dog Research, as I have no benchmark for calculating bias adjustments for them. In any case, it was a small sample poll that particularly low primary votes for both major parties. I have, however, included it in the archive of poll results you can find with a bit of digging under the “poll data” tab at the top of the BludgerTrack page.

Bill Shorten maintains a steady upward trend on the leadership ratings, on which I’m still not producing a result for Scott Morrison – this will require a fair bit of tinkering that I won’t have time for until the poll drought over new year. Full results, as always, on the link below.

Victorian election minus three days

In the absence of new polls, we can only guess at the impact of a news agenda dominated by terrorism – although betting markets are favouring Labor more strongly than ever.

The Victorian election campaign continues to chug along poll-lessly. There hasn’t been a single statewide poll since the Newspoll at the start of the campaign, and all we’ve had from the media was last week’s modestly sampled YouGov Galaxy seat polls for the Herald Sun. Roy Morgan has had some qualitative material based on 626 SMS surveys last Tuesday and Wednesday, of which you can make what you will. Not much, would be my recommendation.

The election campaign, narrowly defined, has also been battling for space with terrorism in the news media. Presumably this is bad news for Labor, but punters seem to have other ideas: Ladbrokes has had Labor in from $1.18 to $1.14 over the past few days, with the Coalition out from $4.33 to $5. Labor’s odds have shortened in a number of Liberal-held seats, with nothing or next-to-nothing separating the parties in Bass, South Barwon and Ripon. Conversely, Ladbrokes now rates the Greens as favourites to gain Richmond, and is suddenly offering $4 on an independent to win the Labor seat of Altona – although neither of the two relevant candidates (Tony Hooper, a Wyndham councillor, and Maria Aylward, sister of a murder victim running on a law-and-order ticket) has attracted much media attention.

Essential Research: 52-48 to Labor

Another national poll finds a narrowing in Labor’s lead, but there’s less encouraging news for the government out of Western Australia.

The latest fortnightly Essential Research poll echoes the weekend Ipsos result in recording a narrowing in the Labor lead to 52-48, in this case from 54-46 in the previous poll. The report in The Guardian is more forthcoming than usual on the primary vote, revealing that the damage to Labor has taken the form of a four-point drop to 35%, with the Coalition up only one point to 37%. Beyond that, we will have to wait for the publication of the full report later today.

The supplementary questions include two gauging support for independents in parliament (42% would consider voting for one, 38% felt there should be more); two in which they were asked to rate the overall quality of the Coalition (28% good, 35% poor) and Labor (28% good, 33% poor) front benches; one in which they were asked who would do a better job running the country (36% Labor, 35% Coalition); one series in which they were presented with various propositions about the major parties and asked whether they agreed or disagreed (51% agreed both had no long-term plan for the country, 38% said there was no substantial difference between their policies and 42% said they were too ideological); and another in which they were asked if the government was doing enough to tackle various issues (no to pretty much everything).

There was also a small-sample poll of federal voting intention in Western Australia published in yesterday’s West Australian, conducted by local market research firm Painted Dog Research. This showed Labor leading 51-49 in the state, compared with a 54.7-45.3 result at the 2016 election. The primary votes were Coalition 32% (48.7% in 2016), Labor 34% (32.5%), Greens 11% (12.1%), One Nation 6% (no candidates fielded) and, echoing the findings of the Essential Research, 11% for independents. The poll was conducted Tuesday to Thursday last week from a sample of 474. The report also relates that Labor internal polling in Cowan has Anne Aly adding 5% to her 0.7% margin, with the Liberal primary vote down 15% from its 42.2% in 2016, and that the party “believes it is in a strong position in Hasluck and in front in Stirling and line-ball in Pearce”.

UPDATE: Full report from Essential here. The full primary votes are Coalition 37% (up one), Labor 35% (down four), Greens 11% (up one) and One Nation 7% (up one). The poll was conducted Thursday to Sunday from a sample of 1027.

Ipsos: 52-48 to Labor

A better result for the Coalition from the latest Ipsos poll, although it adds to a picture of deteriorating personal approval for Scott Morrison.

The latest monthly Ipsos poll for the Fairfax papers is better for the Coalition than the last, recording Labor’s two-party lead at 52-48 on previous election preferences and 53-47 on respondent-allocated preferences, compared with 55-45 for both last time. The Coalition is up two points on the primary vote to 37%, with Labor down one to 34% and the Greens down two to 13%.

Despite the Coalition’s improvement on voting intention, Scott Morrison is down two on approval to 48% and up three on disapproval to 36%, while Bill Shorten is respectively down one to 40% and two to 47%. Morrison’s lead on preferred prime minister is 47-35, little changed on the 48-35 result last time.

The poll also finds 46% support a reduction in immigration from Muslim countries, compared with 14% for increased and 35% for left unchanged; and that 47% believe the government’s first objective in energy policy should be to reduce prices, compared with 39% for reducing carbon emissions. The poll was conducted Wednesday to Saturday from a sample of 1200.

Victorian election minus one week

The Liberals continue to talk up their chances ahead of next week’s Victorian election, but betting markets appear unimpressed.

The Victorian election has been remarkably light on for opinion polls: the Herald Sun has had only the four YouGov Galaxy seat polls it has published over the past week; The Australian appears to be content with top-and-tailing the campaign with Newspoll results; and The Age has had precisely nothing. We do, however, have a uComms/ReachTEL poll conducted privately for the Victorian National Parks Association, although one might well look askance at the result, which credits Labor with a two-party lead of 56-44. After allocated results from a forced response follow-up for the 6.7% who were initially undecided, the primary votes are Labor 40.4% (38.1% in 2014), Coalition 36.8% (42.0%) and Greens 10.3% (11.5%). The poll was conducted on Tuesday from a sample of 1527.

Oddly enough, there has also been movement to Labor on the betting markets, with Ladbrokes now offering $1.18 on Labor to form government after the election, in from $1.25 a week ago, and the Coalition out from $3.50 to $4.33. Notable movements on Ladbrokes’ seat markets include “independent” – of which there are two, Jenny O’Connor and Jacqui Hawkins – being slashed from $13 to $4 in Benambra. This presumably has something to do with a report by Gay Alcorn in The Guardian relating that polling conducted for O’Connor showed Liberal member Bill Tilley’s primary vote falling below 40%.

Ladbrokes also has “independent” as favourite in the crowded field in Morwell, where Russell Northe is seeking re-election after quitting the Nationals, although it has little separating independent, Coalition (which could mean either the Nationals or the Liberals, both of whom are running) and Labor. It would seem there has also been money coming in on Labor to recover Northcote from the Greens – the latter are still favourites at $1.20, but this is out from $1.14 a week ago, and Labor has been cut from $5 to $3.75. Odds for each electorate are displayed on the bottom-right of each page of my election guide; if you would like your gambling losses to go to a good cause, you are encouraged to sign up to Ladbrokes using the links there or on the sidebar.

John Ferguson of The Australian offers the following assessment:

The word increasingly out of the Liberal camp is that it can win. Labor believes this is a deliberate attempt by the Coalition to inject some life into the Liberal campaign team and the media, and that the optimism is not backed by reality. Guy was campaigning yesterday morning in the seat of Wendouree, part of Ballarat, about an hour’s drive west of Melbourne, which until late this week was not much on people’s radar. Despite a pro-Labor margin of 5.7 per cent, the Liberals think it is a possible gain, something Labor is not prepared to concede. The Liberals remain optimistic they can pick up four seats in Melbourne’s sandbelt, starting at Frankston in the southeast, which has a margin of just 0.48 per cent. It is a crime seat. The other three seats the Liberal Party is talking up are Carrum, Bentleigh and Mordialloc, all with margins of 2.1 per cent or under. But even on this scenario, the Coalition needs to pick up four more seats and so far the evidence of this happening has been lacking …

There are also at least three outlier seats that could cause the Liberal Party heartburn as independents try to unseat Guy’s candidates. The first is Benambra in the state’s northeast, which the Liberals hold with a margin of less than 10 per cent; the second is Ovens Valley, held by the Coalition partner with a margin of 16.6 per cent; and the third is South-West Coast, with a margin of 11 per cent.

While Noel Towell of The Age has the following:

The Coalition is losing this state election … Liberal Party elders Jeff Kennett and Michael Kroger are in denial, the first stage of political grief, while some of the people around Guy have moved onto anger and even the leader himself has been getting a little tetchy in recent days. But this is not over. Kennett has had a lot to say these past couple of days and even managed to be right about one thing; Victorian elections can confound the pollsters.