Essential Research: state leaders and federal ICAC

Yet more evidence of strong support for struggling state leaders, along with overwhelming backing for a federal ICAC.

For your US election needs, there is a newly launched post on which Adrian Beaumont will be offering live coverage. For some Australian perspective on the matter, the Australia Institute has a poll showing Australians preferring Joe Biden over Donald Trump by 52% to 24%, which is actually narrower than I might have figuered, but the lead extends to supporters of the Coalition (45% to 33%) as well as Labor (64% to 15%). For those of you with a lingering interest in the late count in Queensland, I am continuing to regular-ish updates on the close seats (Bundaberg, Nicklin and Currumbin) to the relevant post.

Then there’s the latest fortnightly Essential Research poll, conducted Wednesday to Sunday from a sample of 1063, which features leadership ratings for Premiers in the four largest states based on small-sample breakdowns. Out of 345 respondents from New South Wales, 68% approved of Gladys Berejiklian with 21% disapproving, both results being up one on a fortnight ago; Daniel Andrews is up seven on approval to 61% and down seven on disapproval to 33%, out of a sample of 275 Victorians; Annastacia Palaszczuk is up three to 65% and down four to 24%; and reaching deep into low-sample, high error margin territory, Mark McGowan records 78% approval (down six) and 12% disapproval (up five) from 105 Western Australians.

The newly liberated Victorian sample also registered a 55% positive rating for the government’s handling of COVID-19, up ten on a month ago, while the New South Wales government was up three to 68% and Queensland’s was steady on 69%. On the stronger methodological ground of the full national sample, the federal government’s performance was rated good by 61% (up one) and poor by 15% (down three). The poll also found 81% support for “the establishment of an independent federal corruption body to monitor the behaviour of our politicians and public servants”, with only 6% opposition

US election minus two days

Biden is the clear favourite to win the US election, but there’s still a plausible chance for Trump, mainly due to a five-point Biden lead in Pennsylvania.

Guest post by Adrian Beaumont, who joins us from time to time to provide commentary on elections internationally. Adrian is an honorary associate at the University of Melbourne. His work on electoral matters for The Conversation can be found here, and his own website is here.

This is a slightly modified version of an article I had published for The Conversation earlier Monday.

Two days before Wednesday’s US election (AEDT), the FiveThirtyEight national aggregate gives Joe Biden an 8.6% lead over Donald Trump (52.0% to 43.4%). Biden’s lead has decreased by 0.3% since last Thursday. In the key states, Biden leads by 8.3% in Wisconsin, 8.2% in Michigan, 4.8% in Pennsylvania, 3.1% in Arizona and 2.2% in Florida.

Biden’s lead in Pennsylvania is almost four points below his national lead, and that gives Trump hope of pulling off an Electoral College/popular vote split, as occurred at the 2016 election. Pennsylvania is the most likely “tipping-point” state that could put either Trump or Biden over the magic 270 Electoral Votes.

If Biden loses Pennsylvania, but wins Michigan, Wisconsin and Arizona, he would have 269 Electoral Votes, one short of 270. Either Maine’s or Nebraska’s second Congressional District could in that scenario give Biden the narrowest of Electoral College wins. These states award one Electoral Vote to the winner of each of their districts, and two to the statewide winner. All other states are winner-takes-all.

In 2016, Hillary Clinton lost the tipping-point state (Wisconsin) by 0.8%, while winning the popular vote by 2.1% – a difference between the tipping-point and popular vote of 2.9%.

Analyst Nate Silver says while Trump can plausibly win, he would need the polls to be wrong by far more than in 2016. At this stage in 2016, the FiveThirtyEight forecast gave Trump a 35% chance; he currently has just a 10% chance. Trump only has a 3% chance to win the popular vote.

Trump had one very good poll result from a high-quality pollster: a Selzer Iowa poll gave him a seven-point lead in that state. But most high-quality polls have been far better for Biden: Siena polls for The New York Times gave Biden six-point leads in Arizona and Pennsylvania, a three-point lead in Florida and an 11-point lead in Wisconsin.

In FiveThirtyEight aggregates, Biden leads by 2.0% in North Carolina and 1.5% in Georgia. He trails by 0.3% in Ohio, 1.2% in Texas and 1.7% in Iowa. If Biden won all these states, he would win over 400 Electoral Votes. Florida is now in this group of states when it had previously been better for Biden.

Trump’s net job approval ratings have jumped two points since last Thursday. In the FiveThirtyEight aggregate, his net approval with all polls is -8.5%, and -7.0% with polls of likely or registered voters. The RealClearPolitics average has Biden’s net favourability at +7, while Trump’s is -13.

I wrote on October 22 that there are two key measures where Biden is doing far better than Clinton. First, Biden is over 50% in national polls, which Clinton never achieved. Second, he has a net positive favourability rating, whereas both Clinton and Trump were very unpopular in 2016.

The US election results will come through on Wednesday from 10am AEDT. You can read my wrap of when polls close in the key states and results are expected. A key early results state is Florida; most polls close at 11am AEDT, but the very right-wing Panhandle closes an hour later.

In the FiveThirtyEight Classic Senate forecast, Democrats now have a 79% chance to win control. The most likely outcome is a 52-48 Democratic majority. The 80% confidence range is 48 to 56 Democratic seats. All these measures are unchanged since Thursday.

Queensland election: late counting

A post tracking the progress of the late count for the Queensland election.

Click here for full Queensland election results updated live.

Tuesday evening

In the two days since my last update, Labor’s narrow lead in Bundaberg has worn away, with the LNP sneaking ahead by four votes at the close of play yesterday. However, they continue to hang on grimly in Nicklin, where a slight edge on absents cancelled out their usual deficit from postals, leaving their lead at 67 compared with 84 the other night. Neither I nor the ABC is calling Currumbin for the LNP, where their lead has nudged from 268 to 302, but I imagine the addition of a two-party count on absent pre-polls will take care of that. Similarly, there is no LNP call yet for Clayfield, where counting is proceeding slowly, but there assuredly will be when the postal two-party votes are added.

Three seats are being called that weren’t as of Sunday night: Hervey Bay, now rated a Labor gain after an outstanding pre-poll result came in, and they further managed a remarkably strong result on postals; Burleigh, which is now confirmed LNP with their lead at 582; and Coomera, where the LNP now has a clearly decisive lead of 901.

Monday afternoon

A piece I wrote for Crikey that they didn’t have room/money for:

As the world braces for an electoral convulsion of one kind of another in the United States, Australia has maintained its COVID-19 era habit of endorsing the status quo with Annastacia Palaszczuk’s re-election in Queensland on the weekend.

It was a good night for the political left, with a Labor government returned, the Greens’ inner-city empire expanded, One Nation rebuffed, Clive Palmer saved from humiliation only by his lack of shame, and the Morrison government denied a return on the capital it spent taking Labor on before and during the campaign. In a parliament of 93 seats, Labor seems most likely to make a net gain of two or three on the 48 it won in 2017, with the negative side of its ledger consisting of former Deputy Premier Jackie Trad in South Brisbane defeat by the Greens in South Brisbane.

The demographics of the seats that have actually or potentially been gained point to Labor’s success among a cohort whose support it probably shouldn’t get used to, namely seniors. The three clearly gained by Labor are Hervey Bay, Pumicestone and Caloundra, which rank second, third and eighth out of the state’s 93 seats by median age (it is no doubt also notable that each was being vacated by a retiring LNP incumbent). In the retiree-rich and normally solid blue Sunshine Coast region, Labor’s performance was of an equal with the Peter Beattie landslides of two decades ago.

Relatedly, Labor seemed to do better than expected among the many greying legions of One Nation deserters, which helped blunt the LNP’s much-touted attack in central and north Queensland. The LNP had plotted a path to victory that ran through as many as seven Labor-held seats in these regions — among them Mackay, which the party did not even win in its epochal landslide of 2012 — but emerged completely empty-handed.

At the other end of the age spectrum, the Greens added South Brisbane to a trophy wall of youthful inner-city state seats that includes Balmain and Newtown in New South Wales, Melbourne, Brunswick and Prahran in Victoria, and Maiwar in Queensland — none of which the party held a decade ago. Reflecting the situation in Sydney and Melbourne, the Greens’ footprint is expanding into the inner urban periphery, adding Campbell Newman’s old seat of Cooper (then known as Ashgrove) to McConnel in the CBD as a potential target for future elections. However, such prospects may depend on the grace of the LNP, which gave the Greens an unusual fillip on this occasion by putting Labor last on its how-to-vote cards.

The resulting transformation in the Greens’ share of LNP preferences in South Brisbane — from about 40% in 2017 to 68% on the latest numbers — had Labor’s election night panellists crying blue murder and Anthony Albanese complaining of an “LNP-Greens coalition”. Had preference flowed as they did in 2017, South Brisbane would be going down to the wire, compared with what looks to be a Greens margin of around 5%.

The other fly in the Greens’ ointment was that their success was very much limited to inner Brisbane. They were not spared the exodus from the minor parties elsewhere, resulting in a drop in their overall vote from 10% to 9%. This raises the possibility that a focus on the very particular kind of seat the party can win at state elections, in terms of both campaign resource allocation and policy orientation, is weakening it elsewhere and imperilling its hold on Senate seats that are determined by the statewide vote.

Last but not least, the election was also the first serious test of Australian opinion polling since last year’s federal debacle, and in particular for YouGov, which has since assumed the job of conducting Newspoll for The Australian. The result was a qualified pass: the election eve Newspoll got the winner right and nailed the LNP vote, but tested its margin-of-error by short-changing Labor by three points and understating the decline of the minor parties.

Sunday night

This post will be progressively updated with news on the late counting for the Queensland election. My live election results pages now include the preference flow by candidate data that the ECQ is uniquely publishing progressively, in a rather more user-friendly and easy-to-locate form than on the ECQ’s site. Here you can readily find the answers to such questions as how many LNP preferences are flowing to the Greens in South Brisbane (the current answer being 67.8% of them).

The ECQ separately publishes the election night count of the primary vote and what other jurisdictions would describe as the “recheck”, on which work began yesterday. This means I have a choice between publishing the election night or the recheck results, and I will be sticking with the former until the latter are largely or entirely completed.

My results system is calling 49 seat for Labor, 30 for the LNP and cross-bench of seven, with seven Labor-versus-LNP contests in doubt. However, some of these are not really so, as will be explained when I consider them in turn shortly: one of the seven should probably be counted for Labor and four for the LNP, leaving only two generally in doubt. And another reminder that the extensive effort that has gone into all this can be rewarded via the “Become a Supporter” button at the top of the page.

• The ABC is calling Hervey Bay for Labor but my system is a hair’s breadth away from doing so. It probably should, because one of the two pre-poll booths has 7639 votes that have so far reported only the primary vote, and which will boost Labor’s 760 lead to by about 375 when its two-party count finally comes through.

• Labor leads by 277 in Bundaberg, but this is without a two-party count on 2833 postals, which by my reckoning should slightly more than halve that. That flow of about 52.5-47.5 to the LNP on postals presumably indicates there is a good chance last postals will wear away what remains of Labor’s lead.

• Labor leads by 84 in Nicklin, and could get a fillip when absents are added, if 2017 is any guide. Against that will be the usual trend to the LNP on late postals.

• The LNP leads by 268 in Currumbin, but there probably aren’t that many votes outstanding, so there would been to be some surprises here on absents and late postals for Labor to win.

• The LNP leads Labor by 547 in Burleigh, which late postals will presumably widen.

• The LNP leads by only 365 in Clayfield, but 5441 votes from the Clayfield early voting centre and 6743 postals should blow that out when they have two-party as well as primary votes reported. The ABC is calling this for the LNP.

• The LNP leads by 814 in Coomera, without much remaining to be added, so you can put down your glasses there.

Things other than Queensland and the US

Some minor news on the local opinion polling front to keep things ticking over.

With the last open thread threatening to fall off the bottom page amid a thicket of Queensland and US-specific posts, here’s a refresher. Newspoll is having an off-week to avoid Queensland election static, although Essential Research should be along with its fortnightly attitudinal results tomorrow. All I have to relate other than that is:

• There has apparently been progress in the establishing of an Australian Polling Council, potentially meaning a new age of full disclosure by pollsters of their weights and breakdowns. Its members are YouGov, Essential Research, Ipsos, uComms, JWS Research, Lonergan Research and Telereach.

• The Australia Institute has published a report on attitudes to climate change that I’m a little too busy for right now, but you can find it here.

Kos Samaras of RedBridge Group discusses polling conducted in September showing 57% of Melburnians think the state Liberal opposition has not “played a constructive role during this pandemic.

Queensland election plus one day

Determining the exact size of Annastacia Palaszczuk’s slightly increased majority.

Click here for full Queensland election results updated live.

The bugs in my election results facility are largely dealt with now, some niggles notwithstanding – here you will find booth results in a far more manageable form than offered by the ECQ, and the only swing data at booth level available anywhere. This will updated live throughout the final stages of the count, although the ECQ’s move to the separately published “official” count either today or tomorrow will need to be finessed. If you find any value in this labour-intensive effort, gestures of appreciation in the form of donations are gratefully received through the “Become a Supporter” button at the top of the page.

My results system is giving Labor 50 out of the 52 seats in which they currently lead the two-party count, and the LNP 29 of their 34, with the Greens to win two barring late-count surprises at Labor’s expense in McConnel and Cooper, and the cross-bench otherwise being a status quo of three Katter’s Australian Party, one One Nation and one independent. In the few cases where my system disagrees, I suspect it is because the ABC is projecting the two-party result in large pre-poll centres that have so far reported only the primary vote. A large pre-poll booth in Hervey Bay is one such, while another pre-poll booth in the seat hasn’t reported at all. Hervey Bay also hasn’t reported any postals yet, which went around 63-37 to the LNP in 2017 compared with 59-41 in the electorate at large. Even so, even the ABC projection has Labor’s lead at 3.2% compared with a raw 4.9%, so they would have to be rated the strong favourite.

My system and the ABC’s are agreed that the LNP is not yet home and dry in Burleigh, Chatsworth, Coomera and Currumbin, but my fifth LNP in-doubt seat is Clayfield and the ABC’s is Glass House, which mine is giving away just barely. I would think it likely that the LNP will get home in all of them. I presume the ABC’s call of Clayfield relates to it projecting a two-party result from the Clayfield Early Voting Centre, which as yet has only reported on the primary vote and accounts for more than a quarter of the current primary vote total. Labor will need to achieve something special in Glass House out of the Woodford Early Voting Centre, which hasn’t reported on either the primary or two-party count. I also wouldn’t be too amazed if Labor’s leads in LNP-held Bundaberg and Nicklin failed to survive the late count, and their existing total of 50 proves their final score, one up on the result from 2017.

I’ll offer a more in-depth analysis of the situation tomorrow, together with ongoing commentary on the late count.

Queensland election live

Live coverage of the count for the Queensland election.

10.21pm. Most of the bugs in my election results facility have resolved now (though there’s still a few odd quirks that I’ll hopefully be able to iron out this evening), so if you have any sort of interest in the late counting, I suggest this is the place to follow it. Certainly it’s the best place to observe results at booth level – a lot of effort has been done to condense these into something manageable out of the needless thicket of detail published by the ECQ. And if you do find that of use, you might also care to tip some pennies into my tip jar, which takes the form of the “become a supporter” button at the top of the page.

10.06pm. The ABC is now projecting (but not calling) 51 seats for Labor, so it seems there may have been a dynamic where the late-reporting pre-polls leaned in their favour & though they may also done put them under a little more pressure from the Greens in McConnel and Cooper.

10.00pm. Antony Green relating that there has been a turn in Labor’s favour in both Townsville and Thuringowa, where the first especially looked doubtful for them through the night.

9.52pm. My live results facility is a lot less screwy now that I’ve turned booth-matching off (although there are still some clangers: Labor is assuredly not winning Hill and Scenic Rim, nor the LNP McConnel and Rockhampton).

9.44pm. The Greens have narrowed the gap against the LNP in the race for second in McConnel, which would give them a chance of overhauling Labor on their preferences if they bridged it. If this is part of a pre-poll trend, it could give them a shot at a third seat. That’s without factoring in Cooper, which is similarly placed and remains a wild card, though there too the Greens are third on the primary vote, and will presumably not do well on postals.

9.43pm. The ABC computer is now calling for Pumicestone for Labor, which means both the networks have Labor in majority government territory.

9.38pm. The Nine Network’s system is apparently more bullish for Labor than the ABC’s, projecting 50 seats.

9.30pm. Three LNP seats starting with C, Chatsworth, Clayfield and Currumbin, are now being rated as LNP retain by the ABC after earlier being rated in doubt.

9.23pm. Antony Green relates that the ECQ’s feed is lacking two-party preferred data for seats in the second half of the alphabet, so presumably the ABC is going off preference estimates for all those seats.

8.38pm. I note that high-profile Clive Palmer candidate Greg Downling is vying for North Queensland First for last past in a large field in Townsville. Palmer’s part is on 0.6% statewide.

8.35pm. I believe we’ve hit the lull in counting that characteristically sets in when the booths have wrapped up their count (easily done in the current climate) and we’re hanging on for the much larger early voting centres.

8.33pm. Labor would lose its majority with a net loss of two seats. They could lose two seats to the Greens — certainly South Brisbane and quite possibly Cooper (the Greens have fallen to third in McConnel). Conversely, they have gained Caloundra. There are a whole bunch of seats they could win off the LNP, but the only one that looks really strong for them is Pumicestone, where they have a strong lead although the count there is slow. However, they are in at least some danger of losing Redlands, Redcliffe, Thuringowa and Townsville, though my money would be on them in first three. What’s clear is that the LNP won’t have a majority — the question is whether enough of the close seats go against Labor to put them in a precarious minority position. But another small Labor majority is at least as likely.

8.18pm. It’s now lineball in Coomera, an LNP-held seat on the Gold Coast.

8.11pm. Counterbalancing the trouble Labor may be in in Redcliffe, the ABC computer suggests the possibility of a Labor boilover in Clayfield, held by former LNP leader Tim Nicholls. My feeling would be that both incumbents will hang on, but time will tell.

8.07pm. I haven’t mentioned Cooper yet, a potential fourth seat for the Greens. Basically it’s a three-way mash-up on the primary vote, and my guess would be that the Greens will win if it’s the LNP that drops out. My assumption was of a strong flow of LNP preferences to the Greens, given the LNP’s tactic of putting Labor last on how-to-votes, but it seems others aren’t so sure.

8.04pm. Steven Miles on the ABC hearing better information for Labor from Redcliffe, if I heard him correctly.

8.03pm. Chatsworth is close, as it usually is, but both my and Antony’s projections have it as a narrow LNP retain.

8.01pm. Antony notes that Labor may have a problem in the north Brisbane seat of Redcliffe, which would be a quirky result if so (causing me to be cautious).

8.00pm. I forgot about Burleigh in my Gold Coast review, where surfing legend Wayne Bartholemew may bed doing the trick for Labor, at least to the extent that it’s close.

7.57pm. The Sunshine Coast trend to Labor is relatively subdued in Glass House, but this being a very tight LNP-held seat, it’s certainly in play.


7.55pm. Down to the wire in Currumbin, but otherwise the Gold Coast doesn’t seem to bringing home any bacon for Labor. There is a big swing to the LNP swing in Bonney for some reason (partly sophomore surge effect).

7.53pm. My Sunshine Coast review missed Nicklin, a normally secure LNP seat (former independent Peter Wellington notwithstanding) where they are only slightly in front.

7.52pm. Also good early numbers for Labor in Hervey Bay, where few were anticipating they would win. This seat’s demographic skews very old.

7.49pm. The Sunshine Coast: Labor will win Caloundra and, early days though it may be, probably Pumicestone. However, that early scare for the LNP in Buderim has at least faded, although they’re not out of the woods. If Labor keeps its majority, it will have this region to thank. Note that I’m including links where my results pages are working fully.

7.45pm. Regional round-up part two: Townsville. The Townsville electorate is again down to the wire, with the ABC computer having the LNP with its nose in front. Labor apparently has its nose in front in both Thuringowa and Mundingburra. The LNP is presumably sweating on some regional late counting trend to deliver them a swag here.

7.44pm. The ABC computer finally calls South Brisbane for the Greens, and Labor are in big trouble in McConnel as well. So clearly two seats for the Greens, and it will be three unless the pre-poll and postal dynamic is different.

7.43pm. Antony makes the well-made point that a different dynamic on pre-polls and postals could, at this of all elections, completely flip things around.

7.42pm. I’ll start looking at it on a region-by-region basis, starting with Cairns. Labor has retained the Cairns electorate with a slight swing; there is now also a swing in Labor’s favour in Barron River, which they will hold. Mulgrave was never in doubt but there’s no swing. So a pretty good show in Cairns overall, despite the tourism slump, perhaps reflecting a general retiree effect.

7.40pm. It’s very tight in Buderim, a Sunshine Coast seat the LNP wouldn’t have counted on losing. I think the deal with my results page is that it’s working well for vanilla Labor-versus-LNP contests once two-party preferred results appear in the system. There’s a lot of screwiness on the entry page, which I only recommend for the links to the electorate results pages.

7.38pm. Also working is my page for Caloundra, where it looks like Labor are home: the ABC computer has it back to a Labor gain, compensating for a Labor loss in South Brisbane that the ABC computer is still being too conservative about. Other than that though everything looks remarkably status quo at this point, but obviously there are still a lot of seats that are too early or too close to call.

7.35pm. My results page for Currumbin, at least, is working well and it has an LNP win probability of 51%.

7.30pm. As Antony notes, a modest swing to Labor in the south-east and the other way round in the regions. As I speak, he has the first real numbers in from Pumicestone, a very tight LNP marginal on the cusp of Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast where the incumbent is retiring, and they’re very encouraging for Labor.

7.26pm. The ABC has the KAP ahead in Cook, but I’d very much doubt that — it will be based on preference estimates, and it would be hard to see them overcoming Labor’s 42.5% to 17.1% lead on primaries. The LNP are second, but the projection would have the KAP overtaking the LNP with the help of One Nation’s 7.0%.

7.24pm. There isn’t a single seat the ABC computer is recording as changing hands, though I suspect it’s being conservative in South Brisbane. Caloundra has been downgraded from Labor gain to Labor ahead.

7.20pm. The Cairns electorate is resisting the dangerous trend for Labor in north Queensland, perhaps reflecting its large population of retirees.

7.18pm. Conversely, so have the LNP in Bundaberg.

7.17pm. Labor has bounced back in Barron River after an early scare.

7.16pm. It does rather look like the Greens will win South Brisbane. Very early days in McConnel, but the tiny early booth that’s in there is also good for the Greens.

7.15pm. Labor is retaining its Brisbane marginals, though not with huge swings.

7.13pm. Currumbin looks likely to be closely watched throughout the evening, being a potential Gold Coast gain for Labor in which there’s currently nothing in it.

7.12pm. The ABC calling Mirani as One Nation retain, and Labor in Aspley, a loseable seat in inner northern Brisbane.

7.07pm. The ABC computer is calling Caloundra for Labor, which is huge if true. Another sign of the election going according to script, with grey voters causing Labor to go well in a few places that traditionally aren’t strong for them, but a challenge for Labor with the dynamic of One Nation voters in north and central Queensland moving to the LNP.

7.01pm. One Nation’s one incumbent, Stephen Andrew in Mirani, is bucking his party’s trend, maintaining a slight lead over the LNP on the primary vote and doing well enough that he should be returned on their preferences if it stays that way.

6.58pm. Where substantial results are in, things seem to be going according to script. In Mundingburra, One Nation is well done, the LNP have got more of the dividend than Labor, there’s a slight swing to the LNP on two-party, and overall it looks close in this marginal Labor-held Townsville seat. Antony Green is also pointing to a fairly solid but very early swing to the LNP in Barron River. I’m providing links where my results facility seems to be working.

6.54pm. My election results facility is bug city, but it seems to be doing its job in Bundaberg, an LNP-held margin where it’s looking tight, and Maiwar, where Greens incumbent Michael Berkman appears to be enjoying a handsome sophomore surge, which should raise Greens hopes for other inner-city seats.

6.51pm. My election results page has perked up. Bottom line is that it will work in a patchy, buggy sort of a way. The aggregated votes at the top of the page have 3273 votes to work with, and they point to a large transfer of votes from One Nation to the LNP, as anticipated.

6.17pm. The front page of my results facility doesn’t seem to be fully firing, which I think is because the mercurial ECQ feed only has headline numbers in it. But if you follow the seat links on the left-hand side, you will see results in seats where it says “0%” for the amount counted. As always, these are small booths from country seats.

6pm. Polls have closed. I have a very ambitious live results set-up here — let’s see how we go, but experience suggests it will be of more use in the late count than on the night. I’ll start promoting it more thoroughly if it seems to be working more-or-less okay.sto