Newspoll: 51-49 to Coalition

The latest Newspoll records little change on three weeks ago, with Scott Morrison dominating on personal ratings but the Coalition enjoying only a slender lead on voting intention.

The Australian reports the latest Newspoll has the Coalition’s two-party lead unchanged at 51-49, with both major parties down a point on the primary vote, the Coalition to 42% and Labor to 34%. The Greens are up two to 12% and One Nation are down one to 4%. Scott Morrison’s approval is unchanged at 66%, and his disapproval is down one to 29%; Anthony Albanese is respectively down three to 41% and up one to 38%. Morrison’s lead as preferred prime minister is now 56-26, out from 56-29. The BludgerTrack leadership trends (see also on the sidebar) have been updated with these numbers. The poll was conducted online from Wednesday to Saturday, from a sample of 1512.

UPDATE: The Australian has helpfully published a PDF display of all the poll results, including for a suite of questions on coronavirus and its foreign policy implications. Opinion was divided as to whether the World Health Organisation (34% positive, 32% negative) and United Nations (23% positive, 21% negative) had had a beneficial impact on the crisis, but quite a lot clearer in relation to “Xi Jinping and the Chinese government” (6% positive, 72% negative) and “Donald Trump and the United States government” (9% positive, 79% negative). Further results are available through the link.

YouGov Galaxy: 52-48 to LNP in Queensland

Amid the cross-currents of COVID-19 and Jackie Trad’s resignation as Deputy Premier, a new poll finds Annastacia Palaszczuk well up on personal approval, but her government sagging on voting intention.

Brisbane’s Sunday Mail has a YouGov Galaxy poll ($) of Queensland state voting intention that finds a surge in Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s approval rating failing to translate into electoral support for the Labor government, which trails the Liberal National Party 52-48 on two-party preferred, after the last such poll in January showed a dead heat. Labor is down two on the primary vote to 32%, with the Liberal National Party up three to 38%, One Nation down three to 12%, the Greens up two to 12% and Katter’s Australian Party steady on 3%.

This is despite a surge in Annastacia Palaszczuk’s personal ratings, up 20 points on approval to 49% and down 11 on disapproval to 33%, with her lead over Deb Frecklington as preferred premier now at 44-23, out from 34-22. The net positive rating of 16% matches that of Newspoll’s state leaders poll in April, although that poll had a much lower uncommitted rating with Palaszczuk at 55% approval and 39% disapproval (which were actually the softest results out of any of the five leaders canvassed on that occasion). Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington’s ratings have improved, with approval up three to 26% and disapproval down four to 29%, although her 45% uncommitted rating indicates persistently low name recognition.

Despite the weak result on voting intention, Labor is credited with a 39-28 lead as best party to manage the post COVID-19 economic recovery, and there is now a 49-30 split in favour of the proposition that the state is heading in the right direction, which went 46-31 the other way in the February poll. All the online report tells us about field work dates and sample size is that the latter was “more than 1000”.

Darwinian selection

Labor moves to save the Northern Territory’s second House of Representatives seat ahead of next month’s determination of state and territory seat entitlements.

The post below this one features Adrian Beaumont’s latest updates on the polling situation in the United States, the United Kingdom and New Zealand. Back on home turf, I have two updates to relate.

The first involves the calculation of the states’ and territories’ House of Representatives seat entitlements for the next parliament, which will be determined next month on the basis of yet-to-be published quarterly population figures from December. Barring a sudden change in population trends in the last quarter of last year, this will cause Victoria to gain a seat for the second term in a row, boosting it to 39 seats — a return to where it was when the parliament was enlarged in 1984, before a lean period for the state reduced it to 37 in 1996. It is even more clear that Western Australia will lose the sixteenth seat it has had for the past two terms, reflecting the waxing and waning of the mining and resources boom.

Relatedly — and to get to my main point — the Northern Territory is also set to lose a seat, unless something comes of Labor Senator Malarndirri McCarthy’s announcement last week that she will introduce a bill to guarantee the territory its existing two seats. The territory just scraped over the line with 1.502 population quotas at the last determination in 2017, rounding up to an entitlement of two seats, and has since experienced a continuation of relative decline since the resource boom halcyon days of 2009 — and even then its population only amounted to 1.54 quotas.

The Northern Territory was first divided into its current two seats of Solomon and Lingiari in 2001, but its claim to a second seat has been consistently precarious. It would have reverted to one seat in 2004 if not for a legislative fix to change definitions in a way that put it over the threshold, which received bipartisan support partly because both major parties imagined at that time that they could win both seats. This proved a forlorn hope in the Coalition’s case, with Lingiari having remained with Labor at all times and Solomon having fallen their way in both 2016 and 2019.

As a result, Solomon and Lingiari have consistently had the lowest enrolments in the country, at a shade below 70,000 at the time of the 2019 federal election, compared with an average of 110,755 in the mainland states, 98,644 in the Australian Capital Territory (which gained a third seat last year) and 77,215 in Tasmania (which maintains the constitutionally mandated minimum of five seats for the six original states). Conversely, a single Northern Territory seat would have an enrolment far greater than any other, with the unfortunate effect of under-representing its indigenous population, which accounts for more than a quarter of the total.

My other update relates to the July 4 Eden-Monaro by-election, for which nominations close on Tuesday. The Daily Telegraph ($) reports four candidates have nominated for the Nationals’ Eden-Monaro preselection, to be held on Sunday: Trevor Hicks, deputy mayor of Queanbeyan-Palerang; Fleur Flanery, owner of Australian Landscape Conference; Mareeta Grundy, a dietician; and Michael Green, a farmer from Nimmitabel. The Greens announced on the weekend that their candidate will be Cathy Griff, a Bega Valley Shire councillor.

Biden increases lead over Trump

Trump’s ratings fall back as the US is engulfed by protests over George Floyd’s murder. The UK Conservatives also slide. Guest post by Adrian Beaumont.

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.

In the FiveThirtyEight poll aggregate, Donald Trump’s ratings with all polls are 42.7% approve, 53.6% disapprove (net -10.9%). With polls of registered or likely voters, Trump’s ratings are 42.7% approve, 53.8% disapprove (net -11.1%). Since my article three weeks ago, Trump has lost about three points on net approval. His disapproval rating is at its highest since the early stages of the Ukraine scandal last November.

In the RealClearPolitics average of national polls, Joe Biden’s lead over Trump has widened to 7.8%, up from 4.5% three weeks ago. That is Biden’s biggest lead since December 2019.

In the key states that will decide the Electoral College and hence the presidency, it is less clear. National and state polls by Change Research gave Biden a seven-point lead nationally, but just a three-point lead in Florida, a two-point lead in Michigan and a one-point lead in North Carolina. In Wisconsin, Trump and Biden were tied, while Trump led by one in Arizona and four in Pennsylvania.

This relatively rosy state polling picture for Trump is contradicted by three Fox News polls. In these polls, Biden leads by nine points in Wisconsin, four points in Arizona and two points in Ohio. Trump won Ohio by eight points in 2016, and it was not thought to be in play.

Ironically, Change Research is a Democrat-associated pollster, while Fox News is very pro-Trump. Fieldwork for all these state polls was collected since May 29, when the George Floyd protests began. A Texas poll from Quinnipiac University had Trump leading by just one point. Trump won Texas by nine points in 2016.

US daily coronavirus cases and deaths are down from their peak, and stock markets anticipate a strong economic recovery. But it is likely that a greater amount of economic activity will allow the virus to resurge. A strong recovery from coronavirus would assist Trump, but unemployment is a lagging indicator that recovers more slowly than the overall economy. The May US jobs report will be released Friday night in Australia.

Concerning the protests over the murder of George Floyd, in an Ipsos poll for Reuters conducted Monday and Tuesday, 64% said they sympathised with the protesters, while 27% did not. 55% disapproved of Trump’s handling of the protests, while just 33% approved. That’s well below Trump’s overall approval of 39% in that poll.

UK Conservatives slump after Dominic Cummings scandal

In late May, it was revealed that PM Boris Johnson’s advisor, Dominic Cummings, had breached quarantine rules during the coronavirus lockdown in March. However, Cummings did not resign and Johnson refused to sack him.

An Opinium poll for The Observer gave the Conservatives just a 43-39 lead over Labour, down from a 12-point lead the previous week. It is the lowest Conservative lead in that poll since Johnson became PM. Johnson’s net approval was down from +6 to -5. 68% thought Cummings should resign, and 66% thought Johnson should sack him if he did not resign.

However, a YouGov poll for The Times gave the Conservatives a ten-point lead, up from six points previously, implying that public anger may be short-lived. In general, the poll trend over the last two months has been towards Labour, as the UK’s coronavirus death toll has risen to be the second highest behind the US.

Another NZ poll has Labour in the high 50s

A Roy Morgan New Zealand poll gave Labour a 56.5% to 26.5% lead over National, concurring with two polls published in May. The poll was taken April 27 to May 24, so it does not account for the May 22 change in National leadership. New Zealand has just one active coronavirus case remaining, and has recorded no new cases since May 22. It increasingly appears they have succeeded in eliminating coronavirus.

Donation drive

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Leadership polling, Eden-Monaro latest, yet more on COVID-19

Scott Morrison settles in at a lofty approval rating perch, as hordes of candidates descend upon Eden-Monaro.

Firstly, as per the above post, don’t forget to give generously to the Poll Bludger’s bi-monthly donation drive. Now to an assembly of recent events in the worlds of polling and Eden-Monaro:

• The Guardian reports the latest Essential Research poll includes the pollster’s monthly leadership ratings, which find Scott Morrison’s approval up a point to a new high of 65% and disapproval down a point to a new low of 26%, reflecting continuous improvement since a nadir of 39% and 52% in February. Morrison’s lead as preferred prime minister is 53-23, compared with 50-25 last time. Albanese stands at 43% approval, up one, and 30% disapproval, up three. These numbers have been used to update the BludgerTrack trends, which can be see on the sidebar or in detail here, showing Morrison now at a plateau after his recent ascent.

• The Essential poll also finds 41% saying Jobkeeper reporting bungle reflected negatively on the federal government, compared with 43% saying it did not. “A third” wanted Jobkeeper broadened in response, along with another 20% who wanted the eligibility criteria broadened, while 45% preferred that it go to reducing the debt. The poll also featured a semi-regular suite of questions on the leaders’ attributes, which have become more favourable for both leaders across the board since January. This is especially so in the case of Morrison, and still more especially in the case of his ratings for good in a crisis (66%), leadership capability (70%) and trustworthiness (66%), which have yo-yoed between the bushfire and coronavirus crises. These ratings will be available to review in detail when the full report is published later day. UPDATE: Full report here.

• A poll by the Australia Institute finds 77% support across the country for state border closures. Labor and Greens supporters are somewhat more in favour, One Nation supporters somewhat less so. The poll was conducted online on May 27 and 28 from a sample of 1005. Small-sample state breakdowns suggested Western Australians were particularly supportive, at 88%, a finding consistent with …

The West Australian ($) had a poll yesterday that recorded a remarkable 89% in favour of keeping the state’s borders closed, with which the state government is persisting in the face of criticism from the federal government and New South Wales government. Presumably the poll had more to it than that, but that’s all there is in the report. The poll was conducted online by Painted Dog Research on Thursday from a sample of 1000.

Eden-Monaro latest:

• With a week still to go before the closure of nominations, the ABC by-election guide records ten candidates and counting, including Cathy Griff for the Greens, Matthew Stadtmiller for Shooters Fishers and Farmers, sundry candidates for the Liberal Democrats, Science Party, Christian Democrats and Sustainable Australia, and two independents. The Nationals have also opened nominations, although they have not traditionally polled strongly in the seat. The deluge has prompted Antony Green to argue that all candidates should be required to produce 100 locally enrolled nominators. This burden is currently imposed only on independents, exemption being a perk of party registration.

• The Australian Electoral Commission has announced its service plan for the by-election, detailing special measures arising from COVID-19. A familiar set of social distancing rules will apply at polling booths, and mobile polling will not be conducted as normal at hospitals and aged care facilities, where “support teams” will instead assist with postal and telephone voting (the latter still only available to the visually impaired).