Newspoll: 52-48 to Labor

The Prime Minister’s personal ratings take a tumble after a problematic fortnight, but with no significant change on voting intention.

The Australian has come good with a Newspoll just a fortnight after the last, quickening its usual three-weekly schedule. This actually has very slightly better numbers for the Coalition on the primary vote, up one to 40% with Labor down one to 38%, the Greens up one to 11% and One Nation down one to 2%, but with Labor’s two-party lead unchanged on 52-48.

However, Scott Morrison’s personal ratings have taken a hit: he’s down seven points on approval to 55% and up six on disapproval to 40%, comfortably his worst numbers since the onset of COVID-19. Anthony Albanese is up a point on approval to 43% and steady on disapproval at 41%, and his deficit on preferred prime minister has been cut from 56-30 to 52-32.

The poll was conducted Wednesday to Saturday from a sample of 1517.

Tasmanian election: May 1

Tasmania to go to the polls on May 1, as Peter Gutwein seeks to make it an unprecedented three-in-a-row for the Liberals.

Last night’s rumours proved to be true: Peter Gutwein has called a Tasmanian election for May 1, almost a year ahead of time. I have a paywalled piece in Crikey laying out my thoughts on the matter.

The upshot is that an early election is understandable from a Liberal perspective owing to the government’s COVID-19 popularity dividend and its historic difficulty in winning elections in Tasmania (never before has it won three in a row); but that there are nonetheless considerable risks involved in an early election, even allowing for the excuse that the government lost its majority when Sue Hickey quit the party on Monday. Such risks are compounded by the fact that the election has been imposed on Labor leader Rebecca White barely more than a month before she is due to give birth, the Liberal Party’s insensitivity towards women being very much the issue du jour.

I would optimistically say that I’m a week away from publishing an election guide, on which I got started when the rumours began to swirl earlier in the week. As always in matters Tasmanian, you could do a lot worse than follow the election analysis of Kevin Bonham.

Western Australian election: late counting, week two

Counting for the Western Australian election nears its resolution, with final determination of the upper house results still a few days away.

Click here for full results for the Legislative Assembly and here for the Legislative Council.

Monday evening update

I’m told buttons will be pressed on the Legislative Council counts today and/or tomorrow. The WAEC’s electorate results pages now have preference distributions for, I believe, all seats, and are headlined with two-candidate preferred totals, although these remain absent from the media feed and hence from my own results pages (for now at least).

Original post

As you can see above, I am now publishing results for the Legislative Council as well as the Legislative Assembly, although not a great deal remains to be counted in either case. The former exclusively features tables in which the ordinary votes are grouped by lower house electorate, which I hope someone out there finds useful. I have also restored to the Legislative Assembly display the two-candidate preferred counts that the WAEC removed from the system last week, which they did for all but a handful of seats (still excluded are eight other seats whose two-candidate preferred counts got pulled at an earlier time). Among other things, this means my statewide two-party preferred projection is now nearer to what should be the final result.

I’m not sure if there are any votes at all remaining to be added to the count for the Legislative Assembly, or if there are a few handfuls of postals still to come, but in no case is the result in doubt. There are 1,410,357 formal votes in the count for the Assembly, compared with 1,386,398 for the Council, suggesting there are only around 24,000 votes still to be added to the tallies for the latter.

With the few outstanding votes unlikely to change the party vote tallies, the greater point of interest is whether the 5% or so of ballot papers with below-the-line preferences end up overturning the ABC’s projections, which assume all votes to be above-the-line with preferences duly following the parties’ group voting tickets. That will not be known until the WAEC completes its data entry and presses the button on the preference distribution, which will be at the end of the week at the earliest.

The ABC’s projections will assuredly not be overturned in Agricultural region (three seats to Labor, two to the Nationals and one to the Liberals), Mining and Pastoral (four Labor, one Daylight Saving Party, one Liberal) and North Metropolitan (four Labor and two Liberal). That leaves some doubt over the following:

East Metropolitan. The ABC projection is five Labor and one Liberal, due to Legalise Cannabis dropping out at Count 19 with 3.16% to the Western Australia Party’s 3.22%. The question is whether Legalise Cannabis can close the gap through the below-the-line preferences of everyone other than Labor, Liberal, the Greens and Australian Christians: fifteen minor parties and independent groups who between them account for 8.48% of the vote, reducing to maybe about 0.7% when reduced to the below-the-line votes. If so, Labor’s fifth seat goes to Legalise Cannabis instead. Antony Green thinks this more likely than not, since preferences inflate the Western Australia Party from a primary vote of 0.80% to 3.22% at Count 19, whereas Legalise Cannabis goes from only 2.49% to 3.16%. This means there is a lot more potential for the projected WAP vote to leak away through below-the-line votes behaving differently from group voting tickets.

South Metropolitan. Brad Pettitt of the Greens has dropped out on the ABC projection, which has him excluded at Count 27 by the tiniest of margins: 6.67% to Labor’s 6.68%. That would produce a result of five Labor and one Liberal. However, the Greens typically outperforms projections that exclude consideration of below-the-line preferences, and Antony Green’s assessment is that Pettitt will more likely than not get up.

South West. I have been portraying this count as a game of musical chairs between Legalise Cannabis, the Nationals and Labor at Count 25 on the ABC projection, in which the loser will drop out and the last two seats will go to the other two. On that basis, Labor’s fourth candidate looks set to miss out, with the three parties’ vote shares at 14.72%, 14.29% and 13.76% respectively, producing a result of three Labor, one Liberal, one Legalise Cannabis and one Nationals. However, since the projection has Legalise Cannabis snowballing from a base primary vote of just 2.11%, there is considerable potential for the preference accumulation to dissipate through below-the-line votes. So much so indeed that Antony Green countenances not only the possibility of Legalise Cannabis dropping out at Count 25, in which case a fourth seat would go to Labor, but even for it to drop out at Count 23 behind Shooters Fishers and Farmers and the Greens. Should Legalise Cannabis go under at this point, the Nationals as well as Legalise Cannabis will miss out, and the result will be four Labor, one Liberal and one Shooters Fishers and Farmers.

Creeping greenery

The latest on federal election timing, preselections and the Greens’ big ambitions.

Sundry recent developments relevant to the next federal election, whenever that may be:

• A report by David Crowe of The Age/Herald relates that a) unidentified Liberals are “saying privately that a poll in the first months of 2022 is most likely”, and that b) the Greens are about to identify nine House of Representatives seats they will be targeting, and believe they would have won the inner Melbourne seat of Macnamara at the last election if the newly published draft boundaries had been in place. The latter propose tidying the electorate’s eastern boundary as a straight line down Williams Road and Hotham Street, which would remove Caulfield and its surrounds and add large parts of Prahran and South Yarra. My own estimates are perhaps a little less favourable for them, indicating a 2.0% boost in the Greens vote to 26.3%, still astern of Labor on 30.7% (down 1.1%) and the Liberals on 36.7% (down 0.6%). Josh Burns comfortably won the seat for Labor in 2019 after the Greens were excluded.

• Marion Scrymgour has been preselected as Labor’s candidate for Lingiari, which covers the Northern Territory outside of Darwin. Scrymgour served in the Northern Territory parliament from 2001 to 2012 and as Deputy Chief Minister from 2007 to 2009, and has more recently been chief executive of the Northern Land Council. The Northern Territory News reports other candidates for preselection included Matthew Bonson, who served in the territory parliament from 2001 to 2008; Jeanie Govan, a town planner; and Rowan Foley, chief executive of the Aboriginal Carbon Foundation.

• The New South Wales Greens have preselected David Shoebridge, who has held a seat in the state upper house since 2010, as lead Senate candidate for the next election. AAP reports Shoebridge won a ballot of 2263 party members ahead of Amanda Cohn, the deputy mayor of Albury, and Rachael Jacobs, a lecturer in creative arts education at Western Sydney University.

• Shortly after reports indicating former Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson would seek preselection for the Nationals’ position on the New South Wales Coalition Senate ticket, The Australian reports Fiona Nash is keep to recover the position, which she lost in 2017 after being disqualified on grounds of dual British citizenship under Section 44. Also identified as a potential candidate is former state party director Ross Cadell.

Israeli election minus three days; UK local elections minus seven weeks

A right coalition under Netanyahu looking likely in Israel, while UK Labour’s polling is poor, and support for Scottish independence drops.

Live Israeli election commentary

6:40pm With 87% in, Netanyahu’s right bloc has declined to a combined 59 of the 120 seats, two short of a majority. A key reason is that the United Arab List, which was below the 3.25% threshold previously, is now back up to 4.0%. Also, Tel Aviv, a bastion of the left in Israel, reports late.

2:55pm With about half the votes counted, OryxMaps has the right-wing parties aligned with Netanyahu getting a total of 65 of the 120 Knesset seats. This is currently biased towards the right.

9:55am An updated exit poll, based on late voters, now gives Netanyahu’s right bloc 60 of the 120 seats, one seat short of a majority. As I said before, it’s still highly possible for Netanyahu to form a government even if his bloc is just short.

7:30am Wednesday The OryxMaps Twitter account has details of three exit polls. While there are differences in individual party support, all three give the most probable right-wing coalition (Likud, Yamina, Shas, UTJ and Religious Zionists) 61 of the 120 seats, enough for a majority.

Counting is slow in Israel, with most votes not counted until the afternoon our time. It will take a few more days to get final results.

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.

The Israeli election will be held on Tuesday, with polls closing at 7am Wednesday AEDT. This election will be held just over a year after the last election. Owing to failure to form a governing coalition, there were three elections in a year from 2019-20.

After the March 2020 election, a grand coalition was formed between Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud and Benny Gantz’ Blue & White, with Gantz recanting on his promise to not form a government with Netanyahu owing to COVID. Before entering negotiations with Netanyahu, Gantz had received support from 61 of the 120 Knesset members; he threw away what is likely to be the best chance to defeat Netanyahu.

Under the agreement, Netanyahu and Gantz would rotate the premiership, with Netanyahu having the first 18 months. The agreement broke down at the end of 2020, when Gantz realized (surprise! surprise!) that Netanyahu had no intention of giving up being PM. The Knesset was dissolved in late December.

The 120 Knesset members are elected by national proportional representation with a 3.25% threshold. Blue & White won 33 seats at the 2020 election, but are now only polling just above this threshold.

Likud is easily the largest party in the polls with about 31 seats, well ahead of Yesh Atid with 18. Religious parties (UTJ, Shas and Religious Zionist) are likely to win 20 combined seats. The right-wing Yamina is on about nine seats. Likud plus these four parties is about 60 of the 120 seats, very close to a majority.

Even if these five parties fall short of a majority, Netanyahu may be able to form a government with the assistance of former leadership rival Gideon Saar’s New Hope. New Hope has several former Likud members, and polls give it about eight seats.

It isn’t just the opposition’s disarray that is helping Netanyahu, but also Israel’s successful vaccination program; it is the world’s leader on vaccine doses administered per capita. From a peak of 101 COVID deaths on January 20, Isreal’s daily COVID death rate has fallen into single figures.

Bad polling for UK Labour ahead of local elections

Local elections will be held throughout England on May 6, and also include elections for the Scottish and Welsh parliaments. Owing to COVID cancellation of 2020’s elections, there will be far more seats than usual at stake.

Last April, Keir Starmer easily won the Labour leadership. Like most incumbents, the Conservatives had a polling surge in their favour as a result of COVID. But with deaths increasing to a peak of more than 1,500 on several days in January, Labour was in a near-tie with the Conservatives in late 2020.

The UK’s vaccination drive, with 42 doses per 100 people, has been far better than the European Union (13 per 100). As in Israel, UK deaths have fallen dramatically from their January peak. As a result, the Conservatives have opened about a six-point lead over Labour.

A bad performance for Labour in the local elections probably means little for the next general election, not due until 2024. But Starmer could be ousted. It takes 20% of Labour’s MPs to nominate a challenger. Much of Labour’s left-wing membership voted for Starmer in the expectation he would perform much better than Jeremy Corbyn at the disastrous 2019 election. If Labour can’t poll better, Starmer could be replaced by a left-winger.

As with UK Labour’s support, support for Scottish independence has recently fallen. A ComRes poll in January gave Yes to independence a 13-point lead, but in March they had No up by two points, with other pollsters similar. There has been a recent dip for the SNP that could cost them a majority in the Scottish election; there is a far more proportional system for Welsh and Scottish elections than UK general elections.

German and Dutch elections

In Germany, there has been a slump in support for Chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU that gives the three left-wing parties a realistic chance of forming government at the September election. The left nearly won outright majorities at two recent state elections. However, Wednesday’s Dutch election was dismal for the left. I covered these elections on my personal website on Friday.

Draft federal redistributions: Victoria and WA

A deep dive into proposed new federal electoral boundaries for Victoria, which gains a seat, and WA, which loses one.

This post will be extensively updated throughout the day to analyse the new draft federal boundaries for Victoria and Western Australia. My quick and dirty first go at estimating the margins and party shares are featured below; here are Antony Green’s; here are Ben Raue’s.

Western Australia

The northern suburbs seat of Stirling, which was created in 1955, is set to go. East of the freeway, the bulk of the old electorate goes to Cowan, while the area around Yokine at the southern end goes to Perth; west of the freeway, the northern parts around North Beach and Carine go to Moore, the southern parts around Karrinyup go to Curtin.

Changes of note:

Cowan. The gains from Stirling, which include Balcatta, Balga, Mirrabooka and northern Dianella, are balanced by extensive losses in the north, most of them to Pearce. This adds a useful 0.5% to Anne Aly’s narrow margin.

Pearce. Becomes a lot more urban, losing Lancelin and the Avon Valley to Durack and gaining Wanneroo, Wangara and Landsdale from Cowan (although it also loses Ellenbrook to Hasluck). All of which reduces Christian Porter’s margin from 6.7% to 5.5%.

Hasluck. Gains the new urban development around Ellenbrook and nearby Swan Valley territory from Pearce, which boosts the Liberal margin from 4.6% to 5.9%.

Swan. Gains Forrestfield from Hasluck; loses Kenwick to Burt; the Liberal margin is up from 1.7% to 3.3%.

Victoria

The new seat of Hawke is on Melbourne’s north-western fringes, and is pretty safe for Labor with a margin of 9.8%. Corangamite, which has existed with that name since federation, is now called Tucker, the lake from which it takes its name having gone from the electorate as the urbanisation of Geelong has pulled it eastward.

Changes of note:

Hawke. The new seat encompasses Sunbury, formerly in McEwen; extends westwards from there into Melton, formerly in Gorton; and further west still into Bacchus Marsh and Ballan, formerly in Ballarat.

Bruce. Labor’s Julian Hill has his margin cut from 14.2% to 6.9% as Noble Park gets transferred to Hotham in the west, and it gains northern Berwick in the east from La Trobe.

Hotham. Correspondingly, the gain of Noble Park boosts Clare O’Neil in Hotham from 5.9% to 11.1%, further aided by the loss of the southern end of Mount Waverley and Glen Waverley to Chisholm.

Chisholm. And Chisholm in turn loses territory at its northern end, around Box Hill North and western Forest Hill, to balance the loss to Hotham — the changes affecting around a third of its voters. I’m a little perturbed by the fact that Antony Green and Ben Raue are in agreement that this cuts the Liberal margin from 0.6% to 0.2% whereas I have it up to 0.8%.

La Trobe. The loss of northern Berwick to Bruce is balanced by semi-rural territory in the south-east, including Westernport Bay around Koo Wee Rup, which boosts the Liberals from 4.5% to 5.3% in an historically important marginal seat.

Tucker. This seat has earned its name change, being now very much centred on the Bellarine Peninsula, the Surf Coast and outer southern Geelong. The Great Ocean Road from Anglesea on goes to Wannon; rural areas around Meredith go to Ballarat, compensating it for its losses to Hawke. All of which gives Labor what may prove a handy boost of 0.8%.

Deakin. Only a few tweaks to this important marginal seat, reducing the Liberal margin from 54.8% to 54.6%.