Monday miscellany

Passing observations on the Batman by-election, the Cottesloe by-election (look it up), and the state of the Senate after Section 44.

I don’t believe we’ll be getting any sort of a federal opinion poll this week, with Newspoll presumably holding off through South Australian election week to return before the resumption of parliament next week, and Essential Research having an off-week in their fortnightly schedule. You can find a post updating progress in late counting in South Australia here; other than that, for the sake of a new general post, I relate the following:

Ben Raue at The Tally Room has a very illuminating map showing the pattern of swings within Batman, showing a largely status quo result north of the Bell Street curtain, but a quite substantial swing to Labor in the presumed Greens stronghold area in the south. I’ll have more on the Batman by-election in today’s Crikey, if you’re a subscriber.

• Lost in the excitement, the weekend’s other by-election has entirely escaped mention on this site. It was held in the blue-ribbon Western Australian state seat of Cottesloe, to replace Colin Barnett. This produced the predicted walkover for Liberal candidate David Honey, an 59-year-old Alcoa executive and former state party president. Honey finished the night on 59.8% of the primary vote, and 70.2% on two-party preferred over the Greens. At the time of Barnett’s resignation in January, it was generally assumed the party could not let pass an opportunity to add a woman to a parliamentary ranks, but Honey nonetheless won a preselection vote by twenty to eight ahead of BHP Billiton lawyer Emma Roberts. The Liberals elected only two women out of thirteen to the lower house in 2017, along with one out of eight to the upper. At the 2013 election, the party’s lower house contingent included only four women out of thirty-one in the lower house, along with five out of seventen in the upper house, two of whom suffered preselection defeats going into last year’s election.

• A reallocation of Senators’ three-year and six-year terms has been conducted after the Section 44 disqualifications, affecting every state except Victoria. This involved allocating six-year terms to the first six elected candidates in the recounts conducted to fill the vacancies, and three-year terms going to those elected to positions seven through twelve, who will be facing re-election (almost certainly) at the next federal election.

There are two pieces of good news for the Liberals, who gain a long-term seat in New South Wales at the expense of the Nationals, and in Tasmania go from two long-term and two short-term seats to three and one. Fiona Nash’s long-term vacancy in New South Wales goes to Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, whose short-term vacancy has been filled by splashy newcomer Jim Molan. The vacancies in Tasmania, Stephen Perry of the Liberals and Jacqui Lambie of Jacqui Lambie, were both long-term, and have both gone to lower order Liberals, Bushby and Duniam. The one short-term Liberal position goes to Richard Colbeck, returning to parliament after his (provisional) defeat in 2016.

In Western Australia, the Greens order shuffles after Scott Ludlam’s departure with Rachel Siewert taking his long term, and Jordon Steele-John filling Siewert’s short-term vacancy. The loss of Skye Kakoschke-Moore in South Australia has cost the Nick Xenophon Team a seat because the successor to her short term, Tim Storer, has become estranged from the party since the election. It’s a similar story for One Nation in Queensland, where Malcolm Roberts’ short-term vacancy has been filled by the party’s number three candidate, Fraser Anning, who has eventually resolved to sit as an independent after a dispute with Pauline Hanson.

New year news (week two)

A bunch of state polling, particularly from Victoria, and two items of preselection news.

Another random assortment of polling and preselection news to tide us over until the federal polling season resumes:

• Essential Research has broken the poll drought to the extent of releasing state voting intention results, compiled from the polling it conducted between October and December. The results find Labor ahead in all five states, with Tasmania not covered. This includes a breakthrough 51-49 lead in New South Wales, after they were slightly behind in each quarterly poll going back to April-June 2016; a 51-49 lead in Victoria, after they led either 52-48 or 53-47 going back to October-December 2015; a 52-48 lead in Queensland, from primary vote results well in line with the state election held during the period; and a new peak of 57-43 in Western Australia. In South Australia, Labor is credited with a lead of 51-49, from primary vote numbers which are, typically for Essential Research, less good for Nick Xenophon’s SA Best than Newspoll/Galaxy: Labor 34%, Liberal 31%, SA Best 22%.

The Age has ReachTEL polls of two Victorian state seats conducted on Friday, prompted by the current hot button issue in the state’s politics, namely “crime and anti-social behaviour”. The poll targeted two Labor-held seats at the opposite ends of outer Melbourne, one safe (Tarneit in the west, margin 14.6%), the other marginal (Cranbourne in the south-east, margin 2.3%). After excluding the higher-than-usual undecided (14.5% in Cranbourne, 15.5% in Tarneit), the primary votes in Cranbourne are Labor 40% (down from 43.4% at the last election), Liberal 40% (down from 41.3%) and Greens 7% (up from 4.2%); in Tarneit, Labor 43% (down from 46.8%), Liberal 36% (up from 26.4%), Greens 10% (up from 9.0%). Substantial majorities in both electorates consider youth crime a worsening problem, believe “the main issues with youth crime concern gangs of African origin”, and rate that they are, indeed, less likely to go out at night than they were twelve months ago. The bad news for the Liberals is that very strong majorities in both seats (74.6-25.4 in Tarneit, 66.5-33.5) feel Daniel Andrews would be more effective than Matthew Guy at dealing with the issue.

Rachel Baxendale of The Australian reports on the latest flare-up in an ongoing feud between Ian Goodenough, member for the safe Liberal seat of Moore in Perth’s northern suburbs, and party player Simon Ehrenfeld, whose preselection for the corresponding state seat of Hillarys before the last state election was overturned by the party’s state council. The report includes intimations that Goodenough may have a fight of his own in the preselection for the next election, with those ubiquitous “party sources” rating him a “waste of a safe seat“, particularly in light of Christian Porter’s dangerous position in Pearce.

• Not long after Andrew Bartlett replaced Larissa Waters as a Queensland Greens Senator following the latter’s Section 44-related disqualification, the two are set to go head-to-head for preselection at the next election. Sonia Kohlbacher of AAP reports that Ben Pennings, “anti-Adani advocate and former party employee”, has also nominated, although he’s presumably a long shot. The ballot of party members will begin on February 16, with the result to be announced on March 26.

BludgerTrack: 53.9-46.1 to Labor

Labor bites and holds its poll trend gain from last week, and Essential Research unloads a set of state voting intention numbers.

The one brand new poll for the week, from Essential Research, made so little change to the BludgerTrack voting intention numbers that I had to double check the result. There was also an infusion of new state breakdown data courtesy of Newspoll’s quarterly state-level results, but the only difference this has made is to add one to the Coalition tally in New South Wales and subtract one in Queensland. There’s big movement in Malcolm Turnbull’s favour on the leadership trend rating following new numbers from Essential Research, but this measure is over-sensitive to the vagaries of particular pollsters, which I’ve long been meaning to correct for. Full results at the bottom of the post.

Essential Research has also released its quarterly state voting intention results this week, which are accumulated from all of its polling over the past three months. In New South Wales, the Coalition has a steady lead of 51-49; in Victoria, Labor’s lead narrows from 53-47 to 52-48; in Queensland, Labor holds a steady lead of 54-46, which is better than they have been doing from other pollsters lately, with One Nation’s primary vote at a relatively modest 13%; in Western Australia, Labor’s lead is down from 55-45 to 54-46; and in South Australia, Labor has a steady lead of 52-48, with the Nick Xenophon Team’s primary vote at 18%. Read all about it here.

Newspoll: 54-46 to Labor in Western Australia

As the state election campaign officially gets under way, Newspoll records a break in Labor’s favour. Also featured: a long hard look at where the election stands to be won and lost.

Courtesy of The Australian, a Newspoll timed to coincide with the start of a Western Australian state election campaign that officially began yesterday has Labor leading 54-46, out from 52-48 since the previous poll in November. One Nation has gone from 3% to 13%, which I suspect has something to do with how it’s been treated in the questionnaire. This takes a four-point bite out of the Liberals, now at 30%, and one point out of the Nationals, at 5%, while Labor is down three to 38% with the Greens steady on 9%. However, movement on personal ratings is in the other direction, perhaps reflecting the previous poll being conducted in the wake of the September spill motion. Mark McGowan’s lead as preferred premier narrows from 47-29 to 44-32; Colin Barnett is up four on approval to 32% and down four on disapproval to 57%; and McGowan is respectively steady on 46% and up one to 34%.

Also noted around the place:

Andrew Burrell and Paige Taylor in The Australian:

The Australian has been told by Liberal sources that internal polling shows Labor on track to win at least 12 extra seats but that senior figures also believe Mr Barnett could still win the campaign and sneak back across the line. It is understood the Liberals already are resigned to losing the marginal seats of Belmont, ­Forrestfield, Perth, Swan Hills and Morley, as well as the notionally Liberal seats of West Swan and Collie-Preston. The government is also deeply concerned about its chances in Morley (held with a margin of 4.7 per cent), Balcatta (7.7 per cent margin) and Southern River (10.9 per cent margin). In addition, internal polling is showing big swings against the Liberals in what appear to be three safe northern seats of Perth — Wanneroo (held by Local Government Minister Paul Miles), Burns Beach (held by Environment Minister Albert Jacob) and Joondalup (held by backbencher Jan Norberger). The Liberals hold all three seats with margins of between 10.4 per cent and 11.3 per cent.

The West Australian reported on Tuesday that a Labor-commissioned ReachTEL poll of 700 respondents from Joondalup, indicating that Labor would easily account for the imposing 10.4% Liberal margin with an 18% swing. After excluding the 4.7% undecided, the primary votes were undecided Labor 36.9%, Liberal 34.1%, One Nation 14.3%, Greens 10.7% and others 4.0%, with Labor leading 58-42 on two-party preferred. The poll also found McGowan with preferred premier leads of 60.7-39.3 over Colin Barnett, and 68.4-31.6 over Deputy Premier Liza Harvey.

• In a ten-seats-to-watch review in The West Australian yesterday, it was noted that “insiders from both parties” expected Darling Range (13.1%) to go down to the wire.

Me paywalled in Crikey today, on the horse race:

A lot depends on the distribution of the swing — and here Labor has cause for optimism. The battle zone of the electoral pendulum runs from Balcatta on 7.1% to Darling Range on 13.1%, with another 12 Liberal-held seats at various points in between. Those past the 10% mark include six (Joondalup, Southern River, Wanneroo, Burns Beach, Darling Range and Kalamunda) on the electorally volatile metropolitan fringes, where swings to Labor at the federal election tended to be around three times higher than elsewhere in the state … If Labor can reel in at least three, it can get by without more established and electorally stickier seats on smaller margins, namely Balcatta (7.1%), Mount Lawley (8.9%) and Bicton (10.0%).

Me paywalled in Crikey on Tuesday, on One Nation preferences:

Given that ballot paper studies have shown nearly half of Liberal voters follow their party’s how-to-vote card, this promises to be a game-changer for One Nation in seats where the Liberals do poorly enough to drop out of the count. However, it’s less clear how much a benefit the Liberals stand to gain in return … After allowing for the tendency of preferences to flow more strongly to the dominant major party in any given electorate, One Nation preferences (at the federal election) divided fairly evenly where there was a split ticket, while a preference direction increased the share of preferences for the beneficiary by around 8%. In a typical electorate, this suggests a preference deal stands to benefit the Liberals by around 1% on the two-party preferred vote.

Me paywalled in Crikey last Friday, on One Nation’s lower house prospects:

Much of the chatter surrounding the party’s prospects has focused on Nationals leader Brendon Grylls’ seat of Pilbara … A better bet may be the seat of Kalgoorlie, which ranked second behind Pilbara in terms of the One Nation Senate vote. Like Pilbara, Kalgoorlie was won by the Nationals for the first time in 2013, having variously been held in recent times by Labor, Liberal and an independent. One Nation’s task will be made easier by the retirement of sitting member Wendy Duncan, and it may also stand to benefit from the town’s simmering racial tensions. Alternatively, the party may find it easier to poach seats from Labor, given the potential for preference deals with the Liberals and Nationals — something that is certainly not in prospect with Labor. The strongest Labor-held seat for One Nation in terms of last year’s Senate vote was Collie-Preston, which Labor narrowly retained at the last two elections thanks to the local popularity of its sitting member, Mick Murray.

ReachTEL: 52-48 to Labor in Western Australia

Labor retains its modest poll lead with less than two months to go, but there’s considerably more static in the picture now thanks to a double-digit debut for One Nation.

With less than two months to go until the March 11 state election, The West Australian today carries a ReachTEL poll showing no change since October on two-party preferred – but with very substantial change on the primary vote, thanks to the inclusion of One Nation as a response option for the first time. Support for One Nation is recorded at 10.8%, which is in the ballpark of the 9.6% the party recorded at the peak of its fortunes in 2001 – keeping in mind that this substantially over-performed what pre-election polls had said. All other players are down as a result – the Liberals by 2.9% to 33%, the Nationals by 0.6% to 5.5%, Labor by 4.7% to 32%, and the Greens by 0.8% to 6.1%. Mark McGowan’s lead over Colin Barnett as preferred premier is all but unchanged at 55.7-44.3 (55.6-44.4 last time), and Barnett is also found to trail his deputy, Liza Harvey, by 53.9-46.1. The automated phone poll was conducted Thursday night from a sample of 1525.

UPDATE: Kevin Bonham looks more carefully than I do and notices there’s an 8.5% undecided component to the results. With that removed, the primary votes are Liberal 36.1% (up 0.2%), Nationals 6% (down 0.1%), Labor 35% (down 1.7%), Greens 6.7% (down 0.2%), One Nation 10.8%, others 4.5%.

State polling miscellany

Privately conducted polling in Victoria and Western Australia offers further evidence of rising support for One Nation.

Polling news to report from three states, some of it fresher than others. We start with Western Australia, which is gearing up for an election on March 11:

• The West Australian reported a fortnight ago that a poll conducted for Labor by Campaign Capital showed a two-party swing to Labor of 10% across the Liberal-held marginals of Balcatta, Belmont, Bicton, Forrestfield, Morley, Mount Lawley, Perth and Swan Hills. This is broadly consistent with statewide polling showing Labor leading 52-48. The West’s report cites primary votes of 37.7% for Labor, compared with 36.8% across the seats in question in 2013; 34.2% for the Liberals, compared with 50.2% in 2013; 6.3% for the Greens, compared with 8.9%; and 10% for One Nation. The poll also found an even split between One Nation supporters as to which major party they planned to preference. No field work dates are provided, but the combined sample was 876.

• The West Australian reported last Friday that an Utting Research poll had Nationals leader Brendon Grylls’ primary vote in his seat of Pilbara slumping from 39% in 2013 to 18%, leaving him in third place behind Labor on 30% and Liberal on 26%, with One Nation on 16%. However, the sample for the poll was small, having variously been reported as 300 and 400. It was conducted for the Chamber of Minerals and Energy, which has been running an intensive advertising campaign attacking the Nationals policy of increasing iron ore production rental fees for Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton from 25 cents to $5 per tonne.

From Victoria:

• The Age has a ReachTEL poll of state voting intention in Victoria which, if I understand the article correctly, was conducted for the Australian Conservation Foundation and Wilderness Society. The headline-grabber is a 9.4% level of support for One Nation, which compares with a previous best Victorian result for the party of 3.6% at the 1998 federal election. On the primary vote, Labor’s 33.5% compares with a 2014 election result of 38.1%; the Coalition parties are on 36.2%, compared with 42.0%; and the Greens are at 8.8%, down from 11.5%. No two-party result is provided, but the results imply a very close result, with everything depending on One Nation preferences. The poll was conducted last Wednesday from a sample of 1649.

• The Age’s ReachTEL report also relates further results from the pollster of inner-city state seats, in this case conducted for the Australian Conservation Foundation and Wilderness Society. Going off 2014 preference flows, the primary vote numbers indicate Labor leads 55-45 in Brunswick and 52-48 in Richmond, but with Northcote lineball.

From Tasmania:

• It’s a month old now, but there was a Tasmanian state poll by ReachTEL for the Mercury which I neglected to mention at the time. The results were Liberal 45.5%, Labor 30.9% and Greens 15.1%, compared with 2014 election results of Liberal 51.2%, Labor 27.3% and Greens 13.8%. The poll was conducted on November 10 from a sample of 2934. The Mercury’s report features breakdowns by electorate, and by Kevin Bonham’s reckoning, they suggest it would be touch and go as to whether the Liberals would make it to a thirteenth seat in the chamber of twenty-five, with Labor on ten and the Greens on either two or three. Below is a bias-adjusted aggregate of EMRS, ReachTEL and Morgan polling since the last election. There isn’t a huge number of data points, but the results seem to suggest the Liberals suffered some collateral damage from a poor federal election result in mid-year, but are now recovering.