Newspoll state leaders and coronavirus polling

Persistent high ratings all round for state Premiers and the Prime Minister amid the coronavirus crisis, but signs the current Victorian outbreak may have cost Daniel Andrews some shine.

Courtesy of The Australian, Newspoll offers a repeat of an exercise conducted two months ago in which a large national sample is polled to produce state-level results on the popularity of premiers as well as the Prime Minister, both generally and in their dealings with the coronavirus. While the results are positive all round, they find Daniel Andrews falling from a top tier that continues to include Peter Gutwein, Mark McGowan and Steven Marshall, bringing him about level with Gladys Berejiklian but still clear of Annastacia Palaszczuk.

Andrews was down eight on approval to 67% and up ten on disapproval to 27%, while Berejiklian was down one to 68% and up three to 26%. Allowing for small sample sizes in the smaller states, Peter Gutwein took the lead (up six on approval to 90% and down three on disapproval to 8%) from Mark McGowan (down one to 88% and up three on 9%). Despite continuing to trail the pack, Palaszczuk recorded the best improvement with a four point increase in approval to 59% and a four point drop on disapproval to 35%.

However, Palaszczuk remains the only Premier with a weaker net approval rating in their state than Scott Morrison, who according to the poll has strengthened in Queensland (by five on approval to 72%, and down four on disapproval to 24%) but weakened everywhere else (approval down six to 61% and disapproval up five to 35% in New South Wales; down seven to 65% and up four to 30% in Victoria; down three to 67% and up two to 29% in South Australia; down three to 70% and up three to 26% in Western Australia; down four to 60% and up six to 37% in Tasmania).

Andrews’ deterioration on approval is more than matched on the question of handling of coronavirus, on which he now trails out of the Premiers with 72% for well (down 13 points) and 25% for badly (up 14). This pushes him behind Berejiklian (up two to 79% and down two to 16%), Palaszczuk (up four to 76% and down one to 22%) and Marshall (up five to 87% and down two to 9%). Still clear of the field are McGowan and Gutwein, who are tied at 93% well (down one for McGowan, up four for Gutwein) and 5% badly (up one and down three). Scott Morrison’s ratings on this score are little changed, and remarkably consistent from state to state — Queensland and South Australia are his best with 84% well and 14% poorly apiece, but his weakest result, in New South Wales, is still 79% well and 18% badly.

The poll was conducted from a national sample of 2949, ranging from 526 in Victoria to 309 in Tasmania.

Newspoll state leadership polling and Essential Research coronavirus latest

State-level polling finds the coronavirus tide lifting all boats — but none so far as Mark McGowan in WA, whose numbers may be without precedent.

The Australian ($) today provides Newspoll findings on state leaders’ handling of the coronavirus, from samples of around 520 for each mainland state plus 309 for Tasmania. The poll finds all concerned riding high, including three who strongly outperformed Scott Morrison’s ballyhooed 68% approval and 28% disapproval on the weekend. These are WA Labor Premier Mark McGowan, at 89% approval and 6% disapproval; Tasmanian Liberal Premier Peter Gutwein, at 84% approval and 11% disapproval after three months in the job; and Victorian Labor Premier Daniel Andrews, at 75% approval and 17% disapproval.

Morrison was also matched on approval and bettered on net approval by NSW Liberal Premier Gladys Berejiklian (69% approval and 23% disapproval) and SA Liberal Premier Steven Marshall (68% approval and 21% disapproval). Only Queensland Labor Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, who faces an election in October, was below the prime ministerial par (55% approval and 39% disapproval). With due allowance for small samples, I believe McGowan’s ratings may be a record for Newspoll, or indeed for any other Australian pollster, and that Gutwein’s might have been too if not for McGowan’s.

The leaders record even stronger ratings on the specific question of handling the coronavirus outbreak: 77% rate Berejiklian as having done well, compared with 18% for badly; Andrews is at 85% and 11%; Palaszczuk is at 72% and 23%; McGowan is at 94% and 4%; Marshall is at 82% and 11%; and Gutwein is at 89% and 8%. Equivalent results are also provided for the Prime Minister, and here too Western Australians are most positive, at 73% approval and 23% disapproval, with 85% rating Morrison had handled coronavirus well compared with 14% for badly. In New South Wales, Morrison scored 67% approval and 30% disapproval, and 82% well and 16% badly for coronavirus; in Victoria, 72% approval and 26% disapproval, 83% well and 14% badly; in Queensland, 67% approval and 28% disapproval, 81% well and 17% badly; in South Australia, 70% approval and 27% disapproval, 83% well and 15% badly; and in Tasmania, 64% approval and 31% disapproval, 81% well and 18% badly.

As reported in The Guardian, the weekly Essential Research coronavirus poll provides us with a third set of small-sample findings on mainland state governments’ handling of the crisis, ranging from about 80 respondents in South Australia to 320 in New South Wales. The latest results produce combined very good and good ratings of 77% for the Victorian and South Australian governments, 76% for Western Australia, 67% for Queensland and 63% for New South Wales. The table below records the progress of this series over its three weeks, together with an averaged result which again shows Western Australia highest at 77%, followed by 74% for Victoria, 72% for South Australia, 61% for Queensland and 60% for New South Wales.

Essential Research also finds confidence in the federal government’s handling of the crisis continuing to rise, with 70% rating it good or very good, a measure that earlier progressed from 45% in late March to 65% last week. Seventy-three per cent now say they consider themselves unlikely to catch the virus, compared with 57% at the peak of concern at the end of March. In response to a list of options for budget repair, 64% supported preventing companies in offshore tax havens from receiving goverment support, but only 32% favoured removing franking credits and negative gearing, and 18% supported death duties.

On the COVIDSafe app, the weekend’s Newspoll found 21% saying they would definitely take it up, 33% that they would probably do so, 21% that they would probably not, and 18% that they would definitely not. Apart from the lower uncommitted rating, this is broadly in line with an Australia Institute poll of 1011 respondents on Thursday and Friday which had 45% saying they would and 28% that they wouldn’t. Essential Research also weighed in on the question, and found 53% saying it would limit the spread of the virus, and 46% that it would speed removal of distancing restrictions. A full set of results from Essential Research should be with us later today.

It’s as easy as APC

A new polling industry standards council takes shape; and the coronavirus polling glut keeps piling higher.

A promised initiative to restore confidence in opinion polling has came to fruition with the establishment of the Australian Polling Council, a joint endeavour of YouGov, Essential Research and uComms. Following the example of the British Polling Council and the National Council for Published Polls in the United States, the body promises to “ensure standards of disclosure”, “encourage the highest professional standards in public opinion polling” and “inform media and the public about best practice in the conduct and reporting of polls”.

The most important of these points relates to disclosure, particularly of how demographic weightings were used to turn raw figures into a published result. The British Polling Council requires that its members publish “computer tables showing the exact questions asked in the order they were asked, all response codes and the weighted and unweighted bases for all demographics and other data that has been published”. We’ll see if its Australian counterpart to sees things the same way when it releases its requirements for disclosures, which is promised “before July 2020”.


• The West Australian has had two further local polls on coronavirus from Painted Dog Research, one from last week and one from this week ($). The McGowan government announced its decision to reopen schools next week in between the two polls, which had the support of 22.7% in the earlier poll and 49% this week, with opposition down from 43.3% to 27%, and the undecided down from 34% to 24%. The earlier poll found remarkably strong results for the McGowan government’s handling of the crisis, with 90.0% agreeing it had been doing a good job (including 54.2% strongly agreeing) and only 2.9% disagreeing (1.2% strongly), with 7.1% neither agreeing or disagreeing. No field work dates provided, but the latest poll has a sample of 831.

• The University of Melbourne’s Melbourne Institute conducted a 1200-sample survey on coronavirus from April 6 to 11, and while the published release isn’t giving too much away, we told that “about 60% of Australians report being moderately to very satisfied with government economic policies to support jobs and keep people at work”, and that “more than 80% expect the impact of the coronavirus pandemic to last for more than 6 months“.

• The Washington Post’s Monkey Cage political science blog examines local government elections held in France on March 15, two days before the country went into lockdown: turnout fell from 63% to 45%, but the result was not radically different from the last such elections in 2016. Traditional conservative and socialist parties holding up well and the greens making gains, Emmanuel Macron’s presidential vehicle La République En Marche failing to achieve much cross-over success, and Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National losing ground compared with a strong result in 2014.

Matters Western Australian

With the electoral boundaries now finalised, some reflection on how things stand in Western Australia, where the next state election is to be held in March 2021.

Western Australia’s state redistribution process has been completed, without making any major changes to the minimalist approach that was unveiled when the draft boundaries were published in July. There have apparently been “a limited number of changes to the original proposals”, but they haven’t made it easy to see where – no geospatial data has been provided, and any acknowledgement of them must be buried somewhere in the report’s discussion of the submissions that were received.

If there are any changes worth remarking on, they relate to two changes in name from the draft proposals. Thankfully, the commissioners have decided not to proceed with a plan to have a new electorate in the northern suburbs called Kingsway right next door to an existing electorate called Kingsley. Rather, the new seat will take the name of Landsdale. Another potential point of confusion has been removed a little further to the south, in that an electorate that was to be called Girrawheen will instead be called Mirrabooka. It can now be said that Landsdale is the successor to abolished Girrawheen, while Mirrabooka maintains continuity with the redrawn electorate of the same name. Had the draft proposal remained intact, Labor’s likeliest approach would have been to “move” Girrawheen MP Margaret Quirk to Kingsway/Landsdale (though she may instead retire), and Janine Freeman from Mirrabooka to Girrawheen. Now, Freeman can, in a sense, “stay put”.

I’ll come up with my own full accounting in due course, but that will be redundant for most purposes as Antony Green has sprung into action with his own set of estimated margins. His calculations include one notable difference with my own in that the northern suburbs seat of Joondalup, which Labor’s Emily Hamilton gained by a 0.6% margin in 2017, is rated as now being notionally Liberal with a margin of 0.4%, whereas I had it as 0.1% in favour of Labor (UPDATE: Antony has revised his numbers, and Joondalup is now fractionally on the Labor side of the pendulum). Neighbouring Hillarys, a 4.1% Liberal seat that I reckoned to be absolutely lineball when the draft was published, is credited by Antony with a 0.6% Liberal margin.

This and other actual and potential redistributions are the subject of a podcast on which I appeared with Ben Raue of The Tally Room, which you can listen to below. My focus is on the changes in the northern suburbs, particularly to Balcatta, Burns Beach and Wanneroo, all of which have been strengthened for Labor. Joondalup wasn’t discussed, the feeling being that anything with that narrow a margin is likely to revert to the Liberals after the once-in-a-generation Labor landslide in 2017.

Since there isn’t a huge amount to discuss in the redistribution, I encourage the thread below to be used to discuss Western Australian state politics generally. The subject hasn’t had much of a run on this blog since the 2017 election, in which time there has been a grand total of one published opinion poll. Last month the Liberals were circulating highly bullish internal polling, but it had an implausibly wide split in its gender breakdowns. The Liberals have been using these to promote the notion that Liza Harvey, who succeeded Mike Nahan as leader in June, has been a big hit with the “soccer moms” of Perth’s suburbs. The state of the Western Australian economy certainly gives the Liberals some cause for optimism, although there are signs emerging that it may be turning around.

However, the Liberals’ hopes of exploiting this are being complicated by the euthanasia laws that have been stuck in parliament for the last few months, which have consumed most of the oxygen available for state politics in the media. Grumblings are accordingly emerging within the party about the role of conservative powerbroker Nick Goiran in keeping the legislation stalled in the Legislative Council. Besides a huge majority, Labor has some other points in its favour: the state’s credit ratings have improved since the government came to office, with S&P Global recently providing an assessment of the situation that the government might well have written itself; and local monopoly newspaper The West Australian, while as conservative as ever in most respects, is showing little of the hostility towards Labor that blighted it during its last tenure in office.

Western Australia redistributed (state)

A draft new set of state boundaries in Western Australia produces little to frighten the horses.


Over the fold is a table showing an almost-complete set of Labor-versus-Liberal/Nationals two-party margins, excluding a few seats where the 2017 result was Liberal-versus-Nationals (Moore and Roe) or Labor-versus-independent (Baldivis). This treats Kingsway as the successor to Girrawheen, and Girrawheen as the successor to Mirrabooka. I am now calculating the Labor margin in Kingsway at 9.1%, which is modest enough that Labor would lose the seat at a bad election, like 2013. This amounts to a 7.6% cut in the old margin from Girrawheen – so if, as I suggested, Labor runs Margaret Quirk in Kingsway and gives Girrawheen to Janine Freeman, who is technically homeless with the abolition of Mirrabooka, Quirk would consider that regrettable.

As noted in the original version of this post (also over the fold), Labor has been short-changed by the redistribution’s determination to preserve the existing number of country seats, but finds ample consolation in a number of helpful revisions to marginal seats:

• Labor’s margin in Balcatta, which the party lost for the one and only time in 2013, goes from 5.8% to 8.0%, as it loses marginal territory (at least on 2017 results) in the north to Kingsley and gains Labor territory in the east from Mirrabooka.

• The change just noted to Kingsley also nudges the dial there very slightly in Labor’s favour, from 0.7% to 1.2%.

• In Burns Beach, the loss of territory in the south to Joondalup and gain in the north from Butler boosts Labor from 2.5% to 4.9%.

• No doubt the 2017 election is as bad as it will ever get for the Liberals in Hillarys, but I am calculating that Labor would have won it in 2017 by the barest of margins, after falling 4.1% short at the election. Marginal territory has been gained in the north from Joondalup, and Liberal territory in the south has gone to Carine.

• The transfer of part of Liberal-voting Leeming to Riverton in the north boosts Labor from 1.0% to 2.0% in Jandakot.

• Tweaking of the boundary with Fremantle improves Labor’s margin in Bicton from 2.9% to 3.6%.

• A territory swap with West Swan boosts Labor from 7.3% to 9.2% in Wanneroo.

• An exchange of rural territory in the south for Mandurah’s fringes in the north boosts Labor from 1.4% to 2.3% in Murray-Wellington.


• In Joondalup, which gains in the north from Burns Beach and loses in the south to Hillarys, Labor’s margin is reduced from 0.6% to 0.1%.

• In Swan Hills, a Labor margin of 14.5%, which belies its history as a tight marginal seat, reduces to 12.0%, as Ellenbrook suburbia is exchanged for parts of the Swan Valley.

Continue reading “Western Australia redistributed (state)”

Ain’t no party like a west coast party

Numerous electoral and political developments from Western Australia, as the McGowan government moves into the business end of its four-year term.

There’s a fair bit of psephological interest to relate from Western Australia right at the moment:

• A bill to abolish group ticket voting for the upper house, which now persists only in Western Australia and Victoria, has been introduced by the Greens. Nick Butterly of The West Australian reports it is likely to receive support from the Coalition, One Nation and Shooters and Fishers – but not from Labor, which apparently has its own plans to use the measure as a bargaining chip to gain support for reform to the chamber’s egregious malapportionment, whereby some rural voters enjoy more than six times as much representation per head as those in the city.

• The party composition of the Legislative Council underwent a change last night after one of its three One Nation members, Charles Smith, announced he would follow the well-worn path of walking out on the party to sit as an independent. Thanks to the aforementioned rural malapportionment, Labor does not enjoy anything near the Council majority that was available to the Barnett government through its two terms in office, despite the scale of its landslide win in 2017. The numbers in the 36-seat chamber are now Labor 14, Liberal nine, Nationals four, Greens four, One Nation two, and one apiece for Shooters Fishers and Farmers, the Liberal Democrats and Charles Smith.

• Talk is mounting that Mike Nahan, who turns 69 next month and has always had the look of a post-defeat seat warmer, will shortly vacate the Liberal leadership. Despite denials, The West Australian today reports that “senior Liberals believed Dr Nahan was considering stepping down, possibly before the coming winter parliamentary break”. Former Deputy Premier and Scarborough MP Liza Harvey has always been considered his most likely replacement, having declined to contest the leadership after the election citing family reasons. However, Churchlands MP Sean L’Estrange and Bateman MP Dean Nalder have also been mentioned as possibilities.

• A redistribution process is currently under way, with draft boundaries to be published between July 10 and July 31.