Making sense of the polls

Making sense of the polls

Coalition gains in Ipsos despite Turnbull’s ratings slump

Ipsos has the Coalition leading by 53-47, a 1% gain for the Coalition since the February Ipsos. Primary votes are 45% for the Coalition (up 1), 31% for Labor (down 1) and 14% for the Greens (down 1). Respondent allocated preferences were 54-46 to the Coalition. In Ipsos, the respondent vs previous election preference gap has not closed, though it has closed in Morgan. This poll was taken Thursday to Saturday from a sample of 1400.

Essential and Newspoll are currently the most Labor-friendly polls, with both showing a 50-50 tie, while Ipsos and Morgan currently have the Coalition ahead by 53-47. It is likely that the true position is between these two ranges, and the Coalition has about 51 or 52% Two Party Preferred.

Turnbull’s Ipsos ratings slumped, his approval was down seven points to 55%, and his disapproval up eight points to 32%, for a net approval of +23. Shorten’s net approval was -19, up six points. Ipsos’ ratings for Turnbull have been better than other pollsters.

In the months after he became PM, Turnbull’s ratings were being boosted by Labor and Greens voters who liked Turnbull personally, but were unlikely to vote for the Coalition. These people no longer approve of Turnbull, but now the overwhelming majority of those who do approve of him will vote for the Coalition; this explains why the Coalition’s vote was up despite Turnbull’s ratings slump.

While the Coalition’s vote increased this time, further dips in Turnbull’s ratings are likely to benefit Labor’s vote.

In other findings from Ipsos, 43% thought the Coalition was best for managing the economy, compared with 25% for Labor and 4% for the Greens - the economy is a Coalition strength. Voters opposed limiting tax concessions available for superannuation contributions by 40-35, and opposed limiting negative gearing tax concessions by 42-34.

Can Tony Windsor win New England from Barnaby Joyce?

Last Thursday, Tony Windsor, who had been a long serving Independent member for New England until the 2013 election, announced that he would be contesting the seat against Nationals leader and Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce at the 2016 election. A ReachTEL poll for The Australia Institute in New England, conducted on Thursday night after Windsor announced his candidacy from a sample of 660, had Joyce leading on primary votes with 43.1%, followed by Windsor at 38.0%, Labor at 7.1%, the Greens at 3.4%, Others at 3.4% and 5.1% undecided.

No two candidate result was given, but it is likely that Windsor would lead on this poll given strong preference flows from Labor and the Greens; Kevin Bonham thinks it is 51 or 52 to Windsor after preferences. Labor and Greens supporters are clearly voting for Windsor directly, rather than for their usual party. The poll also found that 62% opposed the Shenhua coal mine, including 43% strongly opposed, while only 26% supported the mine.

A Newspoll survey of New England, conducted on Saturday from 518 voters, has Windsor leading Joyce by 52-48, from primary votes of 46% for Joyce, 44% for Windsor, 7% for Labor and 2% for the Greens. Hypothetically, if the Shenhua mine were to be approved, Windsor’s lead would increase to 56-44.

An issue for Windsor is that New England is a very conservative electorate that has not had a Labor member since 1913. Windsor’s support of Julia Gillard following the 2010 election could be a major problem for him. In recent years, he has taken some left wing positions which are not compatible with such a conservative electorate.

I agree with this article by Peter Brent; it will be counterproductive for Windsor to have left wing activists campaigning for him in New England. Windsor’s best chance is to be a genuine Independent, and not appear to be in Labor’s camp.

Double dissolution mechanics

There has been much recent speculation that the government will announce a double dissolution by the 11 May for an election in early July. So why would the government choose these dates?

As Antony Green explains, a double dissolution must be called at least six months before the expiry of Parliament following the previous election. This date is not three years after the last election, held on 7 September 2013, it is three years following the first sitting of Parliament after that election. Parliament first sat on the 12 November 2013, so a double dissolution must be called at least six months before 11 November 2016, that is, by the 11 May.

Senators are normally elected for six year terms, but a double dissolution backdates terms. After a double dissolution, half of the Senate elected at that election will have their terms backdated to start on the 1 July at least three years before the election. If a double dissolution were held in June, half the Senate would be backdated to start on 1 July 2012, and a new election would be required by early 2018. A July election means that terms are backdated to 1 July 2013, and a new election is not required until early 2019.

Delivering the budget on the 3 May, a week earlier than scheduled, would allow the government to pass supply bills to ensure that money would not run out before Parliament sat again following the election. It would also allow the government to make the Australian Building and Construction Commission bill a possible double dissolution trigger, though they already have legitimate triggers.

At a double dissolution, 12 Senators from each state are elected, so the quota for election drops to 1/13 of the vote or 7.7%. This reduced quota will give minor parties a much better chance of winning seats, even under the proposed Senate reforms. A minor party could win a seat with about 4% of the vote, when they would need about 7% at a normal half-Senate election.

LNP leads by 51-49 in Queensland

A Queensland Galaxy poll, conducted late last week from a sample of 900, has the Liberal National Party (LNP) leading by 51-49, a 1% gain for Labor since February. Primary votes are 43% for the LNP (steady), 39% for Labor (up 2) and 8% for the Greens (down 1). Galaxy is using an average of the past three elections for its preference flows; if only the 2015 election was used, Labor would probably be ahead 51-49 in this poll.

There has been some speculation that an early election could be called in Queensland, as two MPs who were elected as Labor members have joined the crossbench, leaving the two major parties tied at 42 each with five cross benchers. According to the poll, 57% thought the Premier “would be justified” in calling an early election, while 29% thought otherwise.

Next Saturday a Queensland referendum will be held in conjunction with council elections to decide whether Queensland should move to a fixed four year term; this proposal would not apply to the current term.

In other state polling, an EMRS Tasmanian poll, conducted 26 February to 1 March with a sample of 1000, has the Liberals on 46% (down 2 from November), Labor on 27% (up 2) and the Greens on 18% (down 2). EMRS polls favour the Greens. The Liberals would be likely to win the election on these primary votes.