Making sense of the polls

Making sense of the polls

Liberals easily hold Canning, but with a 6.4% swing to Labor

The Canning by-election was held yesterday. With counting final for election night, the Liberals’ Andrew Hastie has won by 55.0-45.0, a 6.9% swing to Labor. Primary votes were 46.4% for Hastie (down 4.7%), 35.9% for Labor’s Matt Keogh (up 9.3%), 6.1% for the Greens (down 1.3%), 3.1% for Palmer United (down 3.8%) and 3.1% for the Christians (steady).

At by-elections, there are no out-of-electorate absent votes, which favour Labor, and almost all of the counting after election day will be postals, which strongly favour the Coalition. At the 2013 election, postals in Cannning gave the Liberals 65.1% Two Party Preferred (2PP), compared with their overall 61.8%. As a result, the swing to Labor should reduce somewhat as these postals are counted, and I expect the final swing to Labor to be about 6.5%.

Before the change in PM last Monday, this by-election was seen as a huge test for Tony Abbott. The change to Turnbull meant that the by-election lost importance, though a very poor result for Labor could have put pressure on Shorten. The sizable swing to Labor will be a relief to Shorten.

The two national polls taken since Turnbull became PM have shown a 50-50 tie (ReachTEL) and 51-49 to the Coalition (Galaxy). Kevin Bonham thinks the by-election result is well in line with what we would expect given national polling of about 50.5% 2PP to the Coalition.

It is surprising that Labor’s primary vote was up 9.3%, while the Greens actually lost 1.3%. Labor’s primary vote gains came mainly at the expense of the Liberals and Palmer United, who benefited from drawing the top square on the ballot paper. The Greens’ poor performance is partly explained by the presence of left wing micro parties, such as Animal Justice, Sustainable Population and the Pirate Party, but the two national polls conducted since PM Turnbull have the Greens averaging 11.5%, up 2.8% on their 2013 result.

Partly as a result of the Greens’ poor performance, Labor’s share of all minor party preferences was only up marginally to 51.7%. Until PM Turnbull, it had looked as if Labor’s minor party preference share would be in at least the 60’s.

The only Canning poll taken since PM Turnbull was a ReachTEL poll for The West Australian, conducted Thursday night from a sample of 1130. This poll gave the Liberals a 57-43 lead on primary figures that suggest 58-42 had actual preference flows been known. There were many polls conducted while Abbott was still PM, but we cannot now assess their accuracy.

I will update this article with the results of the Greek election tomorrow, and will have a full wrap of the national polls since the shift to Turnbull next Thursday.

Update Monday morning 21 September: Almost 8,500 postal votes have been counted, and these have broken to the Liberals by 59.5-40.5, a swing to Labor on postals of 5.6%. Before the election, it was expected that postals and pre-polls would swing more to Labor than ordinary election day votes, because many of the postals and pre-polls were cast when Abbott was still PM. However, this expectation has not been realised.

The addition of these postals had reduced the overall swing to Labor to 6.4%. It is unlikely that there are many more votes to count.

SYRIZA wins Greek election easily

In July, the Greek Parliament agreed to further austerity in exchange for another Greek bailout. This deal was opposed by some of the SYRIZA (Coalition of the Radical Left) government’s MPs, meaning SYRIZA had to rely on opposition votes to pass the deal. Owing to this rebellion, Greek PM Alexis Tsipras called new elections in late August in an attempt to secure a SYRIZA government that did not rely on these rebellious MPs.

The Greek Parliament has 300 members; 250 are elected by proportional representation with a minimum 3% threshold required to enter Parliament, and the remaining 50 are awarded to the party that wins more votes than any other party.

The election was held yesterday, and SYRIZA has won first place and the 50-seat bonus by a 7.5% margin over the conservative New Democrats. SYRIZA will have 145 of the 300 seats (down 4 from the January election), but will be able to form a coalition government with the Greek Independents, who won 10 seats. Greek Independents were in coalition with SYRIZA in the last Parliament, so this is effectively a status quo result. Polling had shown a much closer contest between SYRIZA and New Democracy.

New Democracy won 75 seats (down 1), the far-right Golden Dawn won 18 seats (up 1), the old major left wing party, PASOK, won 17 seats (up 4), the Communists won 15 seats (steady), the pro-European River won 11 seats (down 6), and the Union of Centrists won 9 seats after clearing the 3% threshold. A party that represented the rebellious SYRIZA MPs, Popular Unity, won only 2.9% of the vote, and failed to clear the 3% threshold.

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