Making sense of the polls

Making sense of the polls

Newspoll steady, with Turnbull’s poor ratings continuing

This week’s Newspoll, conducted 8-11 September from a sample of 1680, had an unchanged 50-50 result after preferences from unchanged primary votes of 41% Coalition, 36% Labor and 9% Greens. Turnbull’s satisfied rating was steady at 34%, and his dissatisfied rating up one to 53% for a net approval of -19. Shorten’s net approval was down 3 points to -17, perhaps owing to last week’s Sam Dastyari affair.

A year after Turnbull deposed Abbott, his ratings are at a record low. The Coalition is still tied with Labor on voting intentions, but re-elected governments usually have a bounce after elections, so Turnbull’s position is not good. I discussed Turnbull’s hold on the prime ministership last fortnight, and this poll does nothing to change that opinion.

This week’s Essential, conducted 2-5 & 9-12 September with a sample of 1860, was 52-48 to Labor from primary votes of 38% Coalition, 37% Labor, 10% Greens, 4% Nick Xenophon Team (NXT) and 5% One Nation. Turnbull’s net approval was -8, down 3 points from August. Shorten’s net approval was -5, down one point.

50% thought political parties should be able to receive donations from individual Australian voters. Other donation sources were not considered to be good, with Australian companies next best at 32%. Foreign companies were perceived to be the worst, with only 12% saying that political parties should be able to accept donations from foreign companies.

45% approved of changing the racial discrimination act so that it is not illegal to offend or insult someone on the basis of race or ethnicity, and 35% opposed such a change.

48% thought all activities related to illegal drugs should be banned, 31% thought small scale drug use should be decriminalised, and just 11% thought we should decriminalise all illegal drugs. 47% supported decriminalising cannabis, with 39% opposed. For all other commonly known illegal drugs, over 80% opposed decriminalisation.

In last week’s Essential, just 18% thought the Turnbull government would achieve more than the previous government, and 30% said they would achieve less. Trust ratings of various institutes fell 2-6 points across the board since October 2015. Respondents thought most issues were better than 50 years ago, with the exception of job security and political leadership. Respondents were also pessimistic about these two issues when considering the next generation.

Coalition will not challenge Labor’s Herbert victory

The Coalition had 40 days from 8 August to challenge Labor’s 37-vote victory in Herbert in the High Court, sitting as the Court of Disputed Returns. That 40-day window was to expire this Friday, but the Coalition has decided not to challenge owing to a lack of sufficient evidence of irregularities that could have affected the result.

The lack of a challenge confirms the election results, with the Coalition holding a bare majority of 76 of 150 House seats, with 69 for Labor and 5 crossbenchers.

In other late election news, Antony Green has a table showing the percentages of people who voted using the various Senate methods in all states and nationally. Filling in six squares above the line was used by about 80% in the mainland states. 4-5% numbered 7 to 12 squares, but few numbered more than 12. “1” only voting was far more common in NSW (4.7%) than in any other state. Tasmania had by far the highest below the line rate (28.1%).

On Monday 8 August, the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) returned the writs for all House and Senate seats. Almost 40 days later, there is still no formal distribution of preference figures for any House seats, nor do we know how minor party preferences flowed to the Coalition and Labor. In 2013, the preference flow appeared here, and it really should have been uploaded to this page by now.

Update Thursday night 15 September: The AEC has finally published these figures, and Antony Green has analysis. The Greens had a primary vote of 10.2%, and all Others a 13.0% primary. 82% of Greens preferences flowed to Labor, with 18% going to the Coalition; this flow rate to Labor was slightly down on 2013’s 83%. 49% of Others preferences went to Labor, up from 47% in 2013. The overall preference flow was 64% to Labor, up from 62%.

Of parties that won over 1% support, Labor won 57% of Independent preferences, 60% of NXT preferences, 40% of Family First preferences, 27% of Christian Democrat preferences and 49.5% of One Nation preferences.

Labor won 15 of its 69 seats after trailing on first preferences, the most seats it has ever won from behind. 14 of those Labor wins came at the Coalition’s expense, while the Greens had a primary vote lead overturned in Batman.

NT election final results: Labor’s crushing victory

At the 27 August NT election, Labor won 18 of the 25 seats (up 10 from the 2012 election), the Country Liberal Party (CLP) won just 2 seats (down 14), and Independents won 5 seats (up 4). Former chief minister Adam Giles lost his seat of Braitling to Labor on a swing of almost 20 points. Terry Mills, who Giles deposed, won Blain as an Independent.

The pre-election Parliament had 12 CLP, 7 Labor and 6 Independents. 3 of the Independents were re-elected, and they were joined by Mills and Yingiya Mark Guyula in Nhulunbuy. Nhulunbuy was decided by just seven votes, and was the only loss for Labor in a previously held seat. Former Labor leader Delia Lawrie’s attempt to win Karama as an Independent was unsuccessful.

Final primary votes were 42.2% for Labor (up 5.7), 31.8% for the CLP (down a huge 18.8), 3.6% for the new 1 Territory Party, 2.9% for the Greens (down 0.5) and 19.6% for all Others (up 9.9). Others were mostly Independents.

US Election Watch articles

I have written my first two articles for US Election Watch. The first one explains the Electoral College, and the second discusses the latest polls with a recap of the nomination contests.