Making sense of the polls

Making sense of the polls

NSW ReachTEL: Coalition has big lead with One Nation at 16.3%

Following the shock resignation of NSW Premier Mike Baird on Thursday, Seven News commissioned a ReachTEL poll that night. The Coalition leads 55-45 after preferences, a 2 point gain for the Coalition since a Fairfax ReachTEL poll in December. Excluding a 7.1% undecided component, primary votes are Coalition 42.7% (down 1.1), Labor 28.0% (down 7.0), One Nation 16.3% and Greens 8.4% (down 0.2).

I believe this is One Nation’s highest support in any NSW poll. At One Nation’s previous peak, they received 7.5% at the 1999 NSW state election.

It is clear from the vote shifts that One Nation’s gains have come primarily at the expense of Labor. This is the same phenomenon that gave us President Trump: working class voters who used to vote for social democratic parties are swinging to right wing populist parties.

Now that the far right has its international leader in Donald Trump, its future popularity may depend on how Trump is perceived by the white working class (it does not matter how he is perceived by the elites).

If Trump is perceived as a President who shakes up the establishment to bring back jobs to the industrial midwest, and Make America Great Again, there will probably be further gains for populist right wing parties.

On the other hand, if Trump is eventually perceived as hostile to the economic interests of the white working class, other far right parties may lose ground, and that lost support would be likely to return to the social democratic parties.