Poll wrap: Labor slips in Newspoll, but gains in Ipsos, in Wentworth and in Victoria

The Coalition has clawed back some support since the early days after Malcolm Turnbull was ousted as prime minister. AAP/Mick Tsikas

This week’s Newspoll, conducted October 11-14 from a sample of 1,707, gave Labor a 53-47 lead, a one-point gain for the Coalition since three weeks ago. Primary votes were 38% Labor (down one), 37% Coalition (up one), 11% Greens (up one) and 6% One Nation (steady).

In contrast to Newspoll, Labor’s lead increased to a 55-45 margin in a Fairfax Ipsos poll, a two-point gain for Labor since four weeks ago. Primary votes were 35% Coalition (up one), 35% Labor (up four), 15% Greens (steady) and 5% One Nation (down two). This poll was taken October 10-13 from a sample of 1,200.


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When Scott Morrison replaced Malcolm Turnbull in late August, Labor’s lead blew out to a 56-44 margin in Newspoll, and the Coalition has since clawed back support. However, these two polls indicate the Coalition’s gains have stalled. Analyst Kevin Bonham’s aggregate is at 53.9% two party to Labor by last election preferences, a 0.6% gain for Labor since last week.

As usual, the Greens vote in Ipsos is too high, but Newspoll also indicates that the Greens have gained; this is their highest Newspoll vote since August 2017. The Coalition’s dismissal of the IPCC report is a plausible reason for Green gains.

Respondent allocated preferences in Ipsos were 55-45 to Labor, the same as the previous election preference method. Under Turnbull, respondent preferences skewed to the Coalition, but the two Ipsos polls under Morrison have had identical respondent and previous election results. A stronger flow of Greens and Others to Labor could be compensating for One Nation’s flows to the Coalition.


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In Newspoll, 45% were satisfied with Morrison (up one), and 38% were dissatisfied (down one), for a net approval of +7. Bill Shorten’s net approval was up six points to -16. Morrison led Shorten by 45-34 as better PM (45-32 three weeks ago).

Morrison’s first three Newspoll net approval ratings have been +2, +5 and +7. Turnbull’s first three Newspoll net approval ratings after deposing Tony Abbott were +18, +25 and +35. While Morrison’s current ratings are much better than Turnbull before he was deposed, they are far worse than Turnbull in his honeymoon period.

Despite the stronger voting intentions for Labor in Ipsos, 50% approved of Morrison (up four) and 33% disapproved (down three), for a net approval of +17, up seven points. Shorten’s net approval dropped four points to -8. Morrison led Shorten by 48-35 as better PM (47-37 four weeks ago).

By a massive 74-21, voters in Ipsos opposed allowing religious schools to discriminate against gay teachers and students. Bonham cautions that, as a live phone pollster, Ipsos is prone to social desirability bias, so the real margin for this question is probably closer.

By 64-29, Ipsos voters were dissatisfied with the Coalition on immigration. 45% thought immigration should be reduced, 23% increased, and 29% thought immigration should remain as is.

By 50-32, voters in Newspoll thought Morrison more capable of handling the economy than Shorten (48-31 to Turnbull in May). Morrison also led on cost-of-living 44-43 (43-41 to Shorten over Turnbull in December 2017) and on delivering tax cuts 45-33 (40-33 to Turnbull in December). The economy and tax cuts tend to favour conservatives.

In February 2016, five months after deposing Abbott, Turnbull led Shorten by 58-22 on the economy and 42-33 on cost-of-living.

All of the polls below were taken before the events of last week.

Essential: 53-47 to Labor

Last week’s Essential poll, conducted October 4-7 from a sample of 1,025, gave Labor a 53-47 lead, unchanged on three weeks ago. Primary votes were 38% Coalition (up one), 37% Labor (up one), 10% Greens (down two) and 7% One Nation (up two).

43% approved of Morrison (up six since September) and 28% disapproved (down three), for a net approval of +15. Shorten’s net approval fell four points to -12. Morrison led Shorten by 42-27 as better PM (39-27 in September).

57-62% had at least some trust in ABC and SBS TV and radio news and current affairs. Other news sources had between 35% and 48% trust, with Internet blogs at the bottom with just 17% trust. There was little change in trust since October 2017.

36% thought the government had too much influence over the ABC, 16% too little and 17% about the right amount. By 40-34, voters thought news reporting and comment on the ABC was unbiased, with Labor and Greens voters more likely to say the ABC was unbiased.

By 43-35, voters opposed keeping all asylum seekers on Nauru indefinitely. By 42-37, they opposed closing the detention centres and transferring all remaining asylum seekers to Australia. By a narrow 40-39, voters supported transferring families and children from Nauru to Australia.

Wentworth ReachTEL poll tied 50-50 Liberal vs Labor

The Wentworth byelection will be held on October 20. A ReachTEL poll for the Refugee Council of Australia, conducted in the first week of October from a sample of 870, had the Liberals’ Dave Sharma and Labor’s Tim Murray tied at 50-50, a one-point gain for Murray since a September 27 ReachTEL poll for independent Licia Heath’s campaign.

According to The Poll Bludger, primary votes, including a forced choice question for initially undecided voters, were 39.9% Sharma (down 3.1%), 25.0% Murray (up 4.3%), 17.3% for independent Kerryn Phelps (down 0.6%), 9.1% Greens (up 2.5%) and 3.6% Heath (down 6.4%). It is likely the Heath campaign poll exaggerated her support.


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This poll also gave a Sharma vs Phelps two candidate estimate, which had Phelps beating Sharma 53-47. However, on the primary vote figures, it is likely Phelps will be eliminated and her preferences distributed between Sharma and Murray. Phelps’ decision to preference the Liberals ahead of Labor, doing an about-face on her previous position of putting the Liberals last, appears to have damaged her.

Seat polls are unreliable, so the 50-50 Sharma vs Murray estimate could reasonably be out by up to five points in either direction. The respondent preference flows implied by this poll (about two-thirds of all Other preferences to Labor) are more reasonable than in the previous poll (three-quarters of Other preferences to Labor).

It is disappointing there have been no properly conducted polls of Wentworth since early October, and no media-commmissioned polls at all. Bonham has big issues with a Voter Choice poll that has both Phelps and Murray defeating Sharma by about 55-45 after preferences, due to that poll’s opt-in nature and weighting adjustments. A Liberal internal poll reportedly shows Sharma is just behind Phelps, who is likely to finish ahead of Murray.

Victorian ReachTEL: 52-48 to Labor

The Victorian election will be held on November 24. A ReachTEL poll for The Age, conducted October 3 from a sample of 1,240, gave Labor a 52-48 lead, a one-point gain for Labor since July. Primary votes were 39.4% Coalition (down 1.4%), 37.6% Labor (up 0.9%), 10.9% Greens (steady) and 4.0% Shooters, Fishers and Farmers.

One Nation had 3.7% in the July poll, but they will not contest the election. The Shooters have benefited from One Nation’s absence.

Premier Daniel Andrews led Opposition Leader Matthew Guy by a 51.3-48.7 margin as better Premier, a 0.7% gain for Andrews since July. ReachTEL’s forced choice better PM/Premier questions are usually better for opposition leaders than other polls.

In other forced choice questions, Labor led the Coalition by 54.0-46.0 on dealing with Melbourne’s congestion (Coalition ahead by 50.8-49.2 in July). Labor led by 52.9-47.1 on cost-of-living (50.2-49.8 in July). The Coalition led by 53.9-46.1 on law and order (55.8-44.2 in July) and by 50.4-49.6 on managing growing population (51.6-48.4 in July).


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All these issues surveyed have moved towards Labor since July, with a large movement on Melbourne’s congestion. Issue questions usually move in the same direction as voting intentions.

A Galaxy poll in September for the bus industry gave Labor a 53-47 lead. State political parties tend to do better when the opposite party is in power federally. Labor is clearly ahead now, and is likely to win the Victorian election.

In brief: US midterm elections and far-right likely to win Brazil presidential election

I had an article for The Poll Bludger on the November 6 US midterm elections published Sunday. Since the fight over judge Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the US Supreme Court, Republicans have gained ground in the Senate, but Democrats have gained in the House. A split decision, where the Democrats win the House, but Republicans keep the Senate, is the most likely outcome.

I also previewed the Brazilian presidential election on my personal website. At the October 7 first round election, the far-right candidate, Jair Bolsonaro, won 46.0% of the vote, while the left-wing Workers’ Party candidate, Fernando Haddad, had 29.3%. Another left-wing candidate won 12.5%, and a centre-right candidate won 4.8%.

As Bolsonaro did not win over 50% in the first round, a runoff will be held on October 28 between Bolsonaro and Haddad. The three runoff polls taken so far give Bolsonaro a seven to fifteen point lead over Haddad. Bolsonaro has made comments sympathetic to the 1964-85 Brazilian military dictatorship.

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