Making sense of the polls

Making sense of the polls

Turnbull’s ratings slump in first Newspoll since election

In the first Newspoll since the July Federal election, Turnbull has a satisfied rating of 34% (down 6 since the pre-election Newspoll) and a dissatified rating of 52% (up 5), for a net approval of -18, a record low for Turnbull. It is also the first time Turnbull’s net approval has been worse than Shorten’s, with Shorten’s net approval up one point to -14. At the height of Turnbull’s popularity in late November 2015, he was at +38 net approval, and Shorten at -31.

Voting intentions in this poll were 50-50, from primary votes of Coalition 41% (down 1 since the election), Labor 36% (up 1) and Greens 9% (down 1). The poll was conducted 25-28 August from a sample of 1700.

Turnbull was expected to win the election convincingly. If the Coalition had won over 80 of the 150 House seats, Turnbull’s authority with both the public and the Coalition would have been enhanced, and he may have felt able to take actions that conflicted with the hard right of his party.

As it was, the Coalition won only 76 House seats, a bare majority, and lost 3 Senate seats. Turnbull’s authority with both the public and his party has been diminished as a result. For example, a free parliamentary vote on same sex marriage is very unlikely if the plebiscite is rejected by the Senate.

Turnbull’s problem is that he could now be caught in a vicious circle. Apart from on asylum seekers, hard right policies are not popular with the general public. The public would like Turnbull to be more moderate, but this will displease his party’s hard right. But if Turnbull cannot control his party, or becomes more right wing, his public image problems are likely to worsen.

Turnbull only became the Liberal leader because Abbott was very unpopular, and the Liberals thought he would easily win the election. He has never been popular with his own party, and now that the public has soured on him, Turnbull is vulnerable.

Australian political party leaders need the support of either their parliamentary party or the public to continue as leader. Unless Turnbull greatly improves his public image, he could soon be deposed.

Essential and more on Newspoll

This week’s Essential was 51-49 to Labor, from primary votes of 40% Coalition, 37% Labor and 10% Greens. It was conducted 19-22 and 26-29 August from a sample of 1800. Questions other than voting intentions are based on one week’s data.

As noted above, the one issue where the public agrees with the hard right is asylum seekers. Essential found that 29% thought the government was too soft on asylum seekers, 21% too tough and 31% about right. In November 2015, these figures were respectively 29%, 25% and 31%. In this poll, 46% thought asylum seeker conditions on Nauru and Manus Island were poor, and 28% good.

57% supported a law permitting people of the same sex to marry, and 28% were opposed. If a plebiscite were held, 47% expected same sex marriage to pass, and 24% disagreed. 59% thought a national vote should be used, while 25% thought Parliament should decide; in March, a national vote was favoured 66-23.

In last week’s Essential, 57% thought climate change was happening, and is caused by human activity, while 26% thought it was a normal fluctuation in the earth’s climate. In June, this was 59-28 in favour of human activity. 52% thought Australia was not doing enough to address climate change, 22% thought we were doing enough and 8% too much. In March, these figures were respectively 57%, 21% and 8%.

Newspoll asked what issue should be the government’s number one priority. Debt and deficits was top at 43%, followed by border security and gay marriage (both at 13%). Just 4% thought the top priority should be amending Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, and 3% restoring the construction industry watchdog.

NT election late counting

Former Labor leader Delia Lawrie looked likely to hold Karama as an Independent on election night, but out-of-electorate votes have greatly favoured Labor, and Labor now looks set to win with a 50.9-49.1 lead.

In Blain and Nhulunbuy, actual preference counts have put the Independent candidates ahead. Former CLP Chief Minister Terry Mills, who was deposed by Giles, has won Blain. Giles himself is 25 votes behind in Braitling.

The ABC is now giving Labor 16 of 25 seats, to 2 for the CLP and 4 Independents. The final result is likely to be Labor 18, CLP 2, Independents 5.

Senate confirms order-of-election method for assigning long and short terms

I previously wrote about how the major parties had decided to vote together to ensure that the order-of-election method was used to assign long and short Senate terms. Today, the Senate officially adopted this method. As I said in the linked article, this helps the Coalition more than Labor.

UK Labour membership poll has Corbyn crushing Smith 62-38

Last week, I wrote about the UK parliamentary Labour party’s push to depose socialist Jeremy Corbyn as its leader. A new YouGov poll of Labour members, conducted 25-29 August from 1250 respondents, has confirmed that Corbyn will win the leadership contest. He leads his only challenger Owen Smith by a huge 62-38. Smith actually wins members who joined prior to the 2015 general election 68-32, but Corbyn wins those who joined after he became leader in September 2015 86-14.

Voting in this contest is by mail, and votes started going out on 22 August. The result will be declared on 24 September.

It is very unlikely that a Corbyn-led Labour party will be able to appeal to enough people at a general election to be at all competitive. The next UK election is likely to be a Conservative landslide.