This week’s Newspoll, conducted September 6-9 from a sample of 1,650 gave Labor a second consecutive landslide 56-44 lead. Primary votes were 42% Labor (up one), 34% Coalition (up one), 10% Greens (steady) and 6% One Nation (down one).
This is the Coalition’s 40th successive Newspoll loss. It is also Labor’s highest primary vote since Julia Gillard ousted Kevin Rudd as PM in June 2010. Labor and the Greens combined have had a majority of the primary vote in the last two Newspolls. Under Malcolm Turnbull, the highest Labor/Greens vote was 48%.
Scott Morrison’s first Newspoll ratings were 41% satisfied, 39% dissatisfied, for a net approval of +2. In his last Newspoll as PM four weeks ago, Turnbull’s net approval was -19, but in the poll before that his net approval was -6, his equal highest this term. Bill Shorten’s net approval jumped ten points to -14 since four weeks ago. Morrison led Shorten by 42-36 as better PM (39-33 to Shorten last fortnight).
The Coalition and Morrison led Labor and Shorten by 40-36 on maintaining energy supply and keeping power prices lower (37-36 four weeks ago). A question on pulling out of the Paris climate agreement is skewed right.
This question asks if pulling out “could result in lower electricity prices”, which is a dubious proposition. It also presents Donald Trump’s reasons for pulling out as a statement of fact. In last fortnight’s Essential, voters opposed withdrawing from Paris by 46-32, while in Newspoll’s skewed question, they favoured pulling out 46-40.
Morrison is currently relatively popular, but the Coalition is trailing badly. This indicates that perceptions of the Coalition have crashed since the leadership spill, and the last two weeks of claims about bullying have not helped.
In January to February 2010, new NSW Labor Premier Kristina Keneally had a +15 net approval in Newspoll, while her party trailed by 57-43. At the March 2011 state election, Labor was crushed by 64-36 on two party preferred votes. The key question is whether perceptions of the federal Coalition recover before the next election.
Morrison’s positive ratings are likely due to a honeymoon effect, with people giving him the benefit of the doubt. However, Morrison’s +2 net approval is weak compared to most new PMs in their first Newspoll ratings.
According to analyst Kevin Bonham, only Paul Keating (a -21 net approval) had a net approval much worse than Morrison. Rudd’s second stint as PM began with a net zero approval, and all other new PMs had a far better net approval than Morrison.
I have conducted analysis based on The Poll Bludger’s review of the 2016 election, and aggregated data from Turnbull’s final three Newspolls as PM. As explained on my personal website, the Coalition under Morrison appears most likely to lose support among the well-educated, the young and in Victoria.
The federal Coalition’s woes almost certainly contributed to bad results for the state Liberals in the Wagga Wagga byelection and in a Tasmanian state poll.
Over 28% primary vote swing against Liberals at Wagga Wagga byelection
A byelection was held on Saturday in the New South Wales state seat of Wagga Wagga, following the resignation of Liberal MP Daryl Maguire over allegations of corrupt behaviour. The Liberals have held Wagga Wagga since 1957.
Primary votes were 25.5% Liberal (down 28.2% since the 2015 election), 25.4% for independent Joe McGirr, 23.7% Labor (down 4.3%), 10.6% for independent Paul Funnell (up 0.9%) and 9.9% Shooters. McGirr will almost certainly win on preferences from all other candidates, but we do not yet have a two candidate count as the electoral commission selected Labor and the Liberals as its two candidates on election night.
The Labor vs Liberal election night two candidate count gave Labor a 51.4-48.6 lead, though not all votes were entered before it was pulled. So if the Liberals and Labor had been the final two candidates, Labor would have won on about a 14% swing. NSW uses optional preferential voting for its state elections, and the swing to Labor would be higher with compulsory preferential.
The NSW state election will be held in March 2019, but I have seen no NSW state polls since a March ReachTEL poll, which had the Coalition ahead by 52-48.
Wentworth ReachTEL: 50-50 tie
A byelection is likely to be held in Wentworth in October. A ReachTEL Wentworth poll for the left-wing Australia Institute, conducted August 27 from a sample of 886, had a 50-50 tie between the Liberals and Labor, an 18% swing to Labor since the 2016 election.
There were two primary vote scenarios. In the first, the Liberals had 41.9%, Labor 31.5%, the Greens 15.6% and One Nation 2.3%. The second scenario included two prominent independents, who each had 11-12%, with the Liberals on 34.6%, Labor 20.3% and the Greens 8.9%.
While seat polls are unreliable, the loss of Turnbull’s personal vote, and the anger of well-educated voters at his ousting, could make Wentworth close (see my previous article).
By 67-24, Wentworth voters thought the national energy guarantee should include an emissions reduction target. By 69-10, they thought Scott Morrison would do less to tackle climate change than Turnbull, rather than more.
National Essential: 54-46 to Labor
This week’s national Essential poll, conducted September 6-9 from a sample of 1,050, gave Labor a 54-46 lead, a one point gain for the Coalition since last fortnight. Primary votes were 37% Labor (down two), 36% Coalition (up one), 10% Greens (steady) and 8% One Nation (up one).
Essential still uses the 2016 election preference flows, where One Nation preferences split evenly, while Newspoll assigns One Nation preferences about 60-40 to the Coalition. If both pollsters used the same preferencing method, there would be a three point gap between Newspoll and Essential. The Labor primary vote is five points lower in Essential than in Newspoll.
Morrison’s initial ratings in Essential were 37% approve, 31% disapprove, for a net approval of +6; Turnbull had a net zero approval in August. Shorten’s net approval was up two points since August to -8. Morrison led Shorten by 39-27 as better PM (39-29 last fortnight).
By 47-35, voters disapproved of the change from Turnbull to Morrison (40-35 last fortnight). By 69-23, they thought it important that the government agree to a policy for reducing carbon emissions.
Over 57% agreed with four negative statements about the government, but voters disagreed by 41-34 with the proposition that Tony Abbott and his conservative supporters are really running the country now.
Over 2/3 of One Nation preferences went to LNP at Longman byelection
A political eternity ago, five byelections were held on July 28. On August 30, the electoral commission provided detailed preference flow data.
Labor won Longman by 54.5-45.5 against the LNP, a 3.7% swing to Labor. Primary votes were 39.8% Labor, 29.6% LNP, 15.9% One Nation, 4.8% Greens and 9.8% for all Others. 67.7% of One Nation voters preferenced the LNP ahead of Labor, a massive increase from 43.5% at the 2016 election.
Labor also had weaker flows from the Greens, winning 76.5% of their preferences, down from 80.7%. However, Labor won 59.0% of preferences from Other candidates, including 81% from the DLP.
At the 2016 election, One Nation recommended preferences to Labor ahead of the LNP in Longman; at the byelection, they reversed their recommendations. However, I believe the largest factor in the One Nation shift is that they were perceived as an anti-establishment party in 2016, but are now clearly a right-wing party.
One Nation’s preference flows in Longman vindicate Newspoll’s decision to assign about 60% of One Nation’s preferences to the Coalition, rather than the 50-50 split that occurred at the 2016 election.
Final results and preference flows for the other four July 28 byelection seats are available at my personal website. Overall, Labor had strong performances in Longman and Fremantle, but did not do very well in the other seats. The Greens failed to benefit from the Liberals’ absence in Perth and Fremantle.
Tasmanian EMRS poll: 36% Liberals (down 11), 34% Labor, 16% Greens
A Tasmanian state EMRS poll, conducted August 29-31 from a sample of 1,000, gave the Liberals 36% of the vote (down 11 since May), Labor 34% (up four) and the Greens 16% (up two). Labor leader Rebecca White led incumbent Will Hodgman as better Premier by 46-38 (47-41 to Hodgman in May). This is the largest poll-to–poll drop for a party in EMRS history.
Bonham interpreted this poll as 39% Liberals, 36% Labor and 13% Greens. If the poll is correct, the Liberals are likely to lose their majority under Tasmania’s Hare Clark system.