Newspoll in the marginals: Labor gone?

In the Oz, Mr Shanahan here (tables at bottom). They show big swings against Labor – except in the one seat with an around average Green vote, Page (NSW). (The rest have low Green support.)

We don’t know sample sizes. [Update: tables now at Newspoll, 600 in each of the NSW seats, and 600 across the three Queensland ones.]

They surveyed Lindsay on the same weekend as the Penrith by-election, which very likely boosted Liberal support at the expense of Labor.

That leaves the three Queensland seats of Dawson, Flynn and Longman which, assuming a good overall sample [update: 600, just large enough to escape a Mickey and about a 4 percent MoE], are bad news for the Rudd government with a six percent 2pp swing from 2007. Labor is doing very poorly overall in that state and WA overall, and as Richo said on Q&A last night (possibly because he has heard an RSPT compromise is coming soon) the government needs to get the RSPT out of the way.

Labor doing well in Page assumes Green preference flows similar to the last election. This does again make one wonder about those. (Despite Q&A, Greens how to vote cards don’t have a great deal of influence on preference flows. Well, they have some, but not as much as most seem to think.)

We really don’t know. Possum’s analysis of Nielsen suggests the preference flow will be more even, but that’s just from one small set of numbers (and ignored, as you must, the rather fluctuating number of Green supporters who didn’t nominate a major party).

It’s the only data we have, so we should probably expect a smaller flow to Labor than 80 percent.

But recall that back in 2004, Newspoll and Morgan got very good (ie very close to actual result) final week primary votes but not good two party preferred ones because they asked non major party supporters who would get their preferences. It was after this that they began estimating themselves based on the previous election, which gave them both very good final week 2007 results.

And who are the “others” in 2010? If Family First, One Nation etc, then Coalition-favouring. But we don’t know this either.

And taking a step back, if Labor does get 52 percent after preferences across the country, as the weekend’s Newspoll had, they would almost certainly win. Coupled with today’s results (if we take literally) it means they would do badly in traditional marginals but better elsewhere.

This is an interesting election.

27 Responses to “Newspoll in the marginals: Labor gone?”

  1. John Anderson says:

    This is Day Two of the OZ’s campaign against Rudd in the last Parliamentary sitting week for a while. Day One faltered because Newspoll didn’t produce the 2PP that was required. No Nielsen result. Day Two drilled down to the seats and low and behold one of them is Lindsay which includes the state seat of Penrith where a by-election is being held on the weekend of the poll. No doubt to tap into the confusion in the elector’s minds. Also, no doubt tomorrow [Day three] it will be a fresh character analysis of Rudd [probably a character assassination] and then on Thursday [Day 4] Tony Abbott’s character, showing he is not the social engineer we thought he was and that he is actually interested in economics. It is the same technique used to bring down Brendon Nelson & Turnbull. But it is not going to work this time.

  2. MDMConnell says:

    Conspiracy-mongering aside, it looks a reasonable poll at face value.

    They treat the Qld seats as a block, which makes it hard to analyse individually, but I’d expect the RSPT to bite deep in Flynn, and maybe Dawson. In any case Dawson is a fairly conservative seat and would be one of the first to swing back. No surprise to see Labor struggling in those two seats at all.

    Perhaps a big swing in Flynn and Dawson is obscuring a milder swing in Longman, where the LNP campaign has wobbled with candidate selection.

    Lindsay may well be influenced by Penrith by-election, but I wouldn’t necessarily dismiss it because of that. State issues can and do spill over into federal elections; NSW Labor is even less popular than John Cain was, and federal Labor got hammered in Victoria in 1990. I’d expect Rudd to do relatively poorly in NSW and maybe lose seats even if he picks up elsewhre.

    And finally, the very good Labor performance in Page seems to correlate well with the problems the Coalition appears to be having in northern NSW. Again, seems reasonable to me.

    Would have been interesting to see them do polls in safer Labor mining seats like Capricornia or Hunter as well, to see whether the RSPT is the bogey it’s made out to be.

  3. alfalfa male says:

    Peter – will you put up the goose if Labor fails to end up winning more seats in this election?

  4. Rationalist says:

    Is Labor gone? No, they probably won’t lose Batman.

  5. Peter Brent says:

    alfalfa male: no, the goose really only comes into play when the language surrounding my anticipations/predictions are strident and unequivocal.

    Not so in this case … yet.

  6. Catalyst says:

    So should we as Laurie Oakes suggets concentrate more on the primary vote?

    Is it automatic that the one with the most primary vote will win or should preferences really count?

  7. MDMConnell says:

    More important question: will Peter put up the lemming if Rudd gets rolled for Julia???

  8. Rationalist says:

    My language has been the most strident and most unequivocal about Labor losing seats at the next election, I am a man of conviction!

  9. Pat Hills says:

    Come on Peter, lock it in with a firm prediction – there’s less than 150 days to polling day now.

  10. Peter Brent says:

    MDMC: perhaps a half-lemming.

  11. Ive been predicting 53 ALP – 47 L/NP 2pp since 2009 and I am sticking by it. It was probably a bit reckless prediction, but all governments go through popularity slumps. I am pretty sure that the ALP will pull out of this one. See Tim Colebatch.

    I’ve looked back over 25 years of polling, and in every one of the past eight federal elections, the opposition was leading in the polls at or around this stage. But in only two of those – Howard in 1996, and Kevin Rudd in 2007 – did the opposition win the election. In the other six, voters came back to the government by election day in sufficient numbers to re-elect it.

    There is simply no precedent for a government as well-run and well-received as Rudd-ALP doing badly in its first run at re-election.

    Rudd-ALP tick all the boxes for re-election:

    – reasonably fresh incumbent
    – economy humming smoothly, due to good govt fiscal & financial
    – competent leadership triumvirate of Rudd-Gillard-Swan
    – reasonably united party-room Caucus.
    – no ugly festering ministerial scandals

    Meanwhile Abbott-L/NP look like a bad bet:

    – not very popular leader, prone to risky off-the cuff moves
    – party room divisions over leadership
    – unpopular policies on industrial relations and climate change

    Moreover there is some evidence of a partisan realignment on the basis of profound demographic shifts in the electorate, namely the replacement of the Menzies-era gloomers with the Whitlam-era boomers in 55+ voting cohort. The aging hippie3s have have an allergy to voting L/NP, at least relative to the normal conservative tendency of older people.

    Also, plenty of pro-ALP single mothers and NESBs out there joining the voting rolls.

  12. Shorter Strocchi: If Rudd-ALP loses, then one can throw all the pesph texts and tracts overboard. The electorate will have defied rational analysis.

  13. lindswiggo says:


    Based on that analysis he should rolick it in. I dont know what everyones on about. Polls must be rigged

  14. I think the voters are just letting off a bit of steam at the moment. Particularly over Rudd’s decision to not follow through on an ETS. The plunge in the ALP and rise in GREEN vote is exactly correlated to to Rudd’s squib on climate change policy.

    It was a major plank in the platform and he has fudged it. The swingers want to let Rudd know that they are not happy with a politician who just minds the shop.

    And of course the enormous increase in the GREENs primary vote, up 50% over the past few months, indicates that there are plenty of voters out there who treat this issue as fundamental. They are willing to hammer any party that does not deliver.

    But most of the swingers will come flocking back to Rudd-ALP once they get into the polling booth and have a good long hard think about Abbott. And I can’t see GREEN voters giving second preferences to Abbott-L/NP in any great numbers.

  15. John Anderson says:

    Well Dennis of the OZ got it right. And I have egg all over my face.

  16. MDMConnell says:

    Whoa. When I mentioned the lemming, I didn’t think Peter would be needing to drag it out this very week!

  17. According to press reports there is a leadership spill mooted. If they are credible then its time for Mumbles to drag out the lemmings file.

    Okay Gillard is no Latham. But still, she is not some magic elixir. In any case federal ALP is not sick, so there is no need for an elixir.

    Its not as if Rudd is to blame for the fall in poll ratings, such as it is. The adverse poll movements were caused by the ALP dropping the ETS. This was only doing what the Right-wing factional heavyweights would have him do in any case.

    Really, the ALP is about to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory here. Its complete nonsense. I doubt very much if Gillard will greatly improve the ALP’s poll ratings – she signed off on delaying the ETS in any case.

    Politics is a joke.

  18. MDMConnell says:

    Interesting reading up on several blogs and sites; the feeling towards Gillard taking over is about 50-50. Half proclaim it a masterstroke, half a disaster.

    Looks like it could be “battle of the Lathams” at the next election.

  19. The ALP factional heavyweights have just sacrificed one definite plus for a government – leadership unity – in return for a big maybe – Gillard relative popularity. They have obviously put the wind up some marginal ALP seat holders in QLD and WA with recent polling, figuring they can turn them on the strength of a Gillard poll bounce.

    Its all speculative and smacks of desperation. Right when the ALP was in the box seat.

    Mumbles has shown before that the ALP does not always think clearly about leadership choices. Gillard is herself unwilling to go for it.

    No wonder no one actually loves the ALP anymore, they just hate the L/NP, largely on spurious status-grovelling grounds.

  20. Minchin’s Martyrdom Operation is about to topple its second Tower. Had Turnbull won the L/NP ETS vote then both Turnbull and Rudd would still be secure in their leadership.

    “All changed, changed utterly: A terrible beauty is born.”

  21. lindswiggo says:

    Jack thats genious. Now not only is it the Libs fault we dont have an ETS (not a gutless government who wouldnt trigger a DD), now it’s also the other teams fault that they internally feel the need to change their leader.

    Based on that logic there is probably a few natural disasters we could pin on the Liberal party while where at it.

  22. David O says:

    It all makes so much sense now, why Rudd was so timid and populist. There was no point in him investing his political capital for the long term, if he knew that he had so little support in the party to endure the inevitable blips.

  23. Graeme says:

    Lucky Peter is cutting the lemmings in half. If Gillard tops 70 votes there wouldn’t be enough whole lemmings to go around.

  24. heptat says:

    What happened?

  25. lindswiggo @ #21 says:

    Jack thats genious. Now not only is it the Libs fault we dont have an ETS (not a gutless government who wouldnt trigger a DD), now it’s also the other teams fault that they internally feel the need to change their leader.

    I stand by Minchin’s Martyrdom Operation. The logic of this theory is seamless. No MMO > no Abbott > no delayed ETS > no polling turnabout for Rudd > no Caucus revolt > no Gillard.

    There is no doubt that Minchin was personally responsible for torpedoing ETS v1. So Abbott toppled Turnbull. That is the first tower.

    It would have been unfair and unreasonable to expect the ALP to call a Double Dissolution on the issue of “a Great Big Tax on Everything”. Howard damn near lost the 1998 election on GST, a far less controversial policy put forward in an orthdodox election campaign. Its hardly “gutless” for the ALP to play it safe on that score.

    Unfortunately it was “gutless” of Rudd as a leader not to go for the DD. It cost him personally bags of support within the electorate, reflected in polls. Which came back to him in the form of a marginal seat back-bench revolt organized by the usual suspects amongst the factional heavyweights. So Gillard toppled Rudd. That is the second Tower.

    At each stage of this process Rudd did the rational risk-averse thing. And at each stage he was confronted with uncontrollable variables. Must have been hell for a control freak like him.

    So there is a kind of tragedy in his rise and fall.

  26. And the after-shocks from Minchin’s Martyrdom Operation are still yet to be felt, because we haven’t had the election. This is shaping up to be the most signficant election since 1996.

    My own psephological 2PP prediction – ~ ALP 52 v L/NP 48 – has been thrown into dissaray because it was based on the premise of Rudd leading a united ALP into the fray. That assumption no longer holds.

    If one is to believe the ALP number cruchers then Gillard will do a better job than Rudd at the only poll that counts. If thats the case then we can expect a wipe-out for the L/NP, on the order of 53 – 47. And most likely a strong showing by the GREENs. Which means an ETS or CET (Carbon Emission Tax) with teeth.

    That would be bad news for the L/NP as it is currently organized. It would sink Abbott as political leader and AGW denial as a headline policy. Which spells doom for Minchin’s hard Right faction within the L/NP. A nice irony, or poetic justice if you like.

    So probably back to the future with Turnbull.

    I have been arguing for some time that this election is a critical one for both ideological and psephological reasons. It is a major test of the “Great Convergence” policy assimilation theory. If the ALP win well then the L/NP will have no choice but to dump their obsession with Work Choics and AGW denialism.

    It is also a test of the “ALP Natural Party of Government” partisan realignment theory”. If the ALP win in another convincing fashion its a data point towards continued federal domninance of the ALP machine operators.

    But if the L/NP do well then they will open up a major split in the electorate, with a US-style rancour creeping into things. We would be looking at a Great Divergence.

    I dont think this will happen, but the hard-right L/NP have given it their best shot. As did Bin Laden, which certainly did his cause no harm.

    As mumbles said, “an interesting election”.

  27. Jack Strocchi @ #26 unelaborated conditions:

    If one is to believe the ALP number cruchers then Gillard will do a better job than Rudd at the only poll that counts. If thats the case then we can expect a wipe-out for the L/NP, on the order of 53 – 47.

    Of course thats a big “if”. I am inclined to agree with mumbles that the ALP’s so-called hard-nosed pragmatists have panicked at the first whiff of grapeshot. Which may expose their rear to withering fire.

    Remember these are the same geniuses that gave us the Latham Experiment. How did that work out for them? And the preference deal that gave Steve Fielding a Senate spot. And they have been managing things in NSW ever since Carr flew the coop. Not a pretty sight.

    So they are not infallible.

    Its quite possible that Gillard could put in an ordinary performance during the campaign. Or that the voters could get cynical about ALP leadership merry-go-rounds and opportunistic policy back-flips. Or that Abbott could amaze us all.

    That being the case then all bets are off.

    So the ALP is prepared to take big political risks (changing leaders just prior to the campaign). But not prepared to take big policy risks (going to the voters with a DD on ETS).

    Says it all about post-modern politics, really.

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