Longman result shows Queensland vote is volatile and One Nation remains potent



File 20180730 106521 s3d9se.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
The most notable – and underestimated – aspect of the vote count in Longman was the fall in support for the Coalition.
AAP/Darren England

Chris Salisbury, The University of Queensland

As expected, the Longman by-election was the contest to watch on “Super Saturday”. But, as it turned out, it was for reasons that weren’t all anticipated.

Observers had predicted a tight race in the marginally-held seat north of Brisbane, with high poll support for Pauline Hanson’s One Nation adding to the unpredictability. Yet, Labor’s Susan Lamb defied the naysayers and secured a reassuring swing, regaining the seat she’d vacated owing to her former dual citizenship status.

For opposition leader Bill Shorten, the weekend’s byelection results provide a confidence boost and should dampen the leadership speculation that has animated sections of the media.

For Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, however, the Longman result especially (and South Australia’s Mayo to a similar extent) will prompt soul-searching in Coalition ranks ahead of the next federal election.




Read more:
View from The Hill: Malcolm Turnbull’s authority diminished after byelection failures


The most notable – and underestimated – aspect of the vote count in Longman was the fall in support for the Coalition. This flew in the face of opinion polls leading up to the byelection date, which suggested there was little between the major candidates. Warnings from election analysts about the reliability of single-seat polling might be heeded more closely in future.

The Coalition’s primary vote in Longman plunged 9.4% from the 2016 federal election, resulting in a two-party-preferred swing of 3.7% against LNP candidate Trevor Ruthenberg. While senior Coalition MPs have since put this down to an “average” anti-government swing at byelections, few in the party would have expected such a kicking in a historically conservative seat.

Ruthenberg came under scrutiny during the by-election campaign for a wrongly claimed military service medal. He also carried some baggage as MP for a nearby state seat during the single-term government of Campbell Newman. Combined, this probably turned away a number of potential voters, and contributed in part to Lamb increasing her primary vote from 35.4% to almost 40%. Queensland’s LNP faces fresh questions about its organisational and campaigning stocks following a disappointing showing at last November’s state election.

The bigger concern for the federal government is the extent to which its policies are on the nose with voters. Certainly, Labor focused much of its Longman campaign on the effects that penalty rate reductions and company tax cuts for big businesses would have on local job prospects and funding for hospitals and education services. ALP insiders were quietly confident of crafting a successful “class warfare”-style campaign in an electorate with higher than average unemployment and below average incomes.

In this respect, the Longman campaign offered a preview to the likely dimensions and key party messaging of the coming federal election campaign, expected in the first half of next year. Given the number of marginal federal seats in Queensland, this positions the state as the “battleground” where that election can be won and lost.

The fight for marginal seats

Byelection results shouldn’t, of course, be extrapolated to likely voting patterns at a general election. Many in Queensland remember John Howard’s Liberals losing a 2001 byelection for the Brisbane seat of Ryan, only to regain it comfortably at the national election later that year (aided by some notable external factors).

The Longman contest was fought on local as much as broader issues – with residents’ health, education and employment concerns front of mind for most. But these “bread and butter” issues, as well as Longman’s characterisation as a true marginal, urban fringe seat, make the fall of the votes here possibly indicative of wider trends. If the government’s intended tax cut package for large as well as smaller businesses turned off many Longman voters, it may well do so in marginal seats across the board.

In Queensland, where there is nearly a dozen such marginal seats – seven held by the Coalition – any inkling as to what might motivate voters in those electorates will be keenly sought by the major parties. The Coalition, in particular, stands to lose much if lessons can’t be drawn from voters’ messages.

After the weekend, MPs in the neighbouring electorates of Petrie (margin of 1.6%) and high-profile Dickson (held by Peter Dutton on the same margin), as well as Flynn (1%), Forde (0.6%) and Capricornia (0.6%), will be sitting more nervously in the Coalition party room.




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The issues animating many Longman voters also feature in seats alongside it. Anti-government sentiment could well seep across electorate boundaries and threaten incumbents there. Notably, Dutton’s late arrival on the Longman campaign trail warning of the immigration policy “perils” of Shorten’s Labor didn’t much seem to stem the flow of votes away from Ruthenberg.

With Labor also holding a handful of marginal Queensland seats, both major parties will be conscious of shoring up an unstable vote base. It is this landscape, as much as Labor’s campaign messages about “big end of town” tax cuts, that likely determines how much the government refashions its policy agenda ahead of the federal election.

One Nation vote hurts the Coalition

One Nation’s considerable vote in Longman – almost 16% compared to the 9.4% it gained in 2016 – underlines the current strength of the minor party protest vote. Indeed, the increase in One Nation’s support in Longman came mainly at the expense of the Coalition’s candidate. In a field of eleven nominations, the next best vote was the Greens’ 4.8%.

There is residual irritation in the wider electorate about voters’ circumstances and about a perceived disconnection from their elected representatives. This alienation was again apparent in the Longman result, and signals a warning to both major parties about volatile voter sentiment in Queensland and elsewhere.

The high One Nation vote came after a more concerted and less gaffe-prone campaign, despite candidate Matthew Stephen facing persistent queries over his business history. This was achieved in the conspicuous absence of Pauline Hanson’s “star power” (dozens of cardboard cut-outs of the party leader notwithstanding).

But these circumstances are possible at a byelection more so than a general election, where One Nation’s modest resources are typically stretched. It may be that the party concentrates its federal campaigning and nominations on fewer seats so as not to spread itself too thinly (as it found to its cost at the recent Queensland election).

The ConversationThe way the party suggests its voters direct their preferences is regularly a mystery, as is how closely its voters follow those recommendations. But if One Nation focuses on the marginal seats in Queensland, those preferences might place the party in an influential position with the government on policy negotiations ahead of the next federal election.

Chris Salisbury, Research Associate, The University of Queensland

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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View from The Hill: Malcolm Turnbull’s authority diminished after byelection failures


Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

Those looking for signs before Saturday that Labor was on track for government might have found one, beyond the polls, in what could seem an unexpected quarter.

After having to postpone its national conference because of Super Saturday, the ALP is holding its briefing for business observers next month. The party has been swamped with bookings, requiring a change of venue to accommodate the large numbers. Business may be cheering on the Coalition’s policies but it knows it needs to find out about Labor’s.

The weekend results, in particular the way they’re being read, haven’t only confirmed Labor’s trajectory but in doing so, have given the opposition, and Bill Shorten especially, a huge confidence boost.




Read more:
Crucial Super Saturday Labor victories a major fillip for Shorten


Poll analyst Peter Brent points out, in relation to Longman and Braddon, how prior expectations have influenced post-event interpretations. “The unexceptional results — on the low side of swings to oppositions — were made to look exceptional by the opinion polling, which allowed the media and party insiders to whip themselves into a lather of expectation that the Coalition would probably take one, maybe both. … Against these anticipations, the opposition leader looks like a miracle maker and a vote magnet,” Brent writes on the Inside Story site.

But even taking into account this reality check, Labor can be satisfied its messaging – focusing on health, education, fighting inequality, opposing tax cuts for the largest companies – is hitting the right spot. And the delivery of that messaging has for the most part been effective, despite Shorten’s unpopularity.

On the old adage of “winners are grinners”, there’s nothing Malcolm Turnbull can say about these results that will cut through at the moment.

“Bill Shorten is punching the air as though he’s won the World Cup. The reality is that the Labor Party has secured an average or conventional swing in a byelection to it in Longman and has not secured any swing at all in Braddon.” Turnbull said on Sunday, and, “I have always said that history was against us”.

The fact remains, however, that Turnbull tried very hard in seats the government thought it was possible to win, and he failed. He did talk down expectations, but not far enough. And he had admitted byelections are “a test of leaders” among other things.

In contrast with Labor, Turnbull and his ministers face tough decisions about policy and approach.

Labor’s line “stop giving big banks a tax cut, and start funding our schools and hospitals” resonates. So if, as expected, the Senate remains opposed to those company tax cuts in the spring session, does Turnbull take them to the election, or dump them?

The obvious answer might seem, jettison them. But whether that’s the best answer is more complex. After more than two years of spruiking them as vital, it would make Turnbull look (to borrow an Abbottism) the ultra weather vane. And the voters wouldn’t necessarily be convinced – Labor would say, “he’ll bring them back after the election”.

Asked whether the government’s policies needed to change, Turnbull said on Sunday: “We will look very seriously and thoughtfully and humbly at the way in which the voters have responded” while also saying byelections “have special characteristics”. As to whether he’d take the company tax cuts to the election if necessary: “We are committed to ensuring Australia has a competitive company tax rate”.

More generally, although the Coalition has been improving a little in the national polls while still behind Labor, Turnbull still isn’t finding the right pitch and tone when talking to the electorate.

Before the 2016 election it was all positive – innovation, agility, the age of excitement. That didn’t wash with a lot of people. More recently, he’s taken to hurling insults at Shorten, branding him a serial liar. Even on Friday, when Shorten wasn’t on the hustings, leaving his candidates maximum opportunity to talk to voters at the pre-poll places, Turnbull claimed the opposition leader was in hiding. It was childish. The story from Turnbull’s own campaigning in Longman that day was about a woman having a go at him.

Volatile Queenslanders deliver conservative leaders the bluntest rebukes.

In March 2001 Ryan voters gave John Howard, still struggling with the GST backlash, a mighty kick. The government lost that byelection; the Liberal primary vote fell 7 points (the Coalition vote in Longman is down 9 points). Howard had already made some policy adjustment in anticipation of the drubbing. Later he retained the Victorian seat of Aston in a July byelection and went on to win the general election that year.

The Howard government’s various efforts, including its budget, helped the turnabout, and so (greatly) did unforeseen events (the Tampa affair, and the September 11 attacks). Turnbull can’t expect the unexpected, and he’s a less canny politician than Howard.

For the 2019 election, the state of Queensland is chocker with marginal Coalition seats (including that of Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton).

The byelections have underlined the folly of running horses unsuitable for courses. In Longman the LNP’s “Big Trev” Ruthenberg was a big target, even before the controversy over his defence medal. When he was preselected Labor rubbed its hands at an opponent who’d been an MP in the unpopular Newman state government.

In Mayo the Liberals staged their own Dynasty episode, importing from Victoria Georgina Downer, daughter of the seat’s one-time occupant, former foreign minister Alexander Downer. It was a serious misjudgement about how to campaign against a popular crossbencher.

The ABC’s Antony Green has tweeted that “it didn’t matter who the Liberal candidate was – they were not going to defeat Rebekha Sharkie. It was only a matter of whether the Liberal sacrificial lamb would put up a fight on the way to the altar or not”. By choosing Downer, rather than a strong local, the Liberals were ignoring the vibe of the electorate.

Now they seem set on letting Downer have another go, at the general election.




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The high primary vote for Sharkie in Mayo (45%), the substantial vote for One Nation in Longman (16%), and the notable support for an independent, Craig Garland, in Braddon (11%) are all manifestations of the strength of the protest vote against the large parties.

People are angry about their own circumstances and about the politicians; they’re distrustful and alienated. It should be said these voters comprise different streams. One Nation supporters in Longman may have little in common with Sharkie supporters in Mayo. But they share a desire to say “up you” to the major parties.

Super Saturday hasn’t changed the numbers in the House of Representatives, or in the Coalition party room. There is no indication it will stoke a threat to Turnbull’s leadership.

The ConversationBut it has undermined the Prime Minister’s authority, which was rebuilding. As he tries to deliver on energy and in other key areas, Turnbull’s party enemies and critics will be encouraged in their attacks – over the National Energy Guarantee, immigration and the like. They will inflict more scars on his hide. And others in his ranks, simply worried about their seats, will be restless. We’ll see in coming months whether all this shifts policy.

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Crucial Super Saturday Labor victories a major fillip for Shorten


Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

Bill Shorten has received a major boost from the Super Saturday byelections, retaining the crucial seats of Braddon and Longman and putting his hold on the Labor leadership beyond any doubt.

A triumphant Shorten, appearing on Saturday night with a victorious Susan Lamb in Longman, declared: “What a great night for the Labor party! What a great night for Labor women candidates!” Labor had won “four from four” of its seats in the Super Saturday contests.

Late Saturday night, on counting so far, Lamb led the Liberal National Party’s Trevor Ruthenberg by 55-45% on the two-party vote – a swing to Labor of about 4%.

The Liberal National Party primary vote plunged in the Queensland seat by around 10 percentage points, to about 28%, a big concern for the government in what will be a vital state at next year’s election. Pauline Hanson’s One Nation polled 15% – six percentage points higher than at the last election.

The ALP’s Justine Keay in Tasmania’s Braddon had a two-party lead of 52-48% over her Liberal opponent Brett Whiteley, almost no change from 2016.

The Liberals received a whipping in the South Australian seat of Mayo, where crossbencher Rebekha Sharkie held off a challenge from the Liberals’ Georgina Downer. Sharkie was leading 58-42% on the two-party vote, a swing towards her of about 3%.

In the other two contests, Fremantle and Perth in Western Australia, where the Liberals did not run, the ALP has predictably held its seats. Josh Wilson has been returned in Fremantle. Patrick Gorman, a one-time staffer to Kevin Rudd, is the new member for Perth, replacing Tim Hammond, who quit for family reasons.

Apart from Perth all the byelections were caused by the MPs having to resign in the citizenship crisis.

The Braddon and Longman outcomes dash the hopes of ALP frontbencher Anthony Albanese of wresting the opposition leadership from Shorten. Albanese had positioned himself in recent weeks in case the ALP had bad results.

The results also scotch any possibility of a premature election, although Malcolm Turnbull has always been adamant the poll will be next year.

Both government and Labor put enormous effort and resources into the battles in Longman and Braddon, with multiple visits by Shorten and Turnbull.

Despite it talking down expectations, the results are a deep disappointment for the government, which had hoped it might snatch at least one of Braddon or Longman, and at the start of the campaign had hopes of winning Mayo although it quickly gave these up.

Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen tweeted: “Malcolm Turnbull said these by-elections were a referendum on leadership. Labor is winning four and the Libs can’t regain the formerly safe seat of Mayo”.

The president of the Queensland Liberal National Party, Gary Spence said of the Longman outcome: “It wasn’t the result we were hoping for”; it was “somewhat of a disappointing result”.

He said it reflected that the Australian people were over the citizenship issues and wanted to pay respect to the 2016 election result. Other reasons included that byelection history was against the government, and Labor, with its leader under pressure, had spent a huge amount on advertising in the final week, Spence said.

Conceding in Longman, Ruthenberg said it had been “a strange election – in that while I have lost, the community will still benefit from the commitments I’ve been able to secure from the Prime Minister and his team of ministers.”

Liberal backbencher Trent Zimmerman, reflecting the government’s line, claimed on the ABC that the government had “done very well”, containing the swing.

In her victory speech Sharkie, from the Centre Alliance which was formerly the Nick Xenophon Team, said her win was “because of people power”. She said it showed “you don’t need huge wads of money”, “you don’t need huge political machines”. She had been “crushed” the day she resigned, “but today is really sweet”.

Among her thanks, she paid tribute to former senator Nick Xenophon, saying he had given her a chance in 2016, when she won the seat.

The ConversationDowner said that “a byelection is always tough for a government”. Liberals expect Downer to run again for the seat at next year’s election. Senator Anne Ruston told the Liberal campaign function: “ I have no doubt one day Georgina will be the member for Mayo”.

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Grattan on Friday: Albanese is race-ready if byelection voters fire starting gun


Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

Voters in Braddon and Longman probably aren’t even aware they could be pivotal to the future of Bill Shorten’s leadership and Anthony Albanese’s ambition.

Only the crazy brave would firmly predict how these knife edge ALP seats, in Tasmania and Queensland respectively, will fall out. And only those closely following politics would fully appreciate how carefully Anthony Albanese, Shorten’s bete noire, has been positioning in the event Labor tanks in them on Saturday.

Albanese’s long-odds chance to lead Labor now rests with circumstances beyond his control – in the first instance, with the decisions of voters more concerned with local health services than a tug of war within the opposition.

Weeks ago, the aspirant strutted his stuff in his Whitlam oration, arguing Labor needed a better relationship with business and should give more attention to non-unionised workers.

Interestingly Albanese, though from the left, was coming at Shorten from the right. The speech was cleverly drafted; the aim was to send a message but to deliver it subtly enough to minimise accusations he was undermining Shorten.

Albanese has been on the byelection trail and in the media, reminding people of his presence, but equally careful with his words. He’s visited twice each of the four seats Labor holds (the other two are safe contests in Western Australia) in Saturday’s five byelections.

Behind the scenes, there have been quiet preparations and assessments of potential support by the Albanese forces, in the event opportunity comes. Albanese backers – who include members of a divided NSW right faction – are confident the “anti-coup” protections Kevin Rudd put in place can be swept aside if the numbers are there for change.

But only a limited amount could be done. Albanese has had to avoid overstepping a line marked “disloyalty”. On Thursday he flatly ruled out challenging Shorten (a pledge to be regarded with scepticism – for example, would a delegation be regarded as a “challenge”?).

Caucus members don’t want a return to those horror days, in government, when Julia Gillard knifed Rudd and he speared her. Albanese supporters, however, look to an earlier precedent: Rudd’s overthrow of Kim Beazley when Labor was in opposition.

That was the ALP taking out “insurance” for a win. On the polls, Labor is headed for victory at next year’s election. But the numbers have tightened, Malcolm Turnbull’s performance has improved, and Shorten’s deep unpopularity has become an increasing concern for the party. Some in caucus would see a move to Albanese as today’s “insurance”. But the questions are: is this judgement correct, and how costly would the premium be?

Hardline advocates of a change would say that even if Shorten retains Braddon and Longman, the size of his margin will be important. On this argument, byelections normally see a solid anti-government swing, so wins by a sliver wouldn’t cut it.

This, in my view, is raising the bar ridiculously high, especially since Labor grabbed Longman in 2016 on One Nation preferences, which it isn’t getting this time. Two wins, whatever the margin, and those flirting with the thought of a leadership switch should recognise reality and get behind Shorten.




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There’s little doubt a double loss would take Shorten into a period of upheaval that could end in his downfall. The alternative would be an impasse that saw Shorten survive with gaping wounds – a gift to Turnbull.

One byelection loss, and there would much instability.

In either event, Labor “talking heads” would be everywhere, division on display, and the party atmosphere tense ahead of parliament resuming mid-August.

In any consideration of a leadership change, Labor would have to weigh the “transactional” costs. Moving from Beazley to Rudd was helped by Beazley behaving well after he was ousted, and by Rudd (in those days) being a popular breath of fresh air.

A deposed Shorten, to say nothing of some of his union allies, could behave badly. And while the personable Albanese, with his laid-back style, looks good by comparison with Shorten at the moment, he could become vulnerable as the Liberals dug into his political past, with some tough left positions. The thing about putsches is that a party can never be sure beforehand whether it will ultimately be better or worse off.

Having such a long byelection campaign (more than two months) was initially seen as a strike against Labor, which also had to postpone its national conference. If the ALP holds Braddon and Longman, however, the time will have worked in its favour.

As of Thursday Shorten had made (from early May) seven visits over nine days to Longman and eight visits over 11 days to Braddon.

If Shorten comes out of Super Saturday unscathed, or even enhanced, he should temper his elation and relief with self-appraisal, because complacency would be a risk.

After all, it was complacency – about Labor having proper citizenship checks in place – that led to the byelections in these two seats in the first place (as well as in its seat of Fremantle).

Meanwhile, post Saturday Shorten will have a big problem in another marginal seat that will need resolution. The scandal surrounding Emma Husar, Labor member for Lindsay (NSW), who is accused of misusing and bullying staff, is being investigated by the party. Claims of bad behaviour keep flowing into the media.




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Lindsay is ultra-vulnerable. The party needs to wrap up its inquiry ASAP; if its findings are against Husar her preselection should be withdrawn. But the last thing the ALP would want is another byelection, so she’d have to stay until the election – a messy scenario with a replacement candidate campaigning. If the party verdict is in Husar’s favour and it sticks with her, she’d still go into the election with immense baggage.

While all the attention is on Shorten, what are the consequences for Turnbull if he does badly on Super Saturday – failing in Braddon and Longman as well as in Mayo (South Australia) where crossbencher Rebekha Sharkie (also a citizenship casualty) is expected to hold off the challenge from the Liberals’ Georgina Downer?

The ConversationIt would be a setback for him, reinforcing the polls’ message that Labor remains favourite for the 2019 election. The government’s noisy conservative wing would become more assertive. But the outcome would be unlikely to trouble his grip on the leadership. The Liberals do not have an alternative who is hungry for Turnbull’s job right now, in the way Albanese is for Shorten’s.

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Byelection guide: what’s at stake on Super Saturday


Rob Manwaring, Flinders University; Chris Salisbury, The University of Queensland; Ian Cook, and Michael Lester, University of Tasmania

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten have been criss-crossing the country for weeks to spruik their parties’ candidates in Saturday’s all-important byelections – a key test for both the Liberals and Labor ahead of the next federal election.

Here’s what you need to know about the five electorates up for grabs and, with a federal election likely in the first half of 2019, what’s at stake for Turnbull and Shorten.


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Longman

Chris Salisbury, Research Associate, University of Queensland

Longman’s very marginal status, held by Labor’s Susan Lamb by a slim 0.8% prior to her High Court-enforced resignation, makes this race the most tightly contested on Saturday.

Seasoned observers expect this to go the way of most byelection contests – largely distanced from broader federal concerns. Local issues are at play, dominated by arguments over funding for the Caboolture hospital in the electorate north of Brisbane, as well as for local education and employment support services.

Yet, the race is also being touted by some as a judgement on the major parties’ signature economic policies, and significantly on the performances of both party leaders. Labor has campaigned hard on the merits of the Coalition’s proposed company tax cuts. The Liberals, meanwhile, have fanned fears among retirees about Labor’s proposed investment savings changes.

Longman is a typical marginal seat in the outer suburban fringe, home to what a dozen years ago would have been called “Howard’s battlers”. The electorate provides a platform for the major parties to road-test policy differentiation and campaign messages on “average voters” ahead of the next federal election.




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It’s also fertile ground for the growing distrust of mainstream politics. One Nation’s Pauline Hanson has been prominent in the electorate, attempting to capitalise on negative voter sentiment toward the major parties. Her party even enlisted former Labor leader Mark Latham’s support, voicing robocalls to local residents attacking Shorten.

Lamb is attempting to be re-elected to the seat she won unexpectedly from the LNP’s Wyatt Roy in 2016. She benefits from recognition as the incumbent and has the strong backing of her party leader. Shorten made a beeline for Longman ahead of the announcement of the byelection date to spruik his candidate.

LNP’s Trevor Ruthenburg also enjoys recognition of sorts as a previous state MP for nearby Kallangur. However, he might have spurned some conservative Longman voters with fresh revelations of an incorrectly claimed military service medal in his Queensland parliament biography.

Among the minor party candidates, One Nation’s Matthew Stephen will also need to overcome questions regarding his business dealings to build on his party’s 9.4% primary vote in the 2016 election.

Labor’s concerted campaigning has Lamb a slight favourite to be returned. However, a Coalition win might convince Turnbull to call an early election. This then raises the question: could a poor result for Labor put enough pressure on Shorten to prompt the party to change leaders to better combat the PM’s standing?


Braddon

Michael Lester, PhD candidate, University of Tasmania

For an election that won’t change the status quo in parliament, the Braddon byelection is getting a great deal of attention.

Both Turnbull and Shorten have made multiple visits to campaign for their candidates, with support also coming from of a host of their cabinet and shadow cabinet colleagues.

Braddon is a notoriously fickle electorate, having changed hands four times since 1996, and the margins are always tight. This election is no different. All the polls indicate it is a close race.

In 2016, Labor’s Justine Keay won the seat with a 2.2% lead over then-sitting Liberal member Brett Whiteley. She was later forced to resign after her UK citizenship was revealed. Both candidates are standing again, but neither is considered to have strong personal followings.

Polls in the first week of July showed the gap between the parties has narrowed. This means the result will likely come down to the preferences of independents and minor parties, particularly the Greens’ Jarrod Edwards, the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party candidate Brett Neal and independent Craig Garland. All three are likely to favour Labor.




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The differences between the campaign styles and tactics of the two major parties are striking.

The Liberals have used incumbency at both the state and federal level to frame their campaign around their economic records and budget infrastructure spending, holding photo opportunities around a series of project announcements.

Labor, meanwhile, is using the campaign to road-test a swag of policies and messages. Key among them are wage stagnation, the loss of penalty rates, the “scourge of labour hire companies”, the bad behaviour of banks and the Liberals’ support for corporate tax cuts.

Shorten took most by surprise by also promising an AU$25 million grant to support a Tasmanian AFL team at a time when the Aussie game is in crisis in one of its foundation states. However, Labor seems to be getting better traction with promises to restore funding for essential services like health care and education.

The real impact of the Braddon byelection is likely to be on the political future of the two party leaders, the timing of the next federal election and the choice of the policies they choose to run on.


Mayo

Rob Manwaring, Senior Lecturer, Politics and Public Policy, Flinders University

The campaign in Mayo is symptomatic of a wider problem that has beset Liberals in South Australia – a failure to lock in so-called blue-ribbon safe seats.

Mayo is now a straight two-way fight between the incumbent Centre Alliance’s Rebekah Sharkie and Liberal Georgina Downer. Downer’s success or failure could well be a strong signifier of the strength of Malcolm Turnbull’s government.

Polling has Sharkie on track to hold onto the seat, despite her citizenship problems triggering the byelection. A late-June Reachtel poll had Sharkie leading Downer by 62% to 38% in two-candidate voting.

Sharkie’s surge in the polls is striking, given that a large part of her win over then-Liberal Jamie Briggs in 2013 seemed to rest on the personal unpopularity of Briggs.




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Yet, as has been proven in state-level races in South Australia before, voters in notionally safe “non-Labor” seats are often reluctant to give up strong local independents. Despite its disappointing showing in the recent state election, the Xenophon team retains deep residual support in South Australia.

The Mayo campaign is an intriguing confluence of local and national issues. Sharkie is pushing hard on a range of local issues, and her support to have the Great Australian Bight listed for World Heritage status to safeguard it from oil drilling also targets a perceived weakness of Downer’s – environment issues.

Downer, seeking to secure her family dynasty, is playing to different strengths – especially her close network with the Liberal hierarchy. (She is the daughter of former foreign minister Alexander.) Since announcing her candidacy, Downer has had notable visits from Turnbull and others. She boasts influence unavailable to her rivals, evidenced by her securing of federal funding for a new aquatic centre in Mount Barker.

Strikingly, immigration has become a new issue in the campaign. Downer’s comments about immigration may stoke local fears that the Inverbrackie site will be re-opened for mainland asylum seeker detentions.


Perth and Fremantle

Ian Cook, Senior Lecturer of Australian Politics, Murdoch University

Labor will win both races being contested in Western Australia in Saturday’s byelections. That’s not a brave prediction. The Liberals aren’t running candidates.

Some analysts believe it was the wrong decision by the Liberals, given that a minimal campaigning effort wouldn’t have cost that much and it’s unclear how voters will react when the Liberals do put up candidates in the federal election.

But the decision actually makes a lot of sense. Labor has held both seats – Perth and Fremantle – for much of their existence. (The electorates were created in 1901.) Labor even held on in Fremantle in the 1975 election, which was the last time it lost Perth.

On top of this, the WA Liberals had been swept from government last year as a result of a 20% swing against them across the state. And there were no signs of the federal Liberals doing much to change anything.

So, while Perth’s 3.3% margin looks close, the Liberals chose not to run a candidate there. Likewise in Fremantle, which is even less competitive, with a margin of 7.5%. The decision not only saves the Liberals money, it won’t expose their weak support in WA.




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Liberal rebel Dean Smith to fight party decision not to contest Perth byelection


Some Liberals may have regretted the move after the party won the byelection for the state seat of Darling Range last month, but Labor got a lot wrong in that campaign.

The Liberals’ decision not to run in Perth and Fremantle has brought the Greens more into the spotlight. With no other seats to talk about and no major party competition to drown them out, the Greens should be able to do something meaningful in these byelections.

Perth and Fremantle are exactly the type of inner metropolitan seat the Greens should be favoured to win, but their candidates have never gained more than 18% of first-preference voting in previous contests in the electorates. And nothing looks likely to change this time around.

The ConversationIf Greens candidates can’t put themselves in a position to win Perth and Fremantle in these byelections and demonstrate they are to be a meaningful political force, then they likely never will.

Rob Manwaring, Senior Lecturer, Politics and Public Policy, Flinders University; Chris Salisbury, Research Associate, The University of Queensland; Ian Cook, Senior Lecturer of Australian Politics, and Michael Lester, PhD candidate, University of Tasmania

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Leaders seek underdog status in byelection battle to be top dog


Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten have entered the final week of the high-stakes Longman and Braddon byelections both publicly cautious about their prospects.

Latest polls show close numbers in the two seats, held by the ALP by narrow margins. These are the crucial contests in the five Super Saturday playoffs. Labor has a clear run in the two Western Australian seats; Mayo (South Australia) is between crossbencher Rebekha Sharkie and the Liberals’ candidate Georgina Downer.




Read more:
Grattan on Friday: Disillusioned voters find it easy to embrace a crossbencher like Rebekha Sharkie


In Longman (Queensland), a ReachTEL poll commissioned by the Courier Mail has the Liberal National Party leading Labor 51-49%. In Braddon (Tasmania), where Labor has become increasingly confident, a poll commissioned by the forestry industry and also done by ReachTEL shows Labor on 52% of the two-party vote, although its primary vote is only 34.3%.

But polling in single seats has to be treated with particular caution.

The outcomes in Longman and Braddon are vital for Shorten, who would face very serious leadership instability if he lost both seats, and a rough patch if the ALP were defeated in one. Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese has been positioning ahead of Super Saturday.

Shorten, speaking on Sunday in Longman at Susan Lamb’s formal campaign launch, said: “We are the underdogs”.

“The bookmakers have the other mob as the favourites. Now of course the LNP and the One Nation political party have teamed up again and are swapping preferences just to try to knock us off”.

In a strong attack on Pauline Hanson, Shorten said she didn’t like being called out for “pretending to be a friend of the battlers when all she wants to do is to get back on the plane to Canberra and vote with the big end of town”.

The size of the One Nation vote, where it comes from, and how its preferences split in practice will be critical in the Longman result.

One Nation has been targeting Shorten fiercely in its advertising. For example, he is depicted with a sheep and the message, “This year Bill Shorten and Susan Lamb voted with The Greens 100% of the time”.

Anti-Labor corflute in the federal electorate of Longman in Queensland.
Supplied

Asked on Sunday whether he was encouraged by the polling in Longman, Turnbull said that on all the evidence the byelections appeared to be “very close” but “Labor should be streets ahead”.

“By-elections historically always swing away from the government. Particularly if it’s an opposition seat. The last time a government won a seat in a by-election from the opposition was about 100 years ago and there’s a reason for that.”




Read more:
VIDEO: Michelle Grattan on the Mayo byelection and crossbenchers in the parliament


He said people in Longman and Braddon, as well as in Mayo, had “the opportunity to say what they think about Bill Shorten’s plan for higher taxes and more expensive electricity and his plan for weaker borders”.

Turnbull was in the Queensland seat of Herbert ahead of a visit to Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory.

On Saturday, campaigning in Longman with LNP candidate Trevor Ruthenberg , Turnbull said “Trev’s got the odds against him but he’s a great candidate. He’s a straight shooter. He’s as honest as he is big!”. He could “absolutely” win, although it was “tough”.

The ConversationBoth sides are throwing around the dollars in multiple promises in Longman and Braddon. Labor’s promises could only be made good if the ALP won the general election next year.

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

As Super Saturday nears, Labor gains poll lead in Braddon, but trails in Longman, while UK Tories slump



File 20180722 142432 1g5vwny.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
The Longman byelection is so tightly contested it has drawn many senior politicians to campaign. Here Labor candidate Susan Lamb is flanked by Shadow Minister for Skills, TAFE and Apprenticeships Doug Cameron, and Deputy Leader of the Opposition Tanya Plibersek.
AAP/Glenn Hunt

Adrian Beaumont, University of Melbourne

Five federal byelections will be held on July 28 – four in Labor-held seats and one held by the Centre Alliance. In the Western Australian seats of Perth and Fremantle, the Liberals are not contesting, and Labor is expected to easily retain. In the South Australian seat of Mayo, the Centre Alliance’s Rebekha Sharkie has a large poll lead over the Liberals’ Georgina Downer.

The contested seats are thus the Tasmanian seat of Braddon (Labor by 2.2%) and the Queensland seat of Longman (Labor by 0.8%). Polls close at 6pm Melbourne time in Braddon and Longman, 6:30pm in Mayo and 8pm in Perth and Fremantle.

In Braddon, the Labor candidate, Susan Keay, held the seat until she was forced out through the citizenship saga. The Liberal candidate, Brett Whiteley, was the member until the 2016 election, so there will be little advantage for Keay from being well-known. A similar situation applies in Longman.

As noted in the article below, seat polls are unreliable, and there could be large errors in either direction.




Read more:
Poll wrap: Labor and LNP tied in Longman, Sharkie’s massive lead in Mayo, but can we trust seat polls?


At the 2016 election, One Nation recommended preferences to Labor in Longman, and Labor won 56.5% of their preferences. At the byelection, One Nation is recommending preferences to the LNP — this could be crucial.

On July 17, The Courier Mail revealed that Longman LNP candidate Trevor Ruthenberg had a lesser military medal than he had claimed on his parliamentary website while a state MP. On July 19, the same paper revealed Ruthenberg had also claimed the higher medal on his personal website. Ruthenberg has apologised and said it was an honest mistake.

A Longman ReachTEL poll for The Courier Mail, conducted July 18 from an unknown sample, gave the LNP a 51-49 lead over Labor, unchanged since late June. Primary votes were 37.9% LNP (Ruthenberg) (up 2.4%), 35.8% Labor (Susan Lamb) (down 3.2%), 13.9% One Nation (down 0.8%), 4.2% Greens (up 0.9%), 4.3% for all Others and 3.9% undecided.

Labor’s weaker primary vote is being compensated by a stronger flow of respondent allocated preferences. 41% thought Ruthenberg’s medal error an honest mistake, 33% a deliberate error and 27% a careless mistake.

In Braddon, a ReachTEL poll for the Australian Forestry Products Association, conducted July 19 from an unknown sample, gave Labor a 52-48 lead over the Liberals, a 2.5-point gain for Labor since analyst Kevin Bonham’s estimate of a July 6 ReachTEL poll for the left-wing Australia Institute, and a six-point gain for Labor since a Sky News ReachTEL poll in late May.

Primary votes were 40.7% Liberal (Whiteley), 34.3% Labor (Keay), 8.9% for independent Craig Garland, 6.7% for the Greens and 4.6% undecided. 22% of undecided voters were leaning to Labor and just 11% to the Liberals. 67% of all non-major party preferences were going to Labor.

Garland supports a moratorium on salmon fishing expansion, and is recommending preferences to Labor ahead of the Liberals.

In the Australia Institute ReachTEL, 37% thought the company tax rate for businesses with over $50 million in turnover should be reduced, 37% kept the same and 20% increased. The question is better than previous Australian Institute questions on this topic, which gave examples of large businesses – banks, mining companies and supermarkets.

A total of 68% supported penalty rates for workers in the hospitality and retail industries, and just 23% were opposed.

I believe Labor’s biggest problem in Braddon is the March 2018 Tasmanian election, in which the Liberals won easily.




Read more:
ReachTEL polls: Labor trailing in Longman and Braddon, and how Senate changes helped the Coalition


Update Monday morning: Galaxy has conducted polls of Braddon, Longman and Mayo for the News Ltd tabloids. In Longman, the LNP led by 51-49 from primary votes of Labor 37%, LNP 34% and One Nation 18%. In Braddon, there was a 50-50 tie. In Mayo, Sharkie led Downer by an emphatic 59-41. If Anthony Albanese were Labor leader, Labor would lead by 53-47 in both Longman and Braddon.

National Newspoll: 51-49 to Labor

Last week’s Newspoll, conducted July 12-15 from a sample of 1,640, gave Labor a 51-49 lead, unchanged on three weeks ago. Primary votes were 38% Coalition (down one), 36% Labor (down one), 10% Greens (up one) and 7% One Nation (up one).

This was Malcolm Turnbull’s 36th successive Newspoll loss, six more than Tony Abbott, and three more than the previous record for a government. The total vote for left- vs right-of-centre parties was unchanged at 46-45 to the left.

41% were satisfied with Turnbull’s performance (down one), and 49% were dissatisfied (up one), for a net approval of -8, the first decline in Turnbull’s net approval since early April. Bill Shorten’s net approval was up one point to -24. Turnbull led Shorten by 48-29 as better PM (46-31 previously); this was Turnbull’s biggest lead since May 2016.

By 72-23, voters approved of the reduction in the number of immigrants to below 165,000 in the last year, down from an annual cap of 190,000.

By 40-34, voters thought Turnbull and the Coalition better at maintaining energy supply and keeping power prices lower than Shorten and Labor, a reversal of a 39-37 Labor lead in late May. 64% thought the government’s priority should be to keep energy prices down, 24% meet targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions and 9% prevent blackouts.

By 58-32, Australians were dissatisfied with Donald Trump’s performance as US president, with One Nation voters giving Trump his best ratings (63-29 satisfied). This poll was taken before the controversial Helsinki summit.

The better PM statistic virtually always favours the incumbent PM given voting intentions, and it means very little at elections. The final pre-election 2016 Newspoll gave Turnbull a 48-31 better PM lead, yet the Coalition barely clung to a majority. The PM’s net approval correlates much better with voting intentions.

Essential: 51-49 to Labor

Last week’s Essential poll, conducted July 12-15 from a sample of 1,014, gave Labor a 51-49 lead, a one-point gain for the Coalition since three weeks ago. Primary votes were 40% Coalition (steady), 36% Labor (down one), 10% Greens (down one) and 6% One Nation (steady). Essential is still using 2016 preference flows, and this poll would probably be 50-50 by Newspoll’s new method.

There appears to have been a shift towards support for coal power. By 40-38, voters agreed that the government should fund up to $5 billion to build new coal-fired plants or extend the life of existing ones. By 47-24, they agreed that coal-fired power is cheaper than power generated by renewables.

38% (up one since April) thought the government should prioritise renewable energy, 16% (up three) thought they should prioritise coal and 34% (down one) thought both should be treated equally.

By 73-20, voters supported banning plastic bags in supermarkets. By 57-36, voters thought it would change their behaviour as a consumer. 46% both agreed and disagreed that the plastic bag ban was simply an attempt by supermarkets to reduce costs.

UK Conservatives lose support to UKIP after soft Brexit

On July 6, the UK cabinet agreed on a soft Brexit. On July 8-9, hard Brexit cabinet ministers David Davis and Boris Johnson resigned in protest. Despite the anger of hard Brexiteers, I believe PM Theresa May is likely to survive, as explained on my personal website.

Hard Brexiteers do not have the numbers to oust her within the parliamentary Conservatives, and there is little common ground between the Conservative right and Labour, so parliamentary cooperation between them will only happen occasionally.

In polls conducted since the resignations of Davis and Johnson, some of the Conservative vote has gone to the UK Independence Party (UKIP), giving Labour a 4-5 point lead in the last three polls. The Conservatives had adopted UKIP’s rhetoric on Brexit, but now that they have settled on a soft Brexit, natural UKIP support is returning.

In brief: Mexican election detailed results

The ConversationAt the Mexican election held on July 1, the left-wing presidential candidate, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, won a landslide with 53.2% of the vote. Left-wing parties won a majority in both chambers of the Mexican legislature. Details are on my personal website.

Adrian Beaumont, Honorary Associate, School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Melbourne

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Grattan on Friday: Disillusioned voters find it easy to embrace a crossbencher like Rebekha Sharkie


Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

More than two decades ago Alexander Downer stood aside as opposition leader for John Howard, paving the way for the 1996 Coalition election win. This week Howard was in Mayo, his former foreign minister’s one-time South Australian seat, campaigning for Downer’s daughter Georgina.

When the Super Saturday byelections were called, the Liberals thought they had a good chance to pick up Mayo, lost in 2016 to Rebekha Sharkie, from the Nick Xenophon Team (now Centre Alliance).




Read more:
Leaders seek underdog status in byelection battle to be top dog


Sharkie resigned in the citizenship crisis. The Liberals initially believed Downer was an ideal candidate, despite her living in Melbourne. But soon polling suggested another story – Sharkie was leading Downer 62-38% in polls last month.

Some Liberals talk about a two-stage assault on the seat, arguing that if Downer doesn’t win this time, she’ll be well set up for next year’s election.

Well, not if you look at the history. If Sharkie can hold off the Liberals on July 28, she should be in a strong position for the general election.

It’s very hard for a crossbencher to get into the House of Representatives. But when they do, these small players can be difficult to blast out.

Andrew Wilkie won the Tasmanian seat of Denison from Labor in 2010, and retained it in 2013 and 2016. Cathy McGowan wrested Indi (Victoria) from Liberal frontbencher Sophie Mirabella in 2013, to be easily re-elected in 2016.

The late Peter Andren held Calare (NSW) from 1996 until he stepped down before the 2007 election. He had taken the seat from Labor; subsequently it has been in Nationals’ hands.

Tony Windsor grabbed New England from the Nationals in 2001 and won three subsequent elections, retiring before the 2013 election. He almost certainly would have lost if he had contested then, but that was because of special circumstances – although from a conservative electorate, he’d sided with the Gillard government in the hung parliament. Windsor failed in a bid to oust Barnaby Joyce from the seat in 2016.

It was a similar story with Rob Oakeshott, who won the Nationals seat of Lyne (NSW) at a 2008 byelection, retained it in 2010, then backed the Labor government. He didn’t contest in 2013 (he too appeared headed for defeat), but he drastically reduced the Nationals’ margin in Cowper in 2016.

Bob Katter was elected as a National in 1993 but quit the party in 2001, comfortably winning several elections as an independent. In 2011 he launched the Katter’s Australian Party; his victory was tight in 2013 but easier in 2016.

The Greens Adam Bandt has a stranglehold on the seat of Melbourne.

Crossbenchers who are successful in House of Representative seats seem to forge a special bond with their communities. In this time of massive disillusionment with politics and distrust of politicians, they are often seen by their constituents as a different sort of beast, as “our” person, less tainted than those from the big parties.




Read more:
VIDEO: Michelle Grattan on the Mayo byelection and crossbenchers in the parliament


This came through in University of Canberra’s Institute for Governance and Policy Analysis (IGPA) research before the 2016 election in Indi, where voters were full of praise for McGowan, although with the caveat that her independent status meant she lacked power.

It’s only when a parliament is “hung” or nearly so, that lower house crossbenchers gain serious clout.

IGPA has conducted four focus groups in Mayo this week. The 39 participants, covering all age groups, were “soft” voters, currently unaligned or rethinking their position from the last election.

Sharp messages emerge in the report by IGPA director Mark Evans and Max Halupka.

Sharkie is seen as having performed well, as visible and approachable, engaging and caring. She’s viewed as part of Mayo (“she bleeds Mayo”; “she works, acts and lives in Mayo and has Mayo in her heart”). The dual citizenship issue isn’t held against her.

Downer, despite her family background, is regarded as an outsider; “entitled”, “privileged”, “snobby”, “stuck up” are adjectives used about her. Not one participant argued in support of her. In contrast, her father was seen as “Mayo through and through”.

Evans and Halupka conclude: “Sharkie and Downer are perceived to represent two very different Mayos. Downer represents old ‘blue ribbon’ Mayo (as did the disgraced [former Liberal member] Jamie Briggs), home to the Adelaide elite and Sharkie represents new Mayo which is reflected with changing community demographics which include households from a much broader range of income groups including young families who are looking for active community minded representation.”

These Mayo voters disdain the behaviour of federal politicians and “adversarial politics”; they are appalled by the Leyonhjelm affair; they want cross-party co-operation on key matters, especially energy, growth and the environment, which are issues they’re concerned about.

They trust Sharkie; they don’t trust ministers or Bill Shorten. They want conviction politicians and politics. “Turnbull is viewed to be performing better but is still perceived to be lacking conviction; Shorten is purely viewed as a ‘negative politician’ or ‘spoiler’,” Evans and Halupka say.

While there is no statistical significance in these focus group numbers, the trend is notable. “All of the Labor voters last time are moving to either [Sharkie] or the Greens candidate [Major Sumner]. And half the Liberal voters are moving to her.

“On the basis of this tiny sample Labor is collapsing and Shorten is performing very badly across all cohorts particularly amongst former Labor voters.

“Sharkie’s supporters believe that her independence from party is an absolute virtue.” (“I like her because she’s not associated with the big parties and she’s local and cares,” said one participant.)

It should be added that Labor, with no chance in this seat, is mainly interested in boosting Sharkie’s vote via preferences. It is giving Mayo perfunctory attention – its overwhelming focus is on defending its very marginal seats of Longman (Queensland) and Braddon (Tasmania).

In campaigning, Sharkie is getting support from other crossbenchers, with McGowan, Wilkie, and even Katter pitching in. She’s raised $65,000 in micro donations, and recruited more than 800 volunteers.

Given that communities bond with their crossbencher MPs, it becomes a challenge for the major parties to decide the best way to campaign against them.

In particular, will the heavily negative campaign the Liberals are now running against Sharkie eat into her support in these late days, or will people just see this as picking on someone they like?

The ConversationThe conventional wisdom is that negative campaigning works. But trying to knock out an opponent who’s seen as something of a local champion can be a tough ask, as the Liberals are finding.

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Poll wrap: Labor and LNP tied in Longman, Sharkie’s massive lead in Mayo, but can we trust seat polls?



File 20180625 152176 n46jnx.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
The Centre Alliance’s Rebeka Sharkie looks to be a strong contestant in Mayo’s by-election.
AAP/Kelly Barnes

Adrian Beaumont, University of Melbourne

Longman and Mayo are two of the five seats that will be contested at byelections on July 28. ReachTEL polls for the left-wing Australia Institute had a 50-50 tie between Labor and the LNP in Longman, and a massive 62-38 lead for the Centre Alliance’s Rebekha Sharkie over the Liberals’ Georgina Downer in Mayo.

These polls represent a two-point gain for Labor in Longman since a late May ReachTEL for Sky News, and a four-point gain for Sharkie since early June. Both polls were conducted with 720 to 740 respondents on June 21 – the day the Coalition passed its complete income tax cuts package through the Senate.

Primary votes in Longman were 39.1% Labor, 34.9% LNP, 14.7% One Nation, 4.4% Greens, 3.7% Other and 3.2% undecided. With Labor well ahead on primary votes, the LNP is benefiting from a strong flow of One Nation preferences.

I believe this is the first Longman poll that has asked for candidate names, rather than just parties. Labor’s MP Susan Lamb resigned over the citizenship fiasco, but will recontest. The LNP’s candidate is Trevor Ruthenberg, former MP for the state seat of Kallangur, which is close to Longman. Both major party candidates are likely to be well-known to Longman voters.

In Mayo, primary votes were 43.5% Sharkie, 32.7% Downer, 9.0% Greens, 8.2% Labor, 4.1% Other and 2.6% undecided. I discussed potential problems with Downer’s candidacy here.




Read more:
Poll wrap: Coalition’s record Newspoll losing streak, and Rebekha Sharkie has large lead in Mayo


The ReachTEL Australia Institute polls for both Longman and Mayo repeated a question on the company tax cuts that I criticised in the above article.

National Ipsos: 53-47 to Labor (54-46 respondent allocated)

A national Ipsos poll for the Fairfax papers, conducted June 20-23 from a sample of 1,200, gave Labor a 53-47 lead by 2016 election preferences, a one-point gain for the Coalition since the post-budget Ipsos in mid-May. Primary votes were 35% Coalition (down one), 35% Labor (down two), 12% Greens (up one) and 6% One Nation (up one).

Labor’s 54-46 lead in the post-budget Ipsos was an outlier, with other polls showing better results for the Coalition. This week’s Ipsos is in line with other polls by 2016 election preferences.

Almost all polling this term has given the Coalition a better position in respondent allocated polling than using the previous election method. This Ipsos poll is an exception, with a 54-46 lead for Labor using respondent preferences, a point better for Labor than the previous election method.

Ipsos is the only current Australian pollster that uses live phone polling. It tends to have weaker primary votes for the major parties than other polls, and stronger primary votes for the Greens and Others.

50% (down one) approved of Malcolm Turnbull’s performance, and 44% (up five) disapproved, for a net approval of +6. Bill Shorten’s net approval was -13, down one point. Turnbull led Shorten by 51-33 as better PM (52-32 in May). Ipsos gives Turnbull stronger ratings than other pollsters, particularly Newspoll.

Turnbull led Shorten on nine of 11 attributes; the exceptions were on social policy and confidence of his party. The largest Turnbull leads were on economic policy (67-48) and foreign policy (64-45). Since April 2016, attribute scores have moved in Shorten’s favour.

In additional questions from last week’s Newspoll, voters favoured Turnbull over Shorten on asylum seekers by 47-30, down from a 52-27 margin in December 2017. 37% thought Labor would open the floodgates to asylum seekers if it wins the next election, 26% thought Labor would improve the current policy, and 24% thought there would be no difference.

ReachTEL’s large error in Darling Range (WA) byelection

On Saturday, the Liberals won the byelection for the Western Australian state seat of Darling Range by a 53.3-46.7 margin against Labor, a 9.1% swing to the Liberals since the 2017 state election. The byelection was caused by the resignation of Labor MP Barry Urban over allegations of fraudulent behaviour. You can read more at my personal website.

The major implication of this byelection to the July 28 federal byelections is that individual seat polls can be very wrong. Just one week before the Darling Range byelection, a ReachTEL poll for The West Australian gave Labor a 54-46 lead, so there was a seven-point error in this poll.

The Darling Range poll was skewed to Labor, but in general seat polls have had large misses in both directions. The Poll Bludger reviewed the performance of seat polls at the last federal election in a July 2016 article. National and state-wide polls have been far more accurate in Australia.

If a seven-point error is applied to the Longman and Mayo polls, then Labor’s two party vote in Longman could be between 43% and 57%, and Sharkie could be between 55% and 69% in Mayo.

Another concern about the Longman poll is the unbelievable age breakdowns. Young people nationally are the strongest demographic for Labor and the Greens, but ReachTEL gave Labor just 20.4% among those aged 18-34, behind One Nation’s 23.0% and the LNP’s 38.8%. Among those aged 51-65, Labor had 53.8% and the LNP just 25.8%.

In brief: Turkish President Erdoğan re-elected

In Sunday’s Turkish election, incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has dominated Turkish politics since 2002, was re-elected with 52.6% of the vote, avoiding a runoff election. Erdoğan’s AKP party lost its single-party parliamentary majority, but will form a coalition with a right-wing ally.

The ConversationIn April 2017, a constitutional referendum granted far more powers to the president at the expense of parliament. Erdoğan will arguably now have powers comparable to a feudal king.

Adrian Beaumont, Honorary Associate, School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Melbourne

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Liberals’ Georgina Downer trailing in early Mayo poll


Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

The Centre Alliance’s Rebekha Sharkie, who quit parliament in the citizenship crisis, has an early lead in her fight to win back her South Australian seat of Mayo, according to a ReachTEL poll.

Sharkie is ahead of her opponent, the high-profile Liberal Georgina Downer, 58% to 42% on a two-party basis.

The poll was commissioned by the Australia Institute, a progressive think tank.

The Liberals have been hopeful of capturing Mayo, thus increasing their parliamentary majority. They held the seat until Sharkie, as part of the Nick Xenophon Team (since renamed the Centre Alliance) won it in 2016 from Jamie Briggs, who earlier had to resign from the ministry over a personal indiscretion.

Georgina Downer is the daughter of Alexander Downer, a former occupant of the seat who was foreign minister in the Howard government.

The vote is on July 28, when five byelections will be held in a Super Saturday across the country. The Liberals believe the long campaign will favour them in Mayo because Sharkie has much less in terms of resources. She is, however, well known in the electorate.

The poll has her on a 40.1% primary vote, with Downer on 34.4%. Labor is polling 7.7%; the Greens 10.7%. The vote for “other/independent” is 3.5%, with 3.6% undecided. The sample was 1031 with polling on the night of June 5.

The poll also asked whether company tax for large companies like banks, mining companies and supermarkets should be increased, kept the same or decreased. The results were: increased, 25.4%; kept the same, 44.9%; decreased, 24.8%.

People were overwhelmingly opposed to the banks receiving a company tax cut (69.1% against).

Asked how they would prefer to spend the $80 billion proposed to be spent on company tax cuts, 51.4% chose “infrastructure and government services like health and education”, 6.5% said personal income tax cuts, 29.1% said decreasing the deficit and repaying debt, and 8.7% said proceeding with the company tax cuts.

The ConversationAsked how the Senate should vote on the third stage of the budget’s income tax policy, which “removes the 37-cent income tax bracket altogether, meaning someone earning $41.000 would pay the same marginal tax rate as someone earning $200,000”, about two thirds (65.3%) said the Senate should oppose it, while 25.2% said it should vote in support.

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.