This week’s Newspoll, conducted August 9-12 from a sample of 1,607, gave Labor a 51-49 lead, unchanged on last fortnight. Primary votes were 37% Coalition (down two), 35% Labor (down one), 10% Greens (steady) and 9% One Nation (up two).
This is Malcolm Turnbull and the Coalition’s 38th successive Newspoll loss, eight ahead of Tony Abbott’s 30 losses and five ahead of the previous record losing streak for a government. Labor’s primary vote in this poll is its lowest since April 2017, and the Coalition’s primary is its lowest since March.
36% (down six) were satisfied with Turnbull’s performance, and 55% (up seven) were dissatisfied, for a net approval of -19, down 13 points, Turnbull’s lowest net approval since April. Analyst Kevin Bonham says this is Turnbull’s second biggest poll-to-poll net approval drop. Opposition leader Bill Shorten’s net approval was up one point to -24, and Turnbull led Shorten by 44-32 as better PM, down from 48-29 last fortnight.
By 37-36, voters thought Turnbull and the Coalition would be better than Shorten and Labor at maintaining energy supply and keeping power prices lower, a narrowing from a 40-34 Coalition lead in June. 63% (steady since June) thought the government’s priority should be to keep energy prices down, 26% (up two) thought it should meet targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions, and 8% (down one) thought it should prevent blackouts.
A question on lifting restrictions on gas exploration is skewed because it asks, “Would you be in favour or opposed to the lifting of these restrictions if it would lead to lower energy prices?” The italicised part should not be part of a poll question.
In the past few months, Turnbull has benefited from a more united Coalition. The main issue has been the company tax cuts, which the right wing of the party strongly supports. With Shorten under pressure owing to Turnbull’s dominance of the better PM measure, last fortnight’s Essential, which I covered on my personal website, showed that the Coalition and Labor were perceived as equally divided; the Coalition had a 13-point lead in November 2017.
I believe Turnbull’s ratings have been damaged by Coalition disagreements in the wake of the Longman byelection. Some Coalition backbenchers would now like the tax cuts scrapped. Tony Abbott and other hard right Coalition MPs disagree with Turnbull on the National Energy Guarantee. Some of the drop for Turnbull may be caused by the awarding of $444 million to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.
Whatever the cause of Turnbull’s ratings slump, the Coalition cannot take much comfort from the still-close voting intentions. The PM’s net approval and voting intentions are strongly correlated. If Turnbull’s drop is sustained, the Coalition is likely to lose ground on voting intentions.
Victorian Galaxy: 51-49 to state Labor
The Victorian election will be held on November 24. A Galaxy poll for The Herald Sun, presumably conducted last week from a sample of 1,095, gave Labor a 51-49 lead, a one-point gain for Labor since a December Galaxy poll. Primary votes were 42% Coalition (up one), 38% Labor (up two), 10% Greens (steady) and 5% One Nation (down one).
By 46-29, respondents thought Matthew Guy and the Coalition would be tougher on crime than Daniel Andrews and Labor. Andrews and Labor led by 37-35 on keeping the cost of living in check. Andrews led by 40-33 as better Premier (41-25 in December).
This is the third successive Victorian poll to give Labor a 51-49 lead, after Newspoll in April and ReachTEL in July. It will be a relief for Labor that they have a lead after 17 people were arrested on August 2 in connection with the “rorts for votes” scandal.
In July, I wrote that time is running out to abolish the group voting ticket system in the upper house. With less than six weeks until September 20, the last scheduled Victorian parliamentary sitting day before the election, there is still no proposal for upper house reform.
WA Galaxy: 51-49 to federal Coalition, 54-46 to state Labor
A federal Western Australian Galaxy poll for The Sunday Times, conducted August 2-3 from a sample of 831, gave the Coalition a 51-49 lead, a three-point gain for the Coalition since July 2017, but still a 4% swing to Labor in WA since the 2016 election. Primary votes were 42% Coalition (up three), 36% Labor (down one), 10% Greens (down one) and 5% One Nation (steady).
By 50-36, voters opposed company tax cuts for all businesses, including those with turnovers over $50 million a year. Turnbull and Shorten were tied at 40% each on ensuring WA receives a fairer share of GST revenue.
State Labor had a 54-46 lead in the same poll, a 1.5% swing to the Liberals/Nationals since the March 2017 state election. Primary votes were 40% Labor, 32% Liberal, 6% National, 11% Greens and 5% One Nation.
Queensland Galaxy: 51-49 to state Labor
A Queensland Galaxy poll for The Courier Mail, conducted August 8-9 from a sample of 800, gave state Labor a 51-49 lead, a two-point gain for the LNP since May. Primary votes were 37% LNP (up two), 35% Labor (down three), 11% Greens (up one) and 10% One Nation (down two).
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk had a 41-38 approval rating (46-38 in May). Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington had a 31-26 approval (31-28). Palaszczuk led by 44-23 as better Premier (47-27 in May).
Super Saturday byelections: final results and analysis
This section gives final results and analysis of the three contested Super Saturday byelections held on July 28. Swings are compared against the 2016 election results.
In Braddon, Labor defeated the Liberals by a 52.3-47.7 margin, a 0.1% swing to Labor. Primary votes were 39.3% Liberal (down 2.3%), 37.0% Labor (down 3.1%), 10.6% for independent Craig Garland, 4.8% for the Shooters and 4.0% for the Greens (down 2.7%). Labor probably benefited from Liberal attacks on Garland, which increased his profile and made his voters more hostile to the Liberals.
In Mayo, the Centre Alliance’s Rebekha Sharkie defeated Liberal Georgina Downer by 57.6% to 42.4%, a 2.6% swing to Sharkie. Primary votes were 44.4% Sharkie (up 9.5%), 37.4% Liberal (down 0.3%), 8.9% Greens (up 0.9%) and 6.1% Labor (down 7.5%).
In Longman, Labor defeated the LNP by a 54.5-45.5 margin, a 3.7% swing to Labor. Primary votes were 39.8% Labor (up 4.5%), 29.6% LNP (down 9.4%), 15.9% One Nation (up 6.5%) and 4.8% Greens (up 0.4%).
We do not yet have the preference flows for each candidate, but we can make some deductions. In Longman, if 80% of Greens preferenced Labor (it was 80.7% in 2016), then the LNP received 58% of all Others preferences, up from 44% in 2016. In 2016, One Nation directed preferences to Labor, and Labor won 56.5% of their preferences; at the byelection, Labor probably won less than 40% of One Nation preferences.
As regards One Nation preferences, the Longman byelection validates Newspoll’s decision to assign One Nation preferences about 60-40 to the LNP, rather than the 50-50 split at the 2016 federal election.
There have been three vigorously contested byelections between the major parties since the last election: Bennelong, Braddon and Longman. At the December 2017 Bennelong byelection, there was a 4.8% swing to Labor, compared with a 3.7% swing in Longman and just 0.1% in Braddon.
However, at the 2016 general election, there was a 7.7% swing to Labor in Longman, a 4.8% swing in Braddon, but a 2.0% swing to the Liberals in Bennelong. Adding the byelection swings to the 2016 swings gives an 11.4% swing to Labor in Longman, a 4.9% swing in Braddon, but just 2.8% in Bennelong.