Sunday, May 28, 2017

Queensland: One Nation Have Peaked, So Now What?

I last looked at Queensland state polling back in February, when a rampant One Nation were polling 23% in state voting intention and threatening to win something like 15 seats at the next state election.  A lot has happened in the few months since.  In the Western Australian state election, both the party itself and the Liberals' preference deal with it got found out in the heat of the campaign. What benefit on preferences accrued from the deal was drowned out by its distraction factor and damage to primary vote support for all involved.

As One Nation 2.0 comes under further scrutiny, it is under attack on two major fronts.  Firstly there's the suggestion that the party is simply corrupt, as seen in the current scandals surrounding the undeclared provision of a plane by a property developer and the recording of a meeting in which James Ashby seems to have seriously suggested a blatant electoral expenses rort.  Secondly, the party sends mixed messages about whether it is a purist party of revolt against existing politics, or an active inside player that wants to supplant the Nationals on the Coalition side.  This is making it harder for it to take votes away from Labor.

Compared to the February polls which showed One Nation at 23% (Galaxy) and 22.3% (ReachTEL) there is good evidence that the One Nation primary has declined (as it has done to some degree in polling nationwide), but it's not as if the floor has fallen out of it just yet.  The following table shows the April 30 Galaxy, plus two more recent commissioned ReachTELs.

The full source document for the Together Union ReachTEL has not been seen, meaning some of my numbers (in italics) are estimates, while the source for the Australia Institute ReachTEL is available.  As usual I have calculated out the ReachTEL primary votes to distribute the so-called "undecided" and make results comparable to how pollsters should report primaries, and I've also derived a 2PP to one decimal from the data for the TAI poll. Changes from the last election are shown.  Both 2PPs for the ReachTELs are by respondent preferences, a method I generally don't rate, but there is not any easy way to calculate "last-election preferences" as they're normally understood.


I am usually very reluctant to use data from commissioned polls, but in both these cases the primary purpose of the poll seems to have been the issue questions, so I think these results are worth noting (but I treat them with more caution than the Galaxy).

The differences between these polls are insignificant.  All are saying that One Nation has lost five or six points from its February peak, that about half the One Nation gain is coming off the LNP with most of the rest off Other (mainly because Palmer United are gone), and all have a two-party preferred vote that is little different to the 51.1% that Labor recorded in winning in 2015.

The Galaxy poll was closer to a major event which could have generated some bounce for the government (the government's very well received response to Cyclone Debbie  - a similar situation caused a large poll bounce for the Bligh government, but didn't stop it being thrashed eventually).  On this basis the conclusion suggested by the trend tracker (that the return of One Nation has greatly harmed the LNP primary while doing nothing to Labor's) may be a little premature.  However polling just hasn't been as volatile lately as in the Bligh years, and I suspect any bounce would have been much smaller for coming from a much higher base.  As for ReachTEL, the Coalition has had a good run from them in primary votes in many states recently, so this is another reason to treat those results with some caution.

Will there be another preference shift?

Normally in Australian elections if Labor beats the conservative major parties by even a small amount on primary votes (as in the recent polling) then they win the two-party preferred vote very easily.  The idea that they might not do so here rests on an assumption that preferences will flow very much more weakly to Labor this time than in 2015.  The ReachTELs give Labor a stingy proportion of third-party respondent preferences (47% and about 49%) and Galaxy's 53% share (determined by methods unknown to me) is not much higher.    The ReachTEL figures work if one assumes that the Greens are breaking about 75-25 to Labor and that One Nation and others are breaking at about 60-40.

In any case, that would amount to an enormous shift from the 2015 election, where Labor got something like 83% of all Greens preferences that actually flowed (75% if exhausting votes are split evenly) and 67% (60% if splitting exhausting votes) of all Others preferences.  Obviously, not everyone can be campaigning against Campbell Newman and Tony Abbott both at once.  But the suggestion is that with the switch of Others votes to overwhelmingly One Nation (rather than mostly a mix of Palmer and Katter), Labor could perform worse on third-party preferences than it did even in its abysmal 2012 Queensland wipeout.

I can credit, just, that this could happen, but I think the share of respondent preferences for Labor we're seeing in the current polls is about as bad as it could reasonably get, and there's a fair chance it will end up being better.  Perhaps Queensland is different, but the Liberal National Party will presumably be gun-shy about a fully fledged preference deal with One Nation based on the WA experience.  There is a widespread view that Labor's decision to reintroduce compulsory preferencing will come back to bite them, but that assumes that the LNP can actually deal with One Nation to secure a 60+% preference flow without destroying their own campaign in the process.  It also assumes that the One Nation primary will stay somewhere near where it is now.

What would the current polling mean for One Nation?

Modelling how the One Nation vote could play out in different parts of the state is very difficult because of the length of time since the party was this competitive, and the extensive redistributions, as well as the change in the preferencing system.  Booth-by-booth modelling off the 2016 Senate vote might be the way to go here, but I suspect it's above my computer skills grade.

 After winning 11 state seats off 22.7% of the vote in 1998, the party won three seats with 8.7% in 2001. Two of these were seats (Lockyer and Tablelands) that it had won in 1998 with different candidates.  The third 2001 win (Gympie) was because the election overall was so lopsided that the Nationals fell into third place in Gympie, allowing One Nation to beat Labor. It might seem from that history that a 17% vote would be good for, say, 7-8 seats, but it's actually not that simple.

In 1998, One Nation won two types of seats: safe National seats (4) and marginals (7).  Most of its wins were pretty narrow.  One Nation didn't win safe Labor seats because these were typically in major cities, where One Nation has little appeal.  Of the marginals it won, six of the seven were Labor's, but this wasn't because Labor was unusually prone for any reason to losing to One Nation. It was simply because there were so many more Labor marginals than Liberal and National ones.  (Labor did extremely well in the marginals in 1995 and held sixteen of them by under 3% going into 1998).

Applying swings from the 1998 result to the current polling and ignoring the preferencing changes and redistributions since, I find that had the primaries in 2001 been similar to current polling, One Nation would actually have done rather poorly in seat terms.  In most of the marginals, taking five points off One Nation and improving the Coalition vote slightly would have put One Nation in third place, eliminating them from the seat.  By this model, off 17% in 2001 but had there been a closer statewide context, One Nation would have only won three or four seats.  A lot has changed since, but having lots of close contests between the majors should not help One Nation convert vote share to seat share, unless their vote share is well into the 20s.  So on current numbers we're probably looking at a few One Nation seats rather than a swag of them, reducing the change of a hung parliament.

One obvious One Nation target is Lockyer, a seat the party has frequently won or nearly won in the past, and where the sitting member is retiring.

In spruiking the Together poll, Together secretary Alex Scott said that the result would "clearly" see a "significant number of rural seats probably fall" to One Nation.  I expect Together have finer detail local polling but the public polling doesn't clearly support such comments, which might be seen as intended to spook the LNP.

What sort of 2PP do the major parties need for a majority?

 Using Antony Green's estimated margins and taking into account new personal votes for sitting members, I get that both Labor and the LNP need about 50.6% to win the two-party-preferred vote in 47 of the 91 seats excluding KAP-held Traeger and independent-held Nicklin.  Nicklin might revert to the LNP, but it's also possible that if Peter Wellington endorses a successor, that successor might retain it.  On current numbers I'm throwing about four seats to One Nation (but that may change should their polling decline further) and on that basis I get about 51.2% as the target for both Labor and the LNP for a 50-50 chance of an outright majority - a swing of 0.1% for Labor or 2.3% for the LNP.   If I give the LNP a 50% chance of winning Nicklin, then I get their target score at 50.9%, a 2% swing.  These are all all-else-being-equal conclusions that can easily be undone by locally uneven swings.

The concern for Labor would be that, unlike in the current parliament, most hung parliament results possible in the new one will result in an LNP government.  A very close election on a two-party basis might still result in an outright Labor win, because of their personal vote advantages from the last election, but on balance the zone between 49% and 51% doesn't look a very safe place for Labor to be.

For the time being I have treated the three seats where incumbents have quit their parties as returning to their party fold.  I'm not convinced any of them will be re-elected.

Adani

The Adani Carmichael coal mine issue is one of the biggest environmental issues to impact on an Australian election campaign for some time.  Predictable responses, usually drawn from questions that tell only half the story or blatantly lead the respondent, have been seen in many commissioned polls (such as the TAI one, or another reported just before).  Nonetheless the mine is a hard sell, especially for a Labor government relying on Green preferences, on the basis of both its impact on global climate change and its potential to pollute the Great Barrier Reef.  Perceived local impacts and the whole question of governments subsidising overseas developments in search of local jobs have also come into play.  This has finally spooked the Palaszczuk Government, with the announcements in the last 48 hours that the company must pay full royalties and the government won't facilitate loans. 

It will be interesting to see if this improves the government's share of preferences in future respondent-allocated polls.  It will also be interesting to see how well the LNP can walk the line between attacking the government for putting jobs at risk, and being seen as itself unconcerned about the environment.

Leaderships

The only new leader rating polling I've seen lately came from Galaxy, which had Annastacia Palaszczuk on a personal net rating of +12 (47-35) and Tim Nicholls on a pretty lousy -18 (27-45). Palaszczuk had a large lead as preferred Premier (48-28), but bear in mind that preferred Premier polling is generally skewed to incumbents (federally, by about 16 points, and not much less at state level).

Electoral history

As Queensland governments go, the Palaszczuk government has been inoffensive, providing a political and polling "Mogadon state" (Graeme Orr on Twitter) after the chaotic adventures of the Bligh and Newman years. It also has the good fortune to be going to an election with the opposite side in power federally.  Despite me repeatedly stressing what a massive factor this is in state elections, awareness as yet to filter through to the mainstream commentariat.  Only six of the last 33 Australian state governments that went to elections with the opposite party in power federally have lost.  Only one of those was in decent political health at the time - the remaining governments had collapsed in chaos, lost their majorities at the previous election, or made enormous blunders.

Also, state governments more often lose with age.  The Palaszczuk government is a first-term government, and in the last 50 years first-term state governments have won 72% of the time.

Considering state governments with both advantages (first-term and opposing party in power federally) their electoral track record is awesome.  The last one to actually lose was the Walsh/Dunstan Labor government in South Australia in 1968, and it was diddled by the Playmander (Labor got 53.2% of the two-party vote).  All eleven state governments to seek a second term with the opposite party in power federally since then have been returned.  Eight of those wins were landslides with at least 55% of the two-party vote (or estimated 2PP vote for Tasmania).  Two of the remaining three scored over 52% 2PP, and the only one remaining (Ray Groom's Liberals losing their majority in Tasmania 1996) doesn't really count as it was fought during a federal election campaign where the incumbent Labor government was clearly on the way out.  Leaders like Peter Beattie, Bob Carr and Steve Bracks became acclaimed as political geniuses for their landslide re-elections when all they were doing was what leaders in their position always do.

By historic standards then, Palaszczuk's government should smash it out of the park, or even if it doesn't win easily, it should still win.

What is the argument for an upset?  Firstly, the LNP lost the last election with an assist from a very unpopular Abbott federal government (this was just after Abbott's farcical decision to confer a knighthood on Prince Philip).  The last-election result may have included a protest-vote component from voters who didn't really expect Labor to win and were sending a message rather than being actual Labor supporters, so it's possible Labor's support base in this term in office has always been weak.

Secondly, the government started life as a minority government (which creates an increased chance of defeat).  This would not have been an issue had it kept its original 44 seats and relied only on the support of the highly respected independent Peter Wellington.  However, the losses of Billy Gordon and Rob Pyne to the crossbenches have frequently created uncertainty, and reflect on the government as it preselected them.

Thirdly there is the crossbench factor - the possibility that Labor could win the 2PP fairly easily and yet still face unlucky local losses to One Nation or others, as a result of which a conservative coalition forms.  If anything, this scenario is fading as the One Nation vote declines.

Fourthly, there are all the usual arguments that might be made about whether the government is actually any good.

In my view, the second of these is the government's biggest problem - had it not been rocked by these defections, I suspect it would be romping in the polls and there would be nothing to talk about concerning the next Queensland election.  Even with these problems, anyone who wants to argue that the LNP are favourites is up against some serious electoral history.

The election doesn't have to be held until May 2018, but is generally expected to be held sometime this year.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Poll Roundup: Are Budget Bounces Ever Real?

Aggregate: 52.7 to Labor (+0.2 in two weeks since last completely pre-Budget reading)
Labor would easily win election "held now"
Voter budget ratings are historically about average

Commentary around the 2017 federal budget has been even more focused than normal on one of the Australian beltway polling obsessions, the idea of a "budget bounce".  The Coalition's moves on the National Disability Insurance Scheme and the announcement of a bank levy, in particular, were seen as bold moves to seize the middle ground from Labor in an attempt to make the Government popular again.  Some even saw this as a threat to Bill Shorten's leadership of the Labor Opposition.

That at least a temporary bounce was widely anticipated (and also widely seen as the aim of the game) is one thing, but another has been the common blight of house-poll myopia in which commentators from particular stables obsess over the single-poll-to-single-poll changes in the poll their network commissions, while ignoring both the aggregated cross-poll trend and even the longer history of their own poll.  In the case of Newspoll, it didn't help the Government that their previous result (48-52) was a shade on the friendly side of the recent run of polling, thus setting a pretty high benchmark for any budget bounce to be assessed by News Ltd scribes from.

However the analysis from the Fairfax stable has been ridiculous, with several pieces trumpeting the turnaround from the previous Ipsos while ignoring all the other evidence.  The previous Ipsos is in fact ancient (at seven weeks old - eleven other polls have walked the planet since that dinosaur), but what's more, it was an outlier.  For instance, Laura Tingle (who I single out because I reckon she knows better, whereas some of her colleagues are hopeless cases) declared:

 "The Fairfax/Ipsos poll will certainly be grounds for immense relief within the government: a decisive turnaround in the trend and a much-needed lift in the Coalition's primary vote, though obviously there is further room to travel."

It's much more likely that 80% of said government are too fixated on Newspoll results to even notice that the Fairfax/Ipsos poll exists, and that the 20% who do notice it remember that the last poll was that really odd one that had the Greens on 16% for the second time since the election, five points higher than any other poll has had them in that time.  Had Ipsos produced another shocker, even the 20% would have written it off for good.  

The Budget polls: voting intention


So far we've had five post-Budget polls; I'll add updates for any late-breakers.  Ipsos and Newspoll both produced 53-47 to Labor by last-election preferences, compared to 55 seven weeks ago for Ipsos and 52 three weeks ago for Newspoll. I aggregated both of these at 53.1 to Labor after including the primaries.  Essential stayed at 54-46 and was aggregated at exactly that.

The confusing ones to get a handle on have been the two ReachTELs (separate samples with quite similar primary votes) released by Sky News and Seven on Friday night, and both taken on Thursday.  Not only is ReachTEL's recent formatting of its polling results as if it were designed to create as much confusion and as many pointless differences with other polls as possible, but media sources then make the problem worse by reporting only basic details like the two-party preferred result, making it almost impossible to reconstruct what is actually going on.

The reported 2PPs of these polls were 53 (Sky) and 54 (Seven) to Labor, but these were respondent preferences, which have a historic tendency to usually skew to the ALP compared to what actually happens at elections.  After I was unable to reconstruct the 53 from the published data by normal means, the company were kind enough to confirm, as I suspected, that they are asking National Party voters for their preferences, and distributing those preferences between Labor and Liberal.

Now whatever might be said about the merits of respondent preferences, if you are going to do them at all, then this is wrong.  The reason it is wrong is that a quarter or so of Nationals voters will probably say they would preference Labor ahead of the Liberals, based on how Nationals preferences tend to split when given the chance.  But the vast majority of people who actually vote for the Nationals live in electorates where the Nationals finish first or second and hence those preferences are never distributed.  At the last federal election, the Nationals received 624,555 votes, but only 72,350 of those votes were distributed between Labor and Liberal on a 2PP basis.  Only 15,967 National votes wound up credited to Labor on the final 2PP, meaning that 97.5% of Nationals votes actually counted towards the Coalition's 2PP.  Labor would not really get more than 0.1 2PP points out of Nationals voters come election time, but ReachTEL's method could be giving them close to a point out of the Nationals polls.

As a result, the ReachTEL federal preferences in these polls are skewed to Labor and should be thrown away, though its possible this skew might cancel out any anti-Labor skew in their primary vote polling from time to time.  I was finally able to estimate last-election 2PPs from the Sky poll at 51.5 to Labor and the Seven poll, based on incomplete data, at 52.4.  

With all of that out of the way (phew!) my new aggregate reading is 52.7 to Labor, a change of 0.2 in Labor's favour since the last Budget-poll-free end-of-week reading from two weeks ago.

One thing worth keeping an eye on - One Nation has slumped from 10% to 6% in Essential's primary vote readings.  The party also declined from 18% to 15% within Queensland in a Queensland federal Galaxy at the end of April.  At this stage other polls have not yet picked this up to such a degree.

A History Of The Budget Bounce Yeti

In a general and excellent piece about the futility of most attempts to deliberately "bounce" the polls, Peter Brent recently wrote that "Budget bounces are about as common as the Yeti, but Turnbull’s belief in his own abilities to move the immovable remains undiminished."

As there have been no reliable sightings of a wild budget bounce in the field for many years, some have even questioned if the thing exists at all.  David Crowe weighed in with a piece (data tables here) which showed that he believes the truth is out there, and has plaster casts of footprints in the snow to prove it.  At least he is referring to the evidence, which is more than can be said for most playing this game.

Unfortunately if we look closely at these sorts of methods, it all shows just how shadowy Yeti-hunting can be!  Measuring from one Newspoll to the next to try to find a bounce is fraught with peril.  Firstly, random variation alone should have caused an average shift from one Newspoll to the next of about 1.6 points, even if the Budget caused no change in voting intention and nothing else did either.  Taking rounding into account as well, now and then there would have been three or four point shifts from "pre-Budget" to "post-Budget" even if the Budget had shifted no voting intentions and nothing else was happening either.

Secondly, at the same time as any Budget there are often other things going on that influence voting intention, and sometimes those things can overshadow it.  Thirdly, measuring a bounce by just considering the polls right before and the polls right after the Budget is risky anyway, because there is usually advance information or speculation about the Budget floating about in the few weeks before it.  The poll before may thus itself be influenced by the Budget contents, or it could reflect inaccurate fears or hopes about what the Budget might look like.

Here's a look at some of Crowe's examples to see how easy it is to see a Yeti when it isn't there.

1996: The Coalition's primary rose from 47 (last pre-Budget poll) to 50 and then stayed around that mark, so supposedly a budget bounce.

The context: The 1996 budget was considered tough but good for the economy by voters and hence the Howard government was not punished for it, but they didn't get a big bounce for it either.  The 47 was an atypically low reading, which was probably sample noise or else may have reflected mild apprehension about the new government's Budget.  Here's the run of Coalition primary vote readings either side: 51-49-47-(budget)-50-49-50.  

2000: The Coalition's primary rose by five points and was still up four three months later.

The context:  Here's the run of Coalition primary vote readings either side: 42-44-40-(budget)-45-40-39.  Any immediate bounce was a sugar hit that completely vanished the Newspoll after - but more likely what we see here is mostly volatility.  Whether the Coalition's good run of primary vote results two and three months later had anything to do with the Budget is pure speculation. 

2009: Labor's primary rose by four points.

The context: Again just poll-to-poll volatility, mostly.  Here's the run of Labor primary vote readings either side: 47-47-42-(budget)-46-43-41.  (The 41 was influenced by "Utegate".)

If anything, these examples support the idea of a pre-Budget dip rather than a Budget bounce!  

In Search Of Budget Bounce ...

I thought I'd have a look for this monster too, but I found that the more you look for it, the harder it gets.

Firstly to get serious about this, it's necessary to use multiple polls, and not just a poll-to-poll reading.  So using Newspoll, I tried comparing the rolling average at the end of the month before the Budget, with a straight average for the four polls immediately afterwards.  (I used the end of the month before the Budget to avoid the issue of the immediate pre-Budget poll being sometimes contaminated by pre-Budget speculation, depending on the time gap.)

Even so, often over such a time scale there are things that have nothing to do with the Budget.  So I thought that if some Budgets produce polling bounces, it would make sense that they would correlate with the ratings given to voters by the Budget.

However, that corellation is weak.  Here, for example, is a graph showing the estimated actual change in polling for the last 30 budgets, as it relates to a voter "budget rating" derived from the Newspoll budget polls:


It's a noisy relationship (to be expected) but the relationship between the two explains 27% of variation, which isn't bad ...

...except that nearly all the explanative power comes from the 1993 shocker in the bottom left hand corner, and once that one's removed, the r-squared drops to 0.06.

I deal with a lot of messy data and I'm willing to get excited about 6% of variation explained if I have 2900 or even 290 data points.  But not if I have just 29 - one stray data point and it's dead.  And those poll-to-poll changes cited by David Crowe?  They have no relationship to what voters thought of the budget at all!

A few points we can draw from this exercise:

* Budgets never create large immediate bounces that have any staying power.  I couldn't find any polling change much above two points, and the chance that those bounces were really that big (as opposed to a bit of bounce and a lot of noise or other factors) must be low.

* Budgets don't tend to help government polling in the short term on the whole. The average result was a loss of 0.4 2PP points in the wake of the exercise.  That's not to say Budgets themselves cause such a small average loss, but they at least don't tend to cause gain.

* Unless you are the Howard Government, perhaps.  The Howard Government on average gained 0.4 points in the wake of budgets, while other governments on average lost 0.9.  Most likely this just reflects that the economy was that government's perceived strong point and was going well during its reign, and that time spent talking about the economy was time not spent talking about everything else that from time to time would get the crew in trouble. 

The largest alleged bounces in my sample (Prime Minister/Treasurer noted) are:

2001 Howard/Costello, 2.4 points
2012 Gillard/Swan, 2.3 points
2004 Howard/Costello, 1.9 points
1991 Hawke/Keating, 1.5 points 
1988 (May) Hawke/Keating, 1.2 points
1995 Keating/Willis, 0.9 points
1998 Howard/Costello, 0.8 points
1988 (August) Hawke/Keating, 0.7 points
1996 Howard/Costello, 0.6 points
1999 Howard/Costello, 0.7 points

But 2012, 1991 and 1995 are fakes.  These budgets rated badly with voters and there was other stuff going on in these cases - leadership spills in the first two and an Opposition coming off a bounce for a leadership change in the third.

If there's anything to see here it's that the Howard/Costello team were pretty good with the pre-election sweeteners, since 2001, 2004 and 1998 (all years they were re-elected in) all appear in the hall of fame and all could have been real.  But there were other things going on in 2001 that suggest that even in that year, the Budget wasn't the full story.  

The Yeti probably has existed, but most sightings of it are bogus, and proving it has been seen in any given year is near-impossible.  

This Year's Budget

Here's where this year's budget shapes up in terms of voter perceptions of its economic and personal impacts, compared to other recent and notable budgets (labelled):


The 2017 budget has eaten the dot for the 1989 budget, which had exactly the same combination of net personal and economic scores.  See also the full Newspoll tables here.

The shift to new Newspoll methods last year appears to have produced an increase in the uncommitted score both for the economic impact question and for the question about whether the Opposition would have done any better.  So while belief that the Opposition would do better is at an eight-year low and belief the Budget is bad for the economy is at a nine-year low, this seems to be because more people are choosing the don't know option as a result of the change away from live-interview methods.  

The views of third-party voters about this Budget seem to be similar to those of Labor voters.  I estimate the third-party voters as breaking 21-35 on economic impact (22-39 for Labor voters), and 13-50 on personal financial impact (11-59 for Labor).  Of course they are more sceptical than Labor voters (I estimate 25-43, vs 64-16) about Labor doing better.

There are a great many polls around with specific questions on budget measures - these can be found on the websites of individual pollsters as usual, save for the Newspoll ones mentioned above.  At this stage, because of the amount of work I have on, I don't have time to summarise and unpack them all, but there are few surprises.  Voters mostly approve on specifics of this Budget when asked, but are cool on the whole package, and it isn't changing their vote anytime soon.  

Leaderships

Lastly a quick run around the latest leadership figures.  Newspoll had Malcolm Turnbull up five points to a net rating of -20 (33-53) and Bill Shorten down two to -22 (32-54).  That's twelve in a row at -20 or worse for Turnbull (again, Abbott never had more than seven such) but would give some hope that he might get out of that range soon.  Turnbull leads 44-31 as "better Prime Minister", again a large lead given the 2PP deficit.

Ipsos' leadership ratings tend to be benign generally, and for whatever reason they are particularly kind to Malcolm Turnbull.  They now have him at a net +1 (45-44) and Bill Shorten at -5 (42-47).  Shorten is up 13 points since the March Ipsos, but only six on Newspoll in that time.  Here, Turnbull leads 47-35 as preferred leader.

ReachTEL - which doesn't have a natural skew to incumbents in its preferred leader polling - has Turnbull preferred to Shorten 52:48, the closest the two have so far been.  ReachTEL has Turnbull on a net -23.8 personal rating - easily his worst to date, but that's no surprise given this is their first reading since the election.  Shorten is at -21 and was lower than that for most of the nine months through to March 2016.  

ReachTEL also has Turnbull still the preferred leader of the Liberal Party with 38.1% support, to Julie Bishop 28.5%, with Tony Abbott now up to 17.3% and Peter Dutton recording his first double-figure score from anyone so far, at 10.5.  Bill Shorten, however, is in third place on the ALP list with 26.0%, behind Tanya Plibersek (30.7%) and Anthony Albanese (26.2%).  At least he has a modest lead among his own party's voters.  While some would wish polling was close enough to pressure Shorten's leadership, this doesn't look like becoming the case anytime soon.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Legislative Council 2017: Launceston, Murchison and Rumney live

Launceston: Armitage (IND) has retained, narrowly defeating Ellis (IND)
Murchison: CALLED (6:53 pm) Ruth Forrest (Ind) re-elected.
Rumney: Lovell (ALP) defeats Mulder (Ind) after preferences

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Introduction:

Welcome to my thread for tonight's Legislative Council action, where three independents of various political persuasions will attempt to hold their positions against some high profile and/or party-endorsed challengers.  The Legislative Council is finely balanced (here's the maths) and if things go badly for the Hodgman Government tonight then it could be facing trouble upstairs lasting years.  You can see my previews here:  Rumney, Murchison, Launceston.

Comments will follow below the dotted line, scrolling from the earliest upwards. All the seats will be covered together.  I'm leaving some text here at the top in a probably vain attempt to prevent a repeat of last year's purple text fiasco.

Friday, May 5, 2017

EMRS: Both Majors Rebuild Following Labor Leader Change

EMRS: Lib 39 ALP 34 Green 15 Ind 7 PHON 3 Others 2
Interpretation: Lib 41 ALP 37 Green 12 PHON 3 all others 7
Liberals would probably just retain majority based on this poll

A very brief preliminary report on the EMRS state poll just released (http://www.emrs.com.au/pdfs/EMRS%20State%20Voting%20Intentions%20Report%20-%20May%202017.pdf)  See also the trend tracker at http://emrs.com.au/.

The poll shows a noticeable recovery by both major parties (the Liberals up four points and Labor up five) at the expense of the Greens, One Nation and the supposed "independent" vote (all down three), following both Labor's shift to Rebecca White and a tanking in the national One Nation vote. In other states, points that have come off One Nation have generally gone straight back to Labor, so the Liberals will be relieved if that turns out not to be the case down here.

The Greens' result may look OK, since it is higher than their 2014 election outcome, but EMRS has a long history of overestimating their vote by a few points, so they would probably go backwards in an election held "right now".  This isn't any surprise really - they were always going to struggle when Labor shifted to a young, female and relatively left-wing leader.  While the salmon farming issue may yet play out in the party's favour, they sorely lack both experienced MPs and the shiny new thing factor and may even have a fight on their hands in Franklin come election day.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Poll Roundup: Recovery, Or Just Turbulence?

2PP Aggregate: 52.4 to ALP (-1.1 since last week)
Closest reading of 2017 so far
Labor would win election "held now" with a moderate seat margin

Five weeks since the previous edition, it's time for another roundup of the state of federal polling.  After some really bad readings from Newspoll in February and Essential in March, things seem to have settled down a little for the Turnbull government.  This week the government gained a 2PP point on both Newspoll (47 to 48) and Essential (46 to 47).  I aggregated the Newspoll at 47.8% and the Essential at 47.1%.  With a bit of help from the March Ipsos and (temporarily) last week's Essential falling out of the sample, these polls have improved the government's position on my aggregate by 1.1 points in a week, to 47.6% 2PP.

I normally show just the smoothed tracking graph of rolling averages, but here's the "spiky" graph of one-week end-of-week figures, because it has a story to tell.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Wonk Central: Why We Don't Use The Hare Quota In Hare-Clark (Or The Senate)




For this exciting episode of Wonk Central I turn to the question of the Hare Quota, and why it is deservedly extinct in Single Transferable Vote multi-member electoral systems like the ACT and Tasmanian parliaments, and also the federal Senate and various state upper houses.  A warning that as usual for Wonk Central articles, this piece is especially mathsy.  A more important warning: I strongly advise readers with the slightest interest in the merits of different quotas for STV to stay well away from Wikipedia coverage of the matter.  It is so bad that I can't work out where to start in attempting to improve it.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Legislative Council 2017: Launceston

This is my third of three preview articles for the three Legislative Council seats up for grabs next month.  Rumney has already been posted here and Murchison is here. There will be a live coverage thread for all seats on the night of Saturday 6 May.  There may also be other threads on Launceston if a campaign issue warrants them.  For more about the current political makeup of the Legislative Council see my assessment of voting patterns.

This piece will be edited through the campaign from time to time for updates or changed assessments.

Seat Profile

To the surprise, I would suspect, of nobody, Launceston is based in the city of Launceston. It takes in certain central, southern and inner suburbs of the city and the satellite town of Hadspen.  It includes outer-suburban booths that are notoriously swingy at federal elections, as a result of which the federal Bass electorate habitually dumps sitting members.