Outcome if election was held now based on this poll: Liberal Majority (14-5-5-1 based on sum of individual breakdowns, though Labor would more likely get one more seat somewhere)
New aggregate of all state polls: Liberal 14 Labor 6 Green 4 PUP 1
My current forecast: Liberal 14 Labor 6 Green 4 PUP 1
In the three weeks since the last public opinion polling most of the formal 2014 state election campaign has gone by. People often expect events that happen during campaigns (such as campaign incidents or policy announcements) to affect the outcome, but the great majority don't have much impact. With the release of the most recent ReachTEL, taken just nine days from polling day and with prepoll voting already open, it doesn't look like this campaign period has offered any respite for a Labor government on the verge of being put out of its misery. Indeed, this poll is if anything a shade worse for the government than its predecessor (see ReachTEL: The PUP Surge Has Landed), which was also at the low end of Labor's recent form. Not so much because of the loss of a point of support (an insignificant difference), but because the distribution of votes between seats is even nastier.
Here is the polled distribution:
If these figures were repeated at the election then Bass and Lyons would be straight 3-1-1s. Franklin would also be 3-1-1, although the Liberals' lead over Labor (21.6 points) is not that far above what they need in that electorate (probably over 18 points to counter the impacts of greater leakage.)
In Braddon, on this sample, the Liberals easily get three, Labor gets one, and the last is between the Greens, PUP and Labor. It might seem odd to say that Labor with 1.38 quotas is in the mix for two against the Greens with 0.63 quotas and PUP with 0.58 but Hare-Clark is about candidates not just parties. If after the exclusion of minor Labor candidates, Brenton Best and Bryan Green were on very similar totals, they could both stay ahead of the lead Green and PUP candidates. I add the usual note that the Greens are likely to slightly underperform this polling. Also it may turn out that PUP have leakage problems as their lesser candidates are excluded. On the poll sample numbers I prefer Morgan's (PUP) chances but there isn't much in it.
Denison is the most interesting one again, because while the high PUP vote in the previous poll has not been repeated in this one, the Greens are ahead of Labor. Even accounting for the likely overestimation of the Green vote, and even assuming that that is more of a factor where the Green vote is high, a poll sample with the Greens 2.7 points up on Labor in Denison is interesting given that the previous sample also showed the Greens to be competitive. On this breakdown Bill Harvey (who has known form as a good preference-sponger by Green standards) would be slightly more likely than not to win, but the prospect of two Greens in Denison has reared its head in electorate samples at past election without actually happening.
This poll if completely accurate - or even accounting for likely minor house effects in the Green and PUP votes - could thus produce an outcome like 14-5-5-1, although Labor is close to the support level for a second seat in three electorates and with minor variations would get at least one of those somewhere. The first ReachTEL was the first poll in which the scenario of the Labor vote completely melting while the Greens escaped with moderate votes and no seat damage at all reared its head. This now is another, only even more in that direction than the first. I can't stress enough the Greens' history of underperforming their polling but it seems Labor's decision to throw them out of cabinet has only given them oxygen, especially in Denison.
The distribution of support between seats in this poll is disastrous for Labor (not that 23.6% will give you much joy anywhere anyway) but ideal for the Liberals. Running well behind their state average in Denison and spreading the rest quite evenly is exactly what they want.
Labor's hope here of escaping the most serious damage is that despite the significant methods change I mentioned in the previous article (removal of the undecided option for voting intention) there is still something systematically wrong with ReachTEL polling in Tasmania. But given the points I made in the previous article about changes relative to EMRS, I would not be too optimistic on that score just yet. The final EMRS and Newspoll will shed light on whether Labor has any hope of staying in office at all; the present poll provides none.
The Preferred Premier results are also worth a look:
I am hoping we will see some individual candidate polling soon because, vague as it is, it might at least provide evidence on whether the Premier is at risk in her own seat. The Giddings-as-candidate campaign has been nowhere near as vigorous or as visible as that for David O' Byrne, and the argument for keeping O'Byrne is that he is the likely future leader. No Tasmanian Premier has lost their own seat since the advent of Hare-Clark, and the Premiership is a huge profile asset in an election, but it would be interesting to get data to confirm that Giddings is safe.
Some might think Giddings' reported win of the People's Forum debate might boost her and her party's chances. However, Hodgman made no reported blunders, few people watched the full debate live, and it is not news that Giddings is a strong performer in debate formats.
There are five other poll questions:
* best party to reduce unemployment
* support for tourism development in national parks
* support for extending high schools to year 11 and 12
* best solution to budget
* best solution to hospital waiting lists
Here's the first; I'll save the rest in case they're not reported on today:
On to the new aggregate:
I've weighted the new poll at 40% but this will be reduced when the EMRS data are also available as the aggregate is currently extremely ReachTEL-heavy. The two strong polls for the Greens in Denison now have them well and truly in the mix for two but it's possible I should be deducting more than the usual point there, and it still falls in the "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence" box for now. The aggregate is now showing the Liberals with enough of a lead to probably get three in Franklin while the last Braddon seat remains a mess. In my view it is still at 14-6-4-1 as the most likely outcome. I have also switched my own forecast to this but Franklin remains very close.
Update: Double Trouble: Quite oddly The Examiner has also reported a new ReachTEL with a smaller sample size. Figures are nearly identical: Lib 47.1 ALP 23.6 Green 18.2. The ALP primary in Franklin is reported slightly higher on 26.9, the Braddon PUP primary at 9.7, Hodgman's preferred premier score at 54.4. The figures are so close to identical as to make me wonder whether the data sets for the two polls are completely distinct or not. I will have more comments on the Examiner poll later today - have another commitment on and off this weekend.
The Examiner's question list clearly contains some items different to the Mercury's:
"The polling, conducted on Thursday night, also showed more than half of Tasmanians rated the current government as poor or very poor.However, almost a quarter were satisfied with its performance and 21 per cent thought it had done a very good or good job. More than 63 per cent of respondents wanted a majority government while almost one in five was undecided on the issue. Liberal leader Will Hodgman was the preferred premier of more than 54 per cent."
If you believe Crikey's peculiar fascination with making lists of things, Will Hodgman's chief of staff Bradley Stansfield is Tasmania's most powerful non-state-politician! Whatever, the case, this tweet on the change in Bass samples between the mid-Feb poll and now (don't be fooled by the trendline, it's just two data points) is well worth a look. There is no evidence Labor's games on the imaginary pulp mill have brought it any joy at all and they may have just shovelled votes to Kim Booth.
In other news, Nick McKim has declared the Liberals will win as the Greens ramp up the push for enough seats for opposition status. The Greens have been increasingly brazen and confident in their campaigning lately, even trying to push for small-l liberal votes in Denison. (Their argument is generally sneaky and extremely contestable but that might be a story for another article!)
If the current poll is to be believed, the vultures are descending on Labor from all directions, nothing the party is attempting to gain votes is working and the question now is whether this can still get even worse.
Update 9 March: I've now examined the full figures from the Examiner's voting preference and better premier results (as published in the Saturday print edition) and they're consistent with my previous view that the Examiner and Mercury samples probably aren't independent. Not one of the 40 individual electorate breakdowns differs from another by more than a point with 31 of 40 differing by 0.4 points or less. I've not modelled the odds against this occurring by chance with independent samples but I'm confident they're long.
The Examiner not surprisingly finds voters wanting majority government (without asking whose). The net margin is 63.3-17.9 and it's only close-ish in Denison (45.7-34.5). Opposition to majority government is about equal to the Green vote in Braddon and Lyons, about 4.5 points below it in Bass and Franklin and about seven points ahead of it in Denison.
The Examiner asks voters to rate the success of the ALP-Green government over the past four years with only 21.4% finding it good or very good and 55.6% finding it poor or very poor. It's my habit with ReachTEL findings that include a "satisfactory" option to treat half of such responses as mildly positive and the other half as neutral but even this leaves the government with a net rating of -22.6. In Denison this method raises the governments net rating to the lofty summit of exactly zero (ie neutral) but the government is viewed very dimly everywhere else: Franklin -19, Lyons -22.6, Bass -27 and Braddon -45 (or a whopping -55.6 without the correction)
The Examiner also publishes pulp mill results which I have updated on Polling and the Proposed Pulp Mill.
The Mercury has published results showing strong support for unspecified "tourism development in our national parks" (62.2-17.5 with little variation across electorates.)