Patterson: Labor 44.5, Liberal 35.5, Greens 14.5 in ACT
The one and only public opinion poll of the Australian Capital Territory election campaign finds Labor headed for a comfortable-to-landslide victory, with three of the Greens' four seats hanging in the balance.
The Canberra Times today provides the first hard intelligence for the ACT election, with a poll that finds Labor in a commanding position and potentially headed for a parliamentary majority. Conducted from October 11 to 14 by Patterson Research Group from a sample of 1203, the results in aggregate (rounded to the nearest half a per cent) are 44.5% for Labor, compared with 37.4% at the 2008 election; 35.5% for the Liberals, compared with 31.6%; and 14.5% for the Greens, compared with 15.5% (but probably higher than most would have anticipated). The rise in the major party vote is reflected by a 5.5% rating for others, reversing a strong result of 15.4% last time.
Such figures suggests the Liberals will find themselves becalmed on six seats, with the three electorates instead producing contests between Labor and the Greens to determine the final seats. The worst case scenario for Labor would be a status quo result of seven seats, with the best being a majority of nine seats or even an unprecedented ten. The Greens on the other hand would be in for a very exciting election night, at best maintaining their existing four seats but at worst collapsing to one. The results for each electorate together with swings off the 2008 results are shown below. The sample for each is around 400, with a margin of error approaching 5%.
Part of the disparity in Liberal swings can be explained by the others vote last time. In Brindabella, Val Jeffery polled 6.3% as a candidate of the Community Alliance in 2008 and is now running for the Liberals, presumably bringing a large share of his vote over. There may have been a similar effect in Ginninderra resulting from radio announcer Mark Parton polling 6.3% as an independent in 2008 and vacating the field this time. The result is probably also a little awry with respect to Molonglo, but it still provides a strong basis for believing the Liberals will do no more than maintain their existing two seats per electorate. The table below illustrates the point by converting the result into quotas. In each case the Liberals are well short of a third quota despite their gains on vote share. With no serious independent challenges on the radar, contests would emerge to see which out of Labor and the Greens would emerge with the last candidate standing, to then override any remaining Liberal on the preferences of the other.
The Canberra Times also reported yesterday that the poll had found 54% favouring Katy Gallagher as Chief Minister against 26% for Zed Seselja.
Original post: October 16
With four days to go until polling day, I finally have a guide to the Australian Capital Territory’s three electorates in business. The campaign appears from my remove to have been very low-key, with no polling emerging to give the outside observer any entree on what’s likely to happen. John Warhurst of the Australian National University read the situation thus in the Canberra Times a fortnight ago:
Labor and the Greens should win a majority of seats in Molonglo (probably Labor three and Greens one) where demography and the spread of high-profile candidates favour Labor and the Greens over the Liberals. The Liberals’ best chance of winning three seats appears to be in Zed Seselja’s new electorate of Brindabella. If that happens then the election will be decided in Greens’ leader Meredith Hunter’s electorate of Ginninderra. This means that the two most probable results are either a new Liberal majority government (Liberal nine, Labor six and Greens two) or a continuing Labor minority government supported by the Greens (Labor seven, Greens two and Liberal eight). It is too close to call at the moment.
William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, is one of the most heavily trafficked forums for online discussion of Australian politics, and joined the Crikey stable in 2008.