A lot has happened since Galaxy's last federal poll in mid-June enough on this evidence to have lifted Labor three points, while still leaving them well short of the two-party parity recorded by Newspoll. Tony Abbott also cops the troubling finding that even Coalition voters now prefer Malcolm Turnbull.
GhostWhoVotes reports a Galaxy poll shows the Coalition leading 53-47, a three-point gain to Labor since the last national poll conducted by Galaxy, which was conducted in the Labor dark age of mid-June. The primary vote figures give Labor 35%, the Coalition down two to 47% (still well up on the other phone pollsters) and the Greens on 11% (down one). A question on preferred Liberal leader gives Malcolm Turnbull an advantage over Tony Abbott of such order (60% to 29%) as cannot be easily dismissed, with Turnbull even leading 51-45 among Liberal voters. Julia Gillard also trails in competition with Kevin Rudd 49% to 34%, which is the narrowest result in a head-to-head poll between the two since March last year. Most encouragingly for her, the improvement has been driven by Labor voters, among whom she leads 57% to 39%. However, only 25% said they believed her account of the 2010 leadership coup against 63% who said they did not believe her.
The following chart shows the results of head-to-head polling between Gillard and Rudd since the beginning of last year, as conducted by Nielsen (eight polls), Galaxy (six) and Newspoll (three).
UPDATE (5/11/12): Essential Research will not be reporting until Wednesday, but we have today a Morgan face-to-face poll derived from the last two weekends of surveying which shows a sharp improvement for the Coalition on a depressed showing last time. The Coalition primary vote has moved over three surveys from 43% to 38.5% and back to 43% Morgan is selling the latest shift as a negative response to the mini-budget, but a far likelier explanation is that the previous result was simply an aberration. Labor is down two points to 35.5% and the Greens on 10%, down 2.5% from an unusually good result last time. On two-party preferred, the Coalition have a 52-48 lead on the previous election measure compared with a 52.5-47.5 deficit last time, while on respondent-allocated preferences a 50.5-49.5 deficit has turned into a lead of 53.5-46.5.
UPDATE (7/11/12): While attention was elsewhere, Essential Research published what by its standards was a solid move to Labor: they are up one point to 37%, with the Coalition down two to 46% the Greens steady on 9%. This amounts to a one-point drop in the Coalition’s lead on two-party preferred, which is now at 53-47. The poll also has 20% of respondents approving of Christine Milne’s performance against 33% disapproval; 17% holding the Greens as having done a good job against 47% poor; and 53% thinking them too extreme against 26% as representing the views of many voters (remembering that Essential has become quite a tough series for the Greens recently). Further questions find respondents are all in favour of Asia, but divided 41-41 on expanding uranium mining and broadly wary of nuclear energy.
Some reviews of recent electoral events. Firstly and more recently is the Sydney by-election of last Saturday, October 27. This gave a clear win to Alex Greenwich, the independent candidate endorsed by the involuntarily departing Clover Moore. Labor did not a field a candidate in order to give Greenwich a clear run, but it hardly seems likely he would have been troubled had it been otherwise. Turnout was poor, in keeping with the recent trend of state by-elections.
SYDNEY STATE BY-ELECTION, NEW SOUTH WALES
October 27, 2012
# % Swing 2PP %
Alex Greenwich (Independent) 17,687 47.3% 21,283 63.7%
Shayne Mallard (Liberal) 11,543 30.9% +5.3% 12,120 36.3%
Chris Harris (Greens) 6,616 17.7% +4.9%
Glenn Wall (Independent) 825 2.2%
Robyn Peebles (Christian Democratic) 724 1.9% +0.8%
Formal 37,395 97.2% -0.6%
Informal 1,062 2.8% +0.6%
Enrolment/Turnout 61,428 62.6% -21.3%
Secondly, the result of the ACT election of October 20 was resolved on Friday when the sole remaining Greens MP, Shayne Rattenbury, threw in his lot with Labor in a deal that will bring him into the ministry. The Liberals emerged from the count with the frail bragging right of a 41-vote win on the aggregate primary vote, but Labor achieved equality on seats, having gained a seat from the Greens in the five-member region of Ginninderra. The Liberals gained seats from the Greens in the five-member region of Brindabella and the seven-member region of Molonglo.
Another feature of the election to be noted was the poor performance of the only published opinion poll, conducted by Patterson Market Research and published in the Canberra Times during the last week of the campaign. Patterson has a creditable track record with its large-sample polling, despite lacking the match fitness of outfits like Newspoll and Nielsen. On this occasion however the poll was by orders of magnitude in every direction, overstating Labor and the Greens at the expense of the Liberals and others. Cathy Alexander at Crikey reports the Liberals are greatly displeased about the poll, which they believe blunted their momentum. Pollster Keith Patterson defended his work in Saturday’s Canberra Times, and while he is commendably revealing on the question of methodology, the argument that the poll might have been brought unstuck by late shifts in voting intention, possibly initiated by the publication of the poll itself, is not entirely convincing.
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.