Nielsen captured headlines by showing the Labor primary vote slipping below 30%, but this week’s poll aggregate shows a continuation of Labor’s slight improving trend.
The biggest head-turner to emerge from the latest batch of polls was Labor’s sub-30% primary vote in Nielsen, but the BludgerTrack poll aggregate in fact records a slight improvement this week for Labor, who appear to be trending back to equilibrium after last month’s leadership crisis. As well as Nielsen, the aggregate has been updated with results from Galaxy, Morgan and Essential (there was also last night’s ReachTEL poll for Channel Seven, but I haven’t included this as I don’t yet have enough data for ReachTEL to determine bias and accuracy weightings). Nielsen’s breakdowns have also allowed for the state relativities to be revised.
Speaking of which, I thought it might be illuminating to plot how the mainland states have been tracking relative to the national polling since the 2010 election. The following charts do so with reference to Labor’s two-party vote. Keep in mind that this measures the states’ deviance from the national result, and not simply the level of Labor support – so a flat line tells us not that support for Labor in that state has been steady, but that the ups and downs have closely matched the national results (as they usually do).
The most obvious point to emerge is that Queensland is the odd man out on account of its volatile trendline. This relates to the “smooth” function displayed at the top left of each chart, reflecting the smoothness of the line which most meaningfully represents the scattered data points (in the estimation of my stats program, going off something called the AICc criterion). Where the trend is either consistent or non-existent, as it is for the other four states, the smoothing parameter is high and the line fairly straight. But where there is a distinct pattern to the variation, as in the case of Queensland, the number lowers to produce a line variable enough to follow the trend (different smoothing parameters also explain why the Coalition’s primary vote trendline on BludgerTrack is smoother than Labor’s).
The Queensland exception is down to a fairly clear 3% sag for Labor from March to July 2012, which happens to be coincide with the immediate aftermath of their devastating state election defeat. This seems to suggest that temporary static from Queensland state politics added over half a point to the Coalition blowout in the national result at this time, which can be clearly observed on BludgerTrack. It should be noted that this week’s Nielsen result is the only data point for Queensland since last month’s Labor leadership crisis, and it’s solidly lower than anything recorded since November. BludgerTrack will need more than one 350-sample result before it draws any conclusions, but the Nielsen result may point to a downturn the Queensland trendline is yet to catch up with.
Something similar may also be happening in South Australia, where Labor’s downward turn since late last year would be much sharper with a lower smoothing parameter. If forthcoming results for this state remain poor for Labor, their already weak projection will deteriorate fairly rapidly.
• Barnaby Joyce had a clear 150-10 win over local IT businessman David Gregory in the Nationals preselection for Tony Windsor’s seat of New England, conducted after the withdrawal of Richard Torbay. The LNP will now have to choose a (presumably Nationals-aligned) candidate to fill Joyce’s casual Senate vacancy when he resigns to the contest the election, with the winner to serve out the remainder of a Senate term that will end in mid-2017.
• WA Labor has determined the order of its Senate election ticket, the top two positions going to Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Assocation state president Joe Bullock and incumbent Louise Pratt, in that order. Bullock takes the seat designated for the SDA from the man he succeeded as the union’s state secretary, Mark Bishop, who bowed out of the race on Monday in recognition that he faced certain defeat. Bullock’s success in securing the top position was the contentious fruit of an arrangement between the Right faction SDA and the largest Left union, United Voice, which secured the state lower house seat of Fremantle for United Voice faction member Simone McGurk at the expense of Adrian Evans of the insurgent Maritime Union of Australia. Pratt’s demotion from top of the ticket in 2007 is more than symbolic, as there are fears Labor’s vote in WA is so weak it can’t be guaranteed a second seat. Former state upper house MP Jon Ford, who is associated with the United Voice’s main Left rival, the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, complained that the SDA-United Voice deal very nearly led to Pratt being excluded altogether.
• Also determined by the Labor state executive was the Senate vacancy created by the retirement of Chris Evans, which will stay in the United Voice fold by going to Sue Lines, a WA-raised but Sydney-based official with the union.
• Labor’s state executive also chose candidates for four lower house seats, three of which would be winnable under normal circumstances. Hasluck will be contested the aforementioned Adrian Evans of the MUA, whose partisans reportedly account for a quarter of the state party’s membership after a recruitment drive swelled their numbers from 150 to 850. There will be more on Hasluck in Friday’s Seat of the Week. The other candidates are lawyer Tristan Cockman in Cowan, Victoria Park deputy mayor John Bissett in Swan and, in the safely conservative regional seat of Durack, Fitzroy Crossing musician and party activist Daron Keogh.
• The Liberals have a new candidate for the Melbourne hinterland seat of McEwen after their initial nominee, Ben Collier, withdrew due to “unforeseen family circumstances”. The party’s administrative committee unanimously chose as his successor Donna Petrovich, a member of the state upper house for Northern Victoria region and former mayor of Macedon Ranges. Sue Hewitt of the Northern Weekly was able to confirm that ReachTEL had earlier conducted a poll of the electorate on behalf of an undisclosed client gauging name recognition for Collier and Petrovich. Petrovich will relinquish her seat in the upper house on June 30.
• John Ferguson of The Australian reports Liberal internal polling has them leading 56-44 in the Labor-held Melbourne seats of Chisholm and Bruce, with the primary votes at 29% for Labor’s Anna Burke and 48% for the Liberal candidate in Chisholm, and 32% for Alan Griffin against 48% for the Liberals in Bruce.
• Former Victorian Farmers Federation president Andrew Broad has won preselection to replace retiring Nationals member John Forrest in Mallee. The other candidates were Swan Hill councillor Michael Adamson, Buloke mayor Reid Mather, Horsham farmer Russell McKenzie and Mildura resident Anne Webster. Swan Hill deputy mayor Greg Cruickshank was a late withdrawal. The Liberals are yet to determine whether they will field a candidate.