The Coalition pokes its nose in front after a strong showing in Newspoll and close results elsewhere.
Four new poll results have been added for the BludgerTrack aggregate this week, with Newspoll handing Labor a relatively weak result and ReachTEL, Essential Research and Morgan recording little change. The force of Newspoll has pulled the two-party preferred total 0.4% in the direction of the Coalition, which nets it a handy three seats on the national projection. The high yield is testament to the sensitivity of Queensland, where Labor’s projected gain of six seats from last week has been halved by a 1.8% shift on the two-party vote. Some soft polling for Labor in Tasmania has also brought them down a peg in that state, but this is cancelled out by a gain in New South Wales, where the model continues to have them on the cusp of 25 and 26. The projected total still leaves us in hung parliament territory, but with the Coalition able to govern with help from Bob Katter.
Newspoll especially has been keenly scrutinised for the effect of Friday’s asylum seeker policy announcement, but this would seem a fraught endeavour at this stage. The asylum seeker issue played badly for the government throughout last week up until Kevin Rudd’s move to seize the initiative on Friday evening, news of which would have taken a while to filter through. Nonetheless, it’s interesting to note the latest polls are solidly better for the Greens than a particularly weak batch last week, and that Labor’s primary vote is down correspondingly. This of course will mostly come out in the wash on preferences, but a refugee backlash could nonetheless be of considerable consequence in the Senate.
Usually the six Senators returned by a state at a normal half-Senate election split evenly between the parties of the left and right, but Labor’s polling under Julia Gillard was bad enough to allow for the possibility of four right, two left results in as many as three states (or perhaps four, depending on what view you take of Nick Xenophon). Now it appears that Senate battles will proceed along more familiar lines, with Labor comfortably winning two seats and fighting it out with the lead Greens candidate for a third. Labor’s starting position in such contests is its surplus vote above 28.6%, which can generally be expected to leave them in about the 7% to 10% range where the Greens vote is fluctuating at present. So while Labor’s western Sydney MPs might have cause to cheer the Prime Minister’s new policy direction, its number three Senate candidates (including incumbents Ursula Stephens in New South Wales, Mark Furner in Queensland and Lin Thorp in Tasmania) will feel less pleased.
BludgerTrack arrives with some new toys this week, starting with a new set of graphs on the sidebar which plot the polling over the four weeks since the restoration. These look a bit threadbare at present, but they will have a story to tell soon enough. The Gillard era model remains preserved for posterity at the bottom. In between is another new feature, which projects the likelihood of seat outcomes under the present BludgerTrack results. This is done by simulating 100,000 election results from the ALP seat win probabilities I have been using to determine the seat projection totals and observing the frequency of each result. The chances of majority government are currently put at 42.8%, which increases to 50.4% if you take the view that Labor will win Melbourne from Adam Bandt. Labor’s chances of holding on with the support of whoever ends up representing Denison and Melbourne are put at 28.7%.