Six new national polls have emerged over the past few days, animating much discussion about the relative merits of the various polling methodologies on offer.
The latest BludgerTrack poll aggregate update incorporates findings from no fewer than six national opinion polls which have emerged over the past 48 hours, with published two-party preferred figures ranging from 50-50 to 54-46 in favour of the Coalition. The latter figure happened to come from the highest profile name in the game, Newspoll, and was derived from an enlarged sample of 1676. Newspoll was one of two live interview phone polls out of the bunch, the other being the comparably authoritative (to my mind at least) Galaxy, which had the Coalition lead at 52-48. The others used different methods, and on balance had more favourable results for Labor. The weekly Morgan “multi-mode” poll, combining face-to-face, online and SMS surveying, had the Coalition leading 51-49 on its headline figure. However, this was derived from respondent-allocated preferences, the generally more reliable method of allocating preferences as per the previous election result concurring with Galaxy in having it at 52-48. Like Newspoll, this came from a larger than usual sample of 4515. Also on 52-48 was an automated phone poll of 1676 respondents from Lonergan, a new outfit whose managing director Chris Lonergan was formerly a research director at Galaxy, and previously worked at Newspoll and Roy Morgan.
The best results of all for Labor were both 50-50, and both came from online pollsters: the well-established Essential Research (976 respondents from this week, with the published figure being a two-week rolling average) and relative newcomer AMR Research (1134 respondents), which to my knowledge has now conducted three national polls. Throwing all these numbers into the trend and applying the usual weights and bias adjustments, BludgerTrack comes out at 52.6-47.4 in the Coalition’s favour, the general picture being that the Coalition has gained at or near 1% over three consecutive weeks. The state projections find Labor stubbornly clinging to its swing in Western Australia despite a general perception that the best it can hope for there is to gain the seat of Hasluck, and that even that looks doubtful.
The following is a very random aggregation of electorate-level snippets that I’ll shortly be using to update the Poll Bludger seat-by-seat election guide. See also the post below for reviews of the regional Victorian seats of Mallee and Indi.
Brisbane (Liberal National 1.1%): Laura Tingle of the Financial Review wrote at the start of the campaign that “both sides presume Teresa Gambaro’s seat of Brisbane will fall to Labor” (with two other Liberal National Party seats, Longman and Bonner, said to be “at risk”). That presumption has almost certainly faded since then, but Kevin Rudd has likely had half an eye on the seat in seeking to elevate same-sex marriage as an election issue. Patricia Karvelas of The Australian reports that Australian Marriage Equality has distributed 70,000 flyers in the electorate calling on Gambaro to declare her support.
Bennelong (Liberal 3.1%): Kevin Rudd has twice visited the seat famously lost by John Howard in 2007 and Maxine McKew in 2010, evidently hoping that his popularity among the electorate’s many Asian voters will lead to a boilover. During the first of these visits he promised to make Korean a priority language for the national curriculum. Labor’s candidate for the seat is Jason Yat-Sen Li, a businessman and high-profile figure in the Chinese community. In 1998 he ran as the lead Senate candidate of the Unity party, which was established to combat the rise of Pauline Hanson.
Bass (Labor 6.7%): Labor MP Geoff Lyons last week said he was “sincerely sorry• for telling an assembly of high school students that his Liberal opponent, Andrew Nikolic, has “misled” journalists about his role in the military. Lyons had claimed Nikolic had been a “bureaucrat” in Canberra for the last 25 years, a period encompassing his tenure as deputy commander of Australian forces in the early days of the Afghanistan war and commander in southern Iraq in 2005.
Solomon (Country Liberal 1.8%): Kevin Rudd last week made a contentious bid for support in the Darwin-based electorate by promising that within five years a “northern economic zone” would be established in the Territory, to which businesses would be lured through a corporate tax rate a third lower than the rest of the country. This looked notably similar to an idea the Coalition had floated earlier in the year with encouragement from Gina Rinehart, which had Lindsay MP David Bradbury contemplating “gold-plated footpaths in Karratha while people are stuck in gridlock in Sydney”. In a radio interview the following morning, Bill Shorten had to concede that the announcement had been news to him.
Macquarie (Liberal 1.3%): On August 10, Heath Aston of the Sydney Morning Herald reported that Liberal internal polling had the party gravely concerned about Louise Markus’s outer Sydney seat. As the report noted, Labor candidate Susan Templeman has been “conspicuous in Mr Rudd’s western Sydney campaign events”.
Hindmarsh (Labor 6.1%): Samantha Maiden of News Limited reported on Sunday that strategists from both parties expected this western Adelaide seat to fall to the Liberals, despite Labor member Steve Georganas’s solid margin. The report quoted a Labor strategist saying of South Australia: “If any seat is likely to fall it is Hindmarsh. The older voters and the Greeks don’t like the same-sex marriage stuff.” Internal polling was also said to have had the Liberals hoping to take Wakefield from Labor’s Nick Champion (margin 10.5%), with Kate Ellis’s seat of Adelaide (7.5%) and Tony Zappia’s seat of Makin (12.0%) “less likely to fall but still in play”.
Dobell (Labor 5.1%): Troy Bramston of The Australian reported on August 12 that Labor polling conducted at the end of July had them leading 55-45, with Craig Thomson recording a primary vote of 6%, but that the party was “more pessimistic now”. The contest has become slightly more complicated still with the entry of former test cricketer Nathan Bracken as an independent, running with financial support from colourful advertising mogul John Singleton.
Kennedy (Independent 18.3% versus Liberal National): Labor made a late substitution in Bob Katter’s seat after its initial candidate, Ken Robertson, was deemed to have gone overboard in accusing Tony Abbott of being a racist who wanted a return to the White Australian Policy. The new candidate is project engineer Andrew Turnour.