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Essential Research: 50-50

The Essential Research rolling aggregate records an unusually sharp move away from the Coalition, and finds strong support for Senate reform legislation.

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The normally placid Essential Research fortnightly rolling average records a rare two-point shift on two-party preferred this week, which eliminates a settled 52-48 lead for the Coalition over previous weeks. Particularly remarkable is a three point increase in the Labor primary vote, from 35% to 38%, although the Coalition is down only one to 43%, and the Greens are steady on 10%. Also featured is a very detailed question on Senate reform, in which the legislation was explained to respondents in meticulous detail, producing a result of 53% approval and 16% disapproval. A question on election timing finds 56% wanting the election held later this year versus 23% who want it called early, although the distinction is an increasingly fine one. Also featured: most important election issues (health topping the list, followed by economic and cost-of-living concerns), best party to handle them (Labor for industrial relations and environment, Coalition for national security and the economy, although Labor has a slight lead on housing affordability) and perceptions of the parties as right or left wing (indicating Labor is seen as more centrist than the Coalition, although there is little sense that this has changed in recent years). This week’s poll was conducted online Wednesday to Sunday from a sample of 1017, with the voting intention numbers also including the survey results from the previous week’s poll.

William Bowe — Editor of The Poll Bludger

William Bowe

Editor of The Poll Bludger

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.

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1038 comments

1,038 thoughts on “Essential Research: 50-50

  1. shiftaling

    Can’t wait for Bludgertrack!

  2. Work To Rule

    So if Essential is a rolling average – this would mean their most recent sample has the ALP 2PP well above 50?

  3. Darn

    [Tricot
    Posted Tuesday, March 1, 2016 at 3:27 pm | PERMALINK
    It was a pleasant surprise to see the Essential poll results, but I just can’t get the feeling that Labor is anywhere near the brink of government just yet.
    ]

    They’re not. But they are moving into a position where they can win back a swathe of seats this time around and finish the job with a crushing win in 2019. That’s how I see it anyway.

  4. dave

    dave@3204 on BludgerTrack: 52.0-48.0 to Coalition | The Poll Bludger

    Lenore Taylor – the only one in the media so far to have used the word revolt by the tories against their leader.

    The MSM need to go deeper on all of this, Turnbull is being pinned like a bug on what he can or can’t do – if he wants to keep his job.

    With Polls turning against him – he not vunerable from attack, if not a challenge from abbott.

    Tony Abbott has confirmed the obvious. The backbench “revolt” over the Coalition’s tax policy has really been about trying to corral Malcolm Turnbull into repeating his predecessor’s rejected budget policy.

    Because of course if Turnbull goes along with the “revolters” and rejects options to reduce tax concessions for the very rich, he will be left with the only other way to pay for anything he wants to do, without increasing the budget deficit. Spending cuts.

    Which is exactly what Abbott urged him to do in the party room on Tuesday – in a sugar-coated exchange in which Abbott espoused Turnbull’s “brilliance” in attacking Labor’s negative gearing cuts – and then said that was exactly why the government should not be introducing any of its own. That and the “truisms” that “we don’t have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem” and “you can’t cut taxes by raising them”.

    http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2016/mar/01/coalitions-sugar-coated-compliments-mask-attempt-to-revive-bitterest-budget

  5. shiftaling

    I don’t know if I credit the idea that an improved result (an increase in seats held by the opp) at one election gets the loser “closer to” victory at the next. Does the result three years ago (quite probably before the knifing of a sitting PM and a compete change in external and political factors in the meanwhile) really alter the seat numbers at the following election?

  6. phoenixRED

    [ Tricot

    Posted Tuesday, March 1, 2016 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    It was a pleasant surprise to see the Essential poll results, but I just can’t get the feeling that Labor is anywhere near the brink of government just yet.

    ]

    True – one swallow does not a summer make

    However I would rather be Bill – with a UNITED team ….than Waffling Malcolm with a bunch of angry, delusional, disillusioned, homophobic, economic midget pack of convivial arseholes ……

  7. DisplayName

    The moment this mob stopped all the fluffy, feel-good talk and
    started explaining their agenda, the polls drop. When are they going to take the hint that their agenda is a bit of a problem? 😛

  8. 1934pc

    Just a thought:

    The high cost of housing, rents and mortgage payments act in a way to dumb down the economy.
    Less disposable income has ramifications on the purchasing power of the general public!.

  9. Question

    From end of previous thread…

    [
    Are the doGs good enough that a poll “lag” may continue to express itself into the beginnings of a DD election campaign?? 🙂
    ]

    I think a DD will add to the mood the polls are measuring at a lag. As I said, half of this sample is the only poll we have since Turnbull did the Yelly Abbott impression. And that’s just one of many stories that aren’t helping the government.

    [
    They’re not. But they are moving into a position where they can win back a swathe of seats this time around and finish the job with a crushing win in 2019. That’s how I see it anyway.
    ]

    Console yourself with that if it happens, not before :-).

    [
    However I would rather be Bill – with a UNITED team ….that Waffling Malcolm with a bunch of angry, delusional, disillusioned, homophobic, economic midget pack of convivial arseholes ……
    ]

    Yep.

  10. mimhoff

    Why isn’t it 54-46?

    Shorten must go.

  11. Question

    [The moment this mob stopped all the fluffy, feel-good talk and
    started explaining their agenda, the polls drop. When are they going to take the hint that their agenda is a bit of a problem? :P]

    The ALP are going well on their revenue raising measures, haven’t had to do any lollies yet 🙂

  12. Tom

    Oh Rex, oh Rex, Bill is destrying the ALP!!! Where are you when we need you ;p

    Tom

  13. Jacob HSR

    Do these polls ask about mass immigration.

    That is the number 1 concern for British voters.

  14. ratsak

    [They’re not. But they are moving into a position where they can win back a swathe of seats this time around and finish the job with a crushing win in 2019. That’s how I see it anyway.]

    I don’t think anyone believes Labor would have won an election last Saturday. The point is Turnbull is fast running out of Saturdays where that is true.

    Labor will win the next federal election. As DisplayName notes it’s the Libs policies that are toxic, not just Tony Abbott. The delusional thought Turnbull would make it all better. He hasn’t and people have noticed. His satisfaction is going a lot lower and that was the only thing putting the Libs in the game.

  15. PhoenixGreen

    I don’t accept this weird assumption that Turnbull will win the coming election. In case people haven’t been paying attention over the past decade electoral precedent isn’t worth what it used to be. Between 24 hour news, the internet, a new political culture and a new generation of voters we can’t assume compliance to last century’s trends. First term governments have been dropping like flies, voters are de-aligning and voters are trending away from the traditional parties.

    Unless Turnbull pulls a corner soon I think the result could well be close enough to give a hostile Senate, a hung parliament or a slim Labor victory.

  16. Darn

    [shiftaling
    Posted Tuesday, March 1, 2016 at 3:46 pm | PERMALINK
    I don’t know if I credit the idea that an improved result (an increase in seats held by the opp) at one election gets the loser “closer to” victory at the next
    ]

    It doesn’t – at least not automatically. But as I have said before, I am confidently predicting that the wheels will well and truly fall off for the coalition over the next three years handing Labor an easy win in 2019. All the signs are there. The Liberals are in turmoil, the economy is sliding backwards, the Turnbull glamour is already receding – and it’s hard to see any of that changing in the foreseeable future.

    Throw in the fact that every policy they want to implement is about as popular as rat poison and I wouldn’t be backing them with monopoly money to win in 2019.

  17. zoidlord

    Kiera ‏@KieraGorden 6m6 minutes ago

    Libs were like a broken record about “Labor’s debt & deficit disaster”. Well look what’s happened under them #AusPol

  18. phoenixRED

    [ ratsak

    Posted Tuesday, March 1, 2016 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

    Labor will win the next federal election. As DisplayName notes it’s the Libs policies that are toxic, not just Tony Abbott. The delusional thought Turnbull would make it all better. He hasn’t and people have noticed. His satisfaction is going a lot lower and that was the only thing putting the Libs in the game.

    ]

    Old Scottish saying :

    The bagpipes sound exactly the same when you have finished learning them as when you start.

    Malcolm’s Flim-Flam Bullshit has past PEAK MALCOLM – its all DOWNHILL from here ……

  19. Trog Sorrenson

    From Essential..

    [best party to handle … Coalition … the economy]

    Joke.

    The Coalition:
    –set up the NBN as the biggest infrastructure fuckup with everlasting consequences i.e. maintenance costs that will run forever
    –pissed the benefits of the mining boom up against the wall to keep Howard in power
    — failed to adequately tax mining
    — removed an efficient and effective tax on polluters and instead used tax payer funds for an ineffective Direct Action plan
    –set back major reforms and jobs in the energy sector by failing to take advantage of massive technological change in renewables
    –maintained policies increasing social inequality which hold the economy back by creating greater dependence and decrease spending power
    –etc

    Time for Labor and the Greens to tackle this misconception of Coalition superior economic management head on.

  20. phoenixRED

    Ooops ….passed ….

    Old Scottish saying :

    The bagpipes sound exactly the same when you have finished learning them as when you start.

    Malcolm’s Flim-Flam Bullshit has passed PEAK MALCOLM – its all DOWNHILL from here ……

  21. shiftaling

    Darn – fair enough, I agree with all of that and I’m really hoping for an even better outcome given the way that government’s deep and intractable inadequacies have come to light recently.

    I never really understood the “saving the furniture/getting closer to a win next time” argument.

  22. Asha Leu

    I wonder when ESJ will turn up to crow about “Labor failure.”

  23. Airlines

    Jacob HSR, 13

    Britain=Australia because ???

  24. WeWantPaul

    At this point Labor should be both expecting and working for a win.

    They changed faces but Tony and the RWNJ’s never gave up control. Malcolm isn’t a leader he is a man with no ideas going for a walk in his own.

  25. jenauthor

    Trog

    [Time for Labor and the Greens to tackle this misconception of Coalition superior economic management head on.]

    Definitely … and maybe those who tweet/facebook etc need to raise their voices on this too.

    Too many ppl have the idea that a businessman will be best at running an economy, but the focus for a country is far removed from that kind of stewardship. That’s why I get so irked when the Cate Carnells and her ilk are held up as authorities.

    Business is about profit and shifting that profit in very narrow ways.

    Government is as much about its social contract as anything else. By all means facilitate support businesses to prosper, but a govt’s first priority is the the well being of its citizens (which includes education/health/environment/heritage … etc … etc

  26. Trog Sorrenson

    And
    – failed to support manufacturing and other industries king hit by a high dollar courtesy of their mining mates
    – privatised critical natural monopolies like Telstra and power networks (Lib state goverments) pushing up prices

  27. Darn

    [ratsak
    Posted Tuesday, March 1, 2016 at 3:59 pm | PERMALINK
    They’re not. But they are moving into a position where they can win back a swathe of seats this time around and finish the job with a crushing win in 2019. That’s how I see it anyway.

    I don’t think anyone believes Labor would have won an election last Saturday. The point is Turnbull is fast running out of Saturdays where that is true.

    Labor will win the next federal election. As DisplayName notes it’s the Libs policies that are toxic, not just Tony Abbott. The delusional thought Turnbull would make it all better. He hasn’t and people have noticed. His satisfaction is going a lot lower and that was the only thing putting the Libs in the game.

    ratsak

    I admire your optimism and I hope you are right.

    I actually had a sizeable bet on the Liberals when it started to look as if Abbott was getting back into the game at one point last year. I did it because I just couldn’t stand the thought of that bastard getting a second term as PM and I thought that anything I won would at least be some consolation – and if he lost that would be even better.

    Of course it’s a lot harder for Labor now that Abbott is gone – and easier for me to win the money – but I would be just as happy as you on election night to see Labor get over the line.

  28. victoria

    Catching up on today’s stuff. I hear Malcolm Mackerras cracked it over the current senate reforms

    [Je Suis Geek retweeted
    Van Badham
    2h2 hours ago
    Van Badham ‏@vanbadham
    @Qldaah Greens/Libs senate voting changes could be ruled unconstitutional by the High Court – Malcolm Mackerras. ]
    Embedded image

  29. Question

    jenauthor and Trog,

    Totally agree.

  30. a r

    If Turnbull is smart, now’s the time when he rounds on the party’s conservative fringe with a “look, I’ve tried it your way and the voters hate it; from now on we’re doing things my way and if you don’t like it then either stfu or gtfo”.

    Problem is, given his performance to date I don’t think he has either the backbone or the leadership ability to take a stand and actually lead his party. It’s a shame having a leader who doesn’t actually lead.

    But good news for Labor/Greens. And the rest of Australia, really. Another ~6 months and the conservative nonsense will be gone. Or at least, relegated to the Opposition.

  31. dave

    Asha Leu@22

    I wonder when ESJ will turn up to crow about “Labor failure.”

    He is still out trying to find where *3 more years of campbellism* disappeared to.

  32. Jack A Randa

    Half an hour since Mimhoff’s post and nobody has bitten yet – are all the irony-blind PBers at last learning to recognise irony/sendups?

  33. dave

    [ a r
    Posted Tuesday, March 1, 2016 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

    If Turnbull is smart, now’s the time when he rounds on the party’s conservative fringe ]

    All he needed to do was challenge abbott this morning to nominate the areas and amounts of cuts and remind the party room of the 2014 budget fallout.

    morrison should have been challenged over and over by now by the MSM to do the same.

  34. BH

    [That is the number 1 concern for British voters.]

    Jacob HSR – 🙂 I’d be more wary of the Donald Trump look alike

  35. Question

    [Of course it’s a lot harder for Labor now that Abbott is gone.]

    I’m not so sure about that, Abbott had supporters who would argue for him, People kind-of-like Turnbull, but don’t argue for him. After all, what is to argue for?

  36. Trog Sorrenson

    [Why isn’t it 54-46?

    Shorten must go.]

    Shorten is as cunning as a shit house rat.
    Or shit house fox.
    Or something..

  37. KEVIN-ONE-SEVEN

    Darn- The Rolex Party and labor are neck and neck as they go into the straight and Turnbull is loaded down with political baggage he can’t get rid of before the next election. The result is obvious

  38. Trog Sorrenson

    [Of course it’s a lot harder for Labor now that Abbott is gone.]

    Abbott hasn’t gone – in fact he has cloned himself.

    One version inhabiting the back bench, the other Turnbull.

  39. Airlines

    Also mandatory “wow Essential” post. (to be fair I’ll probably never make a “wow Essential” post in my life again, so might as well seize the chance whiel I can)

  40. Question

    a r 30,

    Turnbull cannot “lead” the LNP into something they are not. People who thought that back in September were wishful.

  41. phoenixRED

    [ dave

    Posted Tuesday, March 1, 2016 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

    a r
    Posted Tuesday, March 1, 2016 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

    If Turnbull is smart, now’s the time when he rounds on the party’s conservative fringe

    All he needed to do was challenge abbott this morning to nominate the areas and amounts of cuts and remind the party room of the 2014 budget fallout.

    ]

    If he had ANY gonads – was to throw open the meeting and was challenge abbott …. either PUT UP or SHUT UP or GET THE F*** out of here ….

  42. Question

    [Jack A Randa]

    Yep, we all got the Joke. Been doing Rex and ESJ impersonations ever since the Essential came out 🙂 .

  43. PhoenixGreen

    Turnbull has a rowdy right-activist backbench working against him and only a quiet minority crowd of pragmatists working for him. He doesn’t have the numbers to control his own government’s agenda, so out come all these wacky conservative decisions that are turning people off.

    He is spending his considerable political capital keeping this government’s head above water and that capital is running out fast. Unless he can turn this into the centrist Turnbull-brand government people expected I think they’ll be got rid of at this coming election.

  44. Nicholas

    Time for Labor and the Greens to tackle this misconception of Coalition superior economic management head on.

    I think the problem is that all parties reinforce the myth that the federal government is revenue-constrained and that “good economic management” means being willing to cut socially valuable government spending in the name of restraint, virtue, and hard-headedness. The Coalition are the undisputed masters of cutting socially valuable government spending, so they get the gong by default.

    Few people understand that the government can’t go insolvent in its own currency unless it deliberately contrived to do so. If the government had lots of foreign-denominated debt this debt would be a financial constraint on the government. But the Australian government’s debt is in Australian dollars, isn’t necessary, and is no problem to service. The Australian government services Commonwealth Government Securities (Treasury bonds) in the same way that it makes all of its payments: by keystroking amounts of money into bank accounts.

    The measures of a government’s economic management are output growth, labour under-utilisation, resource depletion, pollution emission, real incomes, wealth and income inequality, levels of education and skill, levels of technology, quality and amount of public infrastructure and public services – measures of the real economy. Fiscal policy is a means to an end, not a measure of success. Often the responsible thing to do is to deliberately expand the government deficit in a targeted way. Only if Australia started running large current account surpluses with respect to the rest of the world would it ever make sense for the government to aim for a government surplus (to drain some spending from the non-government sector).

  45. KEVIN-ONE-SEVEN

    All of this was fortold on this blog within weeks of mals ascension. Finally, he should say back me or sack me

  46. BH

    Question – Poor Rex. ESJ will recover but Rex will need some TLC for awhile.

  47. Jack A Randa

    If he had any gonads, when Terri Butler’s motion to debate the SSM Bill is about to come on, he’d tell the party room they can all vote according to their conscience. I am so holding my breath waiting for that…

  48. Steve777

    Sportsbet are still giving odds of $5.50 to the Liberals and $1.14, implying about a one in six chance of a Labor win.

    I would have put the odds a bit higher, but not by much. Historically, Labor tends to do better in polls than in actual elections.

    But Labor is definitely in the game. Labor has an effective, if uncharismatic leader, a strong, united team and a great story to tell.

    However, all the elites (not the ones decried by Newscrap and Shoutback, but the only ones that matter – those with money) will be working against it. Big Money and its media megaphones will be working to re-elect the Government, even if they would prefer a more right-wing PM. Labor’s message will be twisted and misrepresented day and night, its policies and leaders attacked with half-truths and outright lies.

    So a counsel to despair? Definitely not, but Labor needs to be ready with a counter-strategy.

  49. Pegasus

    Retiring ALP MP Melissa Parke, who was an international human rights lawyer before she entered politics, gave a speech to parliament last night on asylum seekers in which she damned both major parties.

    http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;query=Id%3A%22chamber%2Fhansardr%2F3e7fc91c-2a08-4853-95e3-77e2c5b615c5%2F0332%22

  50. victoria

    Dr WitchyPoo
    Dr WitchyPoo – ‏@ChristineEwing7

    Morrison’s new car analogy re: negative gearing shot down in flames by @grogsgamut http://gu.com/p/4hvf2/stw #qt
    The Guardian
    The Guardian
    [Embedded image
    Scott Morrison’s response to Labor’s negative gearing plan is truly disturbing | Greg Jericho

    Malcolm Turnbull warns homeowners have ‘a lot to fear’ from Labor. But the scary thing is the apparent problem with the treasurer’s grasp of basic economics
    View on web
    7:54 PM – 29 Feb 2016
    5 RETWEETS1 LIKE]