It had escaped my attention previously, but it turns out the Illawarra Mercury is in the habit of commissioning occasional opinion polls from local outfit IRIS Research. IRIS’s credentials seem solid enough, and it performed well before the federal election in recording a 53 per cent two-party vote for Liberal incumbent Joanna Gash in Gilmore, compared with an actual result of 54.1 per cent. The sample sizes are 300 or more per electorate, suggesting a shaky margin of error of about 5.5 per cent. Three polls of local state electorates have been published over the past two years, covering Kiama, Keira, Wollongong and Shellharbour both this time and in September 2008, but just Keira and Wollongong in May 2008. Results in a nutshell:

• In Kiama, Labor MP Matt Brown is on 29 per cent of the primary vote in the latest poll, compared with 50.7 per cent at the March 2007 election. This at least is 6 per cent higher than he managed in the previous Mercury/IRIS poll of September 2008, conducted immediately after some fun and games in his parliamentary office cost him his job as Police Minister. It can be presumed this puts him ahead of the Greens, who at 28 per cent were five points ahead of him in the earlier poll – probably not enough to overhaul the Liberals’ 39 per cent on Labor preferences, but not far off. Unfortunately, primary vote figures for the Liberals and the Greens in the latest poll are not provided, but we are told the Liberal two-party lead is 57-43, which would amount to a swing of 19 per cent.

• In Keira, David Campbell is on 36 per cent of the primary vote – the same as he recorded in the September 2008 poll, but down from 44.5 per cent in the May 2008 poll and 57.8 per cent at the 2007 election. He holds a two-party lead over the Liberals of 53-47, also suggesting a swing of 19 per cent.

• Of Wollongong, we are told only that Noreen Hay “would remain safe, although her share of the primary vote would fall”. The September 2008 poll had her primary vote at 49 per cent, the May 2008 poll had it at 46 per cent, and her result at the 2007 election was 58.4 per cent.

• In Shellharbour, Lylea McMahon’s two-party lead is 61-39 compared with 58-42 in September 2008, pointing to a swing of 11 per cent.

UPDATE: Commenter Peter Young has tracked down a hard copy of the paper in the hope it would provide full tables of results, but no dice. We are however told that 39 per cent of respondents preferred Kristina Keneally as Premier compared with 31 per cent for Barry O’Farrell, and that 29 per cent believed she would make a better Premier than Nathan Rees against 14 per cent worse and 46 per cent about the same.

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